Aruba is a Caribbean island located north of Venezuela, and together with Bonaire and Curuaçao, forms part of the ABC group of islands. Aruba is a Dutch island, and its official languages are Dutch and Papiamento- the latter being the more predominant language. Aruba’s landscape is a little more unusual for the Caribbean islands: on the Southern and Western coasts you’ll find white sandy beaches with turquoise blue waters, whilst the Northern and Eastern coasts are rugged and wild, affected by ocean currents and trade winds. Aruba has an arid, desert-like interior dotted with cacti and watapana trees, known as ‘divi-divi’ trees. Holidays to Aruba are popular since the island has mild tropical climate, with year-round sunshine and warm weather.
If you’re wondering what to do in Aruba, these are some of the island’s activities and attractions:
Visit the capital, Oranjestad
Oranjestad is the capital of Aruba and a city known for its pastel-coloured colonial buildings. Since the capital boasts duty-free status, it is also a great place to hit the shops and grab a bargain on designer goods. Its name translated means “Orangetown” and was named after King Willem van Oranje-Nassau, who was the first heir to the Dutch House of Orange. Oranjestad is where the cruise ships dock, so you’ll find lots of cruise-ship passengers strolling around here for the day.
The Butterfly Farm
Spend an hour or so at the Butterfly Farm, where you’ll be given a short talk about the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Take your camera, as you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities as you meander through the lush gardens. You’ll see plenty of pretty butterflies from around the world, and you may even witness a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis for the first time!
Atlantis Submarine Tour
Hop on board this passenger submarine to explore Aruba’s shipwrecks and reefs without getting wet! The submarine tour departs from Oranjestad and descends 130 feet underwater so you can see the Barcadera Reefs and two shipwrecks, which are teeming with exotic fish, colourful corals and other sea creatures.
Arikok National Widlife Park covers 18% of Aruba’s total land area, and is an arid landscape scattered with cacti, rock formations, caves, divi-divi trees, abandoned gold mines and old plantations. Here you’ll find a variety of flora and fauna, and several species of wildlife that are indigenous to the island, including the Aruban burrowing owl, the Aruban parakeet, the Aruban whiptail lizard, the Baker’s cat-eyed snake and the Aruban rattlesnake. The Fontein and Quadirikiri caves are particularly interesting, with rock paintings by native indians.
Enjoy the spectacular views o the coastline from the California Lighthouse, which is named after the California, a ship which sank in rough seas off the coast of Aruba. The California is best known as the ship that received stress signals from the Titanic as it was sinking in 1912. Unfortunately the ship didn’t respond to the Titanic’s SOS signals because the ship’s radio operator was off-duty.
Dive Aruba’s Shipwrecks
Aruba has numerous dive sites and shipwrecks in its waters, including one of the largest wrecks in the Caribbean- the wreck of the 400-foot German freighter, Antilla, which went down in WWII. Snorkelling over the shipwreck, you can expect to see lots of exotic marine life.
Jeep Safari to the Natural Pool
Take a 4×4 off-road adventure along Aruba’s bumpy dirt tracks for a thrilling ride to visit the island’s Natural Pool! The Natural pool is protected by rocks, with the waves crashing against them on the other side. You can go for a refreshing swim, and if you bring your snorkel you can observe some of the fish swimming beneath the surface.
Laze on Aruba’s beaches
Aruba has some excellent heavenly beaches with sugary white sand and turquoise blue waters. Popular beaches on the west side of the island are Eagle Beach, Palm Beach, Malmok Beach and Arashi Beach. Palm Beach is where you’ll find the island’s luxury resorts, and was hailed by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the 12 best beaches in the world. If you want to escape the resort areas, drive to Baby Beach on the south-east side of the island, where you can snorkel in the crystal clear waters and enjoy a seafood lunch at Big Mama’s.
There are several horse ranches on Aruba, including The Gold Mine Ranch, Rancho Notorious, Rancho Daimari, Rancho del Campo and Rancho El Paso. Aruba’s landscape offers a variety of locations for horseback riding, from the north shore beaches to the island’s arid plains and untamed countryside.
Sunset Catamaran Cruise
A sunset catamaran cruise is one of the most relaxing and memorable Caribbean experiences. Sip on a cocktail as you sail along the crystal clear Caribbean waters and enjoy sunset in paradise from a luxury catamaran. Watch the sun go down to the sound of island music and enjoy delicious snacks and icy cold drinks from the complimentary bar.