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10 Best Aruba Tourist Attractions + 10 More

Updated on August 1, 2017
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Scott Bateman is a professional journalist who has visited Aruba four times and has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean.

Acrobatic windsurfers add to the attraction of Palm Beach in Aruba.
Acrobatic windsurfers add to the attraction of Palm Beach in Aruba. | Source

The 10 best Aruba tourist attractions start with the famous Palm Beach as well as Eagle Beach, Arikok National Park and the capital city of Oranjestad.

They will keep visitors busy all week long and easily just for the day if they arrive by cruise ship.

This small Caribbean island is known for great beaches and is the number one Caribbean destination for return visits.

But 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.

Smith Boulevard flea market. © Scott Bateman
Smith Boulevard flea market. © Scott Bateman

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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. They also walk right into the city from the cruise docks.

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 get to the major shopping and dining in town.

Other than the flea market, expect to find more high quality goods in most of the stores and malls than most Caribbean destinations.

Downtown also has several casual restaurants that include outdoor seating.

More shops are found along the next few streets that parallel Smith Boulevard, but the quality of goods is lower.

Seaport Village Mall. © Scott Bateman
Seaport Village Mall. © Scott Bateman

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 of the beach 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 has many shops and especially 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.

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.

Renaissance Mall. © Scott Bateman
Renaissance Mall. © Scott Bateman

3) Entertainment at Palm Beach Plaza

One of the best Aruba attractions along the Palm Beach strip deserves its own mention.

Palm Beach Plaza is 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 are 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.

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 by the California Lighthouse 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, the 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.

The Baby Bridge. © Aruba Tourism Authority
The Baby Bridge. © Aruba Tourism Authority

6) Visiting Natural Bridges

Sadly, the best and most famous natural attraction in Aruba was the Natural Bridge, which collapsed some years 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 on the rocks and clear one’s mind for a few hours.

The calm Natural Pool sits behind a wall of rocks that splash huge waves over the swimmers.
The calm Natural Pool sits behind a wall of rocks that splash huge waves over the swimmers. | Source

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.

Huliba Cave is known as the Tunnel of Love because the entrance has the shape of a heart.

8) Exploring Guadirikiri, Fontein and Huliba Caves

Tourists will have better luck reaching the two largest caves in Aruba. They also are 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.

California Lighthouse. © Aruba Tourism Authority
California Lighthouse. © Aruba Tourism Authority

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.

© 2015 Scott Bateman

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    • promisem profile image
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      Scott Bateman 18 months ago

      I envy you, Izz. I want to go back as soon as possible.

    • profile image

      Izz 18 months ago

      My bags are packed and ready to go looking forward to seeing and doing it all

    • promisem profile image
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      Scott Bateman 2 years ago

      Thanks, BizWiz. I hope you have as much fun there as we did.

    • profile image

      TheBizWhiz 2 years ago

      Wow! I am ready to go. Thanks for the tips

    • promisem profile image
      Author

      Scott Bateman 2 years ago

      Thanks, Romanian. I appreciate your comment. It's too bad you won't be able to see it. But I'm sure you have plenty of beautiful islands closer to your home.

    • Romanian profile image

      Nicu 2 years ago from Oradea, Romania

      This article it's awesome. That small island it's very beautiful. Sadly I probably won't travel to that island because carrabeans are too far.