6 Best Things to Do in Aruba

Aruba may be a small island, but it has plenty of outdoor fun. From snorkeling to street art, there’s something for everyone on the Caribbean’s One Happy Island.

Beach Hopping

First thing to do in Aruba, hit the beach! The island is home to over 20 beaches, all of which are free and open to the public. Despite this, you don’t have to worry about vendors selling their wares. Take time to visit a few and get a sense of each one’s distinct atmosphere and vibe. 

The popular Eagle Beach is a must visit thanks to its stunning windswept divi divi trees. If you’re staying in one of the island’s high rise hotels, Palm Beach and its endless palapas will likely be your home base. Be sure to buy an acai bowl from Eduardo’s Beach Shack to cool off. 

Baby Beach, another favorite with tourists and locals, is located on the southern end of the island. With its shallow baby blue waters, it’s perfect for the whole family. 

Arashi Beach, situated at the northern tip of the island, was one of my personal favorites. The waves are calm, the sand is white, and there’s plenty of yummy seafood to be had, making it perfect for a chill day at the beach.

Entry Fees & Hours
  • Fees: Free entry. Beach chairs are limited to hotel guests.
  • Hours: Open 24 hrs, Daily

Flamingo Beach

Chances are if you’ve Googled Aruba, you’ve seen a photo of flamingos. Believe it or not, Aruba’s unofficial mascot is not native to the island. The only place you’ll find these creatures is Renaissance Island, the private island owned by the Renaissance Resort.

The island is only accessible to guests staying at the hotel. A limited number of day passes are available for $125 pp and include lunch and a drink.

A speedboat, which runs every 15 minutes, takes guests from the hotel to the island in under 10 minutes. Due to the pandemic, capacity is capped at 10 people and all passengers must wear masks.

When I arrived at Renaissance Island in the early afternoon, all of the beach chairs had been claimed on Flamingo Beach. Nonetheless, I was able to snap a pic with these guys, despite being afraid to get too close to their beaks. Lol. For the more brave, you can buy food and feed the flamingos yourself.

I actually enjoyed spending more time on Iguana Beach, the opposite side of the island, which is open to families. It was spacious and the lagoon protected the area from strong waves. Despite its name, you can find large iguanas sunbathing on both beaches.

Entry Fees & Hours
  • Fees: Free for hotel guests. $125 pp for day passes.
  • Hours: 7 AM – 7 PM, Daily

San Nicolas Murals

San Nicolas is Aruba’s second largest city and one of my favorite places to visit on the island. Located south of Oranjestad, it’s home to Aruba’s once-bustling oil refinery. 

With colorful street art adorning the neighborhood’s walls, it’s a photographer’s paradise. The murals are a result of the Aruba Art Fair, which has brought local and international artists to Aruba to create these works of art for the past 5 years. The neighborhood’s resulting popularity has brought up conversations concerning gentrification.

Many of Aruba’s black residents call this working class neighborhood home. You can learn more about the area’s history by visiting the San Nicolas Community Museum and the Museum of Industry.

Entry Fees & Hours
  • Fees: Free
  • Hours: Open 24 hrs, Daily
  • Visit each museum’s website for pricing and opening hours.

Snorkeling or Sea Trek

Snorkeling is another popular thing to do in Aruba. Visit Mangel Halto or Boca Catalina to get up close and personal with an array of fish. Both beaches are easy to reach with a car, but if you’d prefer a guided tour, there are plenty to be found on the island.

If you don’t know how to swim, De Palm Island’s Sea Trek is another great option. My dad and I opted for this excursion and had a great time. Transportation from your hotel to the private De Palm Island is included in the price. Once you arrive, you’ll have time to relax on the beach and snap some photos with the island’s flamingos. Side note: these flamingos are whiter, smaller, and less friendly than the ones on Renaissance Island.

No swimming or dive training is required for the Sea Trek. A helmet is placed on your head and all you have to do is breath. Your guides walk you through an underwater area, stopping for photo ops with a sunken jeep and plenty of fish. Check out my video on Instagram for some footage from our dive.

Entry Fees & Hours
  • Fees: Free access to beaches. $49 pp for De Palm’s Sea Trek.
  • Hours: Vary depending on the tour

Arikok National Park 

Despite being a Caribbean island, Aruba’s terrain is more desert-like than lush and green. Nowhere is this more evident than Arikok National Park. Comprising 20% of the island, it’s the perfect place to get in touch with your adventurous side. 

Conchi is one of the park’s top attractions and is only accessible via an all terrain vehicle. Book an adrenaline pumping ATV tour or drive yourself there with a Jeep. This naturally occurring pool is sheltered from the wild waves of the ocean due to surrounding rocks. 

Other must sees inside the park are Baby Bridge, Bushiribana gold mill ruins, and the Fontein and Quadiriki caves, which are home to two large colonies of bats. The Fontein cave is especially noteworthy due to its pictographs, which were left by the Arawaks 2000-3500 years ago. 

If you’d like to see everything in one go, plan to spend the entire day here.

Entry Fees & Hours
  • Fees: $11 USD for non-resident adults. Free for children up to 17 yrs old.
  • Hours: 8 AM – 4 PM, Daily. Last ticket sold at 3:30 PM.

Shopping in Oranjestad

Get a taste of Amsterdam in the Caribbean! Oranjestad is the island’s capital and features a number of Dutch style buildings, painted in brilliant bright colors. Snap a few cute photos against these beautiful backdrops as you shop. 

Oranjestad is also the place to go for all your shopping needs. For more upscale clothing and jewelry brands, visit Renaissance Mall. For locally crafted goods and discount stores, stop by the Local Market and wander near by streets.

Fun fact: While Arubans may not celebrate Thanksgiving, they do partake in Black Friday. During our trip, the streets were filled with folks taking advantage of the sales.

Entry Fees & Hours
  • Fees: Free
  • Hours: Varies by store

Bonus: Archaeological Museum

For all my history buffs who’d like to learn more about Aruba’s history, pay a visit to the Archaeological Museum. Housed in an old cunucu house (a.k.a. traditional Aruban home), this museum traces the history of the island through the lens of its earliest inhabitants: the Amerindian.

The majority of Aruba’s population draws its lineage from the native peoples that first settled on the island. With over 10,000 artifacts—some dating back as far as 2,500 BC —and interactive exhibits, their lives and contributions to Aruba’s language and culture come alive.

Entry Fees & Hours
  • Fees: Free
  • Hours: Tues to Fri from 10 AM – 5 PM; Sat to Sun from 10 AM – 2 PM

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