Mangel Halto is located on the southeastern shore, toward San Nicolas, and in Pos Chiquito. I knew that this was supposed to be an awesome place for snorkeling and it was one of the options that the scuba dive company we would be using on this trip was considering taking us to.
One of our beach days, at Baby Beach where we met a US family, told us that they had been here and they had heard about the awesome snorkeling. I knew that I had to come and the general area it was located in. We did stop once along the way to ask some locals at another beach where this was located. In Aruba, you don't get directions that most American's are used to (such as go 4 blocks to Beach street and turn right, then the next stop light is Water Way and turn left)...you get no street names, no route numbers, just "it's down this way I think at the 3rd roundabout, but there's construction, so there might be a detour. Then go right, then left then right"....oh boy. So, at least we knew what direction it was and we were going to turn at the 3rd roundabout and head right. Only it wasn't the 3rd roundabout, it was supposed to be the 4th, which we would figure out later after getting lost. We were on another joy ride but eventually we landed on the correct street...we just didn't know it. At some point we figured we had messed up and turned back around only to find out that we were going the right way and had to do another U-turn. We seen the sign and finally found the right street to turn on. We also found that right before getting to Mangel Halto is the place for DePalm to catch the ferry, which we would be doing several days later.
There is plenty of free parking along the street and there are walls that you overlook the ocean down below. There are several places that you can sit at up above and walk down steps to get into the water. I did see a few docks to walk down and sit on with steps leading down into the water too. However, the hubby wanted to go on down and park in this lot where he seen some other cars.
We unloaded our things and there was a bridge you walk over and down to the "beach"? Well, it was sand with palapas along the trees and mangroves and they had little entrances (between the mangroves) every so often to the water. We kept heading straight and it lead us to a beach-looking area, but it didn't look like a place you could swim because it was very shallow and loaded with nothing but rocks in the water..
We did an about-face and went back to pick a spot along one of the entrances to the water by the mangroves. There's PLENTY of shade in these areas and a lot of people just putting their things down and heading out to the water.
You walk between the mangroves and come out to a huge open area of ocean. It's like a huge cove. We looked to the right and could see the people entering the area from above via the ladders/steps.
I headed out with my daughter and snorkel gear and swam all over the place from one side to the other and really didn't see much. I was quite disappointed. There were A LOT of damsels, a few angel fish and butterfly fish, but nothing major. Somehow (I didn't know this until after I got home and looked at my pictures) my camera got on some wacky setting and everything looks like the color was abstracted from the pictures leaving black and green colors. I have never seen pictures like this and have no idea what button I might have hit. Sorry for the terrible snorkeling pictures. I won't be sharing many snorkeling pictures because the colors are just horrifying.
When I returned back to our little "entrance" my daughter had already made it back (she turned around mid-point of snorkeling and I watched her go back to my hubby...which you can stand all the way here) and my husband had made friends with a local family who had children. We learned that they had lived here for many years, then moved away and had just recently returned to live in Aruba again. They told us places of interest to go (which we had either already been there or was going there) and a little "history". I love getting to know the locals and hanging out. Our daughter played ball with them and we spent quite some time here. I did mention to them that I thought this was supposed to be an amazing snorkeling area. They told me it was outside the rocky area and it was unsafe to go out there and definitely not alone. So...I guess that's why I missed it. Maybe another time when we can have more people with us or take a tour out there.
It's definitely a nice place to hang out. I loved the atmosphere...even without the snorkeling. It's an excellent place for families to come because of how shallow the water is. However, next time I go, I hear that the excellent snorkeling is out a ways and in an area that isn't the easiest to do. So, I have heard that it's best to take a snorkeling tour with Aruba Bob using his sea scooters.