On the northwestern coast just south of the California Lighthouse, the Boca Catalina area is a small cove known for some easy snorkeling on Aruba. During Boca Catalina snorkeling, you may encounter trumpetfish, peacock flounder, French Angelfish, trunkfish, tobacco fish, sergeant majors, Caribbean lobster and possible hawksbill turtles. The snorkeling is best to the north at Boca Catalina #1 along the coral shelf. You'll probably see guide boats dropping at the south end at Boca Catalina #2, but that's not the best snorkeling.
Just north of Boca Catalina is another cove called Catalina Cove, which has plenty of fish hiding among the rocks. And, just north of Catalina Cove, there is a hidden rocky shelf, which has 3 steps carved into the middle of the iron-shore known locally as Tres Trapi. The Tres Trapi snorkeling spot is popular for all of its colorful sea stars.
To reach the snorkelen at Boca Catalina, head north on LG Smith Boulevard to the north end of the island. Continue north for 0.5km past the 1B/2B intersection to the beach. The dive site is located 0.9 miles west of Tierra del Sol. There is plenty of parking available along the main road.
TIP: While the snorkeling at Malmok Beach is good, it can be quite crowded with tour boats. Avoid mid-day and shoot for an early morning at low tide. The parking area and beach are known for thefts -- don't bring or leave any thing you'd miss.
To reach the snorkeling on Aruba by air, you will need to fly into Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA). There are several major airlines that fly into Aruba including US Air, United, Delta and KLM. Keep in mind that there is a $37 USD departure tax to leave Aruba. This tax may be included in the airline ticket, but you will need to make sure. Due to the crowds at the two levels of passport control in Aruba, you may want to allow up to 3 hours at the airport, especially between 11am to 3pm on Fridays through Sundays.
While snorkeling off Aruba, you may encounter angelfish, butterflyfish, cuttlefish, cowfish, grunts, sergeant majors, lionfish, blue tangs, wrasse, sea anemone, and barracuda among elkhorn coral, brain coral and sea fan formations. Keep in mind that it can be quite windy off Aruba in the afternoons, so the best time of day for Aruba snorkeling is in the morning.
Overall, Boca Catalina is the 4th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 11 snorkeling dives in Aruba.