Aruba is one of the top Caribbean island destinations for a good reason! Stunning beaches, beautiful weather, and warm and welcoming locals all contribute to what makes Aruba the One Happy Island. There is a lot more to the island than just beautiful white beaches and turquoise waters that you can’t miss out on.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite 15 fun and unique things to do in Aruba after having spent two weeks on this amazing island. Read on for all of the best Aruba things to do to help you plan your vacation!
Disclaimer: We received complimentary spa services from Rejuvenate Medi Spa Aruba as part of our research on the best unique things to do in Aruba. We thoroughly enjoyed the services, all opinions are our own. Please note that some of the links in the below article are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you make a purchase. Click here for the full disclosure statement. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!
15 Unique Things to Do in Aruba
There are so many great unique things to do in Aruba, that we have divided our list into north, central, and south areas of Aruba to help with your planning. All of these locations are easily accessible by rental car, which is one of the best ways to explore the island.
To help with planning your perfect vacation to see the 15 unique things to do in Aruba, we have put together this map of everything listed in this blog post.
North Side of Aruba
The north side of Aruba contains some of the most popular destinations for visitors to the island, including the famous Palm Beach, and a number of other easy to reach destinations. There are so many unique things to do in Aruba though that you don’t want to limit yourself to just the north side of the island, be sure to read about everything else below!
Explore Palm Beach
Palm Beach is the most famous destination in Aruba, and that’s because it has the best sunset views on the island, as well as beautiful sand and relatively calm, warm waters. Almost all of the major resorts in Aruba are located here, so it’s likely where you will be staying during your visit to Aruba.
The best way to explore Palm Beach is to take a walk or bike along Aruba’s sightseeing path that stretches all along Palm Beach. The pathway is multi-use and goes between the beach and resorts. You’ll get a sneak peak of all the resorts, as well as an opportunity to sample some great food and drinks along the way. One extremely popular and great healthy option for a snack while exploring Palm Beach is Eduardo’s Beach Shack for healthy bowls, smoothies, and fresh snacks. No trip to Aruba is complete without stopping at Palm Beach!
If you really want the full Palm Beach experience, consider going on a sunset catamaran cruise! There are a few different options, but the most popular is this one that also includes happy hour drinks and appetizers! The cruises can sell out during peak season, so be sure to book in advance so you don’t miss a sunset on the water!
Alto Vista Chapel
A popular stop for many tours, the Alto Vista Chapel, is located on top of a hill with expansive views of the ocean. While the current chapel is not the original building, this is the site of the first Catholic church in Aruba, from 1750. The small building has a simple design and the location is quite peaceful, making this a great place for contemplation.
Bushiribana Gold Mill
Most people don’t realize that Aruba was extensively searched for gold hundreds of years ago, and they did find it! The stone structure remnants here are from the Bushiribana Gold Mill that processed ore from the surrounding hills during Aruba’s gold rush. The ruins here are free to explore and climb through.
While you’re here, don’t miss views of the rugged coastline a short walk away, which includes a natural cave. A popular way to visit this area as well as other secret beaches is with an ATV or UTV tour, which will allow you to access places not accessible by car. Check out some of the great tours in Aruba here.
The California Lighthouse can be seen from quite far away as you approach it, owing to the relatively flat geography of the island, and that it is ideally perched on higher ground. As a result you have a beautiful 360-degree view from the top of the California Lighthouse of all of Aruba. The lighthouse is open daily to walk up to the viewing platform, at a cost of $5 USD for admission.
The view from the top gives you a true perspective of the size of Aruba and where everything is located, a great place to stop near the beginning of your trip to gain perspective of the island, or near the end to see everywhere you’ve been!
For such a small island, Aruba has an incredibly diverse geography, ranging from volcanic rocks, to the beautiful white sand Californa Dunes. The sand dunes can easily be explored on foot as you admire the ocean views and nearby cacti and aloe. The California Dunes are definitely one of the more unique things to do in Aruba that you wouldn’t expect to find on this fantastic island.
Westpunt is the rough and wild westernmost point of the island of Aruba. Westpunt is a bit off the beaten path, but can be reached by car down a bumpy gravel road, or it can be reached with a light hike/walk along the Westpunt trail which begins at the north end of Arashi Beach. There’s not much to do here other than admire the raw power and beauty of the ocean as it crashes into the shore, spraying mist everywhere. It’s incredible to behold in person, and worth the short drive down the gravel road.
Westpunt is located nearby the California Lighthouse and California Dunes, making it easy to visit all three in a short amount of time.
Tres Trapi Beach
Tres Trapi, or Three Steps, Beach is a popular stop due to the unique three steps that have been carved out of the rock leading down to a tiny area of white sand beach. It’s a popular stop due to being one of the may unique things to do in Aruba, but unless you are planning to do some snorkeling here, it’s usually a pretty brief stop to admire the steps or take a quick swim in the ocean. If you’re looking for a larger beach while in the area, head two minutes further north to Arashi Beach for a large expansive area of white sand.
Relax with a Spa Day
All of the resort hotels on the island offer multiple types of spa experiences for their guests, and while you will certainly leave feeling refreshed and relaxed, you will be paying a lot for that experience! One great way to get all of the refreshment and relaxation without the high cost, is to go where the locals go! The Rejuvenate Medi Spa is where local Arubans go for high quality service at an affordable price. They offer a full variety of treatments for everyone and are just five minutes away from Palm Beach, perfect for stopping by anytime during your stay in Aruba!
We enjoyed a couples massage here as well as a pedicure and loved both. We have not felt this good in a long time!
Central Area of Aruba
The center of the island is home to the main city of Aruba, Oranjestad, as well as the international airport, and is also the primary residential and shopping area for residents. You’ll find everything you need for life on the island, but also a few points of interest and unique things to do in Aruba that any traveler will want to check out.
The quaint capital city of Aruba is a must-see destination as it is oozing with Caribbean and Dutch charm with it’s brightly colored and beautiful buildings. The city is centered around the harbor, where you will also find cruise ships at dock. You may want to plan your visit to Oranjestad at a date or time when there is not a cruise ship in port, so that you don’t have to compete for space with the influx of cruise passengers.
The most striking building is the bright pink Royal Plaza Mall, but it’s worth exploring the streets behind here to find more shopping, hidden restaurants, and more beautiful architecture.
Oranjestad is highly walkable and incredibly safe, however you can also explore the city using the tram service which traverses the main shopping area.
Aruba Aloe Museum and Factory Tour
Did you know that Aloe Vera products are the number one export of Aruba? The healing plant is grown all over Aruba, and is used in many types of products. At the Aruba Aloe Museum you can learn all about the history of Aruba and aloe as well as take a factory tour, before finding the perfect Aruba Aloe souvenir at their giftshop. Located just a short 10 minute drive from Palm Beach, this is a easy stop and one of the unique things to do in Aruba that you won’t find elsewhere.
Date and Time: The museum is open year-round and generally open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day of the week, with slightly reduced hours on weekends. Check the Aruba Aloe website for the latest opening days and hours.
Cost: The factory museum and tours are free.
Flamingo Island / Renaissance Island
One of the most popular and unique things to do in Aruba is by far visiting the Flamingo Beach in Aruba. Here you get taken by water taxi to the private Renaissance Island where you can spend the day relaxing at either one of their two lagoons with beaches, hammocks, and lounge chairs, rent a cabana, and of course hang out with flamingos! Spending a day here does involve some advance planning, and you’ll want to make the most of it so read our full blog post on Flamingo Beach Aruba for more information before your trip to Aruba.
South Side of Island
The southern side of Aruba, is slightly less popular to visit, mostly due to having a few less attractions that would be of interest to the casual tourist, but also because it is a bit farther away from the popular hotel resorts on Palm Beach. Luckily, nothing in Aruba is that far away, and so all of these great locations and unique things to do in Aruba on the south side of the island are only about a half hour drive from Palm Beach.
Arikok National Park
The Arikok National Park takes up about 18% of the island of Aruba, which is an impressive amount of space to dedicate to nature on a small island like Aruba. Most people visit Arikok National Park for some basic hiking to the highest point in Aruba, or to see some beautiful sea caves and natural pools. Guided hiking tours with a park ranger are available.
Visit Mangel Halto Beach
Mangel Halto Beach has incredible turquoise waters and a barrier reef just offshore which offers excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities. As the sand beach area is not overly large, this beach is better suited to getting out on the water in a kayak or stand-up paddleboard for some snorkeling in the nearby reefs as opposed to sun tanning and relaxing onshore. As you probably didn’t pack your own kayak or SUP on the plane to Aruba, taking a guided tour is the best way to explore this stunning reef.
It is not as popular with tourists as it is relatively unknown, meaning that it is usually not very crowded and mostly just used by locals.
Explore the Colorful Streets of San Nicolas
San Nicolas is actually the second largest city in Aruba. What makes San Nicolas a great destination is the compact downtown area that is full of beautiful colorful street art. The main street area is the best place to start, and you can wander the side streets admiring the art, and popping into the odd souvenir shop or café for a snack. Charlie’s Bar is one of the most popular in the area, which a rich history and atmosphere, dating back to 1941. The whole downtown area of San Nicolas is relatively compact, but worth a visit to see the sunrise side of Aruba.
Relax at Baby Beach
Close to San Nicolas, and another one of the most famous beaches in Aruba, is Baby Beach. Baby Beach is known for being a true Caribbean paradise, with a gorgeous half-moon shaped lagoon with calm waters and a stunning turquoise color. It’s a great place to relax and swim in the water without the potential waves of other beaches, meaning it’s also great for families. There is a refreshment stand and grill in the area if you’re planning on spending the day and haven’t brought snacks of your own.
Where to Stay in Aruba
During our two weeks in Aruba, we visited some of the top resorts on the island and have reviewed all of them, to give you as much information as possible in order to make the best decision for your trip to Aruba.
Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort
The Hilton Aruba is hands down the most iconic resort in Aruba. This is the hotel that started it all back in 1959, and has been popular ever since. Fresh off of recent renovations, the Hilton Aruba offers one of the most beautiful resort pool and beach areas as well as a number of great dining options right on Palm Beach. Read our blog post review of the Hilton Aruba Resort for more information.
Aruba Marriott Resort
The Aruba Marriott Resort is a large resort, and also boasts some of the largest rooms and balconies on the island for the ultimate in-room comfort. The resort offers a large casino, plus multiple pools, and an expansive beach area to take in every sunset. There are numerous fine dining options available on property, plus the ability to dine at the sister Marriott Vacations and Ritz-Carlton properties next door. Read our blog post review of the Aruba Marriott Resort for more information.
Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort
The Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort is a great all-round resort in Aruba with a perfect Palm Beach location, and enough pools and dining options to keep everyone entertained. One of the stand-out features of the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort for adult and couple vacationers is the adult-only pool with incredible cabanas for rent. Renting one of these cabanas for the day or your whole stay can really take your Aruba vacation up a notch! Read our blog post review of the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort for more information.
Manchebo Beach Resort Aruba
The Manchebo Beach Resort is a boutique-style resort with a smaller footprint and only one main pool. What it lacks in number of pools it more than makes up with by having the most impressive and largest beach area of all the Aruba resorts we visited. There is more than enough room for every guest at the resort to be out on the beach and not feel cramped with palapas, hammocks, and more available to everyone. If you’re looking for a more intimate setting and want to maximize your beach time this is definitely the resort for you. Read our blog post review of the Manchebo Beach Resort Aruba for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions of Aruba
We’ve got answers to some of the most commonly asked question on Aruba. If we’ve missed anything that you’re looking for, let us know in the comments!
What is Aruba known for?
Aruba is most widely known for being an idyllic white-sand beach Caribbean island, and when most people think of Aruba, they think of Palm Beach. Aruba is also widely known as a great wind and kitesurfing destination, for their Divi trees, Aloe Vera, and of course the famous Flamingo Island. However, there are so many other unique things to do in Aruba!
Is 3 Days in Aruba Enough?
While you can certainly enjoy a 3 day trip to Aruba, you would not be able to see all of the 15 unique things to do in Aruba and still have time to relax and enjoy. If you’re looking to spend some time on a beach and enjoy great food and warm weather, you can certainly accomplish this with a quick visit to Aruba. You’ll just have to come back to explore the rest of this beautiful island to see for yourself why it’s called One Happy Island.
Is Aruba Worth Going to?
Absolutely! Aruba is one of the safest and most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. The island is easy to access, easy to get around, and offers a surprising variety of travel experiences for being a small island in the Caribbean. If we haven’t convinced you to go to Aruba with the above 15 unique things to do in Aruba, we’re not sure what will!
Can You Use US Dollars in Aruba?
The official currency of Aruba is the Aruban Florin (AWG). One Aruban Florin equals $0.56 USD, however during your trip to visit the most unique things to do in Aruba you will not need to have any Aruban currency. US Dollars are widely accepted everywhere and are no problem at all to use. In fact, prices in all resorts and tourist-centric areas will likely be in US Dollars. Credit cards are also widely accepted, so you will not need a lot of US Dollar cash.
What is the Best Month to Go to Aruba?
The most popular time to visit Aruba is January to March, however this is not necessarily the best time to visit to see all the unique things to do in Aruba as room rates will be sky-high. April to August is considered the offseason, where you will find much more affordable room rates. In addition, due to Aruba’s location so far south in the Caribbean, there is very little threat from hurricanes, which are typical with many other Caribbean islands. September to December are also quieter months, but you can also expect more rain during this time period, though rain passes through quickly.
15 Ultimate Things to Do in Aruba Summary
Whether you are spending a long weekend our two weeks on Aruba, there is so much to do and see on this amazing island. Choose your favorites from the list above for a shorter trip, or try to see as much as possible! Just don’t forget time to relax on the beach and take it all in. Embrace island life and the One Happy Island and you’ll be planning your next trip to Aruba before you even leave!
Pin this post to your Aruba travel Pinterest board to save the most unique things to do in Aruba when you are planning to visit the One Happy Island.