If your cruise ship is heading to Aruba or you’re just planning a vacation to this southern Caribbean island, you’ll be looking for things to do in Aruba while you’re there.
Though small, the island has plenty to offer. Of course, there are beaches but there are a lot of fun historical destinations and there are plenty of scenic sites to take in as well. Here’s a great list to get you started:
10 Things to Do in Aruba
1. Ride a Horse Through the Gold Mine Ruins
In 1824, gold was first found in Aruba. Though it’s long gone, you can tour the old ruins via horseback. The Gold Mine Ranch has group and private tours available with prices starting at $55. Children and beginning horse riders are welcome.
2. See the Caves in Arikok National Park
Arikok National Park covers an impressive 20% of Aruba and features a cool series of caves. The Fontein Cave has brownish-red drawings left by Amerindians as well as graffiti etched by early European settlers. The 300-foot Baranca Sunu cave has a heart-shaped entrance, which has earned it the nickname the Tunnel of Love (it’s dark inside, so rent a flashlight to explore this one). The Quadirikiri Cave has two large chambers and a 100-foot tunnel that leads to a nesting area for bats. Roof openings in the main chambers allow sunlight in, so you won’t need flashlights for this one. Photos from the park at Trip Adviser.
3. Hit the Beach!
True, there are lots of things to do in Aruba, but it's hard to imagine visiting without taking some time to relax on at least one of the beautiful beaches. A favorite with cruise tourists is Palm Beach, which is famous for calm waters and is located in front of the major resorts. Try Baby Beach, located in Seroe Colorado at the SE end of the island, for a tranquil swimming cove. For terrific snorkeling, visit Arashi Beach, which is just south of the lighthouse near the NW tip of Aruba. More on Aurba beaches at Frommer’s .
4. Birdwatch at Bubali Bird Sanctuary
If you enjoy watching wildlife, you'll want to check out the winged inhabitants of the Bubali Bird Sanctuary. There are 80 migratory species including egrets, herons, gulls, skimmers, and cormorants. For information on more species and lots of great photos, visit Aruba Birds.
5. Shop Until You Drop at Caya GF Betico Croes
In Oranjestad, Caya GF Betico Croes is the chief shopping street. Here you can find duty-free boutiques selling items from around the world: jewelry, French perfume, German and Japanese cameras, English bone china, Swiss watches, and more. Watch out for aggressive vendors, which are especially noticeable on cruise-ship days.
6. Climb up Hooiberg for Great Views
This 541-foot tall peak at the center of the island can be reached via its 562 concrete steps. From the top, you can see twenty miles to Venezuela on clear days. More information on Hooiberg at Wikipedia.
7. Rent a Moped
For $30-$40, you can rent a moped and explore remote areas of the island. Note, Aruba traffic can be confusing for foreigners, so it’s probably not a good idea to use a moped as your sole means of transportation on the island.
8. Take a Submarine Ride
We’ve talked about plenty of land-based adventures you can partake in when visiting Aruba, but have you ever thought about exploring the water? Red Sail Sports’ Atlantis Submarine offers tours of the island’s coral reefs, shipwrecks, and don't forget the tropical fish. It costs about $100 for an hour ride, and you get a dive certificate as proof that you’ve delved down to 150 feet in depth. (If you’re coming in on a cruise, chances are there’s a shore excursion that sets everything up for you.)
9. Play for the Big Money at the Casinos
If you’ll be staying overnight in Aruba, you may be looking for things to do after dark. If gambling is your cup of tea, you could visit the Crystal Casino, the Alhambra Casino, or the Seaport Casino. The Aruba casinos aren’t as over-the-top as what you’d find in Vegas, but the colorful lights and constant sound and motion will still evoke the carnival-like feel. The 8,000 square foot Alhambra has an interesting Moorish theme.
10. Get up Close and Personal at the Ostrich Farm
If you don’t have an ostrich farm at home but wish you did, now’s your chance to visit one. The Aruba Ostrich Farm lets you see and touch these giant birds. They even like to be hand-fed. Learn about their behavior and natural instincts as you watch them stroll around the rugged Aruba landscape that is a perfect environment for them.
That’s it for this list of 10 things to do in Aruba. If you’ve tried any of them, leave a comment and let us know how it went!