15 Fabulous Must-Do Aruba Activities

Many of this island’s unique attractions and activities are well-known by regular visitors, but for first-timers, there are many hidden gems and off-radar experiences to be discovered even beyond the most popular landmarks. Allow us to recommend some of our favorites 15 Fabulous Must Do Aruba Activities.


  1. Delight in downtown

Even regular visitors will be astounded at all the exciting new and recent changes to Oranjestad, and a great way to discover them is via the free trolleys that begin at the cruise terminal. Then, explore it all more in-depth on foot with Aruba Walking Tours offering a delightful journey through historic sites, cultural hubs, and exciting new installations. Downtown is a wonderful place to shop for upscale items like jewelry and designer clothing at low prices as well.



  1. Snorkel a shipwreck or dive a dozen wrecks

The M.S Antilla, a German freighter purposefully scuttled to avoid capture when Germany declared war on the Netherlands, is one of the few wrecks in the world easily viewable from above for snorkelers. Most snorkel/party boats stop there. But if you’re certified to dive, this island offers a dozen surreal wreck sites that include ships, freighters, tugboats, and even small planes!


  1. Climb the California Lighthouse

One of Aruba’s most iconic structures is the majestic white lighthouse that was erected in 1910 to alert ships about the dangers of the reef. It was restored to its former glory in 2016 and is open for public exploration. Climb the spiral staircase to the top for incredible panoramic views. And now, you can also enjoy private catered dinners through Experitours Aruba. It’s one of only two lighthouse dinner experiences in the world.

Lighthouse must do activities Aruba


  1. Seek an elevated point of view

Alto Vista meaning ‘high view’ is the site of Aruba’s very first church established by the Spanish in 1750. Rebuilt in 1952, the lovely yellow chapel is open to the public and still offers regular religious services. It is a serene soul-soothing spot enhanced by a peace circle mediation maze directly behind it. And the panoramic views from the summit are outstanding.


  1. Go wild in Arikok National Park

Aruba’s vast preserve of protected land is an arid outback full of wild windswept rocky coasts, cacti forests, and semi-desert landscape, a world away from the lush, palm-lined resorts. Discover “conchi” – an epic natural pool you can swim and snorkel in within the park with outfits like ABC Tours or Around Aruba Tours which are well-equipped to navigate the rugged terrain. You can also take guided tours on foot with the park rangers.


  1. Experience unique animal attractions

For unique animal encounters, visit The Butterfly Farm for hundreds of fluttering beauties in a lush tropical garden, or head to Philip’s Animal Garden, a sanctuary for exotic abandoned animals. Another sanctuary worth visiting is Donkey Sanctuary Aruba dedicated to saving wild donkeys. (Bring carrots and apples!) Or if birds are your thing, visit The Ostrich Farm to learn all about these funny, flightless birds.

Butterfly Farm Aruba must do activities Aruba


  1. Hunt for history gold

Retrace the island’s Amerindian heritage at the Archaeological Museum in a beautifully restored historic home in downtown Oranjestad. Exhibits are interactive and admission is free. Or go digging for history gold at the Bushiribana Gold Mill ruins. In 1824, the island enjoyed a mini gold rush and the ruins of the old smelter by the sea are photo gold. Other picturesque ruins to explore are the remnants of the old Balashi Gold Mill near Spanish Lagoon.

Gold Mill must do activities Aruba

  1. Go local in rural neighborhoods

Rent a car to visit the interior regions and don’t be surprised to see wild goats playing on the roundabouts, or wild donkeys taking shade in bus shelters. It’s all part of the rural vibe. Rub shoulders with the locals at best-loved little eateries like Huchada Bakery in Santa Cruz, or Bright Bakery in Santa Rosa. Or visit Savaneta, a historic little fishing village for Zeerovers (meaning pirates) to enjoy fresh fish right off the boat.


  1. See surprises in San Nicolas

The little refinery town that was once the bustling hub of the economy is roaring back to life thanks to the annual Aruba Art Fair. Today, the town is awash with colorful outdoor art and murals at every turn. The entire downtown grid is like a living gallery with all kinds of cultural surprises and interactive exhibits.

San Nicolas Murals must do activities Aruba


  1. Seek out off-radar secrets

The famous Natural bridge that collapsed in 2005 is still a big draw, but there is a smaller “baby bridge right beside it, and two other smaller land bridges worth seeking out on remote coasts. And the natural pool called “conchi” is best known, but there is also a smaller natural pool cave near the Bushiribana gold mine ruins with wooden stairs leading down to it. Also secreted away is a lovely little replication of Lourdes Grotto near San Nicolas.

Natural Bridge


  1. Find unique take-home treasures or make your own

For the ultimate souvenir, why not opt for something uniquely Aruban? Find locally made take-home treasures at the arts and crafts markets Wednesday nights at Paseo Herencia, Friday nights at Renaissance Marketplace, and now every Tuesday night in front of Santos Coffee with Soul in downtown Oranjestad. Or make your unique souvenir at Studio Murano Art, a combination alfresco eatery and glassblowing studio. An expert artisan from Italy gives demonstrations and offers classes where you can make your gorgeous glass creations.


  1. Go spelunking with ancient spirits & climb prehistoric rocks

Mystic legends of the original Arawak Indians live on in Aruba’s ancient caves. You can see the drawings they left behind in Fontein Cave, and legend has it that the surreal natural skylight in Guadirikiri Cave was made by banished lovers whose spirits broker thought the rock to be together forever. The odd rock formation at Casibari also has its own legend. Since the tonalite they are made from appears nowhere else on the island, some say they were dropped there by aliens! Explore them inside and out via manmade staircases.

Caves must do activities Aruba


  1. Hike a haystack

Aruba’s second highest peak Mt. Hooiberg, which means “Haystack” in Dutch because it resembles one, is a favored hiking spot for locals and visitors alike. There are 587 stairs carved into the mountain to ease 541 ft. climb. Make it to the top to be rewarded with stunning panoramic views.



  1. Paddle mangrove forests

Sea kayak is the ideal choice of transportation for exploring the lush emerald mangrove forest mazes of Mangel Halto. You can also take clear bottom kayak tours that reveal how good the snorkeling there is as well, you’ll spot plenty of colorful coral and fish below. This is also popular for SUP and it’s the best shore diving site on the island.

Mangroves must do activities Aruba


  1. Experience unique fishing adventures

For over 25 years, Driftwood Charters has been the island’s most legendary deep-sea fishing charter. And they not only help you catch your dinner, but they can also cook your catch and serve it to you at their equally legendary Driftwood Restaurant the same day. The Hooker Fishing and Snorkeling Charters also offer a unique fishing adventure that offers a side of snorkeling pleasure with equipment included. And they’re the only outfit on the island to offer sunset fishing trips.

Driftwood Charters must do activities Aruba


“Hidden gems and off-radar experiences”


Article written  By Susan Campbell