Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shore Dives & Snorkeling With Kids

JADS Dive Center offers shore dives or rent tanks from Aqua Windies. Aqua Windies does rent tanks.

Using, shorediving.com Aruba as a reference, below are some of my thoughts.

Bachelors Beach, Boca Grandi & Boca Andicuri are only divable on a few days of the year when there is no wind. If there is no wind, which is extremely rare, there is all likelihood there will still be waves. They are on the windward side of the island and open to the entire Caribbean with no coral reef or barrier islands to speak of for protection.

The site "Shallow Reef" should also probably be included in my list of un-divable, along with any other sites on the windward coast that you see listed on any Aruba dive websites. With the number of reviews on shorediving.com, I wonder if some folks have not confused "Shallow Reef" with the next one southward, Arashi Reef which should also not to be confused with the Antilla wreck. There is no reference to Arashi Reef on the shorediving site, but it is more or less is the same area as Catalina Cove.

All references below are now from north to south on the island.

Here you will see Arashi at the top of your screen, centered on Catalina Cove and Boca Catalina toward the bottom of your screen.

Catalina Cove and Boca Catalina are more or less in the same area. In my mind, this is the best area for kids to snorkel. I have written about this area previously here and here. There have been a good number of turtle sightings here early morning. For diving you will want to venture further out. Entry is much more difficult at Catalina Cove. I have some notes regarding snorkeling this area at Snorkeling in Aruba.

Malmok is a bit further south from Boca Catalina. When we were there in June, there was no beach and only rocks so entry was difficult at best. We skipped it and stuck with Boca Catalina.

Mike's Reef, not listed on shorediving.com but you can find more info here. There is great diving and an area close to the barrier island PERFECT for snorkeling. Downside is getting access. It is fairly far from shore. We have been there multiple times with both Tranquilo and once with Strea Charters. Mike's reef is not labeled, but centered on the map here. If you do a search on youtube for "mike's reef aruba" you can get an idea of the snorkel area.

The diving is a bit north of there and of course a bit further off the barrier island.

Mangel Halto Reef, is okay for snorkeling for the kids with the right conditions. We tried snorkeling here twice in June, but the wind was so bad it was churning up sand in the shallows so there was zero visibility. If you enter on the north side of the mangroves there is some shallow coral including fire coral so we were not up to risking getting washed up on that with the waves.

Baby Beach Reef, kid's can snorkel inside only. Adult snorkelers have drowned on the outside of the break at this spot. Diving on the outside of the break, there are strong currents. For good info see "10/09/2006 Elgin Z. (Avg: 3.99 Review)".

For Mike's Reef and Mangel Halto, you may want to rent a scooter for at least the kids. Mike's reef is too far of a swim topside from shore.

My dh and I have combined, well over 75 dives in Aruba. Our dd has now taken up the sport as well and has 10 Aruba dives under her belt.