Besides being the subject of a classic 1988 Beach Boys song, Aruba is a top vacation destination for people looking to get away from it all and enjoy some tropical sunshine.
The Best Activities & Things to Do in Aruba
People come to Aruba from all over the world for its pristine coastline and turquoise water, but this small island in the Caribbean offers tourists so much more than just sipping a cocktail on the beach.
If you’re considering an Aruban vacation, add some of the experiences on this list to your itinerary to ensure you’re making the most of your time on this beautiful island.
1. Relax in the Sun at Eagle Beach
While there is no shortage of spectacular experiences available to tourists in Aruba, as evidenced by this article, there’s no doubt that the island’s main draw is the unbelievably blue water and pristine white sand beaches.
If you’ve been staring at photos of these gorgeous beaches in anticipation of your trip, there’s a decent chance that you’re looking at Eagle Beach.
Eagle Beach is on the northwestern portion of the island and is conveniently close to Aruba’s capital city of Oranjestad. Furthermore, many bars and restaurants surround the beach, so if you’re feeling peckish, you can simply grab lunch nearby and then resume your lounging.
Eagle Beach is a great place to relax and even has some trees dotted along the sand, offering shade for travelers who haven’t quite adjusted to Aruba’s intense sun.
Suppose you’re more interested in outdoor sports than relaxing on the beach. In that case, you can rest assured that Eagle Beach has plenty of activities to offer visitors, including sea kayaking and snorkeling.
Note: Aruba’s second most popular beach is Palm Beach, just a short distance north of Eagle Beach. Prepare for both of these beaches to be crowded at any given time due to their popularity amongst tourists.
2. Hang Out With the Flamingos on Renaissance Island
Many a tourist arrives in Aruba thinking they’ll be constantly surrounded by native flamingos wandering its coastline, snacking on brine shrimp.
However, if you were hoping to snag that perfect Instagram photo op, you will have to make your way to the private island owned by the Rennaissance Hotel.
Guests of the Rennaissance can access the island by water taxi as a part of their stay, while others will have to acquire a day pass to visit. Note that these passes can be difficult to get during your stay and are not cheap.
However, if you are fortunate enough to reach the private island, enjoy your photo op, feed some flamingos, and sip on a cocktail on one of the most pristine beaches in the world!
Note: Flamingo Beach is privately owned and is adults-only, so there will not be any opportunities for children to interact with the flamingos living in Aruba.
3. Spend a Day Wandering Around Oranjestad
Oranjestad is Aruba’s capital city and is the location of Aruba’s airport. However, most accommodations on the island are scattered along the coastline away from the island’s biggest city, meaning that some travelers don’t return to the area until they return for their flight home.
If you have a free day in Aruba, you should take a few hours off from relaxing at the beach to explore the historical Oranjestad.
While you’ll encounter luxury stores and fine restaurants, you can also appreciate some of Aruba’s artisans and be able to take some Aruban wares home with you.
While wandering around this colorful city by day lets you take in the beauty of the area, Oranjestad is also home to many bars and restaurants, so feel free to stay and enjoy the nightlife in the area as well!
4. Try Your Hand at Some Water Activities
There’s no way you came to Aruba without the intention of getting into that crystal blue water, and there are endless activities available to tourists beyond just swimming along the coastline.
Aruba has dozens of outdoor outfitters ready to curate whatever experience you’re looking for.
Try your hand at surfing or standup paddleboarding with private lessons and guided tours from Aruba Surf & Paddle School, or take your kids on a Seabob family fun with turtles tour.
There’s no shortage of Caribbean activities when you come to Aruba, and it would be a shame to visit the island without taking advantage of the natural landscape and trying something new!
However, if you’re not big on underwater adventures, consider activities like windsurfing and sailing instead.
5. Take a Dip in Conchi, Aruba’s Natural Pool
Along the coastline of Arikok National Park lies one of Aruba’s most impressive tourist destinations: an outcropping of volcanic rock in the Caribbean that has created a large natural swimming pool.
Whether you get to the pool by hiking there or taking an ATV tour, you won’t want to pass up the opportunity to swim in this unique part of Aruba’s terrain. If you’re an adrenaline junky, you can also partake in the cliff diving this area offers.
Note: make sure to practice common sense and basic safety when swimming in Aruba’s Natural Pool. Never turn your back to the sea, and only swim in the pool if there are no weather advisories in effect and you feel safe and comfortable doing so.
6. Explore the Antilla on a Diving Trip
While Aruba is home to a plethora of marine life that you can observe while doing various activities like swimming or snorkeling, no experience can quite compare to scuba diving to the shipwrecks off Aruba’s coast.
The best known of these ships, and the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean, the SS Antilla, features an eerie scene as the 400-foot-long ship now sits at the bottom of the sea. Once a German cargo ship in WWII, the ship sunk when the crew set fire to it to avoid being captured.
A diving trip to the Antilla offers the opportunity to take some incredible underwater photographs and have one of the most memorable experiences from around the globe.
7. Take a Ride on the Kukoo Kunuku Party Bus
The Kukoo Kunuku is Aruba’s premier party bus. It is the perfect way for travelers to experience the laid-back nightlife of the island, and enjoy some scenery, all while having fun with their party or getting to know other tourists.
Aruba has a vibrant party scene, and the Kukoo Kunuku is the perfect way to get into the island spirit. Choose between different experiences like a happy hour guided tour or a nighttime pub crawl.
The tour company offers fantastic bonuses with tour packages like complimentary shots and transportation to and from your hotel.
8. Go on a Day Trip to Arikok National Park
Although you may have been initially drawn to Aruba because of the incredible beaches and snorkeling opportunities, Arikok National Park is an absolute must for any visitor to the island.
Featuring some of the most stunning hiking trails on the island, the National Park is expansive and accounts for nearly 20% of the island.
Arikok National Park is the perfect place to see some of Aruba’s more dramatic coastline (including some of the natural bridges) and the more deserted terrain of the inland portion of the park.
Quietly observe the wildlife that calls Arikok home while you appreciate the cacti and other foliage in the park.
9. Spend a Day Relaxing at Baby Beach
If you’ve traveled to Aruba during peak tourist season, you’re probably already familiar with how busy the island’s most popular beaches, Eagle Beach and Palm Beach, can get.
If you’re the type of traveler looking for a little more peace and quiet, then Baby Beach is the beach for you. Often named the best beach for families because of its pristine white coastline and tranquil, shallow waters, the baby beach sees less foot traffic without sacrificing beauty.
Because of the tame and shallow waters, this is the perfect beach to either splash around with your kids or simply get lost in a good book, without all the distractions that come along with some of the busier beaches on the island.
10. Do Some Bird Watching at Bubali Bird Sanctuary
Even if you don’t consider yourself to be much of a bird watcher, you won’t want to pass up the opportunity to visit Bubali Bird Sanctuary while you’re in Aruba.
While many tourists assume the island will be teeming with the non-native flamingos of Rennaissance Island, the true magic of Aruba’s bird population can be seen at the Bubali Sanctuary.
At the sanctuary, tourists will have the opportunity to view over 80 different species of migratory birds that nest and relax in the verdant wetlands on Aruba’s coast. Climb to the top of the viewing tower to get an aerial view of these birds as they go about their lives.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of birdwatching, stop by the Butterfly Farm located within the sanctuary for a guided tour and the chance to observe dozens of butterfly species.
11. Hike to the Top of Hooiberg
Hooiberg, which is the Dutch word for haystack, sits in the middle of the Aruban island and is relatively close to its capital city of Oranjestad. The volcanic formation has an elevation of about 514 feet and features a spectacular viewpoint at the top.
If you’re a lover of the outdoors, you won’t want to miss this uniquely Aruban experience, which is only a half-mile hike to the top and can generally be completed in less than 30 minutes.
Despite being the third highest peak on the island, you can see straight to South America on a clear day. Hooiberg is significant for the unique type of quartz diorite that makes up the mountain, which only naturally occurs on the island of Aruba, and thus was named Hooibergiet.
12. Admire Aruba’s Natural Bridges
Geologists will be particularly interested in this Aruban attraction, but any visitor to the small island will appreciate the beauty of Aruba’s natural bridges.
Carved out over hundreds of years from the seawater and high winds, visitors can see the natural bridges that formed. These limestone bridges are a major tourist destination in Aruba but are set alongside the dramatic backdrop, and you can still get the sense of being transported back in time.
Unfortunately, Aruba’s most photographed natural bridge collapsed in 2005, so be prepared not to be able to see every bridge of which you’ve seen photos.
However, you can still go and see what’s left of this natural bridge, Baby Bridge, which still stands beside it, and the other natural bridges on the southern portion of the island.
13. Visit the Donkey Sanctuary Aruba
If you’re an animal lover, you won’t want to miss the chance to visit the Donkey Sanctuary Aruba. While there are many opportunities to observe the wildlife around the island, few offer such interactive experiences as the Donkey Sanctuary.
The Donkey Sanctuary is a non-profit that was created to house, care for, and protect the wild donkey population that was left over after automobiles brought to the island negated the need for donkeys as the primary mode of transportation.
Tourists can visit the sanctuary and observe the donkeys from a covered porch, learn about the non-profit’s efforts to care for the animals, and feed, pet, and interact with the donkeys.
If you want a chance to cuddle the friendly animals, simply make a donation of any amount, and you can snuggle up to them for up to 30 minutes!
14. Take an Underwater Submarine Tour
People from all over the world come to Aruba for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and other methods of observing the vibrant marine life around the island. But if you want to take your experience one step further, consider opting for an underwater tour in a submarine.
DePalm Tours Aruba offers tourists the chance to observe the sea life from a fresh vantage point aboard their Aruba Atlantis Submarine Tour. The tour is available for all individuals over the age of four, which makes it the perfect activity to do with kids.
Each passenger gets their very own porthole for optimal viewing on the guided tour, which features attractions like the Barcadera Reef and multiple underwater shipwrecks.
For a slightly more cost-effective and intimate experience, consider a guided tour aboard the semi-submerged Aruba Seaworld Explorer, which is open to all ages and offers passengers the chance to see the Arashi Reef.
15. Grab Lunch at Zeerover
‘Zeerover’ is a Dutch word for ‘pirate,’ and this casual restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy fresh seafood in Aruba. If you’re looking to get away from the upscale, touristy restaurants found at many Aruban resorts, make sure to go to Zeerover.
Zeerover features the freshest fish and serves up whatever the catch of the day is. Enjoy this local fare, served with classic Aruban dishes like fried plantains, pan bati (cornbread), and siboyo den vinegar (marinated onions).
Zeerover offers an authentic Aruban dining experience, where tourists and locals can dine out and enjoy a meal together.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the frequently asked questions people have when visiting Aruba:
Is tipping customary in Aruba?
Tipping is appreciated in Aruba but not compulsory. Frequently you will see a 10-15% “service charge” added to your bill in restaurants, which covers that percentage of a tip. However, if you received good service, staff members would surely appreciate an additional tip to reach 20%. Other professionals like taxi drivers, hotel staff, and bartenders would also appreciate a tip, but it is not expected.
Is Aruba expensive?
Aruba is a luxury destination for many, and the price tag matches the experience. You should anticipate higher prices in Aruba because most items need to be imported.
If you’re looking for ways to save money on your trip to Aruba, try to buy local foods like fresh fish and Aruban cucumber and purchase alcohol from supermarkets rather than restaurants.
Can you pay with U.S. dollars in Aruba?
While the local currency in Aruba is the Aruban Guilder (AWG), you will not need to exchange money in Aruba if you’re planning to pay with U.S. dollars (USD).
While many purveyors on the island will accept major credit cards, you can get both AWG and USD from local ATMs if you need cash.
Do people in Aruba speak English?
The native languages in Aruba are Papiamento (the local language) and Dutch. However, most Arubans speak more than these two languages, and in all likelihood, you’ll be able to communicate perfectly with most people if you speak English.
However, learning some key phrases like “hello” and “thank you” in Papiamento is sure to be appreciated. Additionally, be prepared to encounter other tourists who may not know English.
What is the best time of year to visit Aruba?
Aruba has sunny weather nearly every day of the year and falls outside of the hurricane belt, meaning you don’t have to avoid any particular season due to weather.
Because of this, Aruba’s peak tourist season falls between the winter months of January to March, so be prepared to spend more on lodging if you want to visit during this window.
Instead, consider visiting between April and August, when the weather is slightly warmer, and the relative “off-season” means you’ll get better prices on your getaway.
Book Your Trip to Aruba Today!
Aruba is a small, relaxed island perfect for anything from a weekend getaway to an extended vacation. Aruba offers everything from gorgeous sandy beaches on which you can pass entire days to a vibrant nightlife.
Any of the experiences listed above will be memorable, but make sure to have a few authentic Aruban experiences like spending a day at the less touristy Baby beach, grabbing lunch at Zeerovers, a favorite spot amongst locals, and taking in the view from the top of Hooiberg. Happy travels!