Aruba is a popular holiday destination for travellers looking for a relaxing beach vacation with some cool activities to do in between sunbathing.
It’s a Caribbean island around 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela with a busy international airport so it’s a convenient place to get to if you live in the US. And if you don’t, you can easily transit in and out of the US to reach it.
The island is 30 km long and 9 km wide at its widest point, which isn’t very big! But its convenient location meant that it was historically an important trade stop so it’s a thriving little place and there are lots of things to do in Aruba for all types of travellers.
Whether you love swimming in coves, exploring caves, dancing to island music, or checking out the local wildlife, there are lots of Aruba attractions for you to enjoy.
This is the ultimate list of all the best things to do in Aruba whether you are on your honeymoon, on a family trip, or on a reviving solo break.
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Arikok National Park
Arikik National Park is the only national park in Aruba, but it’s so diverse that one is enough! This protected landscape has lots of hiking trails, caves, and beaches to explore.
You could hike up Arikok Mountain, walk along the Dos Playa Trail to the Dos Playa Beach, or hike up the Instagrammable white dunes.
They really do have paper-white sands and from the top, you have beautiful views of the coastlines.
Aruba Aloe Factory Museum & Store
One of the best Aruba activities is to visit the Aruba Aloe Factory Museum and Store. Founded in 1880, Aruba Aloe is the oldest aloe vera company in the world.
Aloe grows on Aruba and they use it to make all kinds of cosmetics and beauty products such as hair shampoo and conditioner, moisturiser, shower gel, and eye cream.
You can learn more about the process by joining one of the guided tours at the factory and witnessing the beautiful aloe fields in the surrounding land.
Don’t forget to stop by the store where you can pick up authentic local souvenirs and gifts for your friends and family back home. It’s an absolute must-do in Aruba!
Donkey Sanctuary Aruba
Aruba has lots of small wildlife centres and visiting is one of the best things to do in Aruba with kids, or if you’re a child at heart!
The Donkey Sanctuary Aruba should be your first port of call. Unfortunately, Aruba has an unpleasant history of animal abuse, especially in the tourism industry, but some amazing locals are attempting to turn that around.
This sanctuary rescues injured and/or abused donkeys and the entrance fee goes towards their keep.
If you head down to the sanctuary at feeding time, you might even get to be the one that feeds them!
Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins
Aruba was not only an important port in the Atlantic but it also had its own valuable commodity: gold! The Bushiribana Gold Mill was a thriving 19th-century which has fallen into ruins.
You can still visit the Gold Mill ruins as they are easily accessible on foot or via an ATV tour.
Because of the mill’s location high on a hill on the edge of the island, it has beautiful views of the coastline too. Exploring this old building is definitely one of the best free activities in Aruba.
Alto Vista Chapel
Most of the houses of worship in Aruba are small and modest but they are painted with bright colours and look so cute. They are free to pop into whenever they are open and there isn’t currently a mass in session.
One of the best churches in Aruba is the Alto Vista Church. It’s surrounded by a beautiful desert landscape with succulents sprouting out of the ground and inside is a very well-preserved church dating back to the 1950s.
It was rebuilt in this decade after falling into ruin. Today, you can light a candle if you put a donation in the donation box.
Ayo Rock Formations
Aruba’s earliest settlers were the Arawak people. This was during the re-Ceramic period around 2500 BC to 1000 AD.
They were a semi-nomadic tribe and mostly depended on the sea for survival. They carved petroglyphs into this unusual rock formation they created which you could describe as a type of ancient art.
The Ayo Rock Formations are open to the public 24/7 and they are definitely a must-see in Aruba for history lovers.
You’ll be surprised at how well-preserved these ancient rock paintings are considering it’s out in the open and over 1,000 years old.
Obviously, one of the most fun things to do in Aruba is to visit the beach! Luckily, Aruba has 40 beaches for you to explore and they’re all unique and pristine. But if you can’t visit them all, you need to know what the best beaches are.
Palm Beach is definitely up there. You’ll find it on the west coast near the northern tip of the island in the Noord neighbourhood.
This is where lots of the top resorts, bars, and restaurants are situated so with any luck, you’ll be staying close by. It’s known for having calm waters and an old Dutch windmill that sells traditional Dutch pancakes.
Also in the Noord neighbourhood is the California Lighthouse. This white lighthouse dates back to 1910 and offered guided tours and panoramic views of the entire island and out to sea.
But why is it called California Lighthouse when Aruba is a Dutch island? Well, it was named after the steamship called California which was wrecked nearby in 1891. It’s one of Aruba’s top historic landmarks.
If you have some spare time on your trip and are wondering what to do in Aruba, the answer is always to go to the beach.
Baby Beach is another of Aruba’s best beaches and you’ll find it in the San Nicolas neighbourhood on the west coast of the southernmost point of the island. It’s a large, horseshoe-shaped beach which means it feels less exposed than other Aruba beaches.
If you like swimming or snorkelling on your beach holidays, this is the perfect beach for you. The turquoise waters are calm and shallow and because it’s so big, it’s always one of the least crowded beaches.
Attend Bon Bini Festival
Do you love island culture and soul beach music? Then you should head to Aruba during the Bon Bini Festival. It’s one of the best unique things to do in Aruba.
Bon Bini means ‘welcome’ in the Papiamento language and is a celebration of Aruban music, dance, and warm hospitality.
It’s not an annual festival, it’s a weekly festival! It takes place every Tuesday in Oranjestad for two hours from around 6:30 in the evening. So, it’s one of the top things to do in Aruba at night.
Also in the Oranjestad neighbourhood is Eagle Beach. It is the widest beach in Aruba and is located on the west coast towards the north of the island.
This beach has white sand and water sports equipment with lots of restaurants and resorts nearby.
It’s also where you’ll find the Instagram-famous Fofoti Tree. It’s a popular photo spot at sunset as people can perch on its twister roots.
This beach is also right next to the Bubali Bird Sanctuary. It’s a large wetland home to more than 80 species of birds. Probably one of the most non-touristy things to do in Aruba so it’s guaranteed to be a bit quieter!
Kukoo Kunuku Tours Aruba
Kukoo Kunuku tours Aruba are just one of the most fun things to do in Aruba, adults only!
On this tour, you hop on an old converted school bus that is now a party bus, but island-style because it’s been painted pink with lots of bright patterns all over it.
You cruise all over the island, through city streets and country lanes, shaking maracas and dancing to Caribbean tunes.
It’s a great way to let loose and maybe even make some new friends! Everyone is welcome on the Kukoo Kunuku bus.
While Aruba mostly consists of one main island, there are a few very small islands dotted around the coastline too. And many of them are worth exploring!
One of the best islands is Palm Island, a narrow patch of land just off the western coast of Aruba near the neighbourhood of Balashi in the centre.
It’s one of the best places in Aruba to visit with kids because of the Palm Island Water Park. It’s not huge but there are lots of slides, banana boat rides, flamingoes, a beach, and a big swimming pool.
Horseback Riding Tours
Horseback riding tours are one of the most adventurous yet romantic things to do in Aruba for couples.
Just imagine trotting along one of Aruba’s gorgeous white sand beaches at sunset listening to nothing but the waves.
And there are actually lots of places where you can go on horseback riding tours in Aruba! Some of the best companies offering tours are Rancho La Ponderosa, the Gold Mine Ranch Aruba, Hoofs of Hope Aruba, I-Land Aruba Tours, Rancho Loco, and Rancho Notorious.
You’re bound to find one that is in a convenient location near your accommodation.
National Archaeological Museum Aruba
Sadly the Fort Zoutman Historical Museum in Aruba’s capital city of Oranjestad is now permanently closed.
This is a shame because it was the best historical museum on the island! Luckily, the National Archaeological Museum Aruba will be able to satiate your historical hunger pains.
It’s housed in a renovated bright green and yellow Dutch colonial building right in the centre of the capital city.
It houses over 5,000 years’ worth of Amerindian artifacts and cultural objects from Aruba. Heading to this museum will give you a chance to gain some perspective on Aruba’s colonial past and see the beautiful buildings in Aruba’s capital.
Conchi Natural Pool
Swimming in the calm waters surrounding Aruba is so much fun, but swimming in a natural pool which is secluded and safely covered by rocks is also a lot of fun!
The Conchi Natural Pool is on the coastline of Arikok National Park and is a gorgeous place to go swimming and diving.
You don’t have to worry about swimming too far out because you physically can’t go anywhere! Perfect for nervous swimmers.
No wonder Aruba is such a popular destination for honeymooners, there are so many world-class resorts here! Renaissance Island is a must-visit for couples and honeymooners thanks to one special beach. Yes, this is where you’ll find Aruba’s famous flamingo beach.
Renaissance Island is such a convenient place to visit and stay because it is right next to Varadero Aruba Marina & Boatyard and Queen Beatrix International Airport.
It’s actually a private Marriott International Island with luxurious covered sun loungers and a nature trail.
There are dozens of casinos in Aruba, mainly on the northwest coast close to the resorts near Palm Beach.
Unless you want to empty your bank accounts, you should probably only visit one or two for a bit of harmless fun. One of the best casinos in Aruba is Alhambra Casino.
It has slot machines and table games, plus it’s in a larger shopping complex so you can actually get something for the money you spend.
You won’t have to travel far if you want to go to a bar or eat dinner before or after you hit the casino.
Hooiberg Hiking Trail
There are tons of picturesque hiking trails in Aruba, but if you only have time for one then you should walk the Hooiberg hiking trail.
It’s only a 1 km circular route but the elevation makes it a moderately challenging trail. But Hooiberg mountain is gorgeous and the lookout is without a doubt the best view on the entire island.
Aruba also has lots of limestone caves dotted around the island. Honestly, did you think that Aruba really had so many diverse outdoor activities?!
If you don’t have time to visit them all, then you should at least check out Quadirikiri Cave towards the southeast coast of the island.
It’s a duel-chambered cave with dome ceilings and petroglyphs which, as you might remember from the Ayo Rock Formations, are essentially cave paintings.
Former inhabitants of the island built these caves with openings to let in natural light and, if you’re lucky, you may even spot some bats in the cave.
Recommended tours in Aruba
- Island Ultimate Jeep Safari in Aruba
- Natural Pool, Cliff Jumping, and Aruba North Coast Exploration by Jeep and UTV
- The Arusun – Aruba Catamaran Sail with Snorkeling
- Catamaran Dolphin Snorkeling Cruise: Open bar, Light Lunch & I Love Aruba Shirt
- Baby Beach Off-Road Safari
- Aruba Full-Island Tour
- Aruba Sunset Sail with Appetizers and Open Bar
- Palm Pleasure Morning Snorkel Adventure
- Best of Aruba by Bus
- North Countryside National Park & Beach Horseback Ride