11 Best Things to Do in Aruba • Top Aruba Attractions

by Sarah Peterson

Parasailing over turquoise waves, scuba diving at shipwrecks full of coral and tropical fish, and soaking up coast-to-coast views from hilltop lookouts are just a few of the incredible things to do in Aruba.

The southern Caribbean island 20 miles off the coast of South America is known for its pristine white sand and beachfront casino resorts that draw honeymooners and luxury travelers, but there is so much more to this sun-soaked destination than napping under a shady palm tree and playing the slots.

Wander the capital city Oranjestad for historic forts, museums, and high-end shopping. Explore the island's national park for arid and rocky landscapes, caves, and natural pools. Or head north for remote coves, sand dunes, and a picture-perfect lighthouse with sweeping views.

The beaches, festivals, landmarks, and activities in this guide are some of the top Aruba attractions you do not want to miss when you visit the island.

Read More: Aruba Travel Guide • Plan Your Trip to Aruba

Top-Rated Things to Do in Aruba

While Aruba is best known for its beaches, there is something to do on the island for every type of traveler. Select your interest from the list below or explore the entire list. 

Article Guide

 

#1. Most Popular Aruba Beach: Palm Beach 

Things to do in Aruba

Lined with luxury resorts and packed with amenities, Palm Beach is arguably one of the top Aruba beaches. The water here is calm and perfectly turquoise, the sand soft and white, and the palm trees lush and shady.

It is the ideal beach for lounging under the sun with a cocktail in hand, building sand forts with the kids, or hopping in the sea for a swim. Plenty of vendors are on hand to lend out water sports equipment like kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, wakeboards, and snorkel gear. Or, you can book experiences like parasailing, boat rides, and windsurfing lessons.

Food and drinks are close by in little beach bar huts and open-air restaurants at the surrounding hotels, so it is easy to stay here all day.

Category: Beach
Neighborhood: Noord district, 6 miles from Oranjestad in the high-rise resort zone on the northwest coast

Hours of operation: 24/7

Best for: Beach lovers
Time to spend here: From a couple of hours to a full day

#2. Best Hike in Aruba: Hooiberg Mountain

Located in the center of the island, Hooiberg is one of the best spots to get panoramic views of the different coastlines and landscapes of Aruba. The mountain’s Dutch name translates to “haystack” and its cone shape rising 540 feet from a flat desert landscape is recognizable from around the island.

It is one of the tallest peaks on Aruba and hikers must climb nearly 600 steps to reach the top. From there, you can see as far as the coast of South America on a clear day.

Category: Hike
Neighborhood: 2 miles inland from downtown Oranjestad
Hours of operation: 24/7, but daylight climbs are safest
Best for: Hikers and outdoorsy types
Time to spend here: One to two hours to climb and enjoy the view

#3. Best Outdoor Activity in Aruba: Snorkelling

Things to do in Aruba

With so many beaches and coves around Aruba, it is easy to find a great snorkelling spot to see coral and colorful Caribbean fish.

The northwestern shore has some prime spots with calm and clear conditions, especially as you head north from the tourist crowds at Palm Beach. Try Malmok Beach for shallow coves full of reefs butting up against rocky limestone coast, Boca Catalina Beach for a crowd-free experience on a bay, or Arashi Beach for active sea life off a wide swath of sand.

Category: Beach and water activity
Neighborhood: All along the west coast of the island
Hours of operation: Daylight hours
Best for: Water and beach lovers
Time to spend here: 30 minutes to half a day with breaks

#4. Best Diving Spot in Aruba: Antilla 

One of the largest shipwrecks in the Caribbean and one of most popular dive spots in Aruba, the Antilla sits off the northwestern coast of the island near the beaches of Boca Catalina and Malmok.

Once a German freighter, the ship sank during World War II. About 400 feet of wreckage is mostly still intact and now serves as a coral-covered home to a variety of sea life.

Tours in Aruba take vacationers to the site, which has good visibility for diving, snorkelling, and snuba, a hybrid of the two activities that does not require scuba certification. 

Category: Water activity
Neighborhood: Off the coast about 3 miles north of Palm Beach
Hours of operation: Morning and afternoon tours
Best for: Divers and snorkelers
Time to spend here: Two to four hours on a tour

#5. Top Attraction in Aruba: California Lighthouse

Thngs to do in Aruba

Built in the early 1900s, the California Lighthouse watches over the northern tip of Aruba, perched high above the seaside. The traditional white beacon contrasts against the brushy green landscape and bright blue sea that surround it, making the scene one of the most popular photo spots on the island.

Visitors can climb to the top for panoramic views of the surroundings or join tours and special events on the property. There are also sand dunes for hiking and exploring a short walk away.

Category: Historic landmark
Neighborhood: Noord district, about 4 miles north of Palm Beach
Hours of operation: Open to climb in the morning and afternoon
Best for: Scenery seekers
Time to spend here: One hour

#6. Most Popular Museum in Aruba: Fort Zoutman

The oldest building in Aruba’s capital, Fort Zoutman was built in the 1790s to defend the island’s coast. A neighboring tower added in 1868 once was a lighthouse.

Visitors to the site can tour the Fort Zoutman Historical Museum for displays about the island’s legacy and culture, climb up the clock tower for views of the coast, and join in a weekly welcome festival on Tuesday nights.

Category: Historic landmark and museum
Neighborhood: Oranjestad
Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. most weekdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, and closed Sundays. Stays open late Tuesdays for the weekly Bon Bini Festival. 
Best for: History buffs
Time to spend here: Two hours or less

#7. Must-See Aruba Landmark: Natural Pool

Things to do in Aruba

Known as “conchi” or “bowl,” Aruba’s Natural Pool is located on the east coast of the island in Arikok National Park. Jagged rocks here surround a sea basin, forming a protected swimming hole much calmer than the rough ocean beyond.

While it is a popular place to visit, it feels off-the-beaten-track since cars and buses cannot get here due to the rugged and rocky landscape. You have to rent an all-terrain vehicle, join a tour, ride horseback, or hike about two miles to reach the pool. A couple of other remote beaches with wild waves are nearby.

Category: Natural landmark
Neighborhood: Arikok National Park, about 7 miles east of Oranjestad
Hours of operation:  8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Best for: Beach and nature lovers
Time to spend here: Three or more hours

#8. Best Cultural Experience in Aruba: Carnival

Aruba’s Carnival season fills the weeks leading up to Lent with parties and parades for locals and tourists alike. The tradition began in the 1950s and has grown to include events like costume shows, calypso concerts, street parties, and balls.

The kick off is in November, but most of the celebrations take place in January and February, ending with a grand parade the weekend before Shrove Tuesday.

Category: Cultural festival and events
Neighborhood: Multiple locations around the island, including Oranjestad and San Nicolas
Hours of operation: November 11 through Shrove Tuesday in late February or early March
Best for: Festival goers and party people
Time to spend here: Three hours or more depending on the event

#9. Best Park in Aruba: Arikok National Park

Things to do in Aruba

Covering roughly 20% of the island, Arikok National Park has some of Aruba’s best scenery and nature. Within the nearly 8,000 acres you’ll find sand dunes, caves, sea coves, and rugged landscapes full of limestone and lava rocks.

In the park, you can tour caves with hieroglyphics, snap photos at remote wave-lashed bays like Boca Prins and Dos Playa, and hike to two of the highest points on the island at Jamanota Hill and Arikok Hill. The popular Natural Pool is also located in the park.

Category: Park and outdoors
Neighborhood: About 7 miles southeast of Oranjestad
Hours of operation: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Best for: Nature lovers
Time to spend here: From a couple of hours to a full day

#10. Best Casino in Aruba: Stellaris Casino

While Aruba has about half a dozen casinos in the Palm Beach area, the Stellaris Casino at the Aruba Marriott Resort stands out for its size and long hours. 

The venue is open 24 hours a day and features more than 500 slot machines, sports betting kiosks, and gaming tables for poker, roulette, black jack, and more. Live entertainment and dancing at night adds to the festive atmosphere.

With the lux four-stay Marriott attached, you can start a night out with dinner at the hotel’s steakhouse or pop over to one of the lounges for drinks.

Category: Nightlife
Neighborhood: Palm Beach
Hours of operation: 24/7
Best for: Gamblers, partygoers, and nightlife lovers
Time to spend here: A couple of hours to all night

#11. Best Shopping in Aruba: Downtown Oranjestad

Things to do in Aruba

Downtown Oranjestad has some of the best shopping on the island just steps from the cruise port.

Head to the Renaissance Mall and Marketplace for dozens of luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci in one spot. Nearby Royal Plaza Mall has specialty shops, beach gear, and Aruba souvenirs in a breezy and colorful plaza.

If you ride the free trolley route in this area, you’ll stumble upon other boutiques, department stores, and locally-owned shops.

Category: Shopping
Neighborhood: Downtown Oranjestad
Hours of operation: Varies by store but most malls close by 6 p.m.
Best for: Shoppers and window shoppers
Time to spend here: A couple of hours to all day


Sarah Peterson
@sarah
Sarah Peterson
@sarah

Sarah Peterson is sthe co-founder and head of marketing at FLIGHTFŪD. She is a travel health expert and frequent business traveler. After having visited over 20 countries as a digital nomad, and flying every 4-6 weeks for business, she's passionate about empowering others to protect their bodies on the go.


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