The best things to do in Aruba include discovering the highlights of one of the picturesque Lesser Antilles islands found just off the coast of Venezuela. It’s best known for its dazzling white beaches. But away from the beach, there’s fascinating desert-like landscapes, colorful architecture and a vibrant art and social scene to explore.

    Visitors could easily spend their days lazing on the beach and taking dips in the balmy Caribbean waters, while those in search of more action will find plenty to enjoy, from discovering sunken ships on a diving trip to trying their luck at a casino. Here are just a few ideas of things to see and do in Aruba.

    What are the best things to do in Aruba?

    1

    Arikok National Park

    Explore the trails and caves that cover nearly 20% of the island

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    With its windswept coastlines, cacti-dotted landscapes and limestone cliffs, Arikok National Park is a great place to discover Aruba’s wild beauty. Hike to the top of Arikok hill to enjoy panoramic views over the island, or take a 4X4 to go for a cool dip in Conchi, a jewel-toned natural pool along the rocky shore. Venture into Fontien Cave to find ancient pictographs among the stalactites.

    The park is open daily from 8am to 4pm and there’s an entry fee of about $11 for adults. Guided trips are available, with some sites only accessible by all-terrain vehicles.

    Location: San Fuego 70, Santa Cruz, Aruba

    Open: Daily 8 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +297 585 1234

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    2

    Boca Prins Beach

    Slide down the sand dunes near Fontien Cave

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    Boca Prins is a remote bay on the northeast coast of Aruba, surrounded by high cliffs. It's one of the best things to do in Aruba and among the most breathtaking spots within Arikok National Park. Strong waves make it a hazardous place to swim, but it’s a fine place to just escape the world and soak up the incredibly scenic views.

    Approaching the beach are large sand dunes, providing a stark landscape that’s fun to scramble across on the way to the beach or explore with a 4X4. To reach the bay’s small beach, take the wooden steps down.

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    3

    Arashi Beach

    Swim and snorkel through an underwater wonderland

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    Aruba's Arashi Beach offers colorful marine life and fiery sunset views. Calmer sea conditions make it an ideal place for families to swim, while snorkelers are rewarded with clear waters and the chance to see an abundance of sea life like fan corals, angelfish and the blue tang fish of Finding Dory fame.

    Found on the northwest tip of the island near the California Lighthouse, the beach remains largely free of development though there are beach huts, sunbeds and a bar on site.

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    photo by Dan Souza (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    4

    Oranjestad

    Aruba’s colorful capital

    The port city of Oranjestad's lively streets and wedding-cake Dutch colonial architecture can easily tempt visitors away from the beaches for at least a few hours of shopping and strolling. Look for souvenirs and snacks at the Local Market near the bus terminal or stop by the Cosecha gallery and shop to find unique ceramics, jewelry and other works by local artists. Queen Wilhelmina Park is a scenic little place to relax and maybe spot some sunbathing iguanas.

    The free streetcar offers a leisurely way to explore the city, looping around the downtown area from the cruise port's main gate. Trams run every 25 minutes from 10am to 5pm daily.

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    photo by Bgabel (CC BY 3.0) modified

    5

    Eagle Beach

    A west coast beach just 15 minutes from Oranjestad

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    Eagle Beach is one of Aruba’s largest beaches. It's also Aruba's most famous and is often ranked among the world’s best in travel magazines and traveler surveys. Not only is Eagle Beach stunningly beautiful with its soft, white sands and clear waters, it’s also a hive of fun beach activities including banana boat rides and jet ski rentals.

    Sun loungers are available to rent, or you could try to find a patch of shade under a stately divi divi tree on the beach. Be sure to linger into the twilight hours to catch the spectacular sunset views over the sea.

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    photo by Leoboudv (CC BY 3.0) modified

    6

    Diving in Aruba

    Dive for shipwrecks and sunken aircraft

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    Aruba’s waters are teeming with colorful marine life, but there are also some sunken ships lurking in the depths that are thrilling to discover on a scuba diving trip. The best-known shipwreck is the SS Antilla, a German cargo ship that was set on fire by its crew to evade capture and has remained intact on the ocean floor since it sank in 1940.

    Jane Sea is a ship that sunk in mysterious circumstances in 1988 that has an open cargo hull to explore. The Pedernales sunken tanker is another World War II relic that suffered a torpedo attack by German U-boats in 1942 – this wreck is popular with beginner divers.

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    7

    Bubali Bird Sanctuary

    Birdwatching at Aruba’s avian haven

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    At first glance, Bubali Bird Sanctuary doesn’t appear to have much to see, but those with patience and a good set of binoculars will be rewarded with the chance to spot more than 80 species of migratory birds. Head to the observation tower for the best views and keep an eye out for such birds as Caribbean coots, pied-billed grebes and various herons and egrets.

    The sanctuary is in a wetland preserve within walking distance from Palm Beach. It’s best to go in the late afternoon or at dusk when the birds are more active.

    Location: J E Irausquin Boulevard, Palm-Eagle Beach, Aruba

    Phone: +297 582 3777

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    8

    Alto Vista Chapel

    A hilltop church with heavenly views

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    The tiny Alto Vista Chapel sits on a site of the first Catholic church in Aruba, originally built in 1750 by the Spanish missionary Domingo Antonio Silvestre. Found near the town of Noord, this bright yellow church is also called the Pilgrim’s Chapel, rewarding those who make the journey up the long winding road with stunning views over the island’s north-eastern coast.

    The faithful are welcome to join the chapel’s weekly mass service, which is held most every Tuesday at 5pm.

    Location: Alto Vista Road, Noord, Aruba

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    photo by Natalie Liao Jen (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    9

    California Lighthouse

    Enjoy stunning views

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    The California Lighthouse is a towering opportunity to take in a 360 degrees view of the island all within an impressive historic structure dating back more than a century. You and your family can climb to the top of the lighthouse for impressive views all day long. Sunset is especially appealing, as the angle from the top often lets you see the green flash, a meteorological phenomenon that sometimes occurs at sunset.

    The lighthouse itself dates back to 1910, so you enjoy being in a piece of history during your visit. Finding the lighthouse is easy, as you just have to head to the north side of the island less than a mile in from the western coast.

    Location: Hudishibana 2, Noord, Aruba

    Open: Thursday–Saturday and Monday–Tuesday from 9 am to 6 pm, Wednesday from 9.30 am to 6 pm, Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm

    Phone: +1 297 699 0995

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    10

    Palm Beach

    Beach parties and poker nights

    As the day winds down, Aruba’s festive vibe heats up and most night owls will flock to Palm Beach for some after-dark excitement. Those in search of a refreshing sundowner head to places like Bugaloe Beach Bar and Grill, which offers happy-hour specials daily and free salsa classes every Wednesday.

    MooMba Beach Bar is a good place to go for a casual night out with its open-air beach huts, or for a more glam evening, you could try your luck at one of the casinos. To dance the tropical night away, make your way to Gusto, one of the island’s top night clubs.

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    Lana Willocks | Contributing Writer

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    COVID-19 Travel Alert

    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.

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