Top 12 Things to Do in Aruba
On the island, they call it the “Aruba Effect,” an all-encompassing sense of joy that comes from being in one of the most peaceful and beautiful places on Earth. When you’re here, they’re saying, how can you not help but be happy?
What we love about Aruba is the enticing blend of fantastic climate and authentic culture that leaves you more fulfilled than your run-of-the-mill tropical island resort vacation. In addition to the desert island’s crystal-clear waters ideal for swimming, diving, snorkeling, and paddling, there are beaches for horseback riding and rugged landscapes for off-road adventures.
Dive in to see what Aruba has in store for you!
Explore Arikok National Park
First things first: To really see Arikok National Park and its volcanic landscape, it’s best to sign up for a guided tour. The park lies about a 40-minute drive south of the hotel zone in the north part of the island. DePalm Tours is the main operator on the island (though not the only one), with a variety of park experiences to choose from. The most popular is the half-day, open-air 4WD tour, which will pick guests up at most hotels.
If you decide to go it on your own, you’ll have to rent a 4WD in order to safely navigate the rocky, labyrinthian tracks. Enter via San Fuego, where you’ll find the visitor center, or Vader Piet on the southeastern border of the park. No public buses travel here; ATVs, UTVs, and motorbikes are prohibited.
Feel like stretching your legs? Pack snacks, a water bottle, reef-safe sunscreen, and your bathing suit, and hike the 3.5 miles trail to the Conchi pool. (There are guided hiking tours, as well as horseback riding tours, available, too. Ask at the San Fuego entrance visitor center.)
Conchi Natural Pool
Step away from the resort pools for a few hours and instead go swimming and cliff diving at the stunningly gorgeous Conchi Natural Pool at Arikok National Park. On most guided tours, you’ll have time for a dip and photo ops at the natural pool, then continue on to Alto Vista Chapel, the California lighthouse, and the iconic natural bridge.
Guadirikiri and Fontein Caves
It’s not every Caribbean island that allows you to venture into pre-Columbia history in such a cool way. While you’re at the park, be sure to check out the vermillion petroglyphs within the Guadirikiri and Fontein caves that give insight into the lives of the Arawak people.
While you’re at the national park, you’ll have access to this unspoiled beach, made up of two bordering coves carved from the island’s limestone. The surf is too dangerous for swimming, but it’s an idyllic spot for a picnic under the sea-grape trees.
We have some great Aruba Excursions and Itineraries here.
For a completely different view of Aruba, why not see it as a bird would – albeit a bird that’s diving toward Earth at 120 mph. If you’re the adrenaline-addicted type, sign up with a local skydiving outfitter and get ready for views from Oranjestad to Arikok National Park before landing at a beachside drop zone.
Plan on about two hours for the whole outing. Tandem skydives are open to all, but teens need parental permission.
Go for a Swim – Check out Aruba’s Beaches
Regularly listed as one of the best beaches in the world, white-sand Eagle Beach is also known for its striking fofoti trees. These windswept trees and their cousin, the divi divi, lean predominantly toward the southwest thanks to the strong trade winds in that direction.
Keep in mind that part of this beach may be closed from March to July as this is a leatherback-turtle nesting area
Beyond idyllic Eagle Beach, Aruba has a number of other beauties for swimming, sunbathing, paddling, and snorkeling. Families love gentle Arashi Beach, north of Malmok Beach, with its beach huts and convivial beach bar (sometimes with live music!).
Kids also love the aptly named Baby Beach for its shallow, calm water. Even the littlest kids can wade out into the translucent water quite aways and be able to touch the sandy bottom at this famous beach in the southern part of Aruba (close to San Nicolas and about a 45-minute drive from Palm Beach resorts).
Another calm-water option is Boca Catalina, a small, secluded bay also near Malmok. There are a few makeshift huts on the sand for sun protection.
To escape the crowds, head to the stronger surf of Andicuri Beach on the windward coast, south of the collapsed Natural Bridge. Go a bit farther to see Black Stone Beach and a three-arched limestone natural bridge.
We have a breakdown of all Aruba’s beaches here.
Hike Up Hooiberg and Check Out Casibari Rocks
Depending on where you’re visiting from, Hooiberg may seem more hill than mountain, but in fact, in Dutch, it means “haystack.” Whatever you want to call it, it’s worth the thigh-busting climb up the 600 stairs to the top. The panoramic views up here are worth all 540 feet of effort (plus, you’ll meet a few wild goats, parakeets and lizards along the way).
For another bird’s-eye view, don’t miss two ancient monoliths that tower above the island’s relatively flat landscape: the Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations. Even scientists are a bit baffled as to how these huge boulders were formed. Check out the petroglyphs by the native Arawak people and keep your eyes open for iguanas and burrowing owls.
Learn About Aruba’s Culture and History
Skip the sun for a spell and get to know more about this blissful island. At the Archaeological Museum in downtown Oranjestad, you can explore the former Ecury family home, which now preserves Aruba’s Amerindian cultural heritage. The museum is made up of two parts, the older cunucu house built in 1870 and the large mansion built in 1929, where valuable artifacts are housed today, including some from as far back as 2500 BC.
Don’t miss the striking Museum of Industry inside the Water Tower in San Nicolas. Learn about the history of gold, aloe, phosphate, oil, and tourism industries on the island and check out the incubator project in the “green” section, which will showcase sustainable development projects proposed by island youth.
Marvel at the Murals in San Nicolas
Take a break from the beach to visit San Nicolas, the cultural and artisitc heart of the island and host of the Aruba Art Fair. Today, you can see the murals that are left behind by worldwide and local artists on the walls of buildings around Main Street.
Consider a curator-guided walk with Aruba Mural Tours, starting from the ArtisA (Art Is Aruba) gallery and visiting an average of 20 to 40 murals, depending on which exact tour you choose.
Carnival in Aruba is amazing and vibrant and an experience not to be missed! Events spread out through January and February, with the grandest, most spectacular parades taking place around the middle to the end of February
Expect colorful parade floats and vibrant costumes! Through the week, different events and experiences include elections for the Carnival King and Queen, torchlight parades, Children’s Parades, the Jouvert Morning Pajama Parade, and finally, the Grand Parade, spread out through the whole final weekend, in both Oranjestad and San Nicolas concluding with the Burning of King Momo. The next day, known as Carnival Monday, is an official (and well-deserved) day of rest!
Take a SUP Yoga Class
If you haven’t tried it already – or even if you’re quite adept at it – be sure to make time for a yoga class on a SUP board in Aruba. Choose from relaxed or more energetic sessions, putting your balance, coordination, and focus to the test as you try poses on a wobbly board. You’ll feel more connected to nature than ever. There are several outfitters throughout the island that offer classes for all experience levels.
Indulge in a Spa Experience
Take a sun-splashed island, add white sand and turquoise water, and you have the picture of paradise. We think a sublime island spa experience would be the cherry on top.
All of our favorite all-inclusive resorts have spas on site, but if you feel like a change of scenery, here are some alternative spa hideaways.
At the highly regarded Zoi Spa, set within the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort and Casino, treatments are infused with local ingredients, from aloe vera and herbs to red mud and seaweed. True to its name, which means balance and poise in Papiamento, the exceedingly peaceful space also offers the Spirit Ritual, with a custom-crafted bath and hour-long massage.
Located at the Renaissance Hotel’s adult-only Marina tower, the Okeanos Spa takes the pampering up a notch with its mangrove-hidden Spa Cove, where you can enjoy a secluded al fresco massage while taking in the views of the Caribbean Sea (keep an eye out for flamingos, too!). Locally influenced, signature treatments are enticingly named … think Chocolate Embrace, or Sea of Tranquility.
At Eforea at the Hilton Aruba, the focus is on your spa journey, whether you choose the Essential, Escape, or Men’s Journey. Customize your day with additional treatments, including advanced skin care therapies, therapeutic massages in a variety of styles, detoxifying body treatments, and salon services.