Aruba has much to offer when it comes to things to do and discover. We’ve put together a list of some of the most unique and best experiences that we wouldn’t want you to miss during your stay in Aruba, in other words, you must add these to your “Aruba Bucket List”!
Go scuba diving
For all the underwater enthusiasts out there, scuba diving in Aruba is one of the most unforgettable experiences that you simply cannot miss out on. The island is known for its numerous wreck dive sites that are easily accessible by boat (some even rather close to shore), perfect for exploring the vibrant array of coral and marine life, including sting rays, moray eels, barracuda, lobsters, and other exotic sea life. If you’re lucky enough (or know where to go) you can even witness sleeping nurse sharks and dive along the beautiful and gentle sea turtles.
To discover Aruba’s best dive sites and get more details on each site, browse our dive sites section. Here you will be able to view useful information and highlights on each dive site to better prepare for your dive experience, such as the recommended diver skill level required, depth range of the site, nearby location, marine life, and more. In addition, you can view a map of scuba diving locations. Want to sign up for a diving course or join a dive tour? Contact Red Sail Aruba.
If you aren’t qualified to go diving, or, if it seems a bit too extreme for you, opt for snorkeling instead. There are plenty of amazing beaches to head to for a fun and relaxing day of snorkeling. Don’t want to head out on your own? You can also book a sail and snorkel cruise or an island tour with a snorkel stop.
Find the hidden underground well tunnel
This very well may be one of the coolest hidden sights on the island. Without asking a local to show you where it lies, it’s practically impossible to find! And sorry, we are not going to fully give away its location, because that would leave less of a fun adventure for you when the time comes to find it on your own. To point you in the right direction, it’s located just past Baby Beach (across the road) in the middle of a bunch of cacti, rocks and rubble (what? That wasn’t helpful enough?) One more hint: it is known as the Mangel Cora Well Tunnel. When in doubt just stop to ask a local!
Hike in Arikok National Park
Aruba’s natural beauty is unmatched and one of the best places to experience it is in Arikok National Park. Our island’s national park covers about 20% of the island and is the perfect place to explore the diverse natural beauty that Aruba has to offer. Simply purchase a day pass at the park’s visitors center and be on your way. Choose from one of the many trails and immerse yourself in Aruba’s beautiful nature. There are plenty of natural sites and attractions (caves, gold ruins, wild beaches, hiking trails, natural pools, and more) on the wild east coast of the island. It is sure to leave you fascinated by just how different it is from the other side of the island, which is home to the majority of our island’s resorts and calmer beaches.
Some places in the park that can’t be missed include Natural Pool (Conchi), Fontein Cave and Freshwater Pond, Guadirikiri Cave, Boca Keto, Dos Playa, and Boca Prins. There’s plenty more to discover, view more sights and attractions in Aruba here.
Swim with the sea turtles
View the island from a different perspective and discover the extraordinary underwater life of Aruba. Grab your snorkel gear, pack a cooler and visit one of the beaches perfect for spotting sea turtles, such as Malmok, Tres Trapi or Boca Catalina. Remember to always admire their beauty from a distance and to never touch any marine life. If you prefer a guide, you can join one of the many snorkeling tours or catamaran cruises offered on the island.
Sunset Picnic on Eagle Beach
Hit the nearest grocery store, stock up on your favorite food and drinks, pack your cooler, and head to the beach! Not just any beach, Eagle Beach, one of the most sought-after beaches in the world and No. 1 in the Caribbean (a bit of a humble brag). Don’t forget to pack a big blanket or towel, a fun game, plenty of water, your favorite snacks, a beach-proof speaker for some tunes, and some reef-safe sunscreen. There’s no better place to watch Aruba’s breathtaking sunset, be sure to stay for the after-sunset glow and into the night for some peaceful and romantic star gazing.
Too lazy to shop and eager to get to the beach? There are now local picnic companies you can order from that will deliver baskets with goodies to your desired location. If picnics aren’t exactly your thing and you prefer dining at a restaurant, consider one of these beachfront restaurants.
Treat yourself to a fish pedicure
Head to the Fontein Cave which is located in the National Park near Boca Prins. The cave is absolutely worth venturing in, as it is the only cave that has drawings of Arawak Indians on the ceilings, providing a real sense of island history to this cave. The brownish-red paintings were left by Caquetios and graffiti was imprinted by European settlers.
After visiting the cave make your way further down the dirt path and you will find the only natural freshwater pond on the island, if you dare, take your shoes off, stick your feet in, and get yourself a little fish pedicure!
Swim in the natural pools
The Natural Pool (also known as Conchi) is protected from the rough sea by surrounding rocks and is located in the National Park. This unique formation of rocks creates a peaceful place and is also known as Aruba’s hidden pool. For thrill-seekers, this place is excellent for taking a dip to cool off and a perfect place to capture natural beauty with your camera. It is not recommended to swim in the pool when the waves are too high as it can be dangerous, please follow the advisories on display by the national park rangers. To get to the natural pool a jeep is needed, or if you are up for a long, intense hike, walking is an alternative – prepare for rough grounds ahead!
In addition to Conchi (The Natural Pool), we also have another natural pool on our list for you to check off. We like to consider this natural pool as the “baby natural pool”, officially known as the Small Cave Pool. It may be smaller in size, but finding and exploring this natural sight is filled with plenty of thrill and adventure. Best of all, you can reach this destination by car, just make your way to the Bushiribana Gold Mine Ruins and head straight to the coast’s edge. PS – Take caution, as you will need to climb down a steep ladder in order to reach the pool, this activity is not recommended for everyone, proper shoes, and a guide are recommended.
Try kite and/or Windsurfing
Take advantage of Aruba’s perfect water and wind conditions. Windsurfing or kite surfing with Aruba Active Vacations is an experience you do not want to miss out on! It’s wild and extremely fun, and after getting up from the water for the first time you are hooked and sure to come back for more. There is no other place to try it with than Aruba Active Vacations, they are the longest-running kiteboarding school in Aruba. With their great experience and guidance, you will be in the best hands.
Get lost in the mangroves
One of Aruba’s natural beauty standouts is without a doubt, the mangroves near the Spanish Lagoon, also known as the Spaans Lagoen. The lagoon starts on the coast near Mangel Halto and ends close to the Balashi Gold Ruins further inland.
Mangel Halto and the Spanish Lagoon area is a lush and diverse area of land and water allowing for plenty of fun activities, and most of all, escaping the crowds and enjoying some peace and quiet. You can go snorkeling at the reef nearby, or choose to go kayaking or paddleboarding in the waterways of the mangroves. You will find it is the perfect place to get lost in nature and see a completely different side of Aruba.
Witness the vibrant street art
Come witness for yourself why San Nicolas has quickly transformed into the street art capital of the Caribbean. Thanks to the vision of Tito Bolivar, the founder of ArtisA, and the many local and international artists, art influencers, and cultural activists, Aruba is now more colorful and vibrant than ever… making for the perfect destination for those seeking artistic beauty!
New murals are added every year so make your way to Sunrise City and don’t forget your camera to snap some shots. On the way back to your resort or vacation rental stop by a restaurant for local food and vibes, we suggest checking out O’Niel Caribbean Kitchen, Neighba, Zeerovers, Marina Pirata, or Fish House Island Bar & Restaurant.
Discover the island’s wildlife
As you venture around the island, you’re bound to come across wildlife on a daily basis with all of the iguanas, small lizards, goats, colorful birds, adorable little shocos (our island’s national symbol, Aruba’s burrowing owl, learn more here), and wild donkeys hanging around.
There are also plenty of venues to visit to meet and hang out with animals, such as the Donkey Sanctuary, The Butterfly Farm, Ostrich Farm, and Philip’s Animal Garden. When exploring the island, please remember to do so cautiously, as much of our wildlife is difficult to spot with the naked eye, in particular our local burrowing owls, the Shoco.
Experience Aruba’s Carnival
Aruba’s ‘Carnaval’ season is simply our favorite time of year. It’s not just a one-day, one-week or even one-month event. During January, February and sometimes even into March, the entire island lives and breathes Carnival. The Carnival schedule is jam-packed with weekly events, leaving little excuse to miss out. It continues with Jump-ins, King and Queen Elections, Calypso, festivals, contests, live music, celebrations for children, parties, and of course the most popular, parades.
This year our island is celebrating 70 years of Carnival! If you are lucky enough to be on the island don’t miss out on one of Aruba’s most treasured traditions. Get ready, it’s ‘Carnaval’ time, time to celebrate in the streets! View the 2024 Carnival schedule here so you don’t miss out on any of the big parades and fun.
Indulge in local Aruba eats
No Aruba adventure would be complete without indulging in its culinary delights. Discover the flavors of Aruban cuisine, where the Dutch, South American, European, Indonesian, and other Caribbean islands’ influences blend together. Sample local dishes such as Keshi Yena, Cabrito Stoba, Keri Keri, Pan Bati, and Funchi, a cornmeal-based side dish (foodie tip: ask for a side of Funchi Fries with melted cheese on top). Also, don’t forget to ask for the fresh catch of the day, we recommend trying Red Snapper, Wahoo or Mahi Mahi. Visit local eateries and snack huts to savor traditional snacks like Pastechi, a delicious fried breakfast pastry filled with various savory fillings. Our foodie tip to you, don’t leave the island without trying a Pastechi. You’ll find locals lined up at neighborhood snack places for a quick breakfast bite on the go (and for good reason).
Many of these snack spots also serve plenty of other fried delights that are most definitely worth trying, such as empanadas, johnny cakes, arepas, salchipapa, krokets, and more. If you’re more into the sweet stuff, another must-try food experience on the island, thanks to the Dutch influence, is Dutch pancakes and poffertjes. As you can see Aruba is a melting pot not only when it comes to locals but also in the culinary world!
It is most definitely worth seeking out the more under-the-radar casual dining spots located throughout different areas of the island. There are a number of snack huts, restaurants without all the thrills and frills, and food trucks galore that are sure to impress all of your foodie senses and cravings. For a true taste of the island’s diverse flavors, here are a selection of places we recommend trying so that you can experience a sample of our local Aruba eats:
Driftwood, Marina Pirata, O’Niel Caribbean Kitchen, Chupa Dede Snacks, Lings Restaurant, Fish House Island Bar & Restaurant, Nos Local Snack Truck, Candela Food Truck, Happy Day Snack, Coco Plum, Don Pastechi Factory, Flor de Oriente, Kulture Cafe, Kamini’s Kitchen, Grote Berg Snack, The Dutch Pancake House, and Neighba.
Discover more things to do and see in Aruba.