Overview of Shallow Reef

Shallow Reef

ABC Islands


Shallow Reef is a relatively unknown site at the far North Western corner of Aruba. Just a kilometer away, the surf is pounding the North East coast, which is very pretty just to sit and watch during off-gassing. This site offers easy entry for both snorkelers and those advanced divers who wish to explore further out. Be careful of the currents here, since the site is so close to the tip of the islands.

Directions: Head to the North part of the island. About 2.3 km North of the Northern 1B 2B intersection, you'll see several dirt turn-offs to the shore. You'll see the reef; hunt around a little for the landmarks below.


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Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

03/16/2013 Aruba Bob (Avg: 1.58 Review) - Very poor shore dive, you will need to swim out nearly half mile to get to 40 feet. Not much to see will not be doing that dive again. Very strong current to get back into shore.

03/03/2012 Mark and Jean (Avg: 1.94 Review) - We are surface snorkelers only. We're not sure we put in at the right place. Rocky walk down to the shore line. Little in the way of interesting things to see. Much better places on the island!

04/21/2011 Mark J (Avg: 4.65 Review) - 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.

04/18/2011 Mark J (Avg: 3.99 Review) - 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.

04/08/2007 Frank (Avg: 3.13 Review) - We have seen sea turtles in morning before 9 am, and lots of surgeon fish. Watch out for the urchins as there are quit a few. Their spines stick out of cracks in rocks. We saw a pair of morays, Brown and yellow. The best area is just straight out from light house.

06/21/2006 Elgin Z. (Avg: 2.81 Review) - I snorkeled this reef 4 days ago with a friend after reading about it on this site. We entered the water at 8 AM. Conditions were better than usual as there were no waves or surf, which are common to this area of the island. The entry was simple, even though we did not enter at the area recommended on this web site. There was very little to see as we were swimming out looking for the reef. There were only algae and many dead Sea Fans lying flat on the bottom. Visibility was not great, but got better the farther out we swam. Then about 100/150 feet out, we hit upon the reef. All of it seemed to be dead. All of it, except for the many small Blue Crust Corals that seemed to be growing everywhere. There were a lot of fish though. We swam farther out and a few moments later we came across some 2 foot wide Brain Corals that looked healthy. At this point the depth was about 8/10 feet and visibility was pretty good. Next we spotted a turtle! After chasing the turtle for a few seconds we decided to swim farther out to see if there was a drop off. Swimming out we came across another turtle which was half the size of the first one. The farther out we went the nicer the reef became. There were Brain Corals lying in beautiful white sand with many Sea Fans and lots of fish. At a certain point the depth became about 20 feet and there were still a lot of Sea Fans but the bottom was covered with green algae and there was still no drop off. We decided to swim back as we realized that there was a strong current pulling us out. Swimming back in we headed toward the southern part of the reef. We again came across a part of the reef that was dead. This part looked like a field of rubble. At this point the water was about 4 feet deep. Then, to our surprise, we came across a part of the reef where we were surrounded by healthy Elkhorn Coral and Palometa Jacks. This was a magnificent sight. When leaving the Elkhorn area I realized that all the rubble we came across moments earlier, had been dead Elkhorn Coral. We were now heading back to where we intended to exit the water, but the reef still held a last surprise for us: a third turtle! This one was about 2.5 feet long and was larger than the first two we saw. When we finally made it to the car, we realized that we had been in the water for almost 2 hours. Both my friend and I agreed that this had been a great snorkeling experience. The bottom line on this reef is that a large part of it (the part closest to the shore) is dead. However this reef still shows flashes of brilliancy. One can only imagine how magnificent this reef must have been in its heyday. Snorkelers and divers should beware of the current pulling you out to sea. Inexperienced snorkelers should avoid this reef.

02/21/2005 Mike Meagher (Avg: 1.81 Review) - This site is quite barren, with very little on the bottom. Just a few corals, few fans, mostly a rocky bottom. I was hoping to see much life at this site as it is near the end of the island, but was disappointed. Perhaps one of my worst snorkel dives around Aruba.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: AR0101


Parking at Shallow Reef 

Parking is right next to the site entry on a hard-packed dirt road.




Overview at Shallow Reef 

You can see the reef in the back ground, above the pelican heads


 Map     Sat
GPS: AR0103


Entry at Shallow Reef 

An easy gravel entry awaits you. Keep you fins off and walk out a bit before submerging.




Aerial at Shallow Reef 

The shallow reef is great for snorkeling. A short kick will take you to the shelf edge.

Last Verification: February, 2001  


Diver Averages for  Shallow Reef  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  3.57
Bottom Conditions:  2.86
Reef Conditions:  2.57
Animal Life:  2.86
Plant Life:  2.29
Facilities:  2.00
Solitude 3.57
Roads:  3.57
*Site Average:  2.84

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  3.14
Beginner Scuba:  2.57
Intermediate Scuba:  2.43
Advanced Scuba:  2.43
Night diving Scuba:  2.14

Number of reviews for this site: 7


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