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Aruba

Best of Aruba Shore Excursions

Aruba's Baby Bridge
The Baby Bridge is a common stop on best of Aruba shore excursions. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

The best Aruba shore excursions unique to the island include Palm Beach, great snorkeling and a rugged tour of Arikok National Park.

The small, oblong-shaped island of Aruba is only about 70 square miles. At 21 miles long and between two and eight miles wide, an excursion bus can cover the most well-known attractions on the entire island in a matter of hours.

But a good tour of Aruba doesn’t include only the attractions. It also includes some time on Aruba’s famous white-sand beaches.

Palm Beach Excursion

Aruba is famous for Palm Beach, and with good reason. It’s a beautiful white sand beach with all kinds of shops, restaurants and entertainment.

A typical tour that includes a beach visit takes four to five hours and costs around $45 to $70 for adults with a discount for children. Note that the cost usually includes a beach chair and umbrella. Actual costs depend on the cruise line, operator, sailing date and amenities such as whether lunch is included.

Although Palm Beach is sometimes available as a packaged shore excursion, budget-minded travelers may simply want to take a public bus for a lot less money. A bus station is right outside of the cruise docks. It’s a quick 10-minute drive. Otherwise, take a taxi.

Aruba Highlights Tour

Aruba is small enough that full island tours are possible. In brief, they usually travel through Oranjestad, go north to Palm Beach and the California Lighthouse, and head southwest to Arikok National Park and its various natural attractions.

These three- to four-hour tours are best for people who want a hassle-free and less physically demanding way of seeing the island. The cost is usually about $50 to $65 depending on the sailing date and whether the operator is offering any temporary sale prices.

Rugged Island Tours

Arikok National Park
Arikok National Park is the location of many rugged tours. Credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons license

Some local and national tour operators offer an island tour without a beach visit. These tours take less time and cost less as well, with some as low as $40 to $50.

A typical excursion will begin and end at the capital city of Oranjestad, where the cruise docks are located. It will go onto such attractions as the California Lighthouse, the Casibari Rock formations, the collapsed Natural Bridge, and the Baby Natural Bridge.

Other possible tour stops include the Alto Vista Chapel, Ayo Rock Formation and the Aloe Vera Factory and Museum. Excursion buses will drive through the desert-like Arikok National Park to reach the natural bridges and rock formations.

Many of these tourist sites are within the arid and rugged Arikok National Park, which covers nearly 20 percent of the island.

Tour guides will explain the human history of Aruba, which dates back to the original Indian settlers.

Some cruises include about one to two hours on one of the most popular beaches, either Eagle or Palm.

This tour is best done in the morning if it ends with a visit to the beach. The Aruba interior gets extremely hot during the day, so visiting the attractions will feel more comfortable in the morning.

More adventurous visitors will discover that operators offer quite a few tours of the island, especially Arikok, with jeeps, horses and ATVs. We took an ATV tour and had a blast.

These adventure tours will cost anywhere between $75 and $200 or more depending on the length, amenities and other factors.

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

Aruba is well known for snorkeling and scuba diving. Its reputation is the result of beautiful beaches where visitors can start snorkeling right away as well as the ability to reach some shipwrecks.

Introductory snorkeling classes in which participants walk into the water from the beach start at less than $50. These classes last less than one hour.

One operator offered a “sail and snorkel” excursion to the Antilla shipwreck for $84. At the time of this writing, it was offering a discount to $69. So it pays to look for discounts from various Aruba shore excursion operators.

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.
November 29, 2021

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