I’ve been exploring Aruba for a few weeks now and have constantly been in awe of how many incredible things there are to do here. It seems like everyday, I discover a new place to go! With that being said, here are 14 of the best things to do in Aruba:
1. Aruba Aloe Factory– Aruba’s Main Export
The Aruba Aloe Factory honestly blew me away when I visited because of all the things we got to see here. They have 34,000 aloe plants outside, which we were shown up close how to harvest and cut.
Side Note: The yellow sap that drips out of aloe when you first cut into it is actually a laxative and 5 drops will get you good, if you know what I mean.
We also got to go inside the factory of the oldest aloe company to ever exist and watch them harvest, invent and package over 24,000 bottles a month by hand. It’s free to visit the aloe factory and get a tour, but transportation is not included, unless you book with another company, like Fantasy Tours.
2. California Lighthouse
Not many realize this, but California Lighthouse is a bit like Aruba’s version of the Titanic. The S.S. California sunk in 1891 and they have built this lighthouse to not only honor those people, but also to prevent tragedy from striking more ships. Note that a private company took this property over and there is now a $5 fee to climb the 117 steps to the top.
Bonus: There is a restaurant called Faro Blanco here with one of the best views on the island, especially at sunset.
3. Alta Vista Chapel
In Papiamento, the local language of Aruba, Alta Vista means “High View”. This is the oldest chapel in all of Aruba, having been restored from 1750. On your way here, you’ll find 14 crosses lining the roadside, one marking each station. This is still an important place for locals to not only meditate and pray, but also to remember what island life used to be like in Aruba.
4. Casibari Rock Formations
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard about Casibari Rock Formations, but I was honestly blown away once I arrived here. No one knows how these massive boulders first arrived, which has led it to become a sort of sacred place. If you’re adventurous, you can climb to the top of the boulder by following the stairs in between the crevices. I promise, the panoramic views of Aruba once you reach the top are worth it.
5. Aruba Natural Bridge
It wouldn’t make sense to tell you the exact location of Aruba Natural Bridge because it keeps changing. This is because natural elements like wind, waves, and, well, gravity continue to challenge these delicate formations, ultimately causing them to collapse. In fact, the Natural Bridge I visited just a few days ago now has a huge crack in it- aftermath of Hurricane Franklin passing through.
6. Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins
Over 3 million pounds of gold were produced here in the 19th century. Now, the crumbling foundation sits abandoned on the seaside. Though this stop isn’t as interactive as some of the others on this list, the gold rush was one of the main events that helped shape Aruba into becoming what it is today.
7. Baby Beach
One of the locals’ (and now tourists’) favorite places in Aruba is Baby Beach. The sand bars here allow you to walk out far and still be just up to your knees. There are also two restaurants and a food truck on the beach. My favorite one is Rum Reef Restaurant, which surprisingly reminded me Bondi Beach because of their gorgeous infinity pool. You can either dine inside or have the servers bring a Balashi right to you while lounging on a pool chair.
Bonus: Did you know the first female brewmaster in Aruba was the one who made the most popular local beer, Balashi? They have seven different flavors now, Balashi, Chill and Magic Mango being their most popular.
8. The Donkey Sanctuary
The Donkey Sanctuary in Aruba is home to over 100 donkeys and is completely FREE to visit. You could technically take the bus here for $2.70/person, then hop off and walk about a mile down the road to get there like I did…but I definitely would recommend a car! This is on the way to Baby Beach, which will be nearly impossible to grab a taxi from afterward.
If you’d like to feed the donkeys, you can purchase food at the sanctuary for a few dollars, or bring your own carrots and apples to feed them. Note that you definitely should feed them OUTSIDE the gates, otherwise you’ll have a mob forming around you. Trust me, I learned the hard way.
9. Malmok reef- Where To Find Turtles In Aruba
Malmok Reef is a great place for snorkeling, although it won’t be tropical fish that you’ll find here. Instead, keep an eye out for the gentle sea turtles! I can’t even count how many I spotted the last time I was snorkeling in Malmok Reef. Please be cautious not to touch or disturb them when visiting. You are in their home!
10. Boca Catalina- Best Snorkeling In Aruba
Boca Catalina is notorious in Aruba for having some of the best snorkeling. It’s here that you will find a seemingly endless supply of tropical fish from all shapes, sizes and colors. I’ve never seen so many fish in one place in my entire life.
11. Antilla Shipwreck
This is one of the biggest shipwrecks in the entire Caribbean at over 400 feet long. It was a German cargo ship during WWII and the ship was actually set on fire and sank on purpose to keep it out of enemies hands. However, many parts of the ship are still completely intact, making for an incredible snorkeling site.
12. Eagle Beach
This is the second best beach in the entire world and it’s right here in Aruba! It’s in the middle of all of the hotels and resorts so chances are you’ll be staying nearby it already. From the white sandy beaches to turquoise water and fish galore, your day will be made the second you step on the beach.
Pro Tip: Palapas (the beach cabanas) are all FREE for public use, as long as you bring your own chair or towel to hang out under them with. However, if you want to use one of the chairs there, you’ll have to pay a company on the beach something around $20/day (price depends on company, beach and season).
13. Divi Beach- My Favorite Beach In Aruba
I would describe Divi Beach as Eagle Beach’s little sister because it’s the same concept and it’s within walking distance! It’s insanely beautiful, but smaller than Eagle Beach and more of a cove. However, you will be closer to other restaurants and bars here to satisfy your beach cravings.
Bonus: Divi is actually a type of tree in Aruba and they serve as a navigational guide because, due to all of the wind here, all of the divi trees grow facing west.
14. Charlie’s Bar– The Most Famous Bar In Aruba
Charlie’s Bar is a pretty famous bar down in San Nicolas that many tourists stop by on their way to or from Baby Beach. It’s most well known for the little trinkets and business cards that tourists leave here from all over the world, making for fascinating interior design.
However, what I found most fascinating, is that Charlie Bar should really only be visited by the typical tourist during the day. Why, might you ask? At night, San Nicolas turns into a red light district and isn’t exactly a great place to be, especially if you’re a solo female traveler. Despite this, Charlie Bar is actually owned by a very conservative family. However, they refuse to move the location of their bar because this would cause them to lose their title of the island’s oldest bar. How’s that for history?
If you want to explore the first SEVEN stops on land in one day, I did the Full Island Tour for $65 with Fantasy Tours Aruba and I highly recommend it! They include roundtrip transportation and even picked me up from the doorstep of my Airbnb. The guide was extremely knowledgeable and taught me 90% of the things I now know about Aruba Culture.
If you want to explore stops 9-11 while snorkeling in Aruba, I recommend going with Pelican Adventures. I did their Champagne Brunch Cruise for $89 which included the 3 stops, snorkeling gear, breakfast and lunch, an all day open bar and professional guides on a catamaran.
I’m also running a giveaway for a chance to win a scuba diving experience for you and a friend in Aruba until September 11, 2023! Check it out here.
I hope this short guide gave you a good idea of where to start when planning your trip to Aruba. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or say hello!