Santa Cruz, Aruba
The Best (Secret) Snorkeling in ArubaTurquoise waters and reclusive snorkeling conditions sound both ideal and cliched, but Mike's Reef in Aruba offers that definitive postcard-worthy aquatic experience. "My father started Tranquilo Aruba in 1977," says the son of founder Captain Mike Hagedoorn, while at first Anthony wanted nothing to do with the business, today he charters people from Oranjestad to the best kept snorkeling secret on the Island.
Mike's Reef is an untouched, sun-bleached pier with a little shack from which you can snorkel in crystal clear waters. It's so pure and virgin that developers have been trying to get their hands on it for years, but since Anthony leases the land from the government, he won't give in. "We like to keep it this way," he chuckles, as he takes group of us sailing, along with his trusted dog. Anthony has been sailing and snorkeling since he was a boy (he grew up on the shore opposite to the reef) and it's a day trip you won't want to miss.
The coral is just inches away from your face and during the trip I saw: coral, blue-footed boobies, parrot fish, and many more unknown (silvery, transparent, and multicolored) creatures. The staff on board the charter is genial as they are generous: expect unlimited rum punches and hors d'ouevres, and plenty of great stories.