Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Laura Cooper
Aruba vacations might be known for their white sand beach and relaxing appeal, but there are more things to do in Aruba than the all-inclusive vacation offers.
Aruba is known as One Happy Island, and with some of the best beaches in the world and the sunniest weather in the Caribbean, how could it not be a happy destination?
Aruba sits in the southern Caribbean below the hurricane belt, and just 15 miles north of Venezuela, making it the perfect destination for beach-goers and sunbathers. Aruba has more sunny days than any other Caribbean island, with a dry climate making temperatures consistent throughout the year. Partner this with its calm waters and pristine white sand beaches and you’ll never want to go home.
Travel to Aruba is rich with the best of both worlds: a relaxing all-inclusive vacation is possible, while exploring the city life in the Dutch-influenced Oranjestad and its countless restaurants, bars, and quaint historic areas is also popular on an Aruba vacation. What will you make your Aruba vacation out to be? There are plenty of Aruba excursions and things to do, here.
Things to do in Aruba
Most travellers visit Aruba for its famous beach, in particular Eagle Beach and Palm Beach. For people looking to leave their resort, there are plenty of Aruba excursions available, with transportation organized from your hotel, or pick-up spots within Oranjestad. Aruba also has several public beaches.
The island also has a good public transportation system, which is easy and safe to use, in addition to plenty of rental cars and taxis. The majority of restaurants, bars, and excursions will also except the American Dollar, or their own currency: the florin.
Aruba is definitely the spot to go for outdoor enthusiasts. More than 20% of the island is designated national park land found in Arikok National Park. The park is home to trails, exhibits of native animals like the whiptail lizard, and caves. The island is home to two golf courses, one 18-hole and one 9-hole. Other outdoor activities include the Bubali Bird Sanctuary, mountain biking tours, and donkey sanctuary.
There are 11 wrecks and over 20 dive sites available to scuba dive and snorkel to off the coast of Aruba’s south tip. Several diving companies are available for divers of all levels, with courses with reef, wreck, and night diving options. Explore the Antilla, the largest wreck in the Caribbean, exploring compartments, anchors, and parts of the wreck now covered in coral for experienced divers. Beginners may feel more comfortable with shore dives off De Palm Island, Baby Beach, and Pos Chiquito.
Aruba has plenty of history – explore historic gold mines from the 1400s and 1500s and during the gold rush of the nineteenth century. Learn about the 3-million pounds of gold once produced on the island, or visit the Archaeological Museum in downtown Oranjestad to get an overview of the island’s history. See Indian artifacts from 2500BC and learn about the first inhabitants of the island. Walking through Oranjestad is also a lesson in history – the architecture and style of the buildings exhibits the island’s Spanish and Dutch influences.
Aruba’s history also has a story with the gold rush: visit the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins for the remaining remnants of a long-abandoned gold mill that processed gold during the Aruban gold rush of the 19th century. The mine operated for 10 years and produced more than three million pounds of gold over that time. The gold mill ruins are a popular stop-over for tourists on their way to see the Aruba Natural Bridge.
No matter your interests, Aruba excursions have something for everyone. Visitors visiting the cruise port on a southern Caribbean cruise will enjoy shore excursions ranging from snorkeling, to outdoor adventures and horseback riding for a way to experience the island in a shorter time-frame. Other excursions range from watersports, to full-island Aruba tours to get a snapshot of all the island has to offer, its history, and culture. Find plenty of outdoor activities like ATV tours to experience the fun nature of the island. The majority of Aruba excursions and things to do revolve around the outdoors, with the islands excellent weather, unique landscape, and rugged coastline.
When the sun goes down, Aruba turns from a quiet beach vacation to a vibrant, lively nightlife scene. Find casinos at several resorts, like the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, Ritz-Carlton Aruba, and the Hilton Aruba Caribbean resort. Aruba is sometimes called the Las Vegas of the Caribbean, with 12 casinos on the island – some in resorts, and some stand-online for public access. You’ll find bars and clubs throughout downtown Oranjestad, in addition to your resort or hotel, to experience the nightlife like a local.
Things to do in Aruba for families
A family vacation to Aruba might be best as an all-inclusive, where resorts offer plenty of options for all travellers. The Holiday Inn Resort Aruba or Riu Palace Aruba are often some of the top-picks for family resorts in Aruba, as they offer kids clubs, kids pools, game rooms, and plenty of resort activities both in the water and on land.
Other popular activities that are geared towards the whole family are walking tours of Oranjestad, a visit to the Donkey Sanctuary in the Arikok National Park, scuba diving or snorkeling for older children, ATV rides and outdoor excursions, or a visit to Baby Beach where the water is calm and still – perfect for smaller children and inexperienced swimmers.
What are your favourite things to do in Aruba?