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What to See and Do in Aruba

What to See and Do in Aruba

Aruba, fondly known as “One Happy Island,” is a Caribbean gem that attracts travel enthusiasts with its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and captivating blend of Dutch and Caribbean cultures. Whether you’re docking in Oranjestad on a cruise or planning an extended stay, here’s a guide to the must-see sights and activities that will make your visit unforgettable.

what-to-see-and-do-in-aruba-sailboat-oranjestad

Discover Aruba’s Rich History

Aruba seceded from the northern Antilles in 1986 and became a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, sharing Dutch nationality. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, the three islands are often referred to as the ABC islands. They form the westernmost islands of the Leeward Antilles, offering a unique blend of cultural influences.

aruba-huts-and-palm-trees

Embrace the Azure Waters

Aruba’s waterfront is a mesmerizing palette of blues, so stunning it feels like stepping into a postcard. On the island’s northern part, the coastline is rugged, with coves carved out of limestone—a testament to the power of the ocean waves. While beautiful, these waters can be dangerous, so take caution.

For a more relaxing experience, venture out to some of Aruba’s world-class beaches:

  • Eagle Beach: Known for its powdery white sands and iconic fofoti trees, it offers breathtaking scenery but can get quite crowded.
  • Surfside Beach: A favorite among locals, this family-friendly beach provides a more laid-back atmosphere.
  • Palm Beach: Bustling with luxury resorts and water sports, Palm Beach is your go-to for windsurfing and vibrant nightlife.
aruba-blue-waters

Exploring Beyond the Beaches

Renting a car is a fantastic way to explore the island beyond the crowded local beaches. The loop road around Aruba makes it nearly impossible to get lost. You may encounter wild horses and donkeys as you wander, often curious enough to approach your car. Keep an eye out for impressive murals along the way.

Caution: Aruba has many dunes. Only attempt to drive on the beaches if you have a 4WD vehicle and see posted signs permitting it. Trust me, it’s a lesson learned the hard way!

donkeys-and-wildlife-aruba

Shopping Extravaganza

Oranjestad, the vibrant capital of Aruba, is not just a top cruise itinerary port, but also a paradise for shoppers seeking international and luxury goods. The absence of sales tax adds to the allure, making it a haven for those in search of a great deal. 

Key shopping areas in Oranjestad include Port of Call Marketplace, the first shopping complex upon exiting the cruise terminal, and L.G. Smith Boulevard, a downtown waterfront area lined with a variety of international luxury retailers and restaurants, offering everything from high-end fashion to exquisite jewelry.

downtown-oranjestad-aruba

Popular souvenirs include Delft porcelain, Dutch cheeses, and exquisite Alexandrite jewelry at stores like Columbian Emeralds or Diamonds International.

Unforgettable Adventures

Engage in Iconic Activities

For those who enjoy quintessential Caribbean tourist experiences, a visit to Carlos & Charlie’s on Eagle Beach is a must. Despite the average food and drinks, the restaurant offers live entertainment and fun souvenirs. Partygoers might want to hop on an open-air party bus for the ultimate Island road trip.

If you are seeking the thrill of gambling,  Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino or Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort are your go-to destinations. They offer all the action-packed slots you know and love, plus an array of amazing table games.

We had a family vacation at the Marriott property and everything was 10/10 from start to finish, plus we were fortunate enough to win enough money in the casino to pay for our trip. 

young-girl-on-the-beach-in-aruba

Unique Excursions

One of my personal highlights was the guided tour at the Aruba Ostrich Farm. The tour was not only informative but also interactive, allowing us to feed the ostriches. This unique experience was both delightful and nerve-wracking. The farm also features a restaurant and an African artifacts gift shop, adding to its charm. Don’t miss the photo ops at this stop. 

Admission is $15 for adults.

ostrich-farm-and-natural-bridge-aruba

Explore Natural Wonders

Uncover the enchanting allure of the Natural Bridge, a place where you can partake in the whimsical tradition of rock stacking near the beach and make a wish. Despite the original bridge’s collapse in 2005, the smaller natural bridge still stands as a captivating sight.

Named after a ship that sank in 1910, Aruba’s California Lighthouse, near Arashi Beach, offers stunning views and a nearby restaurant, Faro Blanco, for a tasty lunch stop.

aruba-natural-bridge
faro-blanco-restaurant

Savor the Local Cuisine

Aruba’s culinary scene is a delightful fusion of flavors. Take advantage of pastechis, Antillean meat turnovers filled with dried fruits and spices. Most menus feature gourmet salads, grilled meats, and an array of fresh fruits and vegetables—perfect for any palate.

hard-rock-cafe-aruba

Final Thoughts

With its swaying palm trees, jaw-dropping beaches, and rich cultural history, Aruba is a destination you’ll want to return to time and time again. Each visit brings new adventures and a deeper appreciation for this gorgeous island.

Ready to discover the joys of Aruba for yourself? Start planning your trip, and you’ll quickly see why it’s called “One Happy Island.”

lean-to-shed-on-the-beach-in-aruba

Check out our other posts from fun in the sun destinations:

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Willerd Sánchez

Friday 9th of November 2018

Interesting post. I did not know that in Aruba there are attractions related to Ostriches, and that I go every year !. You can see that you had a great time, I recommend you stay (next time) at Azure Beach Residences, you will surely have a great time with the view and the service they offer. For my part, I intend to ask my girlfriend for a wedding and would like one of the beautiful native stones of Aruba. Wish me luck!

MelodyPittman

Sunday 18th of November 2018

Awesome! Good luck, sounds very romantic. ;)

Ana

Saturday 4th of July 2015

To be honest, before reading this post I could not even locate Aruba on the map... haha, but after reading it, U want to go there so badly! The beaches look gorgeous. Cheers!

MelodyPittman

Monday 6th of July 2015

Awesome! It's really a beautiful island. I hope you make it there! ;) Thanks for stopping by!

TravelGretl

Friday 3rd of July 2015

Yeah! I went to curacao for an internship in 2009 :) It's not the same of course, but I must say I even feel connected to that place when seeing all this! Feels like a same kind of vibe is going on. Great to see :D

MelodyPittman

Monday 6th of July 2015

Another one of the ABC islands. I haven't been to Curacao but it looks beautiful. ;)

Tim

Wednesday 1st of July 2015

I have always wanted to go to Aruba; that one picture of the beach with its white sand looks gorgeous.

MelodyPittman

Thursday 2nd of July 2015

Tim, it really is one of the most beautiful islands I have been to. I personally like all the very upscale casinos; I'm a gambler. ;)

Tami

Wednesday 1st of July 2015

Aruba has some beautiful beaches and scenery! And even the town you showed pictures of has a lot of charm. I imagine the weather is pretty nice, too. Ah...so many places to go see!

MelodyPittman

Thursday 2nd of July 2015

Exactly. I just go wherever anyone wants to invite me. ;) Thanks for stopping by Tami.

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