An exotic and picturesque island, Aruba lies off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean. It’s still technically a constituent country of the Netherlands – but don’t worry it’s much sunnier!
The languages spoken on the island are Dutch and Papiamento, but you’ll find that most of the locals speak Spanish or English too.
It’s the most visited island in the southern Caribbean, and it’s a great place to come if you want to try out different water sports, like kitesurfing (Palm Beach is one of the best spots). Snorkeling and scuba diving are also popular things to do in Aruba with pristine waters that are riddled with colorful marine life.
If you want to explore the underwater world, take your snorkel to beaches like Malmok and Mangel Halto, or scuba dive down to The Antilla, a sunken WWII freighter.
If you just want to kick back and relax, then enjoy some downtime on less popular beaches like Baby Beach and Arashi Beach. Meanwhile, adventurers should rent a 4×4 and explore the volcanic coastline and desert landscape in Arikok National Park.
18. Hadicurari Beach
Hadicurari Beach is along the northwestern coast of Aruba. The beach is lined with little shacks that gave the beach the nickname Fisherman’s Huts! It’s a little pebbly, but it’s popular because there’s often perfect weather conditions for windsurfing and kiteboarding.
It gets particularly busy during the Aruba Hi-Winds kitesurfing and windsurfing tournament – come and watch as the pros take on the wind and waves!
Come and try out these super fun watersports or go for a snorkel. The water along the shore is pretty shallow too, so it’s the perfect place to bring little ones who just want to go for a splash!
17. Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations
The Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations are enormous rock formations that twist and contort into strange shapes. They come in all shapes and sizes, and some are almost skeleton-like!
You can walk through them, duck under them, and even climb onto them! Two of the giant monolithic boulders, known as Ayo and Casibari (hence the area’s name), have stairs going up them so you can venture to their summit and enjoy the views from the top.
These intriguing rocks were considered to be sacred by the indigenous peoples of Aruba, as is evident in the relic’s left behind from the past, like ancient rock drawings. The monoliths are just off the main road to Santa Cruz.
16. Aruba Ostrich Farm
The Aruba Ostrich Farm is a fun and educational day out that the kids will love. Imagine standing by a 9-foot-tall ostrich – it’s a photo-worthy moment without a doubt! You can also hand-feed the ostriches at the farm.
The farm’s restaurant even serves ostrich eggs for breakfast. Did you know that their eggs can get as big as 5.9 inches in size? Though it’s not surprising that the largest bird on the planet lays the planet’s biggest eggs too!
Excitingly, there’s not just ostriches to see on the farm. There are also emus, ducks, geese, turtles, chickens, and colorful peacocks!
Once a month they run a farmers market at the Ostrich Farm you should come along to. It tends to be on a Sunday but you can check their website to see when it’s on.
15. Fort Zoutman Historical Museum
The Fort Zoutman Historical Museum is in the capital of the island, Oranjestad. It looks back on the influence of Dutch culture on the island, and the legacy that it has left behind.
It was originally a fort, but it’s long been a museum. One feature that stands out is the museum’s white and magenta tower, the King Willem III Tower, which was added to the fort in the 19th century.
14. Pedernales Wreck
The Pedernales Wreck is an old shipwreck off the shore of Aruba. The ship was shot down in 1942 during WWII by a German U-boat. However, only the middle section of the boat actually sank.
Incredibly, the front and back were separated, repaired and welded together before continuing on their journey.
You can go on a scuba diving tour down to the wreck and explore the corals that are now growing all over it. It’s some 30 feet underwater – this will be an unforgettable Aruba experience!
13. Renaissance Island
Renaissance Island is a little island oasis off the shores of Aruba. It’s a private island so you’ll need to get a day pass to visit, and it’s a short ten-minute water taxi ride to get there – but it’s worth it!
There are two sections to the island, the family-friendly Iguana Island and the adults-only Flamingo Beach. Iguana Island has endless family fun in store, and it’s great for kids of all ages. Splash about and make the most of the sun and sand for the day!
Flamingo Beach on the other hand is designed for complete relaxation and caters for couples or friends who are looking to slow down and be pampered for the day.
The beach is named after the elegant pink flamingos that live there and often come and say hello. If you’re looking for the ultimate luxury experience on Renaissance Island, rent a private cabana on the beach and treat yourself to an array of exotic cocktails.
12. Boca Catalina Beach
This beach on the western coast of Aruba isn’t the most tropical or picture-perfect on the island, but it’s a lovely place to come and disconnect for a few quiet hours. It’s not a very well-known spot, so there’s always peace and quiet on the shores of Boca Catalina Beach.
There’s plenty of sand to laze about on, or you can climb onto the cliffs on the edge of the beach and watch the sunset from there.
Although it is a gorgeous spot, the thing that most attracts visitors to the beach is the snorkeling. The waters are calm and inviting, and full of exotic marine life. Swim amongst the starfish and keep your eyes pierced for sea turtles!
11. Philip’s Animal Garden
Philip’s Animal Garden is a rescue center for animals from the island or further afield who are in need of some extra help and TLC. Come and spend the day getting to know the garden’s cheeky monkeys, terrifying snakes, and smelly skunks!
There are all sorts of animals in Philip’s Gardens, so you won’t get bored in a hurry. Some of the most exotic animals you’ll meet are the albino Python and the Ocelot tigers that live there.
Come and find out about Aruba’s endemic species and the problems they face whilst you stroll around the gardens getting to know the curious characters that call them home.
10. Donkey Sanctuary
Donkeys were once abundant on the island, more than that they were an integral part of the day-to-day. They were used to help with an array of jobs, from transport to farming.
But as everything on the island started to modernize, the island’s donkey population began to rapidly decline. By the time it got to 1997, there were very few left, so the donkey sanctuary was set up!
Come and hang out with these friendly, curious, and admittedly somewhat stubborn animals. If you’re traveling with kids, take them to one of the feeding sessions where they can meet and hand-feed the donkeys!
9. De Palm Island
De Palm Island should be at the top of your itinerary whilst you’re in Aruba, especially if you’re on a family holiday! This little island is riddled with unique one-off activities that you just can’t find anywhere else.
Slide down the thrilling drop slides off the island and into the sea, splash about in the waterpark, then go out to sea on a banana boat.
If there’s one thing you have to do before leaving De Palm Island, it’s go on their Sea Trek or SNUBA tours – you’ll literally be walking underwater! Put your diving helmets on and walk through the fish and coral formations along the ocean floor.
8. California Lighthouse
The California Lighthouse was built along the northwest coast of Aruba. The lighthouse is a 98-foot tall white tower dotted with windows all the way up. It was named after the S.S. California ship and its construction began back in 1914.
It’s just a short walk down to the coast from the lighthouse, and it’s close to popular beaches like Arashi and Boca Catalina Beach. If you can, come and watch the sunset here, the views at this time are breathtaking.
Excitingly, you can now climb to the watchtower at the top and soak in the jaw-dropping views of the turquoise Caribbean Sea and the island’s shores from up above!
7. Baby Beach
Baby Beach is a gorgeous crescent-shaped beach that boasts turquoise waters and gleaming white sand. It’s warm and inviting, and spoils its visitors with peace and tranquility.
It’s popular amongst families because the sea is shallow and calm – perfect for paddling! If you head a bit further out to sea there’s some great snorkeling too.
The beach isn’t too far from San Nicolas, and it’s an idyllic place to take your best holiday pictures.
6. Natural Pool
This beautiful pool is surrounded by volcanic rock that slows down the strong ocean waves that come rolling in. It’s in the Arikok National Wildlife Park, and it’s a 3.5-mile walk away from the Visitors Center.
As you walk there you’ll come to the summit of Sero Arikok, Aruba’s second-highest peak, which has incredible coastal views.
There’s always a little flock of tourists at the pool, but it’s still worth a visit. Bring your snorkel, bikini, and water shoes (you’ll have to walk over the sharp rocks and they can hurt your feet!).
5. Palm Beach
Palm Beach is a two-mile-long stretch of white sand that stretches as far as the eye can see. The beach is most famous for the diversity of watersports you can do here.
But it’s also a great place to come and do nothing; stretch out in the sun and let the sound of the waves rolling onto the beach soothe you.
It’s a great destination for families. Watch the kids giggling away as they build sandcastles on the beach then jump into the clear-blue sea and go snorkeling together. Bring a picnic and spend the day here!
The shore is lined with boutique shops, restaurants, and high-rise hotels, so you can do some shopping and window-shop for your next holiday accommodation whilst you’re here.
4. Aruba Aloe Factory
The Aruba Aloe Factory was opened in 1890 and it’s been going strong ever since. This area of the island’s desert-like conditions are perfect for growing aloe vera, and the factory takes pride in producing some of the highest quality aloe vera products in the World.
You’ll want to put aside a morning or afternoon for your trip here, so you’ve got enough time to go on a factory and museum tour and learn all about how the industry has shaped the island’s history, then do some shopping!
Stroll around the grounds and marvel at the rows and rows of aloe vera that stretch in every direction. Afterwards, head to their shop. They specialize in beauty products and there’s no doubt that their aftersun can soothe any holiday sunburn!
3. The Butterfly Farm
Aruba’s butterfly farm is in the Resort Area. The farm’s picturesque gardens are riddled with butterflies of every size and color that flutter around you as they fly from flower to flower.
There’s a mix of butterfly and moth species from both dry forest and rainforest habitats thanks to the microhabitats created throughout the farm’s gardens.
Whilst you’re here you’ll learn all about the Lepidoptera life cycle, and if you come on a pre-arranged second visit you can see them emerge from their pupae!
Stroll around and observe these gorgeous insects sucking nectar from the brightly colored flowers and enjoying the slices of fresh fruit left out for them.
2. Arikok National Park
Comprising almost 20% of Aruba, Arikok National Park is home to fauna and flora that is endemic to the island and can’t be seen anywhere else. It’s a biologist’s dream!
But the park isn’t just enticing for nature lovers and botanists; history buffs will love the Indian rock drawings and geologists will relish the lava formations and rocks of quartz diorite and limestone.
You can also visit secluded beaches like Boca Prins and Moro on your visit, go hiking, or come for their monthly Movie in the Park event – what could top watching a movie outdoors surrounded by the wilderness?
1. Eagle Beach
The island’s most famous beach, Eagle Beach is to the northwest of Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba. It’s quintessentially tropical and the photos you’ll take of the white sand and glistening, turquoise-blue water will look like they’re straight out of a brochure!
There are sunbeds and beach bars on Eagle Beach, so you can catch a holiday tan in the sun with a cocktail in one hand and a book in the other. Not to brag, but Eagle Beach is rumored to be one of the best beaches in the World…
From March to July some of the areas of the beach are shut off to keep the leatherback-turtles that come to nest here safe. See if you can spot one from afar!