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what to do when visiting aruba

One Happy Island: Top Things to do When Visiting Aruba

Aruba might be a tiny Dutch Caribbean island, but it sees 1.2 million visitors per year. Known for its bright white sand and beautiful blue waters, this island is also home to plenty of outdoor adventure, Caribbean culture, and historical sites.

Find out why Aruba is known as the One Happy Island! Here are some of the top things that you must do when visiting Aruba.

Explore San Nicolas

Even if you’re staying at a resort in the Palm Beach area, make sure to venture to the other side of the island. Aside from some of the best local beaches, San Nicolas is also home to colorful street murals, local art galleries and artisan shops.

Arikok National Park

This national park stretches from the island’s center to the eastern and northern coasts, covering almost a fifth of the island. Hike the trails and take in the local flora and fauna, desert-like hills filled with cacti, and unique geological, cultural, and historical sites. Don’t miss the caves, where you can find 1,000-year-old Arawak Indian cave paintings.

Aruba Carnival

If you’re lucky enough to visit Aruba during Carnival season, you’re in for a treat. Check out the bright costumes, colorfully decorated floats, throbbing music, and everything else you’d expect for Carnival. Although the season officially starts in November, the majority of the celebrations, events, and parades are in January and February.


Aruba has clear, calm waters, making snorkeling to see tropical fish a must. You can also check out the SS Pedernales, a WWII lake tanker that was damaged in a torpedo attack by a German U-boat. The center section of the vessel is submerged off the shore of Palm Beach in shallow waters.

Learn About Aruba’s History

Although small in size when compared to other places, Aruba has plenty of history. Learn about the original Arubans and check out 4,000-year-old artifacts at the National Archaeological Museum Aruba, and learn about Dutch settlers and pirates that landed in Aruba in the 1700s at the Fort Zoutman Historical Museum.

See Some Animals

Learn about ostriches, like how they lay the largest eggs of any bird species or how they only have two toes per foot, when you visit the Aruba Ostrich Farm. Stop by the Donkey Sanctuary Aruba, which is a nonprofit devoted to saving the island’s donkeys, which used to be the main form of transportation on the island. Or, head over to The Butterfly Farm, where you can see hundreds of exotic butterflies from around the world.

Explore the Beaches

This is definitely a no-brainer. As a Caribbean island, Aruba is surrounded by beautiful white sandy beaches with crystal-clear water. Baby Beach has shallow waters and easy waves, making it a good choice for kids. Hit the tiki bars at Palm Beach, explore Eagle Beach’s white sand, or enjoy Wariruri’s surf-worthy waves. There’s a beach for everyone’s taste.

Do Some Duty-Free Shopping

This is more than just your basic vacation souvenir shopping. I’m talking about European cheeses, Caribbean-made hot sauces, and tropical jams.

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