Overview of Mangel Halto Reef

Mangel Halto Reef

ABC Islands


Mangel Halto Reef is exciting in that you practically walk on the water out to the reef edge before putting on your fins. There are two entries for this dive: one from a large sunning beach, and the other just North off the main road.

Directions: A 100m South of the Southern 1A 4A intersection, turn West for 300m. Then turn left for 1km passing over the Spanish Lagoon. Turn right and wind your way for about 1km. You'll see the entrances on your right.


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04/28/2013 Linda from Atlanta (Avg: 3.81 Review) - My husband and I snorkeled this location today. Entering from the shore is easy, they built a dock and have a ladder to the water. We left our stuff on the dock and it was all there when we got back (including a camera my husband forgot was in the bag!). it is very shallow initially and there is a lot of sea grass...if you go out farther you will see some beautiful Elkhorn corals and abundant sealife. The 6 cuttlefish we saw in some of the more shallow water (closer to the broken pier on the right), and the honeycomb cowfish were my favorites and things you don't see as commonly.

01/27/2013 Anonymous (Avg: 3.65 Review) - (No Comment)

06/04/2012 Aruba Bob (Avg: 4.45 Review) - I live in Aruba and while I have only been certified for 6 months I have dived over 100 times, most of that is around the Mangel Halto area. Within a 5 min drive of the beach there are multiple entry points some good for intermediate and advanced. As the current can get quite strong I would say you need to be a strong swimmer. This stretch of the coast line is great for drift dives, if you get yourself a good instructor there are so many places to go that are not on this site. Night dives are about 30% of my dives so far, so far all on this reef area. Here is a link to a video I did from some diving we did in the last week of May. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWwNRKQ097w

03/03/2012 Mark and Jean (Avg: 4.43 Review) - First, unless you are an EXTREMELY good swimmer, do not swim to the yellow buoy to the far north, as suggested by some other reviewers. The current going away from shore can be quite strong. Going straight out to the reef was a comfortable swim. We were able to glide over the reef close to shore, and find an area varying from 2' to ~20' filled with many wonderful fish and corals. Most amazing was a small, dark blue fish within the corals, with iridescent aqua - turquoise dots on their bodies. We also saw barracuda, trumpetfish, princess parrotfish, tobacco fish, grey angels, wrasses, trunkfish, butterflyfish, and a sea snake in the mangroves as we were returning. This was one of our favorite places, with De Palm island.

02/19/2012 George Stuart (Avg: 3.83 Review) - Snorkeled Mangel Halto with my son yesterday, weather, visibility, current were all great. It was a little windy and some wave action was present, but entry was very easy at the mangroves, and exit at the stairs likewise. Saw barracuda, turtle, all the typical reef dwellers. The Cabin Cruiser wreck is within the cove, and marked by a small buoy (a bleach bottle tied to a line) and is very hard to see from shore. Based on other descriptions, we were looking much too far out, past the breakers... which is where we saw the 'cuda and the turtle, but not where the wreck is. The wreck is in the cove, in the deeper water where the white sand is, favoring towards the mangrove end of the deep bowl within the cove. The best reef and fauna is out deeper, i.e. farther from shore, towards and past the breakers. Great site overall, lots of variety in depth, reef, and things to see. No wonder dive schools often bring their classes here from other areas.

12/27/2011 John 1 (Avg: 4.26 Review) - After a disappointing snorkel at Mangel Halto (few fish, choppy water, strong current), but hearing other snorkelers there telling me it was the best they saw on Aruba, I went out again several days later. This time past the dropoff (deep and somewhat intimidating with the current), to the round yellow float/buoy. I saw a smaller barracuda and several larger jacks on my way out. I didn't see the wreck, but the depth became shallow again to about 6' when I came upon the reef. It was incredibly pristine and the water was crystal clear. The fish were numerous and colorful. The coral was alive and healthy. I saw a beautiful sea anemone, too. The only drawback was the distance from shore (about 1/4 mile) but about half of that could be walked on a sandy bottom. The current was in the back of my mind, so I didn't stay out too long. Of the four areas in Aruba I snorkeled (Mangel Halto, Catalina Cove, Malmok, Baby Beach), I consider this the best. The buoy/float is often difficult to see from shore, but is about 1/4 mile out, approximately one o'clock from the wooden sunning deck at the bottom of the stairs just to the right (NW) of the mangroves.

06/26/2011 Stephen 1 (Avg: 4.52 Review) - Entered dive site on the south side by the mangroves. Walked out around 100m. Good shallow reef but we wanted to go deeper so we moved out from the reef at almost a 90 degree heading (by compass). The reef turned to a nice white coral-sand bottom that dropped off to around 40'. That's where we found the nice little wreck mentioned in other posts. We were surprised at how sterile the wreck was. It was my partner's first wreck and she even felt comfortable enough to dive it (I'm an instructor btw). Visibility was around 50'.
P.S. -- Dove Mangel Halto again today. Started maybe 100m north of the actual beach. Strong northward current in the shallows but good wildlife. After about 110m of shallows, the reef opened up into a nice down slope to 60' with another rise on the seaward side. The bottom of the channel had a strong current but nothing unmanageable even with midpower fins. Schools of juvenile open water fish congregated immediately above the channel. Some of the younger schools of jack came over to play with us. Would be very nice for a night dive if you have a good strobe on the shower and have a good navigator with you. Also has good snorkeling for the non-diving friends.

04/19/2011 Mark J (Avg: 4.38 Review) - One of the best snorkeling sites in Aruba. The reef is one of the most varied in coral species. Be sure to enter off the cliff down the laddreds rather than at the mangrove swimming area. Swim out to the down slope where most of the corals and larger fish are.

01/27/2011 Amber Orchid (Avg: 4.49 Review) - I stayed at a bungalow walking distance from Mangel Halto. I went snorkeling several times per day for a week and thought the fish were wonderful. Beware that the current can be strong and the reef is rather shallow with A LOT of fire coral, so I recommend this site to only advanced snorkelers (i.e. please no beginner snorkelers hitting and damaging the reef). Also, there are quite a few boats that come close to the reef, so be on the lookout when you are snorkeling!

08/30/2010 Don Kuehl (Avg: 3.00 Review) - Snorkeling, me and my lady friend had a good time. However, the current was pretty strong that day.

12/11/2009 T&D (Avg: 3.33 Review) - Dove this last week. Worth the trip South from the hotel district. Rented tanks from Mermaid dive shop on the North end. (Wendy was extremely helpful.) There is current, but it's manageable. Worst case scenario you get pushed into the bay and have a long walk. We kicked to channel marker buoy, dropped into 10' of water, headed to the reef (30 yards), descended to 60' and headed South against the current for about 20 minutes. Current helped us back in. Other postings are accurate about sea life, vis was 50+ feet, but this changes daily. NEW WRECK ONSITE. Small cabin cruiser sunk in 30' of water (inside the bowl, sandy bottom). Very easy to find, visible from shore by a small buoy, maybe 50 yards from the mangrove. If you're diving, do the reef and finish with the wreck. Sorry to hear about the thefts onsite, it only takes a few bad apples to ruin the bunch. Many thanks to shorediving.com

11/19/2009 Matt M. (Avg: 4.04 Review) - Better than ever. This is the place for serious snorkelers only. The current is pretty rough, however well worth the workout. Although not a diver I did see two guys diving at the shelf. It looked very easy to access and to drop 60-70 feet in no time seemed awesome. Ton of fish, and the reef is beautiful.

08/13/2009 Ewilensky (Avg: 3.68 Review) - Snorkeled here yesterday. Swim out past marker in channel (watch for current which is usually mild). Excellent reef condition past marker to the north. Lots of fish, some turtles and excellent plant/coral life. For strong swimmers you can use the private island to the north of the marker as base of operations. It does get shallow so be careful. This is a very good place to snorkel and we will return for a dive.

06/17/2009 Anonymous (Avg: 3.00 Review) - Drop car off here. Entry point is Puerto Chiquito. See evaluation below (Oct 20-24 2008).

10/28/2008 Anonymous (Avg: 4.09 Review) - Week of Oct 20-24 2008, most of the snorkeling on the island is junk due to hurricane Omar that passed thru here last week. Most shallow reefs are flattened. This is still the best spot on the island to go, as the reef was deep enough to survive. Park at the Mango Halto lagoon, but don't enter the water there. Instead walk down the road 2 blocks, and there you will find a house painted yellow that has a small beach access next to it. Enter here and swim out only 100 ft to about 20' water depth. You will drift over the best beach accessible reef on the island. Drift to the lagoon and enter thru the channel to avoid the fire coral. Google maps shows this area very clearly.

09/17/2008 Anonymous (Avg: 2.28 Review) - Youths/thugs smashed the window of our rental car. When they found nothing, they waited for us to return. They attempted to shake us down and mug us. One solid punch landed on their 'leader' and they ran. Cowards and thieves are all the same. Looking to prey on the weak or the fearful. Visit this wonderful spot in a group and leave nothing in your vehicles.

08/22/2006 Anonymous (Avg: 3.85 Review) - Great site. Visibility is lower and current has reversed this year - it is coming from NW, so plan ahead. Also watch out for youth on motorbikes. They smashed a window in my rental car and searched for valuables, including the trunk.

07/05/2006 Walter Mohamed (Avg: 4.52 Review) - Great site for any level snorkeler and/or diver. We handle DSD and Open Water certifications here, but also Advanced courses (UW Navigation, PPB, etc) You can stay in the 'bowl' at about 30feet or you can go over the barrier reef, and see some of the most pristine reef that Aruba has, with great variety in sea life (Eels, parrot fish, snappers, etc). Look for the 'giant 'hermit crab that lives in the bowl.

04/13/2006 Anonymous (Avg: 4.57 Review) - Awesome, awesome place to snorkel. Was recommended to us by a local who said it had the healthiest reef on the island. He wasn't kidding. Lots and lots of fish life. You have to swim a little to get out of the shallow water but it drops off to a good (safe) depth of 20-30 feet. You can swim out farther and the water & current get a little rough, but my wife handled it fine. Farther out, the reef drops off to 50-60-70 feet, then off into the abyss. You can see all the way down…awesome!

08/27/2005 Anonymous (Avg: 3.88 Review) - This was a great snorkeling spot. It takes a little while to swim out to the reef but it is well worth it. It's much less crowded than the northern spots and feels more wild. Pretty good variety of fish and coral. The surf can be a bit rough on windy days.

03/04/2005 Kent Gerber (Avg: 4.00 Review) - Snorkeling was great but someone broke my jeep window when I was parked down behind on the small beach and stole my wallet with $500 in it, as well as my digital underwater camera, 2 wet suites, fins, mask and snorkels, towels. Over $3000 worth. Make sure that you don't leave anything valuable in your vehicle. They say it's locals trying to support their drug habit. They are lucky that I never caught them in the act. Maybe I'm lucky that I never caught them in the act.

02/08/2005 Debbie Bennett (Avg: 4.23 Review) - Dec 12-23. Snorkeler This place was absolutely wonderful. Corals and gorgonians big as cars out past the inlet in the rougher water. It looks scary, but the current is really quite manageable, it usually just tries to bring you back to the bay. I spent part of every day for 10 days there and always had something new to see. One day drifted from Pos Coquito to Mangel Halto. That was a nice easy drift in about 15-30 feet of water. No damage from Ivan.

12/04/2004 JP (Avg: 2.60 Review) - The lagoon is a nice easy place to dive with not much to get into trouble with. My wife and I were there on two training dives when we were getting certified. Couple of French angles, stoplight parrotfish, and a few other colorful critters. On our second dive there, our instructor miscalculated the tide and we ran into a much stronger current in the breakout chutes to the open water than was expected.

09/22/2004 Anonymous (Avg: 3.59 Review) - This is a great place to learn how to scuba without having to take the course in a pool. It's the perfect environment to practice, and that's where I learned! It's also great for a first time night dive!

12/20/2003 Steve Fremgen (Avg: 3.83 Review) - The reef is an easy swim from the shore, a long-shore current is usually present, so plan your dive around that. The deep reef is pristine and is a nursery for many parrotfish and yellowtail snapper.

09/13/2002 John Kurre (Avg: 3.01 Review) - Good access road near site. Climb down ladder to wood platform to enter water. Swim out through shallow sandy/rocky bottom area about 200 yards. Lots of fire coral. Reef was ok not spectacular. Mild current. 35' visibility. Overall only an average dive not as good as Bonaire or Curacao.

12/30/2001 Dave 2 (Avg: 3.64 Review) - I entered by walking out west from the small beach as shown in the website. I found a significant northbound current until I got to a depth of about 30ft. I worked my way south against the current. This is very worthwhile dive! It was like diving in an aquarium garden with colorful fish meandering in and out of the abundant leaf coral (careful with that stuff, I inadvertently touch one with the back of my hand and immediately knew it - Ouch!) I exited through surf zone opposite beach I walked in from. This can be challenging. You have to cross about 15 ft of rocks through 2 ft deep water that is under continuous white-wash. It is possible to twist an ankle if you not careful. Just take slow. Also, be careful of the surge as you approach the rocks if you exit here. I wore a full 3mm suit and booties and was perfectly comfortable in the 79-80 degree water.

10/09/2001 Dave Rambo (Avg: 3.38 Review) - Some dive shops use this easy dive for open water cert. There are really two very different spots here to dive. For beginners just walk out from the ladder about 70 yds and there is a bowl with small coral heads. Eels and a variety of fish. Then you can go through what locals call hole in the wall which is a break in the coral made by boats some time ago. This part of the dive is for interm. divers as there is a little current but a very good dive.

07/18/2001 Joe Yannessa (Avg: 4.16 Review) - first shore dive ever. very easy. For advanced you can go out of the lagoon in 15 feet of water at 230' south then you can swim against the current for a short bit and then swim back with it until you get to the entrance to the lagoon. there are a couple of dive things to see in the open water out of the lagoon. local dive shop mermaids will give you a map.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: AR0601


Entrance at Mangel Halto Reef 

Looking North, this entrance to the left is for the sunning beach; the dive van in the far background (under the tree) is next to the Northern site entry.


 Map     Sat
GPS: AR0602


Parking at Mangel Halto Reef 

Parking for the Northern entry.


 Map     Sat
GPS: AR0603


Entry at Mangel Halto Reef 

This is the Southern beach area; you can walk all the way across this reef. The diving is in the background by the boats.


 Map     Sat
GPS: AR0604


Entry at Mangel Halto Reef 

The Northern entry has an easily accessible ladder. Note the divers in the distance still walking toward the drop off.




Aerial at Mangel Halto Reef 
(click photo for details)

After the short walk on the reef, you'll find very good shallow snorkeling, as well as a nice shelf for divers to explore.

Last Verification: February, 2001  


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

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  4.00
Bottom Conditions:  3.90
Reef Conditions:  4.07
Animal Life:  4.03
Plant Life:  3.62
Facilities:  2.55
Solitude 3.62
Roads:  3.97
*Site Average:  3.81

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  4.03
Beginner Scuba:  3.69
Intermediate Scuba:  3.41
Advanced Scuba:  3.17
Night diving Scuba:  3.34

Number of reviews for this site: 29


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