10 Best Aruba Tourist Attractions + 10 More
Aruba tourist attractions will keep visitors busy all week long and easily just for the day if they arrive by cruise ship.
Yes, this small Caribbean island has great beaches, and it is the number one Caribbean destination for return visits.
It keeps people coming back for more than just the beaches. When someone needs a break from the sun, they won't have a problem finding fun things to do.
The 10 best Aruba tourist attractions on the list below are the result of four trips to explore the island from one side to another.
Other visitors may have their favorites, but this list of 10 considers the number of people who see them as well as their obvious appeal.
How many times have you been to Aruba?See results without voting
1) Shopping in Oranjestad
Few people can avoid seeing the capital city, Oranjestad, because they must pass through it during the 10-minute drive to the main resort areas at Palm and Eagle beaches.
The dominant street in downtown is Lloyd G. Smith Boulevard. It has most of the shopping, dining and gambling establishments.
Besides a variety of high-end stores that line the street, most of the Oranjestad tourist attractions exist in four locations -- the flea market that lines the waterfront, Royal Plaza Mall, Renaissance Mall, and Seaport Village Mall and Marketplace.
Anyone visiting by cruise will simply walk off the docks, go about 100 feet to reach Smith Boulevard and turn right to reach the major shopping and dining in town.
Other than the flea market, expect to find higher quality goods in most of the stores and malls than most Caribbean destinations.
Downtown also has several casual restaurants that include outdoor seating.
Additional shops will be found along the next few streets that parallel Smith Boulevard, but the quality of goods is lower.
2) Sunning and Dining on Palm Beach
Oranjestad bustles during the day with tourists while Palm Beach, the most popular Aruba attraction, explodes at night.
One of the most famous beaches in the Caribbean lies north of Oranjestad, again on Smith Boulevard.
The beach itself is wide with glistening white sand. The warm aqua ocean lies on one side and a long line of hotels and outdoor restaurants lie on the other.
For some great photos, walk north to Fisherman's Hut to see adventurous windsurfing and the location of the annual Hi-Winds Pro Am Windsurfing Competition.
The other side of Smith Boulevard at Palm Beach is filled with shops and especially numerous outdoor restaurants.
Oranjestad has some fine restaurants, but Palm Beach has many more. It’s the place to go for dinner at least once during any trip to Aruba.
But not everyone goes there just to eat. The boulevard sidewalks fill with people at night who stroll along and simply enjoy the festive atmosphere.
3) Entertaining at Palm Beach Plaza
One of the best Aruba attractions along the Palm Beach strip deserves its own mention.
Palm Beach Plaza is located at the north end of the strip and in fact is the northern start of it.
The centerpiece of the plaza is the mall stage, which offers frequent nighttime entertainment for free to visitors. They can simply grab a seat and enjoy as much or as little of the show as they want.
If live entertainment isn’t available, a large water display using laser lights will give the entertainment instead.
The plaza also has many more restaurants and shops along with a movie theater.
4) Relaxing on Eagle Beach
Whereas Palm Beach combines a great beach with shopping and dining, Eagle Beach is simply a place to go for sunning and swimming. It’s the second most popular beach on the island.
Eagle Beach also is known for a few other attractions.
Four species of sea turtles nest on Aruba, but most of those nests lie on Eagle. Red and white signs warn visitors to step around them. Visitors who arrive at the right time might see hatchlings work their way from the nests to the ocean.
The beach also contains two fofoti trees, which have the rare quality of pointing their leaves and branches toward the ocean. The trees appear in Aruba tourism campaigns and often appeal to photographers.
Yet another attraction at Eagle Beach is beach tennis, which is a popular local sport on weekends that combines tennis and volleyball.
5) Exploring Arikok National Park
Arikok covers 20 percent of Aruba and dominates nearly all other land activity ranging from island history, Indian cave drawings and natural formations to ATV rides, horseback rides, jeep tours and hiking.
The park begins at the northwest tip of the island where the California Lighthouse is located and extends in a strip down the eastern side until it balloons out in the central southwest.
It has few roads except for a handful that allow tourists to drive to the most popular attractions, such as the lighthouse, the natural bridges, two major caves and a few beaches.
Otherwise, they only way to cross the park is using one of the ways listed above -- ATV, horse, jeeps or on foot. An ATV tour is especially fun because the rugged and rocky terrain results in quite a bouncy ride.
6) Visiting Natural Bridges
Sadly, the best and most famous natural attraction in Aruba was the Natural Bridge, which collapses several year ago.
But flocks of tourists still visit the location to view the Baby Bridge and the remains of the Natural Bridge.
Besides the Baby Bridge, visitors will now see a rocky, austere landscape with strong trade winds that pound the coastline.
It is a moderately interesting place to see, but it is a more interesting place to sit and clear one’s mind for a few hours.
7) Floating in the Natural Pool (If You Can Find It)
South of the natural bridges along the coast is another well-known attraction, the Natural Pool.
A circle of volcanic boulders have created a calm pool of water by the ocean. Ocean waves hit the outer rocks and create dramatic sprays of water over the pool.
Unlike the bridges, the Natural Pool cannot be reached by any road because it is located in rugged, rocky terrain. The only way to reach it is by foot, ATV, horseback or 4x4 vehicle.
8) Exploring Guadirikiri, Fontein and Huliba Caves
Tourists will have better luck reaching the two largest caves in Aruba. They also sit in Arikok.
Anyone who loves bats will want to see Guadirikiri Cave, which is accessible via the northern loop road. Besides the hundreds of peaceful bats, this 100-foot long cave is known for its two large chambers containing streams of sunlight from openings in the roof.
Fontein cave, which is accessible via the southern loop road, is popular because it has drawings on the ceiling by Arawak Indians, who originally colonized the island.
Huliba Cave is known as the Tunnel of Love because the entrance has the shape of a heart. It is 300 feet long and requires flashlights for visitors to explore the entire length.
9) Photographing California Lighthouse
The lighthouse stands at the northern tip of the island and is popular because of the scenic, elevated views and photo opportunities.
It is next to the California Sand Dunes, which offer interesting hikes and more chances for photos.
The lighthouse was built in 1910 and named after the S.S. California, which sank before the lighthouse was built.
The best time to visit is dusk when the sun sets picturesquely into the sea.
10) Diving with Scuba, Snuba and Snorkel
Aruba is one of the most popular islands in the Caribbean for scuba, snuba and snorkeling because it has more than 20 dive spots, 11 diver-friendly wrecks and the largest wreck in the Caribbean
Although Aruba is more known for scuba diving than snorkeling, it does have accessible snorkeling locations off Baby Beach, Boca Catalina, Malmok Beach and Mangel Halto
10 More Tourist Attractions
1) National Archaeological Museum. The museum has a permanent exhibit with pre-historical and early historical artifacts as well as lectures, tours and workshops. The address is Schelpstraat 42 in downtown Oranjestad.
2) Bushiri Karting Speedway in Oranjestad is the only outdoor karting track in Aruba, according to the Aruba Tourism Authority.
3) Bubali bird sanctuary features more than 80 species of migratory birds. The sanctuary is within walking distance of the Palm Beach resorts.
4) The Butterfly Farm allows visitors to walk among hundreds of butterflies in a large, mesh-covered closure. It is in the Palm Beach area across from the Aruba Resort and Aruba Phoenix hotels.
5) Donkey Sanctuary. Meet and greet about 40 donkeys in the donkey sanctuary in Santa Lucia. All profits go to a foundation that supports them.
6) Golf Courses. Aruba is a small island with few options for golfing, but it does include three courses -- Aruba Golf Club, Tierra del Sol and Divi Links. Aruba Golf Club is an 18-hole course at the southwestern end of the island near San Nicholas. Tierra del Sol is an 18-hole, Trent Jones-designed course on a 600-acre resort at the northwest tip of the island. Divi Links is a nine-hole course in Oranjestad.
7) Historic gold mines. Aruba had a gold rush in the 19th century when miners produced more than 3 million pounds of gold. Anyone traveling through Arikok National Park on their own or via a land excursion can see their remains.
8) Ostrich Adventures is a farm with 80 of the long-necked, flightless birds along with a shop and restaurant. It is found on the road leading to the site of the collapsed Natural Bridge.
9) Palomarga International Raceway Park has monthly races on 1/4 and 1/8 mile tracks including seven major races and about 20 street legal drag races each year.
10) San Nicolas. The second largest city on this small island is a quiet town that offers a handful of shops, bars, beaches and restaurants about 12 miles south of Oranjestad.
More by this Author
Caribbean weather in December is great in some locations and not so great in others. See five of the best.
Jamaica's monthly weather can be dry or drenching with rain during the hurricane season. See the best and worst times to go.
Average weather in the Caribbean including temperatures, rainfall and climate by month.