Boca Catalina to me is really good. Also Baby Beach if the water is clear that day. In the deeper water at Baby Beach by the break to open sea is pretty good snorkeling. There are also several snorkel cruises that are pretty good. We usually just go on our own but we did do 2 snorkel cruises on our last trip.
Cammiedog - which snorkel cruises did you do and what did you like/dislike about each? I really want to do one, but I have a problem with boats and rough water. I'm hoping there's a tour that's decent but doesn't go way out where the water tends to be rougher.
We went on Tranquilo with Capt. Anthony and The Octopus with Capt. Jethro. We liked both but the Tranquilo goes pretty far out. The snorkeling is in shallow water and then he takes the better swimmers out in a dinghy to the whitecaps for a drift snorkel in deeper water, which was amazing.
The Octopus was fun as well. It went right to where we snorkeled at Boca Catalina every day. That is an afternoon cruise, which might be better suited to your needs. The Tranquilo lunch cruise is an all day thing, It takes about 2 hours to get to Spanish Lagoon to snorkel for a total of an hour maybe. The drift snorkel is only about 25-30 minutes. I wish that had been longer. They are both fun in different ways.
I found the number of fish in Aruba considerably more than I saw Poipu, the Bahamas, and Mexico. There were clouds of schools of fish at Malmok which is at the north end of the island. about 20 minutes from the low rise area. There were so many fish that the pelicans would sun themselves between meals.
Since you can snorkel from shore at Boca Catalina, I wonder if it's worth it to pay for the cruise? Can you get to the same areas from shore that the boats go to? Anyone have any thoughts on that?
I thought the snorkeling at baby beach was great. I don't have anything to compare it to, but there were hundreds of fish there, and so many varieties.
Let me give you a bit of advice on snorkeling.
Take your car and head north (towards lighthouse) @ about 11 a.m.
On the oceanside you will see a ship wreck sticking out of the ocean and a few boats just a bit north of there. This is where the snorkeling boats do some shore diving and you can see the same things they are for free. The fish are abundant and it is very easy to get to.
Once you have swam there for a while get back into your car and head north some more to Malmok beach. You will see a bright orange house being built right on the ocean. Once you pass this house you will see a few palapas and will be at Malmok Beach. This place is so amazing you won't regret it. Tons of fish and coral and all for the low price of gas only.
We had a ball and spent all day just stopping in and out of beaches.
would there be any way to get to these placesw/out a car? is renating a car in aruba expensive? Your post made me want to rethink my snorkel excursion plan.....