The little Caribbean island of Aruba is mainly known for its beautiful beaches and tropical weather, but there are also lots of fun things to do in Aruba for couples, families with kids, and other travelers.
Even though it’s a small island, Aruba is home to the Arikok National Park, where you can enjoy hiking, horseback riding, and ATV off-roading, and the island also has caves, natural rock bridges, a lighthouse, and other scenic photo ops.
Believe it or not, there are also some fun wildlife activities in Aruba, like the Butterfly Farm and the famous Flamingo Beach on Renaissance Island, where you can feed and photograph the friendly pink flamingos while they roam around the island.
We spent lots of time exploring Aruba island recently, and had a blast. It’s safe, easy to get there from America, and pretty budget friendly. Best of all, there are dozens of immaculate white sand beaches in Aruba with clean blue water. It’s a great place to escape the winter.
This travel guide is our complete list of the best things to do in Aruba island!
Where To Stay In Aruba
Best Things To Do In Aruba Island
1. Enjoy The Beaches
Aruba is known for its amazing white sand beaches, and you can find great ones in every corner of the island! Relaxing on the beach and enjoying the sun and sea was probably the highlight of our time in Aruba.
The busiest and most popular spot in Aruba is Palm Beach, where you can find high-rise resorts along with plenty of restaurants and bars, shopping outlets, and watersports activities.
However, some of our favorite white sand beaches in Aruba were Arashi Beach, Baby Beach, and Eagle Beach. These are all beautiful, with nice swimming and free palapas (thatched umbrellas). These beaches are fairly popular now, but they’re not too developed, with just basic facilities like restrooms and one or two cafes. They’ve done a good job of keeping things simple!
If you’re looking for truly undeveloped beaches, you can mainly find those in the deserted north and east sides of the island, including Arikok National Park. Some of these aren’t good for swimming because of strong waves and currents, but they’re nice for solitude and scenery. There’s even an interesting black stone beach!
Read More: Best Aruba Beaches
2. See The Flamingos At Renaissance Island
Speaking of beaches, you have to spend at least one day seeing Aruba’s famous Flamingo Beach on Renaissance Island, where about a dozen photogenic flamingos roam around the island freely. It’s a fun experience for kids and adults alike, and you can feed the flamingos or take pictures with them.
This little semi-private island is part of the Renaissance Wind Creek Resort, and it’s free to visit if you’re staying at the hotel, otherwise if you’re an outsider you can buy a day pass to visit the flamingo island. It’s a little pricy, but worth it for the unique experience.
Aside from the flamingos, there’s also a second beach on Renaissance Island called Iguana Beach, where you can occasionally see friendly iguanas roaming around. Both of the beaches at Renaissance are classy and beautiful, with nice swimming, restaurants, and facilities.
Overall, whether you’re a romantic couple or a family with kids, this is definitely one of the best things to do in Aruba!
3. Explore Arikok National Park
The Arikok National Park covers almost 20 percent of the island of Aruba, with rocky coastal views, beaches, wildlife, caves, tide pools, natural bridges, and cactus-covered hills.
Arikok is a relatively simple park and I wouldn’t consider it to be on par with the U.S. national parks, but it’s still worth exploring this place while you’re in Aruba.
Remember to wear a hat and sunscreen, and bring plenty of water. This is the most remote part of Aruba island, and in some areas of the park you can walk for quite awhile without seeing anyone.
4. Join An ATV / UTV Off-Roading Tour
If you want to do something fun and exciting in Aruba, there are lots of ATV and UTV tours that visit Arikok National Park and other places on the island, such as the natural bridge and natural pool.
The UTVs are more tame and family-friendly, while the ATVs (4 wheelers for a single rider) are a fun way to kick up dirt. GetYourGuide has off-roading tours that include free hotel pickup and drop-off, and then you get to join a group for up to 4 hours of off-roading action.
Tour stops usually include places like the Bushiribana gold mill ruins, the natural bridge, Conchi natural pool, and Alto Vista Chapel. It’s one of the best things to do in Aruba island!
5. Go Horseback Riding On The Beach
Horseback riding is another fun activity that’s popular on the beaches in Aruba, including scenic places like Dos Playas, Wariruri, and Arikok National Park.
GetYourGuide has horseback riding tours that include free hotel pickup and transfer to a ranch, and then you get to spend a couple hours riding well-trained horses on the beach. Novices and kids can join these tours with a guide walking next to the horse if you want, and experienced riders can canter.
It’s a fun activity with nice photo ops and background views, and the guides are happy to take pictures for you as you go.
Book Now: Aruba Horseback Riding
6. See The Natural Bridges
The island of Aruba is home to several natural rock bridges formed by sea erosion over the years.
The most popular rock bridge in Aruba is the one at Andicuri Bay, which is visited by many day tours now. There actually used to be two natural bridges at this location. One is partially collapsed now, but it’s still a neat spot nonetheless.
However, the best rock bridge in Aruba is actually a bit harder to find, and it’s not really visited by tours yet. I’m talking about the Seroe Colorado natural bridge, which is located on the southern corner of Aruba island. You can find it on the map here.
The Seroe Colorado bridge is stunning, and it almost looks like a picture frame for the ocean! You can visit it by driving to San Nicolas with your own vehicle and then taking a short (but tricky) 10 minute hike down the rocks.
The route to this natural bridge is unmarked and the path is a bit treacherous, with sharp rocks and a steep downhill walk. I’d only recommend it for surefooted people with good footwear, but the effort is well worth it!
Read More: Best Hikes In Aruba
7. Visit The California Lighthouse
One of the most well-known landmarks in Aruba is the California Lighthouse. It sits on the northern corner of the island, and it was named after the steamship California, which wrecked nearby in 1891.
It’s free to admire the lighthouse and take pictures from outside, or you can pay a small fee to climb to the top of the tower and enjoy 360 degree views of Aruba island.
The lighthouse is open daily and you don’t need a reservation to go to the top. Sunset is a nice time to visit too. You can drive to the lighthouse yourself, or there are day tours that include this spot as one of their stops.
This lighthouse was originally built in 1916, and then it was polished up with restoration work in 2016 for its 100th anniversary. It’s located right next to Arashi Beach in northern Aruba, so it’s a great place to visit together with Arashi!
Book Now: Aruba Highlights Tour
8. Eat Fruit Bowls At Eduardo’s Beach Shack
For a refreshing treat at Palm Beach, check out Eduardo’s Beach Shack. They have fresh fruit smoothie bowls, as well as Hawaiian poké with veggies.
You can choose from fruit ingredients like banana, kiwi, mango, and pineapple, plus ice cream. Don’t expect prices like Bali, but it’s still a great snack for a hot day at the beach!
Eduardo’s is located right near the palapas (thatched umbrellas) on Palm Beach, so it’s easy to get there. You can find it on the map here. There’s usually a queue to order, but it goes fast.
9. Visit The Butterfly Farm
One of the best things to do in Aruba with kids (or without) is the Butterfly Farm near Palm Beach, which includes exotic species from as far away as Africa, Australia, China, South America, and Southeast Asia.
This little netted park is home to hundreds of colorful butterflies living in a tropical garden environment, and you can walk through it in about half an hour, although if you’re a nature lover you’ll want to stay longer, especially if you have a camera.
The admission ticket at the Butterfly Farm is good for your entire stay, so after paying once, you can come back for free later in your vacation as many times as you want.
There’s also a free tour included with all tickets, although it’s optional, so if you’d rather just walk around the park and take photos separately you can do that too. We enjoyed it!
10. Take A Scenic Boat Cruise
A scenic boat cruise along the coastline of Aruba can be a great way to see the island from another perspective, and they usually have an open bar or snorkeling activities.
GetYourGuide has Aruba boat trips that visit various snorkeling sites, including the Antilla shipwreck from World War II, and picturesque spots like the reef near Boca Catalina beach. They also include free hotel pickup and drop-off.
They also have some luxury cruises that are great for couples, with a 4-course dinner prepared by an expert chef. If you’re feeling romantic, a nice boat ride is one of the best things to do in Aruba!
11. See The Giant Red Anchor
If you happen to be visiting the San Nicolas area, another fun photo op is the giant red anchor that can be found just outside of town.
This landmark is dedicated to the seamen who have lost their lives at sea over the years, and it has nice views of the Aruba coastline in the background. The anchor is 15.5 feet tall (4.7 meters) and weighs almost 48,000 pounds (21,700 kilos)!
If you have a rental car, it’s easy to stop here on your way to Baby Beach, Boca Grandi, or other sights in the southern corner of Aruba.
12. Watch The Sunset
Aruba has wonderful sunsets, and watching the sun go down is one of our favorite activities on the island, whether you choose to see it on a beach or from a boat!
Any of the west-facing beaches on the island are great for sunset, although our favorites are Arashi Beach, Eagle Beach, and Hadicurari Beach, where you can watch the boats passing in the sunset.
Better yet, you can book a sunset catamaran cruise and enjoy the scenery up close! They have these tours every day and the views are spectacular.
Book Now: Aruba Sunset Cruise
13. Swim In The Natural Pool
The Conchi natural pool is one of the most famous spots in Arikok National Park. It’s a beautiful turquoise tide pool that you can swim in, surrounded by a wall of rocks that protects you from the crashing waves.
There are several ways to get to the natural pool. You can rent a car and drive there yourself, although the road is only suitable for Jeeps and other 4×4 vehicles with high clearance, so keep that in mind.
You can also get to the Conchi natural pool by hiking from Daimari Bay, but remember to bring a hat and sunscreen, and plenty of water. You’ll have to park at the top of the hill before the Rancho Daimari, because the road is very rutted with huge potholes.
Another popular way to get there is to join an off-roading Jeep tour. This can be a fun experience and the prices are pretty reasonable for an all day trip.
Book Now: Natural Pool Jeep Tour
14. Climb The Casibari Rocks
The Casibari rock formation is a neat little free spot in central Aruba where you can climb to the top of a rock pile and enjoy scenic views of the island.
There is a stairway to the top of the rocks so it’s pretty doable for all ages, although you still have to work for it. You can reach the top in just a few minutes of climbing. The platform at the top is fenced for safety, but you’ll still want to keep an eye on little kids.
From the top of the rocks, you have great views of Aruba island and the Hooiberg hill, which is one of the tallest points on the island. Don’t expect anything too mind blowing, but it’s still worth a visit!
Read More: Best Hikes In Aruba
15. Visit An Animal Sanctuary
Aruba is home to several animal sanctuaries, including an ostrich farm, a donkey sanctuary, and Philip’s Animal Garden, which is a park for over 50 species of rescued mammals, reptiles, birds, and farm animals, with feeding and petting encounters.
GetYourGuide has a ‘meet the animals’ day tour that visits all three of these animal sanctuaries, and part of the proceeds are donated to the park upkeep and taking care of the animals.
This tour also includes free pickup and drop-off from hotels and cruise ships in Aruba, so you can book the tour from anywhere on the island and they’ll handle all the transportation for you.
Book Now: Aruba Animals Tour
16. Visit The Aloe Factory
Since 1890, the Royal Aruba Aloe company has been growing, harvesting, and processing aloe onsite at their location in Aruba, and it’s supposed to be some of the world’s best.
At one point, in 1920, aloe fields covered two-thirds of the island of Aruba! Nowadays, the company gives free tours of the factory and museum, where you can see how the aloe is made, and they also have a store where you can buy some of their products for skin, hair, and sun care.
Aloe is very naturally healthy, and it’s the perfect solution for that sunburn you might pick up on your Aruba vacation!
17. Climb The Hooiberg Hill
The Hooiberg hill in central Aruba is the second tallest point on the island of Aruba, with an elevation of 165 meters (541 feet).
You would think it’s the tallest, but the Jamanota hill in Arikok National Park is a bit taller. The name ‘Hooiberg’ means haystack in Dutch, by the way, and comes from the shape of the hill.
While it might look intimidating, the Hooiberg is not too hard to climb, and fit hikers can reach the top in as little as 20 minutes. It has paved stairs all the way to the top, although there are hundreds of steps!
This is a good workout, so I’d avoid doing it in the middle of the day when temperatures are the hottest. You should definitely bring a hat and plenty of water too.
From the top, you get amazing views of the whole island of Aruba, and you can see all the way out to Venezuela in South America. It’s also a great spot for watching the sunrise or sunset!
Read More: Best Hikes In Aruba
18. Find The Aruba Sign
If you’re looking for a fun photo op in Aruba, there are several welcome signs that are good for pictures, especially when you’re arriving or leaving the island.
The first Aruba sign is in Plaza Turismo near the airport (map here). It’s a colorful sign with a four-pointed star and the ‘one happy island’ motto below it.
The other photo spot is an ‘I Love Aruba’ sign located right by the cruise terminal. You can’t miss it, especially if you’re coming from a cruise!
19. Climb The Ayo Rocks
The Ayo rock formation is another nice little hike in central Aruba that’s good for families, kids, and travelers of all ages.
These giant boulders are fun to climb, and you can even see native petroglyphs left there a long time ago by the Arawak people, the island’s first settlers. The caves and passageways between the rocks add another fun element to the experience.
We found this spot by accident while driving around Aruba, but it was a lot of fun to explore. It’s free to enter and open 24/7.
Read More: Best Hikes In Aruba
20. Shop For Souvenirs
Of course you can’t leave Aruba without picking up some souvenirs!
The best places to shop for souvenirs in Oranjestad include the I Love Aruba store, the malls, and the Aruba flea market. There are even some cheap little souvenir stalls with basic items near the cruise port, so you can start shopping right when you hop off the boat.
You can find the usual souvenirs for sale in Aruba like T-shirts, bags, coffee mugs, and fridge magnets, but there are also some great local crafts to take home, including aloe vera products, blue Dutch ceramics, Dutch cheeses, and gourmet chocolates.
21. Enjoy Aruban Food
Aruban food is an interesting mix of Dutch and colonial cuisine, with influences from Africa, Indonesia, Suriname, and other former Dutch colonies.
There’s also lots of fresh seafood in Aruba, and of course plenty of western dishes, so you can find whatever you want to eat.
This is far from a complete list, but here are some great restaurants to check out in Aruba:
- Breakfast — The Dutch Pancakehouse, Linda’s Dutch Pancakes, Scott’s Brats, Garden Fresh Cafe, Diana’s Pancakes Place, and the Salt And Pepper Tapas Bar & Restaurant
- Dinner — Barefoot Restaurant, Flying Fishbone, Yemanja Woodfired Grill, 2 Fools And A Bull, Opus Ocean & Grill, and Papiamento Restaurant
- Ethnic — Nusa Aruba (Indonesian), Cafe Restaurant Yanti (Indonesian & Surinamese), Indo Restaurant (Indonesian & Surinamese), Asi Es Mi Peru (Peruvian), Gostoso (Portuguese), Lola Taqueria (Mexican), Kowloon Restaurant (Chinese), Blossoms (Japanese), Tandoor Grill House (Indian), and Bistro De Suikertuin (Aruban/Dutch)
- Dessert — Gelatissimo Bus, Bright Bakery, Joyful Ice Cream, and Ai Coffee
22. Stay In A Luxury Hotel
If you want to splurge on a truly fancy hotel for a once in a lifetime experience, Aruba is a great place to do it! The island has a number of high-end hotels with beautiful locations and all the facilities you need.
Here are some good luxury hotel options to check out for your trip:
- The Ritz-Carlton Aruba — 5-star accommodation in Noord with 3 onsite restaurants, 2 outdoor pools and spa, and ocean views from the room’s balcony.
- The Cove – Condo Hotel — 5-star apartments with sea views and a restaurant, located right on the Palm Beach Strip.
- Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino — 4-star beachfront hotel with balcony views, spa, breakfast, restaurant, and other features.
- Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino — 4-star accommodation facing Palm Beach, with 7 dining options plus an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub.
23. Skydive In Paradise
Skydiving is one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever checked off my bucket list, and Aruba is a great place to do it!
Currently the only company that offers this is Skydive Aruba, and they’ve been in the business for over 25 years while also complying with all safety rules and regulations mandated by the US Parachute Association.
Aruba is a beautiful place to go skydiving, and you’ll even have views of Curacao and Venezuela. They provide free transport, and they can do video and pictures of your jump!
Map Of Best Things To Do In Aruba Island
Here’s a fun map of some of the best things to do in Aruba island, including some of the beaches, parks, hiking trails, cafes, lighthouse, and other activities.
You can click the icons on the map to get more info on each point of interest, but keep in mind some of the locations on this map may be approximate.
How To Get Around Aruba Island
Aruba is a pretty small island, but if you’re staying longer and want to do a bunch of exploring then it’s a good idea to rent a car and self drive. We used DiscoverCars and had a great experience.
Most of the best things to do in Aruba can be reached with any standard car or SUV. A Jeep or other 4×4 vehicle is not really required for most people, although it can be handy if you really want to be adventurous and do a lot of exploring.
If you only have a short stay in Aruba, then day tours can be a good idea and the convenience is hard to beat. You can also get around the island by walking, bus, or taxi, although these options are not quite as flexible and efficient as a rental car unless you have a very simple itinerary.
Driving in Aruba is very easy, especially if you’re an American, since Arubans drive on the right side of the road, and you don’t need an International Driving Permit (IDP) except for your normal driver’s license from back home.
Book Now: Rental Cars In Aruba
More Fun Things To Do In Aruba
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this travel guide for some of the best things to do in Aruba island.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of my Aruba blog posts before you go!