If you’ve never been to the gorgeous Caribbean island of Aruba, you probably wonder, is there a lot to do in Aruba? Or is everything just beach-based? Yes, Aruba does have amazing beaches and great watersports, but there is so much more to this colorful and friendly Dutch Caribbean island.
Located about 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela, the small but beautiful island of Aruba awaits romantic travelers with a diverse mix of cultures including Indian, Spanish, Dutch, African, and more; mild weather; delicious cuisine; warm hospitality; and a laidback vibe. It’s known as “One Happy Island” for a reason!
In this article, we’ll tell you about 28 of the best things to do in Aruba, including unique things to do in Aruba, adventurous things to do in Aruba, and nontouristy things to do in Aruba, in addition to (of course) letting you know the best beaches in Aruba!
Go to the beach
Some of the best beaches in Aruba are Eagle and Palm beaches, which are also among the most beautiful beaches in the whole Caribbean. As such, they’re home to plenty of resorts and very popular with tourists. Eagle Beach has plenty of rental options for watersports, while Palm Beach offers more tranquil waters for swimming.
Be sure to check out other top beaches in Aruba like Druif Beach, Rodger’s Beach, Surfside Beach, Arashi Beach (great for snorkeling and sunsets), Boca Catalina (also great for snorkeling), and Mango Halto Beach (also great for sunsets).
For windsurfing, kiteboarding, and good snorkeling, head to Hadicurari Beach. Another excellent snorkeling beach is Malmok Beach. Baby Beach offers shallow, calm waters for a peaceful beach experience. One of the best beaches on Aruba for surfing is Dos Playa Beach.
But once you’ve had your fill of sun, sea, and sand, there are plenty of other great things to do in Aruba. Read on to learn all about the other best things to do in Aruba besides hitting the beach!
The charming and compact capital city of Oranjestad is a must-do in Aruba, if only for the exuberant and colorful architecture. Wander the streets of this port city and browse the shops featuring local crafts; stop for a refreshing drink or delicious meal; or ride the free streetcar that circles the city for a breezy tour. Be sure to stop at the Local Market and the Cosecha Gallery, and take a break in the lovely Queen Wilhelmina Park.
You can book a walking tour of the city, which takes you around all the top sites and provides historical context.
Ride an underwater scooter
You can book a snorkeling tour with a twist—you ride an underwater scooter called a SEABOB along the reef! All equipment is provided, and there’s plenty of vibrant marine life and coral to see.
Make an easy dive
Off the shore of Palm Beach, just 25 feet below the sea, lies a wrecked World War II tanker, the SS Pedernales. This is a great spot for scuba diving if you’re a beginner; it’s easy to get to and offers plenty of marine life.
Go on a deep dive
More experienced scuba divers may want to explore the SS Antilla, an intact German cargo ship that sank in 1940, or the Jane Sea, a ship that sank in 1988 that has an open hull.
Soak up the culture
The Historical Museum of Aruba, located in Oranjestad in the oldest building on the island, Fort Zoutman, built-in 1798. Come on Tuesday evenings for the Bon Bini Festival, which features traditional dancers and local food as well as music and art,
Take a submarine tour
One of the most unique things to do in Aruba is to go on the Atlantis Submarine Expedition. The world’s largest passenger sub, it takes you down 130 feet for a nearly 2-hour tour of the waters around Aruba.
Take a selfie with flamingos
Another of the most unique things to do in Aruba is to visit (and feed!) flamingos strutting around the sand. Flamingo Beach is located at the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino, which sits on a private island, so the beach is private. You’ll need to either stay at the hotel or get a day pass for $125, then take a water taxi over. The day pass includes lunch and a drink at a hotel restaurant.
Feed an ostrich
And yet another of the most unique things to do in Aruba is to visit the Aruba Ostrich Farm. It’s open every day and offers guided tours between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Admission is $14 per adult. You can even feed the ostriches (off the top of your head!) if you want to.
Be surrounded by butterflies
At the Butterfly Farm in Oranjestad, you can see hundreds of beautiful butterflies, including types from all over the world. Guided tours last 20 minutes and are offered all day between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, and you can make multiple return visits on the same ticket. Tip: If you want butterflies to land on you, wear bright colors and perfume that smells like citrus.
Get wild at Arikok National Park
For completely different scenery from the white-sand beaches, tour this ecological preserve, which is home to all sorts of wildlife including donkeys, migratory birds, iguanas, parakeets (and Aruban rattlesnakes, so wear sturdy shoes and watch where you step). There are also ancient Arawak paintings here, as well as ruins of plantations and traditional Aruban dwellings.
This is one of the best adventurous things to do in Aruba, offering the chance to hike trails; explore caves, limestone cliffs, sand dunes; and more for just an $11 admission fee. You can book guided tours and excursions here.
You can also rent a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to drive around the park, which actually covers almost a quarter of the island. Make sure to stop at the natural pool, where you can go swimming and snorkeling. Check out the breathtaking beach at Boca Prins bay, which is surrounded by high cliffs. The water is too rough for swimming, but it’s fun to climb through large sand dunes on the way, then relax and enjoy the vista.
Another of the top adventurous things to do in Aruba is to head to the island’s less-visited northern side, which offers a more rugged coastline. You’ll find challenging hikes, fascinating natural bridges in the limestone cliffs, secluded beaches, and dazzling views. This area is also home to the ruins of the Bushiribana Gold Mill, part of Aruba’s gold mining past.
Learn to surf
Yet another adventurous thing to do in Aruba is to take surfing lessons, The Aruba Surf & Paddle School offers certified instructors and fun lessons for all experience levels and ages.
Pet a donkey
Open between 9 a.m and 4 p.m. daily, the nonprofit Donkey Sanctuary Aruba is dedicated to helping the local donkeys, which used to be the primary method of transportation.
The sanctuary, which is free to visit but accepts donations, cares for sick and injured donkeys and educates visitors about them. Tours are available, and you can interact with the donkeys. (Tip: they love carrots and apples.)
Ride a horse
There are multiple companies offering horseback riding in Aruba, including in Arikok National Park. The guided tours also offer information about the island’s history. Visit the Gold Mine Ranch for tours on horseback around the northeastern coast, including remote beaches and hidden lagoons.
Book a sailboat for a leisurely cruise around the island, stopping to swim and snorkel, or take a sunset sail.
You can also book a charter fishing trip for a half or full day sport fishing, deep sea fishing, or bottom fishing excursion.
Hike to a great view
The Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations are located in eastern Aruba and are free. You can hike up to the top of these boulders for a beautiful view.
Climb to a great view
You can also visit the California Lighthouse, built in 1910 and located in the northern part of Aruba. Take a tour for $10 per person and climb to the top for sweeping views.
Climb down for a great view
Book a cave tour and explore some of Aruba’s many underground sights, including ancient Arawak Indian drawings in Fontein Cave or the natural skylight in Guadirikiri Cave.
Make a pilgrimage to a great view
On Aruba’s northeastern coast, following a long and winding road to reach the Alto Vista Chapel, near the town of Noord, also known as the Pilgrimage Chapel. This petite church, which still holds services, is located where the island’s first Catholic church was built in 1750 by a Spanish missionary. The panoramic views are gorgeous, and if you come on a Tuesday at 5 p.m., you can join the mass if you wish.
Be a race car driver
OK, so it’s gokart racing, but it’s still fast! The Bushiri Karting Speedway is an outdoor track that has plenty of hairpin turns and high-speed passing zones.
Try your luck at a casino
In Aruba, gambling is legal and there are casinos in many hotels, but downtown Oranjestad and Palm Beach have the most and best casinos. Top casinos in Aruba include the largest casino on the island, Stellaris Casino, and the Casino at the Hyatt Regency Aruba. Even if you don’t like to gamble, it’s worth a stop at one of these just to soak in the atmosphere.
Visit the Aruba Aloe Factory
Learn all about the aloe plant and how they use it to make skincare products at this factory, museum, and store in Hato. You can do guided or self-guided tours.
Get a guided tour
You can arrange a variety of island excursions, including Jeep tours of local attractions and natural wonders, including many of the spots mentioned in this article. Your guide will pick you up, drive you around in air-conditioned comfort, and drop you off, making your sightseeing effortless.
You can also book tours like “Highlights of Aruba” and “Taste of Aruba” with the family-operated Made in Aruba Sightseeing company, or go on an off-roading ATV adventure.
There are more than 90 unique ethnic groups on Aruba, creating a diverse and delicious variety of food. Local cuisine blends Caribbean, European, and South American flavors with other influences, for completely unique dishes.
Be sure to try some local specialties, such as johnnycakes (fried biscuits), pan bati (Aruban pancakes) bami and nasi goreng rice, sate with peanut sauce, carni di baca stoba or galina stoba (beef or chicken stew), funchi (cornmeal mash), rice and beans (arroz moro), and pastiche (a deep fried pastry stuffed with a variety of fillings).
Aruba has more than 250 places to eat, from casual open-air eateries to fine dining restaurants. You can find Aruban, Caribbean, Dutch, Indian, Spanish, Asian, African, Thai, international, Italian, North American, Central American, and South American cuisine.
And of course, you’ll want to enjoy fresh seafood. One of the best things to do in Aruba for seafood lovers is to go to Zeerovers, a beachfront seafood shack that serves fresh catch of the day and sides at picnic tables by the sea. (Tip: Zeerovers only takes cash.)
A romantic spot for fresh seafood and Caribbean dishes is Pinchos Bar & Grill, set on a pier over the ocean near Oranjestad.
Check out the Aruba nightlife
Aruba is known as a party island, and there is plenty to do here after the sun sets, whether you want to go dancing, hear live music, or just enjoy tropical drinks. In Palm Beach you’ll find lots of nightclubs, music venues, and swanky lounges. One of the most popular nightclubs for dancing is Gusto.
For a casual drink with your toes in the sand, head to MooMba Beach Bar. For free salsa lessons on Wednesday, go to the Bugaloe Beach Bar and Grill.
A unique thing to do in Aruba at night is to take the Kukoo Kunuku party bus, which offers excursions like pub crawls and wine tours. Just make a reservation and it will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.
Experience a festival.
Aruba features all sorts of festivals during the year, including the Soul Beach Music Festival, Aruba Summer Music Festival, Aruba’s Annual International Regatta, and Carnival. Choose your favorite and be a part of the celebration!
What should you avoid in Aruba?
If you want to avoid high prices and crowds, then you should avoid Aruba’s peak tourism season, which is from mid-December to mid-April.
Luckily, you don’t have to worry about avoiding Aruba during hurricane season, since the island is not in the zone for storms.
How many days is enough in Aruba?
After reading this article and finding out about all the best things to do in Aruba, you may wonder how long you need to stay on this wonderful island in order to fit them all in. Most visitors to Aruba stay about a week or longer, but five days is a good length of time to be able to enjoy what Aruba has to offer without feeling rushed.
When is the best time to visit Aruba?
Aruba lies outside the hurricane belt, so it is one of the rare Caribbean islands that you can visit in the summer without fear of storms. Aruba also has nice weather all year round, with pleasant trade winds, not much rain, and an average temperature of about 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
The peak season for tourism on Aruba is mid-December to mid-April. The best time to visit Aruba for lower prices and fewer crowds is the shoulder season of spring to summer: mid-April to August.
The cheapest time to visit Aruba is in the fall; this is the best time to visit Aruba for budget travelers. Plus, September is considered one of the best months to visit Aruba for snorkeling, due to decreased winds at that time. October is one of the best months to visit Aruba for foodies; that is when Eat Local Aruba Restaurant Week happens.
Did our list of the 28 best things to do in Aruba make you want to go? If you’re ready to plan your trip, check out our articles on great places to stay for your Aruba honeymoon or romantic vacation!
What is Aruba most known for?
Aruba is probably best known for its stunning scenery and white sand beaches.