11 Best Things To Do In Aruba: Attractions & Activities 2022
Aruba is an autonomous island in the southern Caribbean, 29 km from Venezuela. Until 1986 it was part of the Netherlands Antilles and, although it is not currently part of the European Union, all citizens of Aruba have a Dutch passport. The languages spoken on the island are Papiamento (a Creole language), Dutch, English, and Spanish.
Aruba is famous for its beaches, crystal clear waters, and its tropical landscapes. You can relax in Palm Beach; lie down and rest on the dream beach of Eagle Beach, one of the best in the world; snorkel between beautiful cliffs in the calm waters of Mangel Halto, or escape the chaos and crowds and enjoy the solitude and relaxation of Baby Beach.
he most famous island of the southern Caribbean vacation offers 360° to visitors: snorkel to discover the coral reefs or fun activities like crossing the island in 4 × four or diving into the underwater Atlantis VI.
The beauty of Aruba has strong ties to history. The first inhabitants of the island were the Arawak Indians. In 1499, the Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda claimed the territory for the Spanish crown. Almost 200 years later, the Dutch seized the islands of Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire from the Spanish. Today much of that heritage can be discovered in typical European buildings and architecture.
1. Oranjestad: The Capital
Many destinations in the world are ideal for all water sports enthusiasts, especially snorkeling, rowing, or even fishing. One of these sites is the city of Oranjestad, the capital and largest urban area of Aruba, located on the southern coast near the western tip of the country. It offers 12 kilometers of beaches and crystal clear waters. It is a beautiful city, thanks to the vibrant colors of its streets, and its name can be translated as Orange City.
Among the beaches not to be missed is Surfside Beach, where you can relax in the refreshing shade of the kiwis and enjoy a beautiful sunset.
It is a long and narrow stretch of beach, ideal as a starting point for an excursion and a picnic under the trees and near the calm waters that make this area a familiar and welcoming place. This central beach is located near the famous Linear Park. The island is distinguished by great respect for the environment, the beaches are clean, and tourists are also sensitized by ecological work.
The construction of the city began in 1796. The first building to be built was a fort called Zoutman, which has been preserved until today and served to defend against pirate offensives on the coast. The residential neighborhoods were built around it: the tiny, colorful houses offer charm and simplicity, completing an already cozy atmosphere, with inlaid wooden doors and picturesque Dutch tile roofs.
One of the main attractions is Queen Wilhelmina Park, a tribute to the Dutch queen, who played an essential role in developing the city. One of the most important buildings is the Cathedral of Santa Ana, built in the 18th century, a true masterpiece of neoclassical architecture. The most famous monument is the statue of Simón Bolívar.
It is worth visiting the Archaeological Museum, which contains utensils, household items, and other ethnographic objects found on the island. Equally valuable collections are exhibited in the Numismatic Museum, where there are notes, coins, and stamps that, in total, are more than 30,000 samples.
2. California Lighthouse
A guardian, a symbol of the island. Now it is a must-see attraction for tourists. We are talking about the old California lighthouse, made of stone, stands out for its 30 meters in the northwest part of the island. It receives hundreds of visits from people every day, attracted by an unparalleled view, especially at sunset.
This lighthouse was named after the wreck of California in 1891, a British steamship that sank off the coast. To prevent further accidents, it was decided to build it.
Its position is studied: it is located on a plateau, 10 meters above sea level, with a panoramic view of the beautiful beaches and the coast. In addition to the natural beauty and unique landscape, you can also admire the lush gardens of the nearby golf club.
3. Arikok National Park
A spacious green area is rich in landscapes, natural beauty, caves, beaches, and surprises. The Arikok National Park covers almost 20% of Aruba, and it preserved thousands of animal and plant species: snakes and birds deserve special mention.
Inside the Park, you will find a great variety of landscapes, including charming bays, picturesque creations made of lava and limestone, not forgetting the sites that contain ancestral cultural heritage, including the original engravings of the Indians. A guide will accompany you through the dry river beds to the protected bays of Moro, Boca Prins, and Dos Playa. A part of the price of the entrance ticket goes to the maintenance of the Park and special programs for the protection and preservation of animals.
Within the Park, there are also several caves, including the Quadirikiri Cave. Hidden at the bottom of a cliff, it stretches for 150 meters. It is a true spectacle that will surprise you with its light games in an almost heavenly atmosphere. Sunlight passes through the holes in the ceiling of the cave and makes the atmosphere magical. The batsLittle ones live in the darkest parts of the cave and use this place to nest.
There is a legend about the cave, and it dates back to ancient times: An Indian chief supposedly locked his daughter here because she had fallen in love with a boy who had not been accepted. The two young men died here, and their souls flew to heaven through the holes. You can also visit the Fontein Caves, with their stalactites and stalagmites, which are famous because they contain the engravings of the Arawak Indians along their walls.
Along the Park is also the wonderful Boca Prins beach, named after an old plantation. Access is through a wooden staircase, and once there, you can admire the contrast between the white dunes and the rocky coastline and relax, enjoying the lush vegetation.
The beauty does not end since, along the way, there is a natural pool where you can swim. There is also a restaurant where you can taste local specialties and enjoy the ideal climate and a pleasant breeze, as well as a spectacular view.
4. Aloe Factory and Museum
What is aloe? What type are your plantations? What is it for? You can discover it in the museum and factory that Aruba has dedicated to him: Aruba Aloe Factory, Museum, and Store.
First, however, some historical information is needed. Aloe came to Aruba more than 180 years ago, in 1840. Within a few years, two-thirds of Aruba’s surface was covered by this plant, and the island became the world’s leading exporter. It was the Hato plantation that saw the first aloe vera plants planted: 60 hectares of land that is still used to cultivate it today.
In the museum and the factory, thanks to a guide and the visits organized every day, and you can visit the aloe plantation while you receive detailed information and tell you some anecdotes. Inside the structure are the old tools, utensils, equipment, and a virtual library that will clarify the last doubts about aloe. You can buy all aloe products in the factory store, such as gels and lotions for the body, face, sun, and hair care.
5. Butterfly Farm
Aruba is a destination where animals are indeed the stars. There are places where you can have fun and spend a different day. One of them is the Butterfly Farm: away and an opportunity to get to know nature in all its beauty. Imagine a tropical garden full of colorful butterflies and all species.
You can observe its complete life cycle. The guides will tell you about its entire metamorphosis process: from the egg to the larva, from the chrysalis to the butterfly. In some cases, you can observe this last phase of transformation and see the butterfly’s first flight.
Another place especially suitable for children is the local ostrich farm, with more than 80 specimens. Here children can take photos and learn to care for these large birds. The most anticipated moment is, of course, when you will be able to feed them. Many rest areas on the farm are situated in a very picturesque natural area surrounded by mountainous landscapes. The farm has a shop where you can buy eggs and an African art market.
A third place that is undoubtedly very curious is the Sanctuary of the Donkey, a kind of reserve where there are more than 130 donkeys. Donkeys have historically been the primary mode of transportation for Aruba residents.
Now they have “retired,” but tourists can cross the same paths surrounded by cacti that were the usual routes of donkeys, pulling cars, or carrying passengers on foot or by car. The idea of a protected reserve where animals can move freely was born in 1997. After almost 20 years in Santa Lucia, the reserve moved to a more prominent location in Bringamosa.
6. Casibari Rock Formations
The Aruba landscape in its interior is truly varied, alternating hills and wild nature with large jagged rocks. The Casibari rock formations are an example of the latter type. The vast cliffs occupy a residential area near the main road to Santa Cruz.
Here hikers can enjoy a breathtaking view from the steps and paths along the rocks. Two rock formations can be climbed: Ayo and Casibari. Experts have not formulated any hypotheses or theories about how and why these massive rocks are situated on Aruba’s flat, sandy island.
Along the route, you will also find caves with rock carvings dating back thousands of years. The enormous round rocks of the Ayo rock formations make an impression and create a bit of awe.
They also make one understand why the area, according to various legends, was considered a sacred and inviolable place by the island’s original inhabitants. Some of them are also shaped like a snake or a dragon and have a reddish-brown tint. The area also offers places where you can rest, and there are some places where you can take a break, with a snack or some typical dishes.
7. Fort Zoutman Historical Museum
Once you enter Fort Zoutman, you will feel suspended in time and want to read all the historical documents and see the collections of the finds.
On the other hand, the Archaeological Museum is the first place where you will have the opportunity to study the history of Aruba. The fort owes its name to Admiral Johan Arnold Zoutman, who prevailed over the British in the North Sea.
The fort was built by African slaves (from Curaçao), while Amerindian slaves provided the building materials. After the expansion and reconstruction of the buildings (1826) and three underground prisons (1859), Fort Zoutman also functioned as a prison for slaves. In 1868, the Willem III Tower (William III Tower) was added to the complex and underwent a significant restoration project in the 1980s.
Fort Zoutman is Aruba’s most prestigious historic building and is located in downtown Oranjestad. Every week the Bon Bini-Festival cultural festival is held, both for tourists and locals. It is a kind of ” welcome. “
The Historical Museum receives visits from tourists and local people and has recently started educational programs for primary education. Management of the facilities has been in the hands of the Aruba Museum Foundation since 1983. It receives assistance from various governmental and non-governmental organizations such as ONUCA and the Prins Bernhard Foundation.
8. Gold Mines
Not just pirates, but adventurers, petty criminals, and gold diggers. The history of Aruba is full of characters in search of treasure or well-being on the island. And that is why there are also several gold mines.
The Arikok National Park frames the remains of the historic gold mines Miramar. On the north coast is the abandoned Bushiribana mine, which processed gold from mines in the nearby hills during the Aruba gold rush of 1800. A third site, the Balashi mine, was built at the end of the Spanish Lagoon.
The remains of that foundry are still visible in the picturesque surroundings near the narrow rock canyon known as the French Pass. In 1824, gold was finally discovered in Aruba, and in the end, the industry produced almost 1.5 million kilos of gold.
9. Natural Pools
Aruba is a place full of surprises and also of natural pools. In the Arikok Natural Park, you will find the famous wild collection of Conchi, which can only be reached by jeep along a dirt road.
It is one of the most famous activities among tourists for the beauty of the place and the ” adventure ” necessary to get to it.
The natural pool (also called Natural Pool) is a formation within the sea, with beautiful crystalline waters and surrounded by rocks against which the waves crash, creating a unique and charming spectacle. Once there, you will feel great tranquility and be surprised by the beauty of the landscape.
10. Diving And Snorkelling
The seabed off the west coast of Aruba is calm and rich in fish and marine vegetation, making it ideal for snorkeling or diving. The area offers protected beaches, clear sea, and unpolluted waters. For this reason, all the dive sites in Aruba are located on the west side of the island. Most of the ideal locations are concentrated on the island’s northern tip, a few kilometers north of the main resort area.
With its beautiful reef areas teeming with colorful fish and good opportunities to see turtles, Boca Catalina is considered the best in this section of the coast. Still, Malmok Beach (a bit further south) and Arashi Beach (a little further to the north) also offer good snorkeling, great sand, and various amenities. In the same area, Tres Trap, where many starfish are found on the sandy bottom, is a place not to be missed if you like these fascinating marine animals.
Aruba’s fabulous underwater “tradition,” second in the Atlantic after Bermuda for the large number of shipwrecks that have occurred in its waters (from planes to merchant ships of World War II), offers the possibility of extensive dives. There are 42 dive sites, particularly on the west and south sides, that are more protected.
Among the fascinating experiences, even at night, is the discovery of a 122-meter German merchant ship. Another fascinating ruin is that of Pedernales, excellent for beginner divers.
The Arashi Beechcraft twin-engine boat is in shallow water and great for beginners, with lots of fish around it, or the Sonesta rotated into three parts and surrounded by corals and sponges. How cool would it be to dive on a plane? Here it is also possible!
11. Jeep Safari
Aruba has a wild character, and one of the best examples is the jeep safari through Arikok National Park. Do it with the guidance of a driver to think only about enjoying the view or capturing the nuances of the route.
You will be able to reach the inaccessible and unspoiled places of the north coast of Aruba and see great small wonders like what remains of the Natural Bridge (Natural Bridge).
Some offers allow you to visit the natural pool, but also several beaches. Other tours depart directly from the capital, and among the various attractions are the Bushiribana Mine, the California Lighthouse, and several caves. A way to enjoy your vacation even with a bit of adrenaline. The visits can last a whole day and are also aimed at groups.
Frequently Asked Questions: Best Things To Do In Aruba
What is Aruba well known for?
North of Venezuela, the island of Aruba is famous for its stunning blonde beaches, wind-sculpted desert landscapes, and some of the best wreck diving in the Caribbean. Aruba is a relatively dry island with consistently fine weather. Scattered around the island are many beautiful beaches.
Is there anything to do in Aruba?
Days on Aruba are full of scuba diving off Hadicurari Beach, seeing the natural wonders of Arikok National Park or shopping for Dutch cheese in Oranjestad. You can take your tots to the calm waters of Baby Beach and slightly older kids to the Donkey Sanctuary or Ostrich Farm.
Is Aruba or Jamaica better?
Both have gorgeous beaches and rich cultures, but Aruba is generally more family-friendly, while Jamaica has a more robust nightlife and party culture that draws young adults. These two islands are known for sunny and warm Caribbean weather, but Jamaica is located in the Hurricane Belt, while Aruba is not.
Are there sharks in Aruba beaches?
Yes, there are sharks in Aruba. The sharks are found further out in the open water, they are not known to come near the beaches. You will find that there are over 20 species of sharks in the Dutch Caribbean islands. You will find sharks species like reef sharks, whale sharks, and hammerhead sharks there.
Is Aruba expensive?
Aruba is expensive, though you can pay in U.S. dollars or local currency. There’s no way around it: Aruba is expensive. That’s true for many Caribbean islands, where much of the produce, food, and other goods are imported from elsewhere and where hotel rooms come at a premium.
What is the best month to vacation in Aruba?
The best time to visit Aruba is from April to August – a huge window of time when the island’s high prices take a holiday. And since the island sits well outside the hurricane belt, there’s very little threat of tropical storms at this time. January to March features pleasant weather, but the room prices can soar.
Is it safe to walk around in Aruba?
For the most part, Aruba is safe. It’s actually considered to be one of the safest of all the Caribbean islands. Though relatively low in Aruba, crime still exists. We would still avoid walking around by yourself at night, especially in secluded areas (but we’ll get into that later).
What month is hurricane season in Aruba?
Although the hurricane season officially runs from June to November, the highest level of activity in the region goes from mid-August to mid-October. The most active time is mid-September.
Unique Things To Do In Aruba
Best Places To Visit In Aruba
Things To Do In Curacao
Best Things To Do In Aruba On A Cruise
Things To Do In Oranjestad, Aruba
Is Aruba Safe
Things To Do In Aruba With Kids
Things To Do In Aruba Blog