Overview of Boca Catalina

Boca Catalina

ABC Islands


This is a popular site for diving, snorkeling and just relaxing in the sun. There are several shades in the area, and the beach is perfect for kids.

Directions: Head to the North part of the island. About 500 m North of the Northern 1B 2B intersection, you'll see the beach on your left.


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01/11/2016 Anonymous (Avg: 3.18 Review) - Parked and entered at Boca Catalina (easy parking right at beach... Look for big yellow house). Easy entry through small sandy beach which lets you avoid rocky entry. Drifted north along rock wall past Catalina Cove, Arushi, and Malmok, then had to swim back against current (not too bad) to get back to sandy entryway at Boca Catalina. Overall, fairly easy. Coral formations ok, lots of schools of fish, but not great varieties. Snorkel blats stopped offshore at about 10am, but only stayed for 20 minutes or so. We could see dive boats further offshore for the wreck, but it seemed too far to try to snorkel out there.

04/02/2015 Anonymous (Avg: 3.46 Review) - We discovered this treasure several years ago and visit multiple times every year when we return. If you head to the left upon entry and swim out to the patches of sea grass, you might see turtles! We often see multiple turtles on a given day. If you head to the right upon entry, you will see lots of fish. Sea Stars are everywhere!

03/03/2012 Mark and Jean (Avg: 3.63 Review) - We saw 19 sea stars of various colors going south. Going north to the rock line going into the water up the beach, we saw tons of large schools of black, silver, and other colors of fish, many sergeant-majors, trumpetfish, lobster, a peacock flounder, french angelfish, trunkfish, tobacco fish (with brilliant red bellies), a few gars on the surface. Easy, fun snorkeling.

04/27/2011 Larry and Julie (Avg: 3.71 Review) - We snorkeled Boca Catalina several times on consecutive days and were quite pleased with the diversity of aquatic life observed, particularly along the coral shelf to the north of the soft sandy beach entry. There is a lot of dead coral here, but fish (and juveniles) are quite prolific in the shallows. We saw a Moray and small schools of cuttlefish in this area. Also spotted a Hawksbill sea turtle on three consecutive days and swam with him for 25 minutes in close proximity as he worked the bottom for sponges to eat. The sergeant majors are very friendly here as the snorkel boats come in the nearby cove several times each day. If you snap your fingers, hordes of them will gather around you instantly, wanting to be fed.

04/20/2011 Mark J (Avg: 4.10 Review) - 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.

02/01/2010 Ed (Avg: 3.63 Review) - Visited Boca Catalina in January. Swam out to the reef area, an easy swim from the beach. Sandy beach area and easy entry. Visibility was good and plenty of tropical fish, some eels and a small sea turtle. Beach was a little crowded but parking by the street was available. No facilities, so bring your own gear, coolers and beach chairs if you have them. We got there between dive boats, so we had the reef area to ourself. 3 dive boats showed up later in the afternoon and it got a little crowded, but we enjoyed our visit to Boca Catalina. I would recommend this for those looking for a snorkel site.

11/17/2009 Anonymous (Avg: 3.85 Review) - We found reef looking much better than April 2009. Plant life has improved greatly. Fish were in abundance, and the entry is great for all levels of snorkeling.

08/14/2009 Ewilensky (Avg: 3.50 Review) - Great snorkel site, evident by all the boats. Enter Boca Catalina and head right towards the reef. We snorkeled from Boca Catalina to Arashi Beach and found it an excellent day. Lots of macro life - sponges, corals, anemones, nudibranches, etc… Saw sea snakes, eels, cuttlefish, squid, tons of fish. Not so much reef as Mango Halto but the rocks hold excellent life and are worth poking around. Excellent beginners site. We'll try Arashi today and head down to Boca Catalina. A+ for beginners.

09/24/2008 Dan Ford (Avg: 3.46 Review) - We snorkeled here 5 times in early August, 2008. I was pleasantly surprised by the abundance and variety of sea life. We saw 6 sea turtles in one day, 2 octopi, many squid, several eels and sea snakes, one barracuda, French angelfish, trumpet fish, traffic light parrot fish and many other varieties of fish. My wife and I would go early in the morning (8 am) and then come back later with our kids. Morning seems to be the best opportunity to see turtles. When you go later in the day, you're sharing the site with the charter boats. Per the advice of this site, we left our car doors open with no valuables, and no one bothered us. The site is in a very nice residential area, right in front of Ocean 105. I highly recommend this site for all levels of snorkelers.

03/25/2008 Tom Alexander (Avg: 3.56 Review) - We just returned from Aruba and spent two afternoons at Boca Catalina. Entry is very easy with a shallow sandy bottom and you can swim over to where the dive boats anchor very easily. Water is only 10-15 feet deep at the reef, and easy to see and swim with the fish. I had a problem with positive buoyancy and couldn't stay down easily; I suggest a 5-10 pound weight belt. Just off the rocky shore was the same pod of cuttlefish that I had seen two years ago. Great for snorkeling and just lying on the beach.

01/30/2008 Arubalisa (Avg: 3.86 Review) - We snorkeled this area early January. This is a white sandy beach entry. Previous mentions of a rocky beach I believe refer to Catalina Cove. Though the bottom is sandy here at Boca Catalina, we were amazed at the number of fish. The best bet is to enter the water here at Boca Catalina and then swim northward towards Catalina Cove. The entry at Catalina Cove is extremely difficult with the shallow water and number of rocks.

10/30/2006 Charles (Avg: 3.78 Review) - I went with my son and daughter to Catalina cove. Awesome!!!! Tons of fish. A little rocky to get out, but once you are out in the water, it is just wonderful. Lots and lot of fish. We even got to swim with a turtle. Had no problem with parking the car there and enjoyed the dives.

06/14/2006 Elgin Z. (Avg: 3.16 Review) - I live in Aruba and I snorkeled this site a few weeks ago. I entered the water at Catalina Cove and snorkeled to Arashi (heading roughly north) and then all the way back to Boca Catalina. The entry at Boca Catalina is much easier than at Catalina Cove as there are lots of rocks and pointy things you don't want to step on at Catalina Cove. The entry at Boca Catalina is just over white sand. Boca Catalina is a small but beautiful beach where visibility is usually pretty good. There are also no waves or current at this site. Sadly this is a bad snorkeling site as there is very little to see here. I went all the way out where the water was about 15/20 feet deep, but the only coral I could find were some dead tube sponges. There is a lot of seaweed at this site but not a lot of fish. On the positive side I saw a 4 foot long trumpet fish (I never knew they could get this large) and a 4 foot long eel. This site might be good for learning to snorkel, but experienced snorkelers should skip it. If you do decide to snorkel this site, don't forget to also head roughly north to Catalina Cove and Arashi (both are nearby and I consider these 3 sites one large site) where there is much more to see. I'm also a scuba diver and unless I missed something (and I don't think I have), this site is of no interest to the scuba diver.

06/12/2006 Anonymous (Avg: 3.93 Review) - Visited Aruba June 3-10 2006. Boca Catalina and Catalina cove, to us, are the best for snorkeling in Aruba. Lots of fish, and great reefs. We got a chance to swim with a sea turtle in 10 feet of water doing snorkeling. Swam around schools of bait fish. And all kinds of fish literally ate food from our hands. Save all of your dinner left overs and feed them. They love it! They ate everything from French fries, lettuces, to left over spare ribs… everything. Very enjoyable site. Jolly Pirate, Pelican Pleasure… everyone drops their anchors here. So if you have a car, definitely get here and enjoy the sea creatures. One gent walked out hip deep, put on mask, stuck his face down the water and promptly screamed "OMG, there are billions of fish here !!!!" :-)

09/12/2005 Anonymous (Avg: 4.38 Review) - We snorkeled Baby Beach, Malmok, Catalina Cove and Boca Catalina. Boca Catalina and Catalina Cove are really one huge place to enjoy all at once and several times over! My wife and I are truly beginners, but Boca Catalina/Catalina Cove were truly spectacular and a great place to get comfortable in the water. Start out at Boca Catalina. The current moves you northward toward Catalina Cove so you can simply float slowly past the rocks, corals, sponges, and amazing fish without any effort at all. The slower we went the more we noticed below us. We liked this spot best in the early morning. At 9:30 -10:00 AM about 4 boats will arrive and drop a hundred paying customers in the water where they all could have snorkeled for free from shore! To reiterate from my post at Malmok, don't leave anything in your car (ever!). We attached all valuables to our swim suits in plastic waterproof containers we picked up at the canoeing store near home in NJ. Worked great!

06/01/2005 Brian in Middletown (Avg: 3.89 Review) - I was very pleased with this site. In the past, I had only been to Baby Beach and De Palm Island. I would say it was about as good as Baby Beach but overall the fish were a bit smaller. Watch out for boat traffic as Red Sail sports and other outfits stop here. In addition to accessing this site from the road, I did a Red Sail sports excursion that went here and to the Antilla. I highly recommend both sites! The Snuba looked like a waste of money and I am glad that I didn't do it.

05/20/2005 Allen Abrams (Avg: 4.29 Review) - Parking spaces right in front, down steps & a few feet into sandy entry. Great place to start learning snorkeling, huts up on beach area to right, with one shady divi divi tree to your left of steps.

02/08/2005 Debbie Bennett (Avg: 3.05 Review) - (Snorkeler) This was our 4th year to visit Aruba, and Boca Catalina was always pretty nice. However, everything was covered with a layer of sand and some of the plant life had died, thanks to Hurricane Ivan. Hope it will return to better conditions by next year!

07/21/2004 JohnT (Avg: 2.85 Review) - We have snorkeled this site for several years -- since getting our own gear about 9 years ago. It's a pleasant place. All of this area is good for novices for about 1/2 mile - 3/4 mile along...the areas called Boca Catalina/Arashi Beach. Once or twice, there has been a fairly strong current pushing you north. We snorkel from shore probably up to 50 yards from shore. Visibility is better if you get there before the numerous tour boats arrive mid-morning.

05/18/2003 Bill Brown (Avg: 3.51 Review) - Great site to snorkel from the beach. Find a sandy entry and arc north until you find the rock and coral where the fish are. Slight current to the right. Great place to float. It's where all the tour boats go. Other excellent Aruba snorkel sites are Catalina, Malmok, and De Palm

11/01/2002 Anonymous (Avg: 3.54 Review) - Super place!

04/06/2002 Doug (Avg: 3.43 Review) - We feel that this was the best shore entry site we found on Aruba. Some days the visibility was low and the surf could get rough. Try it!


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: AR0301


Parking at Boca Catalina 

There is ample parking right off the street, and only meters to the shore line.

Right Entry

 Map     Sat
GPS: AR0302


Right Entry at Boca Catalina 

The entry doesn't get much easier than this.


 Map     Sat
GPS: AR0303


Entry at Boca Catalina 

Commercial snorkeling boats are in the background, and the Antilla Wreck is several hundred meters beyond.




Aerial at Boca Catalina 
(click photo for details)

The beach is large enough, that you'll easily have plenty of privacy. Note the many cabanas, as well.

Last Verification: February, 2001  


Diver Averages for  Boca Catalina  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  4.45
Bottom Conditions:  3.95
Reef Conditions:  3.32
Animal Life:  3.91
Plant Life:  3.14
Facilities:  2.55
Solitude 3.00
Roads:  4.36
*Site Average:  3.63

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  4.18
Beginner Scuba:  3.05
Intermediate Scuba:  2.86
Advanced Scuba:  2.64
Night diving Scuba:  2.73

Number of reviews for this site: 22


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