Aruba’s warm turquoise waters are perfect for swimming, snorkelling and participating in a variety of water sport activities; while the island’s diverse interior is perfect for horseback, ATV and hiking adventures.
In Aruba's colourful capital city of Oranjestad, discover Dutch colonial-style buildings painted in vivid Caribbean colours of pink, blue, ochre and pistachio. Stroll the main waterfront boulevard lined with attractive gabled architecture, playing host to shopping malls, bars and restaurants.
Browse for duty free bargains such as jewellery, cameras and perfumes, as well as for Delft pottery, cheese and aloe (Aruba is the world's largest producer of aloe).
Inland, go horseback riding and hiking or hire a four-wheel drive jeep or ATV to explore the harsh desert-like lunar landscape of the interior. Discover windswept hills covered with towering cacti, unusual volcanic rock formations and the island’s wind-blown trademark divi-divi trees.
Along the way, see thousands of butterflies at the Butterfly Farm and feed a long-necked bird at the Ostrich Farm.
Visit the distinctive and authentic Old Dutch Windmill then climb the observation tower at the lush Bubali Bird Sanctuary to see more than 80 species of local and migratory birds, including brown pelicans, blue herons, snowy egrets and black cormorants as they flitter through the undulating marsh grasses.
Admire the old California Lighthouse that sits on a hilltop at Aruba’s northernmost tip then visit the picturesque Alto Vista Chapel and the Bushiribana Gold Smelter Ruins on the rugged northeast coast. Nearby stands the island’s most photographed natural attraction – the 7.5m-high Natural Bridge, with its 30m-span stretching across the sea.
Ponder reddish-brown petroglyphs at the Ayo Rock Formations and visit the Casibari Rock Formations, which resemble birds and dragons. To the south lies the pristine and wild terrain of Arikok National Wildlife Park, an ecological showcase that sprawls across roughly 20 per cent of the island.
After dark, take in a live Vegas-style show, listen to music featuring Latin jazz and Caribbean sounds or enjoy a flutter at one of the island’s 12 casinos.
With an average water temperature of 27°C (80°F), visibility ranging from 18m to 36m and numerous dive sites including coral reefs and wrecks, diving in Aruba is an unbeatable experience.
Dive amid brain, sheet, finger and star coral, and float among snapper, grunt, angelfish, damselfish and parrotfish, looking out for frogfish, seahorses, nudibranchs, black crinoids and scorpion fish.
The seas around Aruba are renowned for sunken airplane fuselages and shipwrecks.
Aruba’s crystal clear waters and several shallow reefs provide excellent opportunities for snorkelling.
The best sites are along the southern (leeward) coast and include Arashi Reef, which features brain and star coral, sea fans, parrotfish and angelfish.
Wind and kite surfing
With the longest high-wind season in the Caribbean, Aruba offers great opportunities on the leeward side of the island, conveniently located near the major beaches and resorts.
The best times for the sports are from May to July, when wind speeds average 20 to 25 knots. The rest of the year averages 15 knots, with 10 knots in September and around 20 knots in April.
The best spots are off the northwest tip of the island at Malmok and Hadicurari beaches.
The south near San Nicolas, around Rodgers Beach and Boca Grandi, are quiet alternatives to the more popular hotel beach areas.
Typically, windsurfers and kite surfers take turns throughout the day.
Take a guided tour through the coastal mangrove forests, lagoon and small island in the calm waters around the old fishing village of Savaneta on the leeward (south) coast.
Hook up a charter to catch barracuda, amberjack, sailfish, wahoo, blue and white marlin, kingfish, bonito and black- and yellow-fin tuna.
Alternatively, buy a hand line and fish for snapper and dolphin fish. Some restaurants will even cook and serve up your day's catch!
Experience underwater life without getting wet. See coral, marine life and shipwrecks aboard a submarine (from the pier in front of the Crystal Casino in Oranjestad) or in a glass-bottom boat (from Pelican Pier on Palm Beach).
Take a sunset cruise or hire a charter yacht to cruise the calm waters of the south coast.
Hike coastal trails to find uncrowded beaches or hike hillside and cliff trails through Arikok National Park to discover abandoned gold mines and see plantation ruins, caves and limestone cliffs.
Aruba offers several riding stables that provide a range of morning, afternoon or sunset rides on calm, good-natured mounts.
Choose from several trail options, including rides along the coast to Malmok and Arashi beaches, California Lighthouse, Natural Bridge and the Ayo rock formations.
Or ride through Arikok National Park to the Natural Pool where you can stop to swim and snorkel.
Hire a mountain bike and explore this small and mainly flat island independently or take a guided ride that visits Alto Vista Chapel and the California Lighthouse. For the most scenic cycle routes, head to the northern coast.
The ponds and wetlands of the Bubali Bird Sanctuary attract more than 80 species, including black olivaceous cormorants, herons, egrets and brown pelicans.
In Arikok National Park, spot several species such as the common emerald and ruby-topaz hummingbirds, rufous-collared sparrows, ospreys, black-faced grassquits, Caribbean parakeets, crested caracaras and Aruban burrowing owls.
Tee-off from one of the Caribbean's best golf courses – the championship, Robert Trent Jones II-designed Tierra del Sol, an 18-hole, par-71 course. Located on the island's northern tip, Tierra del Sol features panoramic ocean views and the California Lighthouse.
Expect to play through deep bunkers, cacti, coral rock and water hazards, but watch out for winds often gusting to 64km per hour. Or try Divi Links, a picturesque 9-hole course surrounded by landscaped water traps, lakes and lagoons, located near Druif Beach.
Island hopping in the Caribbean
From Aruba, take a short flight with Dutch Antilles Express to Aruba's neighbouring islands of Bonaire or Curacao.
Each has its own personality: laid-back Bonaire offers great beaches and more than 86 spectacular dive sites and 213 fish species; cosmopolitan Curacao provides gorgeous beaches and plenty of water sport activities.
Cruise liners stop over at Aruba and offer the perfect excuse to launch into a discovery of a string of Caribbean islands that stretch to the west and north.
See less content…