It doesn’t take long to see why Aruba’s motto is “One Happy Island“! I can honestly say that it is now one of my FAVORITE places to travel. It doesn’t hurt that it has the highest number of sunny days in the Caribbean.
I am beyond happy to share this Ultimate Guide for Things to SEE and DO in Aruba, but first… a little basic island knowledge will go a long way…
INFORMATION ABOUT THE ISLAND
Aruba is actually a tiny 70 square mile island of happiness. It takes approximately 1 hour to get from one end of the island to the other, and when I was there we saw it ALL.
The temperature stays in the consistent low to mid 80’s year-round, with a gentle breeze. It is outside of the hurricane belt so it’s always the right time to book a trip to Aruba! With 14 beaches and coves, you will be sure to find your happy place there.
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TOP TWO BEST BEACH AREAS TO STAY IN ARUBA
If you are planning a trip to Aruba, then you probably LOVE the beach. Aruba has several white sandy beaches with crystal blue water and they are all beautiful!
It won’t be difficult for you to see why they are known as the best beaches in the Caribbean. Here are two of the most popular beach spots in Aruba, which I’m sure you will love as much as I did.
#1 Renaissance Island Beach
Renaissance Island has Aruba’s ONLY private beaches. The BEST part about Renaissance Island is the pink flamingos that wander around freely. You can feed them right out of your hand! This was hands down my FAVORITE part of Aruba! It’s an extra luxury, but it is 100% worth it.
Access to the island is open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm and you have to take a small boat from the hotel to get access to it. Boats run every 15 minutes.
If you are buying individual tickets then you have to purchase them the day before and they can sell out because they are limited.
I crunched the numbers and trust me when I say it is worth it to stay at the hotel, even if it’s just for one night to be able to have access to “flamingo island”.
Renaissance Island Beach Hotel
If you don’t stay at the hotel, then you will have to buy tickets to access the private island for $125.00. If you stay at the hotel, Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino, then admission to the private island is included.
At the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino they have a family-friendly hotel called Ocean Suites, and an adults-only hotel called Marina Hotel. I stayed at the adults-only hotel and it was PERFECT!
If you are traveling with children then you will likely spend the day at Iguana Beach on Renaissance Island. Yes, there are big iguanas on the beach!
Flamingo Beach only allows children to visit between 9:00 am and 10:00 am. It is within walking distance to Iguana Beach. Both beaches have excellent restaurants.
#2 Eagle Beach
Eagle Beach was ranked the #1 beach in Aruba and the 3rd best beach in the world!
First, I stayed at the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino in order to see the flamingos, and then my budget encouraged me to try another hotel as well. I wanted to stay in the area of Eagle Beach because it had incredible reviews on Tripadvisor.
There are many different hotels to chose from in Eagle Beach so you have to select one that works best for your budget and your needs.
The thing that was most important to me was being RIGHT by the beach so I stayed at La Cabana Beach Resort and Casino.
La Cabana Beach Resort and Casino is located in a town called Oranjestad. Honestly, this resort was nice, but what I loved the most was the location. It was within walking distance to excellent restaurants and to the amazing Eagle Beach. They have dining RIGHT on the beach!
Many of the resorts had casinos, restaurants, and spas. I didn’t notice that any particular hotel stuck out from the others, so I’d suggest you make your selection based upon the location and amenities that work best for you.
Aruba is considered to be one of the safest of all the Caribbean islands. Crime is very low so you don’t really have to worry about staying in a “bad part of town”. Just make sure you read Top 5 Things You NEED to Know When Finding a Hotel before you finalize your selection.
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GETTING AROUND IN ARUBA
Although it is not a very big island, there are PLENTY of things to see and do in Aruba. I was there for 6 days and I really saw a lot of what the island had to offer.
If you are brave then you might want to rent a car to go exploring. The people in Aruba are so friendly, that road rage isn’t even a thing there. Visitors have a “V” on their license plate so the residents know to give them extra grace while driving.
I did not rent a car while I was there because I found that most things were within walking distance from the hotels I selected, and the guided tours included pick-up/drop-off.
Driving in Aruba made me a little nervous because they have different street signs than I’m familiar with from the US.
The very few times I need transportation, I just used a taxi. (Then I could ask the friendly taxi driver for recommendations of things to see and do in Aruba.) 😉
15 THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN ARUBA
Aruba is small, but there is SOOO much to explore. Get excited because I’m going to share a variety of options in this Ultimate Guide for Things to SEE and DO in Aruba! This list has a wide array of price points, so there is something for every budget here.
Take Fun Touristy Pictures
There are plenty of Instagram worthy photo opportunities in Aruba. Your trip wouldn’t be complete without some touristy pictures!
Get your picture taken by the “Big Red Anchor” in the southern part of Aruba. Not only is the Seroe Colorado Anchor a cool place for pictures, but there is an incredible story behind how it was lost, found, and moved around Aruba.
Visit the Casino
Fort Zoutman Historical Museum
The Fort Zoutman Historical Museum is within walking distance of the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino. It’s a cute little museum that only costs $5.00 for admission. The best part about the museum is the view from the top.
Every Tuesday from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm the Bonbini Aruba Festival takes place at Fort Zoutman. It is more of a stage show than a “festival“, but it’s a fun way to learn about the history and culture. Admission to the festival is $10.00.
Aloe Factory and Museum
One thing I learned right away in Aruba is that you can get a sunburn, even if the sun is not out. That’s probably why they have so many Aruba Aloe Stores. The Aloe Factory and Museum is located on Pitastraat 115, Aruba.
I can honestly say that I LOVE their products! (The Nourish Shampoo and Conditioner are my favorite items.) I made several purchases for myself, and for souvenirs. Since I’m an expert at packing a suitcase, I had plenty of room for my extra purchases.
It ranks #3 out of 114 things to do in Aruba on TripAdvisor. You can tour the Aloe Factory and Museum on your own or you can also see it as part of a group tour. It is the first stop on the Aruba Full Island Group Tour with Viator.
Shopping in Aruba
At some point, you might want to take a little break from beach life and do some shopping.
If you are staying at the Renaissance Hotel, they have stores inside at the Renaissance Mall. This indoor mall would be a perfect place to shop if you need a break from the sun.
There are also some high-end stores outside if you walk up the road to the Royal Plaza Mall. It is located at L.G. Smith Boulevard 94, Oranjestad Aruba.
I did some shopping in Palm Beach, which is closer to the Eagle Beach area. I absolutely LOVED the shopping at Paseo Herencia! It is located at J.E. Irausquin Blvd 382 297 Palm Beach, Aruba. TripAdvisor had great reviews on it.
Take an Island Tour
I shared in “Top 10 Things to SEE and DO in Nashville, Tennessee” about how one of the first things I do when I travel is to take a trolley ride around town. I do this because it’s fun, but mostly I do it so I can get an idea of the area. It’s easier to see a new town when you aren’t driving and trying to figure out where to go.
ABC Tours was the company that hosted the tour and they were AMAZING! It started with them picking us up at our hotel. The entire tour is approximately 9.5 hours long and it is worth every penny!
At first, I was a little worried that we might be exhausted by the end of the day, but this tour is a perfect mix of relaxing and action so it does not overwhelm you in any way.
During the Island Ultimate Jeep Safari you get to ride around the island in an open air 4 x 4 Land Rover. You can snorkel and swim at the Natural Pool and Baby Beach. When you go to Aruba you CAN’T MISS Flamingo Island and this Island Ultimate Jeep Safari tour! They are my favorites in my Ultimate Guide for Things to SEE and DO in Aruba.
Although I HIGHLY recommend doing the entire tour package, I’m going to break down each of the stops we made on the tour, so you can pick and choose what you would like to see on your own if you are unable to do the entire day tour.
The California Lighthouse is one of Aruba’s most famous landmarks. It has nothing to do with the State of California in the U.S. (I just wanted to make sure there was no confusion.) It is located on the northern tip of the island.
You can go all the way to the top and see spectacular views of the island. For extra fun, you can explore the area around the California Lighthouse on a segway tour. When we recently took our trip to Savannah Georgia we did a segway tour and it was my favorite part of that trip!
Alto Vista Chapel
The Alto Vista Chapel is considered to be the first church in the Caribbean. It is located in Noord, Aruba. Also known as Pilgrim’s Church, it was built by Spanish missionaries in 1750 and still has Catholic services today.
It is open to visitors every day from 5:30 am to 7:00 pm.
The Natural Bridge was a major tourist attraction in Aruba, but unfortunately, it collapsed in 2005. The remains from the bridge and “baby bridge” are still great for tourists to visit. Many of the guided tours will take you to see the Natural Bridge.
Bushiribana Gold Mills Ruins
Aruba has ruins from gold mines and gold mills for tourists to visit. The Bushiribana Gold Mills Ruins is a historical site that offers some unique photo opportunities. The history in this space is interesting and the views are beautiful, as always.
Aruba National Park
Arikok National Park makes up over 20% of the island. It is located in Santa Cruz, Aruba. This awesome park offers biking, hiking, trails, coves, beaches, and wildlife. The Natural Pool and Fontine Cave (listed below) are located inside Arikok National Park as well.
When we did the Island Ultimate Jeep Safari tour, admission to the park was included. There are a number of different tours that have a stop at the park. Be sure to check out their hours of operation and entry fees if you are not seeing the park with a tour.
Aruba's Natural Pool
The Fontein Cave is located inside of the Aruba National Park. Take a peek inside the cave to see the stalagmites, stalactites, cave drawings, and maybe even some bats! (Don’t worry, they are harmless.)
If you’re not seeing the cave as part of a guided tour, then the park ranger at the entrance can give you a tour and provide interesting information.
Visit Baby Beach
Baby Beach is located in the southern part of the Island. Eagle Beach and Baby Beach were my FAVORITES in Aruba.
If you like to snorkel then THIS is definitely the place to do it! You can book a Beach Hopping Snorkeling Tour to see Mangel Halto and Baby Beach. They are two of Aruba’s best-known snorkeling beaches.
San Nicholas Art Murals
It takes approximately 90 min to walk and see them all. Viator offers two guided tour options to see the murals.
QUICK LINKS: Ultimate Guide for Things to SEE and DO in Aruba
I like to purchase my tickets in advance online so I have them all in an app on my phone. Viator and Get Your Guide allow you to book in advance and cancel within 24 hours with NO FEES. Here are some quick links to things I’m suggesting in my Ultimate Guide for Things to SEE and DO in Aruba.
If you liked the Ultimate Guide for Things to SEE and DO in Aruba, then you might also want to read about How to See 4 Hawaiian Islands in 7 Days.
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LET’S CONNECT: Which one of my suggestions in the “Ultimate Guide for Things to SEE and DO in Aruba” do you think you’d add to your list when you travel there?