When my aunts picked Aruba for our next family vacation, I thought “what is there to do there besides the beach?” Per usual, I hit google to find all of the things that make Aruba unique! While I did not do it all, here is my list of Things to See and Do in Aruba!
On any trip to a new place one of my excursions is always a city/island highlight tour. For Aruba, we booked a tour through Pelican Adventures. We had a few mishaps with the booking process but in the end the tour was worth it! It allowed us to see the highlights, grab some photos and move to the next spot quickly. If tours are not your thing, ATVs are another popular mode of transportation to enjoy a self-guided tour. Regardless of what method you pick, here are the things I highly recommend you see during your visit! Many of which are unique to Aruba!
Remember, Aruba is a Dutch colony with plenty of Dutch influences. Oranjestad, the capitol, has so many beautiful colorful buildings that play to their Dutch history. Be sure to take note as you drive or walk around the island through.
Honestly, I am not quite sure why people are obsessed with lighthouses, but I deemed this a must see for my trip as well! Named for a steamship that crashed off the coast of Aruba, the California Lighthouse has some of the best views of the island! If you want to enjoy the views for a bit longer, be sure to stop by the nearby Italian restaurant.
Casibari Rock Formation
Our guide noted that many of the rock formations we saw around the island were man made. The Casibari Rock Formation however was made by nature! There are a few trails near the rocks so you can take a quick walk and see them from different vantage points.
Alto Vista Chapel
The chapel looks like something from a movie, yet it is actually used for services and weddings. Another highlight of the chapel, you can get up and close to island cactus!
Unfortunately I did not make it out to the natural pool during my visit :(. Even sight unseen, I recognize that this should be on everyone’s must see list in Aruba! A natural swimming hole, the natural pool can only be accessed by off road vehicles so some planning ahead is needed.
Before the collapse in 2005, the natural bridge was a complete natural arch created by nature. While the bridge is no longer complete, it is still a site to see for visitors to island! Be sure to heed the “danger” sides though unlike the folks pictured below!
Arikok National Park
The Arikok National Park is huge and includes many of the sites listed above. We made a stop through the main entrance to visit two beautiful caves! In addition to the other sites included here, the park is great for hiking and off roading activities.
Maybe it’s just me, but I LOVE being a real estate looky lou! During our tour, we drove through the area where the millionaires live! Our guide told us that many of these homes are owned by Americans. Go figure! Some parts reminded me of the Hollywood Hills in LA or even South Beach. In short, those vacation homes were GOALS.
There are tons of beaches in Aruba, these are just some of the ones we visited. A few things to note about these beaches. One, there are no private beaches in Aruba, all of them are public. Now, to get around that hotels do sneaky things like own all of the beach chairs on the beach and not rent them to visitors who are not staying at their property. So while these beaches are technically public, they are really only comfortable for guests of the nearby hotels.
The beaches themselves were some of the nicest beaches I have ever visited. Complete with soft white sand and beautiful blue water. Only downfall is a few beaches had rockier areas, but you could usually find parts with less rocks.
Hands down, my favorite beach from the trip! The beach gets its name because of its calm and shallow waters making it safe for “babies” and children to swim. It had the bluest water of all that we visited and probably the fewest people! Loved it!
We took a sunset cruise (highly recommend) that left from Palm Beach. This beach seemed to have the biggest crowd and with that draws attractions like jet skis and parasailing. Palm Beach is also near most of the popular hotels. If you are all about strutting through a crowd in your bikini then Palm Beach is probably where you should start.
Another one of the most popular beaches, Eagle Beach is beautiful and a tad less crowded than Palm Beach. We were relegated to a less populated area because the beach chairs in the prime spots were for hotel guests only. Grrrrr.
While there are no private beaches in Aruba, there are two private islands De Palm Island and Renaissance Island.
We spent a day over at De Palm Island and loved every minute it. I’ll do a separate post breaking down that experience, but for now, just know that this all inclusive island is totally worth the visit!
The draw for Renaissance Island though are the flamingos! Yes, the island is home to a flock of friendly flamingos that guests can feed. Only hangup is you must be a guest of the Renaissance to get over to the island. They do allow a limited number of visitors to purchase day passes to the island for about $100 each. If this is something that you really want to do though, I would highly recommend staying at the Renaissance hotel!
Now, this is not an exhaustive list of things to do in Aruba! For that, be sure to check out there official tourism website. These are just the things that my group enjoyed and other places I wished we would have visited! Since we had no children with our group, we did not visit spots like the Butterfly Farm, the zoo or the horse ranch. If you are traveling with kids, consider those as other options to add to your list!