Scott Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean.
Oranjestad city center.
Aruba tourist attractions start with the island's fabulous beaches and watersports, especially snorkeling and scuba diving.
The island also has things to do on land that help break up the day.
The capital city of Oranjestad is the first attraction for cruise visitors for the simple reason that the main drag is only a block from the docks.
Airport arrivals also usually drive through it on the way to their hotels. Shops, a few malls and many restaurants along with hotels and a casino line L.G. Smith Boulevard. It offers one of the better shopping and dining experiences in the Caribbean.
2) Renaissance Island
Oranjestad also is the access point to Renaissance Island, a private island that Marriot Corp. owns and makes available for its hotel guests.
But other people can visit too by paying a small fee and taking a 10-minute boat ride to the island. It has two quiet coves with white beaches and pink flamingos that wander among the guests.
3) Palm Beach
Palm Beach is one of the best Caribbean attractions for its combination of dining, shopping, nightlife, ambiance and of course the beach.
This tourism oasis is easily and quickly accessible whether a visitor stays at a resort on the beach, walks over from a nearby resort or simply takes a bus or taxi.
Cruise visitors will find that it is a brief drive from the pier. The experience consists of one long street with beach and resorts on one side and shopping, dining and nightlife on the other. Nighttime is an especially good time to visit.
The California was the ship that was near the Titanic and received its distress signals as that ship sank in 1912.
Then the California itself sank off the coast of Aruba two years later, followed by construction of the lighthouse another two years later in the area known as "Hudishibana," near the island's northwestern tip.
The lighthouse is on a high seaside elevation and provides views of sunsets, beaches, sand dunes and coral shorelines.
5) Arikok National Park
The desert-like Arikok National Park covers 18 percent of the entire island. It has biking, walking and hiking trails that provide access to coastline, sand dunes, and cave and rock formations.
Besides hiking, visitors also can explore the park by Jeep, horseback and ATV vehicles.
The park also has major historical and cultural sites, examples of the homes of early settlers, and rock drawings left behind by the island's first inhabitants.
It also is home to other attractions below, including The Natural Bridge, Hooiberg Mountain, Natural Pool and island caves.
6) The Natural Bridge
Arguably Aruba's most famous landmark collapsed in 2005. But the location is still a popular tourist spot for anyone travelling by car, bus, ATV, bicycle or horseback.
The Baby Bridge, a smaller natural bridge, still survives. The location has nice rocky views and a small shop with refreshments.
It is worth a brief visit in combination with other attractions in Arikok National Park.
7) Hooiberg Mountain
Hooiberg is Aruba's most well-known and accessible mountain -- really just a hill at 541 feet -- that makes for a rugged climb by foot, ATV or mountain bike. The bumpy ATV ride to the top is fun. On a clear day, you can see Venezuela and get a unique view of Aruba itself.
8) Natural Pool
The Natural Pool or "conchi" called "Cura di Tortuga" is a secret, hidden pool on the rocky windward coast. Diving off the rocks into the pool is especially popular. The site is reachable only by foot, horseback or 4x4 vehicle.
9) Island Caves
The Guadirikiri Cave has two chambers illuminated by sunlight streaming through holes in the roof of the cave. The cave is about 100 feet long and has harmless bats nesting in the darker areas.
The Fontein Cave has drawings of Arawak Indians on the ceilings and gives visitors a glimpse of island history. The Huliba Cave is also known as the Tunnel of Love because the entrance is the shape of a heart. Visitors will need flashlights to explore the passageway, which is 300 feet long.
10) Ostrich Farm
The Aruba Ostrich Farm teaches visitors about these unique birds and their behavior, natural instincts and more. Visitors can see, touch and sometimes stand on their large eggs, which are kept in incubators on the farm.
Visitors can feed the ostriches by hand. Entrance & Tour Fee - Adults:$12 - Kids $6. Phone: (297) 585-9630, Fax (297) 585-9629.
11) Donkey Sanctuary
Aruba is home to a donkey sanctuary where visitors can pet 30-40 of the animals. The sanctuary is open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and Monday until Friday from 9 a.m. until 12.30 p.m.
12) Butterfly Farm
Aruba's Butterfly Farm has a tropical garden teeming with butterflies from around the world.
Visitors can observe the life cycle of these fascinating animals from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.
The farm is located at Palm Beach across from the Aruba Phoenix and Wyndham Hotels. Open all year from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Phone: (297) 586-3656.
13) Bubali Bird Sanctuary
The Bubali Bird Sanctuary is a breeding ground for more than 80 species of migratory birds, according to the Aruba Tourism Authority. It is located in front of the Old Dutch Windmill within walking distance of the Palm Beach resorts.
The birds inhabit two man-made ponds that receive water from a nearby treatment facility. Visitors can use an observation tower to view herons, egrets, gulls, skimmers, coots, cormorants, numerous species of ducks and other species.
14) Archaeological Museum of Aruba
The museum in the history Ecury complex has become a modern museum especially designed to preserve Aruba’s Amerindian cultural heritage.