Mark J's Dive Log
Savaneta Beach on 4/22/2011
Don't use the entry shown in the aerial photograph, but drive all the way to the end of the parking area (by the pedestrian bridge over the pipes). There is a nice sandy entry area by the mangroves. It is a bit shallow but it is deep enough to swim around the patch of seagrass to the two boat mooring poles. Work your way towards the southwest (away from the main channel) until you are on the other side of the break water near the drop-off. We swam towards the main channel then back. One of the better reefs in Aruba Many varieties of coral, sponges , seafans. Nary an urchin to bother you on your way in or out.
Puerto Chiquito on 4/22/2011
What a way to end our Aruba vacation. A 12 on a scale of 1 to 10. This was the best reef in Aruba. One of the easiest entries and the reef was really close, only about a 100 yard swim. To me this was a prototypical Jacques Cousteau reef. All different varieties of coral on the drop-off slope, layers of coral and all varieties of fish. Saw a huge spotted cowfish and made friends with a needlefish. We swam almost to the edge of the Mangel Halto/Spanish lagoon channel and back. Can't wait to return.
Shallow Reef on 4/21/2011
Second visit to this site this trip. Today's conditions were an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. The sea was flat and there was little current. Saw a huge smooth trunkfish while swimming out to the reef. Wonderful conditions and visibility in the elkhorn forests. Saw two trumpet fish with cyan spots running down their lengths and a bearded fireworm crawling in the reef floor. Many Tang and a few Night Sergeants, Spanish Hogfish, Squirrelfish, Spotted Goatfish and Reef squid.
Baby Beach Reef on 4/21/2011
This was my third time here. This year we packed away from the crowds which tend to congregate at the eastern end of the cove. At the western end there are two artificial 'reefs' composed of construction detritus. There were many small Grunts (French, Smallmouth, Blue Stripped, and Caesar) and Fairy Basslets. Swimming out to the western channel we saw a few Trumpetfish. Visibility was the worst of all the sites we did on this trip. Exited the main cove at the eastern channel (most of the tourist snorkelers tend to congregate here and feed the fish so this is where you will see the most varieties (Sergeant Majors Tangs). Explored the channel leading toward Santana's Reef until the elkhorn corals formed a wall which allowed no more progress. Was a bit disappointed as last year there were many large Parrotfish here and amongst the elkhorm formations. Not so this year except for a few Stoplight, Queen and one absolutely beautiful Midnight Parrotfish. Also ventured out across the last breakwall to the sea. Here the visibility improved to crystal clarity and there were many Black Durgons.
Boca Catalina on 4/20/2011
Apr 20, 2011, 12:00 AM
Except for Baby Beach, this is the easiest entry on the island. Many cushin sea stars. Exploring the coral cliff is phenomenal with its many urchins and chitons. The tour boats do not stop here, so once clear of the entry it is relatively uncrowded. The Antilla wreck is a few hundred yards off shore but not a good idea to swim out to as the current is against you on the way back.
Mangel Halto Reef on 4/19/2011
One of the best snorkeling sites in Aruba. The reef is one of the most varied in coral species. Be sure to enter off the cliff down the laddreds rather than at the mangrove swimming area. Swim out to the down slope where most of the corals and larger fish are.
Boca Catalina Cove on 4/19/2011
Good Spot if you want to see fish up close and personal. Since this is a tour spot the Seargeant Majors and Blue Chromis swim right up to you expecting to be fed. The entry is a bit tricky (rocky) but once you get a few feet offshore the water is deep enough to swim around the protruding rocks. If the tour boats are not present, best route is to swim around the main reef/rock field.
Malmok Beach on 4/19/2011
Of the three spots (Catalina Cove, Boca Catalina and Malmok) this was my least favorite. Not because the snorkeling was necessarily poor, it was not, but the tour boats tend to stop right next to the coral cliffs to do their Tarzan swinging. Fortunately the entry cove does not have a mooring anchorage. The coral wall is interesting to explore and there is a cave chute that you can swim though (underwater) just south of the entry cove.
Shallow Reef on 4/18/2011
Apr 18, 2011, 12:00 AM
Great site for snorkeling. Enter in a sandy bathing area until you can float over the corals. Be sure to venture out to the elkhorn and seafan forests. But beware of the currents as it is much harder to return to shore especially in the chutes between the elkhorn and brain coral formations.