Best Things 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. But save some energy for evening hours, when the flashing lights of a Palm Beach casino or the live music of an Oranjestad pub beckon.
Updated July 17, 2018
- #1View all PhotosfreeEagle Beach#1 in ArubaBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Known as "Low-Rise area" for its low-to-the-ground hotels and timeshares, northwestern Eagle Beach is one of the island's top shores by default – you're probably staying nearby. Convenience aside, Eagle Beach truly is one of the best places to spend a day in Aruba.
Recent visitors called the beach magnificent with gorgeous white sand and the bluest water. They do warn of high winds, however, so plan to wear a hat to protect from any flying sand.
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Some vacationers like their water for swimming, not sporting. If this is you, ditch the "Low-Rise area" at Eagle Beach and try the more tranquil turquoise waters along Palm Beach, located just above Eagle Beach on Aruba's western coast. You'll have fewer Jet Skis and wakeboarders to avoid as you wade in the Caribbean Sea.
Recent travelers were impressed with the water's bright, clear blue color and the soft, white sand of the shoreline that varies by location. Others remarked on the memorable sunsets and prevalence of Tiki bars.
- #3View all Photos#3 in ArubaCasinos, Entertainment and NightlifeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDCasinos, Entertainment and NightlifeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The Hyatt Regency Casino has 13 gaming tables, 221 slot machines and 19 video poker machines. In other words, gamblers beware; this casino has plenty of opportunities for you to win – or lose – some money. The gaming floor is part of the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino along Palm Beach, but the slots and tables are open for outside patrons (18 years or older) to use as well.
Those who've stopped by the casino to take their chances with Lady Luck find that its ventilation system helps to reduce cigarette smoke, making for plenty of fresh air between sips of tasty cocktails. Many gamers note that the casino's small size is similar to others on Aruba but when compared to casinos in gambling havens like Las Vegas it's tiny. That said, they say the casino is still fun to visit and enjoy an hour or two out of the heat.
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Aruban rattlesnakes, parakeets and whiptail lizards make their home in the Arikok National Park, as do numerous iguanas, goats, donkeys and migratory birds. So, if you don't like animals, stay clear of Aruba's southeastern quadrant, which is dominated by this ecological preserve and extremely popular tourist stop.
Many who visit Arikok make a day of observing the area's wildlife, exploring the caves, sand dunes and limestone cliffs that populate the area, or cooling off in the natural pool that sit within the park's limits. Many choose to drive through the park in a four-wheel-drive vehicle (in fact, some attractions can only be reached by a four-wheel drive vehicle), but you can also get out and hike in some spots. Considering the breadth of land and activity in Arikok, it's best to pick one or two top things to do or perhaps visit the park again on another day. Recent visitors said it's a must-see attraction and like nothing else on Aruba.
- #5View all Photos#5 in ArubaMuseums, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Did you know that ostriches lay the largest eggs of any bird species? Or that they only have two toes per foot? You can learn all kinds of fascinating – and trivial – facts of this sort during a day at the Aruba Ostrich Farm on the island's eastern coast.
In addition to trivia, the farm's tour guides will educate you on the survival instincts and mannerisms of the ostriches and emus that live at the farm, plus you'll get a chance to interact with them up close.
- #6View all Photos#6 in ArubaSightseeing, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
This colorful attraction in Oranjestad boasts hundreds of exotic butterflies from around the world, from blue morphos from South America to longwings and monarchs from the Caribbean. Visitors are encouraged to take a 20-minute guided tour, which are offered all day, to learn about the evolutionary cycle of butterflies.
Recent visitors said that the farm is definitely worth checking out, noting that if you visit in the morning, you may even see butterflies hatching. Guides will also show you the best way to handle the butterflies and caterpillars without damaging them. The staff recommends wearing bright colors and citrus cologne to attract the butterflies to land on you.
- #7View all Photos#7 in ArubaMuseums, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Get ready to be overwhelmed with cute: the Donkey Sanctuary Aruba is a nonprofit organization devoted to saving the island's donkeys and educating locals and tourists on their care. Donkeys used to be the main form of transportation on the island; now many of them are sick and injured. The lucky ones receive proper care and shelter in this donkey sanctuary in the Santa Cruz neighborhood in Aruba's northeast side about 8 miles from Eagle Beach.
Recent visitors found the animals to be sweet, docile creatures eager to interact with people – especially if you bring the right treats (apples and carrots). Many visitors praised the mission and enjoyed stopping by. If you're traveling with kids, reviewers said this activity is a must.
- #8View all PhotosfreeHadicurari Beach#8 in ArubaBeaches, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Located near Aruba's northwestern tip, just past the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, Hadicurari Beach's strong winds beckon to windsurfers and kiteboarders. You'll know you're at the right place when you see beach shacks dotting a pebbly coastline; the beach here is nicknamed "Fisherman's Huts" for that very reason.
The area's shallow, iridescent water is also good for snorkeling, which a lot of visitors recommend. Even if you don't want to try your hand at windsurfing, reviewers say this is a great spot to watch others take on the winds. Because of it shallow waters, Hadicurari is also a hit with parents traveling with their children. A note of caution: The sand here is not as soft as Palm Beach; it's littered with broken coral and shells, so wear appropriate footwear.
- #9View all Photos#9 in ArubaNatural Wonders, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Not everyone likes to stay camped out on a Caribbean beach, shopping in a duty-free store or diving deep to a bygone shipwreck. If this is you, visit the Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations, a cluster of cacti, boulders and hiking trails located in eastern Aruba.
This is the recommendation repeated over and over again from recent guests of the region, who say the area, when judged in a vacuum, is unimpressive. But considering your big events on Aruba are limited to sea time, shop time, spa time or slots time, the Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations make an interesting enough stop and offer a panoramic (albeit windy) vista from the top.
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Named after a British steamship that wrecked just offshore near the end of the 19th century, the California Lighthouse is one of the most popular sightseeing stops in Aruba. Unfortunately, recent travelers say it's also one of the most overrated; however, experts and other travelers do agree that the view from the top of the 1910-era lighthouse is very romantic. What's more, it was recently renovated.
So what's the verdict? If you can venture away from the hotel area if you enjoy lighthouses or good Italian food (the nearby Faro Blanco restaurant earns high marks from past diners), then by all means make the journey. After all, people are going to ask if you stopped at this must-see anyway. But if your schedule is already jam-packed with things to do in Aruba, this could be an attraction to knock off the list.
- #11View all Photos#11 in ArubaSports, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSports, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The SS Pedernales was a World War II lake tanker that was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat en route to a refinery on Aruba. The center portion of the vessel still remains submerged off the shore of Palm Beach, approximately 25 feet below sea level. Skilled divers might be hesitant to make a trip to this rather shallow wreck site, but the Pedernales is a great way to "get your feet wet" in the sport.
Recent divers enjoyed the approximately 40-minute swim to thanks to the sea's abundant wildlife and clear conditions. Some warned that experienced divers may want to seek more challenging dives as this one is truly for beginners.
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Aruba has the remedy for the overhyped, overcrowded sprawl you might be experiencing along Eagle or Palm beaches. Take a trip southeast to San Nicolas and Baby Beach, a popular shore for Arubans due to its shallow waters and easy waves, which makes it great for kids.
Recent beachgoers recommend spending time snorkeling near the left, rocky side of the beach. Though visitors were generally pleased with this stretch of sand, they do warn that the restroom facilities are lacking.
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