Colorful Corals and a Historic Wreck
The clear Caribbean waters that wash the shores of Aruba provide a warm and inviting aquatic playground for swimmers and snorkelers. Colorful coral reefs and historic shipwrecks lie close to shore and are suitable for persons of all ages and skill levels. Snorkel adventures can begin right off the beach, or from the deck of a boat moored in a quiet cove. First-timers and veterans alike can take advantage of tour options that combine visits to a number of the island's top sites with added enticements such as beachside barbecues, sailing adventures and guided tours of the reef.
- Best for: Beach lovers, spa and watersports fans and soft adventurers
- Best season to visit: Year-round, as it's below the hurricane belt
- Weather: Steady trade winds, sunny and dry winters in the 70s, 80s in the summer, with occasional afternoon or evening showers
Snorkeling in Aruba Overview
Aruba's southern coast has the calmest, clearest waters for snorkeling. While many sites are accessible from shore, boats provide the easiest access to a number of favorite sites. Some reefs rise to within a few feet of the surface for up-close viewing of corals, sea fans and tropical fish. Deeper reefs and some shipwrecks are still clearly visible from the surface.
Aruba Snorkeling Tips
If you are new to snorkeling, most tour operators will provide basic instructions. One of the keys to enjoying the view is to keep your mask from fogging, which is done by rinsing it thoroughly and then applying a thin coating of defogging solution before entering the water. Most boats will provide defog,
Best Places to Snorkel in Aruba
The scattered remains of the historic Antilla shipwreck are clearly visible from the surface. Angelfish and blue tanks fit through the remains of a lost airplane at Arashi Reef, while the nearby coral gardens are decorated in brightly colored sea fans and sponges. Boca Catalina is one of the fishiest locations in Aruba, home to French angelfish, damselfish, yellowtail, goatfish, cowfish, parrotfish, butterfly fish more.
What to Pack for Snorkeling in Aruba
A mesh carrying bag to hold your personal snorkel gear or to keep track of the set provided by a tour operator. A dry bag or box for items such as keys, smartphones and wallets. Towels may be provided, but it doesn't hurt to bring your own, along with sun block and shoes that can get wet.
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Passport and/or Visa Requirements
Entry Requirements: The U.S. Department of State requires that all travelers to and from the Caribbean have a passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of return from the destination. U.S. and Canadian citizens do not need a visa. For more info visit the USDoS website. EXIT REQUIREMENTS: All persons leaving Aruba must pay a Government Departure Tax of approximately USD $37.50, which may be included in your ticket.
No immunizations are required for travelers from the U.S., Canada or Great Britian. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at CDC Aruba.
Culture and Customs
For a prime example of Aruba's melting-pot society, try a local favorite: Keshi Yena. Made from a hollowed-out sphere of Edam cheese filled with local meats, vegetables and island spices, it combines Dutch, Spanish, and African influences into a soothingly savory yet slightly spicy mix. Ditto for island culture. Dutch is the official language, but school children also learn Spanish and English, and you may hear the lilting tones of Papiamento, which is a local mash-up that borrows from all three and adds a bit of Portuguese and French, finished off with Arawak Indian and African influences. There's still plenty of Dutch practicality in the Aruban character, but this is also an island that likes a party. Carnival, locally called Bacchanalia, takes over the island from January through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Aruba is also the only country to celebrates Dia Di San Juan with singing and dancing, and the New Year celebration known as Dandee has its roots in the Papiamento word for carousing. Aruban's love music, and the local beat, called socarengue, is accompanied with a sensual dance.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electricity in Aruba is 110 volts, 60 cycles (same as U.S.)
Aruba's country code is 297 and direct dial service is reliable. Check with your cell phone service provider for information on calling and data usage in Aruba. High-speed internet service is readily available.
Desalinated, filtered tap water is safe to drink. Bottled water is readily available for sale.
Language & Currency
Dutch is the official language of Aruba. English and Spanish are widely spoken.
The local currency is the Aruban Florin (AFG). Most local businesses accept U.S. Dollars and major credit cards
Aruba is in the Atlantic Time Zone (AST) and does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Aruba is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT).
Location, Size and Population
Aruba is 21 miles long and 6 miles wide, a total of about 75 square miles. Aruba is one of the Lesser Antilles located below the hurricane belt in the Southernmost end of the Caribbean roughly 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela. The population of Aruba is approximately 104,263 (2016).