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10 Best Aruba Tourist Attractions + 10 More

The best Aruba tourist attractions and start with the famous Palm Beach as well as Arikok National Park and the capital city of Oranjestad.

They will keep resort visitors busy all week and give cruise visitors plenty of things to do for an entire day.

This small Caribbean island is known for great beaches such as Palm and Eagle. For these reasons and others, the Aruba government tourism office claims the island is the number one Caribbean destination for return visits.

But it keeps people coming back for more than just the beaches. When someone needs a break from the sun, they won’t have a problem finding fun things to do in Aruba.

The 10 best Aruba tourist attractions on the list below are the result of four trips to explore the island from one side to another.

Other visitors may have their favorites, but this list of 10 considers the number of people who see them as well as their obvious appeal.

1) Adventures in Arikok National Park

Aruba ATV attraction
ATV rides in Arikok National Park are common Aruba attractions. Credit: Unsplash license

Arikok covers 20 percent of Aruba and dominates nearly all other land activity ranging from island history, Indian cave drawings and natural formations to ATV rides, horseback rides, jeep tours and hiking.

Arikok is often a major part of island shore excursion tours. The park begins at the northwest tip of the island by the California Lighthouse and extends in a strip down the eastern side until it balloons out in the central southwest.

It has few roads except for a handful that allow tourists to drive to the most popular attractions, such as the lighthouse, the natural bridges, two major caves and a few beaches.

Otherwise, the only way to cross the park is using ATV, horse, jeeps or on foot. An ATV tour is especially fun because the rugged and rocky terrain results in quite a bouncy ride. One example excursion with an ATV has prices starting at $84 per person. A Jeep safari that goes a full day and visits Natural Pool and Baby Beach among other destinations starts at $126 per person.

2) Floating in the Natural Pool (If You Can Find It)

South of the natural bridges along the coast is another well-known attraction, the Natural Pool.

A circle of volcanic boulders have created a calm pool of water by the ocean. Ocean waves hit the outer rocks and create dramatic sprays of water over the pool.

Unlike the bridges, the Natural Pool isn’t accessible by any road because it is in rugged, rocky terrain. The only way to reach it is by foot, ATV, horseback or 4x4 vehicle. An example shore excursion is an offroad safari to Natural Pool via Land Rovers with prices starting at $79.

3) Diving with Scuba, Snuba and Snorkel

Aruba is one of the most popular islands in the Caribbean for scuba, snuba and snorkeling because it has more than 20 dive spots, 11 diver-friendly wrecks and the largest wreck in the Caribbean

Although Aruba is more known for scuba diving than snorkeling, it does have accessible snorkeling locations off Baby Beach, Boca Catalina, Malmok Beach and Mangel Halto.

Some of the less expensive snorkeling and diving excursions that include sailing time start at a little more than $100 per person. Beach access snorkeling packages with other amenities are less than $100.

One example sail and snorkle excursion with champaign brunch has prices starting at $80 per person.

4) Walking Tours of Oranjestad

Aruba flea market
Smith Boulevard flea market. © Scott S. Bateman

Few cruise visitors can avoid seeing the capital city, Oranjestad, because they walk right into it from the docks.

Anyone arriving at the airport must pass through it during the 10-minute drive from the airport to the main resort areas at Palm and Eagle beaches.

The dominant street in downtown is Lloyd G. Smith Boulevard. It has most of the shopping, dining and gambling establishments. Cruise visitors will walk off the docks, go about 100 feet to reach Smith Boulevard and turn right to get to the major shopping and dining in town.

Besides a variety of high-end stores that line the street, most of the Oranjestad tourist attractions are shops and restaurants in four locations.

They are the flea market that lines the waterfront, Royal Plaza Mall, Renaissance Mall, and Seaport Village Mall and Marketplace.

Other than the flea market, expect to find more high quality goods in most of the stores and malls than most Caribbean destinations. More shops are found along the next few streets that parallel Smith Boulevard, but the quality of goods is lower.

Downtown has several casual restaurants that include outdoor seating. Cruise excursion packages offer “walking and tasting” tours that usually cost less than $50 per person. But tourists can easily do them on their own.

5) Beach Attractions

Aruba's Palm Beach
Aruba’s Palm Beach. Copyright: Aruba Tourism Authority

Cruise lines offer few half-day or full-day beach excursions. After four visits to the island, I suspect it’s because getting to any beach is cheaper and easier than paying a cruise line for it.

This is a case where cruise visitors have the option of a do-it-yourself shore excursion.

It’s possible to walk about three fourths of a mile south of the docks to Renaissance Beach or about a mile north to Druif Beach. The better options are Eagle Beach, about three miles north, and especially the famous and busier Palm Beach, which is about four miles north.

Taxi rates are fixed. They cost about $20 one way for up to five people to Palm Beach. A cheaper option is the convenient public bus system, which has a terminal across the street from the cruise docks. Buses run every 15 minutes.

Oranjestad bustles during the day with tourists while Palm Beach, the most popular attraction for tourists visiting the island, explodes at night.

One of the most famous beaches in the Caribbean lies north of Oranjestad, again on Smith Boulevard. Cruise visitors will need a taxi, public bus or excursion bus to reach it because it is about four miles north of the docks.

Aruba windsurfing
Acrobatic windsurfers add to the attraction of Palm Beach in Aruba. Source: Pixabay public domain

Cruise shore excursions often include a beach visit, but it may not always be Palm. If not, try to visit it another way.

The beach itself is wide with glistening white sand. The warm aqua ocean lies on one side of the beach and a long line of hotels and outdoor restaurants lie on the other.

For some great photos, walk north to Fisherman’s Hut to see adventurous windsurfing and the location of the annual Hi-Winds Pro Am Windsurfing Competition.

The other side of Smith Boulevard at Palm Beach has many shops and especially outdoor restaurants.

Oranjestad has some fine restaurants, but Palm Beach has many more. It’s the place to go for dinner at least once during any trip to Aruba.

But not everyone goes there just to eat. The boulevard sidewalks fill with people at night who stroll along and simply enjoy the festive atmosphere.

6) Relaxing on Eagle Beach

Eagle Beach
Eagle Beach. © Aruba Tourism Authority

Whereas Palm Beach combines a great beach with shopping and dining, Eagle Beach is simply a place to go for sunbathing and swimming. It’s the second most popular beach on the island.

The beach begins where Druif Beach ends about three miles north of the docks. Again, cruise visitors will need a taxi, public bus or excursion bus to reach it. But if they go to that kind of trouble, they are better off going another mile to Palm.

Eagle Beach is known for a few other attractions besides sand, sun and water.

Four species of sea turtles nest on Aruba, but most of those nests are on Eagle. Red and white signs warn visitors to step around them. Visitors who arrive at the right time might see hatchlings work their way from the nests to the ocean.

The beach also contains two fofoti trees, which have the rare quality of pointing their leaves and branches toward the ocean. The trees appear in Aruba tourism campaigns and often appeal to photographers.

Yet another attraction at Eagle Beach is beach tennis, which is a popular local sport on weekends that combines tennis and volleyball.

7) Visiting Natural Bridges

Aruba's Baby Bridge
The Baby Bridge. © Aruba Tourism Authority

Sadly, the best and most famous natural attraction in Aruba was the rock formation known as Natural Bridge, which collapsed some years ago.

But flocks of tourists still visit the location to view the Baby Bridge and the remains of the Natural Bridge.

Besides the Baby Bridge, visitors will now see a rocky, austere landscape with strong trade winds that pound the coastline.

It is a moderately interesting place to see, but it is a more interesting place to sit on the rocks and clear one’s mind for a few hours. As an excursion, it is worthwhile only in combination with other island attractions.

8) Entertainment at Palm Beach Plaza

One of the best Aruba attractions along the Palm Beach strip deserves its own mention.

Palm Beach Plaza is at the north end of the strip and in fact is the northern start of it.

The centerpiece of the plaza is the mall stage, which offers frequent nighttime entertainment for free to visitors. They can simply grab a seat and enjoy as much or as little of the show as they want.

If live entertainment isn’t available, a large water display using laser lights will give the entertainment instead.

The plaza also has many more restaurants and shops along with a movie theater.

9) Exploring Guadirikiri, Fontein and Huliba Caves

Tourists will have better luck reaching the two largest caves in Aruba. They also are in Arikok.

Anyone who loves bats will want to see Guadirikiri Cave, which is accessible via the northern loop road. Besides the hundreds of peaceful bats, this 100-foot long cave is known for its two large chambers containing streams of sunlight from openings in the roof.

Fontein cave, which is accessible via the southern loop road, is popular because it has drawings on the ceiling by Arawak Indians, who originally colonized the island.

Huliba Cave is known as the Tunnel of Love because the entrance has the shape of a heart. It is 300 feet long and requires flashlights for visitors to explore the entire length.

Cheap excursions that get people to the caves are usually packaged with a beach visit and cost $80 to $100 per person.

10) Photographing California Lighthouse

California Lighthouse
California Lighthouse. © Aruba Tourism Authority

The lighthouse stands at the northern tip of the island beyond Palm Beach. It is popular because of the scenic, elevated views and photo opportunities.

It is next to the California Sand Dunes, which offer interesting hikes and more chances for photos. The best time to visit is dusk when the sun sets picturesquely into the sea.

The lighthouse was built in 1910 and named after the S.S. California, which sank before the lighthouse was built.

Some cruise shore excursions include the lighthouse as part of a package that tours the island. These island tours last about 90 minutes to two hours and cost about $50 to $75 per person.

10 More Tourist Attractions

1) National Archaeological Museum. The museum has a permanent exhibit with prehistoric and early historical artifacts as well as lectures, tours and workshops. The address is Schelpstraat 42 in downtown Oranjestad.

2) Bushiri Karting Speedway in Oranjestad is the only outdoor karting track in Aruba, according to the Aruba Tourism Authority.

3) Bubali bird sanctuary features more than 80 species of migratory birds. The sanctuary is within walking distance of the Palm Beach resorts.

4) The Butterfly Farm allows visitors to walk among hundreds of butterflies in a large, mesh-covered closure. It is in the Palm Beach area across from the Aruba Resort and Aruba Phoenix hotels.

5) Donkey Sanctuary. Meet and greet about 40 donkeys in the donkey sanctuary in Santa Lucia. All profits go to a foundation that supports them.

6) Golf Courses. Aruba is a small island with few options for golfing, but it does include three courses—Aruba Golf Club, Tierra del Sol and Divi Links. Aruba Golf Club is an 18-hole course at the southwestern end of the island near San Nicholas. Tierra del Sol is an 18-hole, Trent Jones-designed course on a 600-acre resort at the northwest tip of the island. Divi Links is a nine-hole course in Oranjestad.

7) Historic gold mines. Aruba had a gold rush in the 19th century when miners produced more than 3 million pounds of gold. Anyone traveling through Arikok National Park on their own or via a land excursion can see their remains.

8) Ostrich Adventures is a farm with 80 of the long-necked, flightless birds along with a shop and restaurant. It is found on the road leading to the site of the collapsed Natural Bridge.

9) Palo Marga International Raceway Park has monthly races on 1/4 and 1/8 mile tracks including seven major races and about 20 street legal drag races each year.

10) San Nicolas. The second largest city on this small island is a quiet town that offers a handful of shops, bars, beaches and restaurants about 12 miles south of Oranjestad.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
December 12, 2023

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