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Things To Do In Aruba
Aruba is a magical place. Perfect temperature year-round… safe environment… friendly locals… gorgeous beaches… who could ask for more? The island is pretty small at only 21 miles long from tip to tip. Yet, it’s packed full of great things to see and do to that will melt all your stresses away.
Normally when I travel abroad I rely on cabs, tours, or public transit to make my way around. However, this time I decided to shake things up by testing my driving skills and renting a car. Now, I learned to drive on the back roads of East Texas. Technically, I never went to “driving school”. My mom would just let me cruise the streets of our teeny tiny small town. When it came time for my 16 year-old self to get tested at the DMV, she had to run to the bookstore and buy the textbook because she didn’t know there was one until that day… #KeepingItClassy
That said, even I had an easy breezy time driving around Aruba so I’d guess you would too! Plus renting a car gave me a chance to spend as little or as long as I wanted at the areas that I really enjoyed. It was also cheaper than buying tours or taking cabs to all the places I wanted to see. Feel free to scroll through them all or jump to what interest you most!
Things to Do In Aruba
If you do nothing else in Aruba, do this! The views from the pool are breathtakingly gorgeous. You can drive up to the area where the trail to the pool starts in a regular car, but you’ll need a 4 wheel-drive for the remainder of the trek because the terrain is completely rocky and steep. You can also park at the trail entrance and walk (not suggested) or take a 4-wheeler tour. Take snorkeling gear and a little bread to have an in your face view of the amazing sea life at the natural pool. If you’re feeling adventurous, like I was, you can climb the near-by rocks and dive into the deep end!
There are so many beaches in Aruba you’ll find it hard to choose a favorite. I suggest visiting Baby Beach and Druif Beach for swimming and getting away from it all. Malmok Beach is a must so you can take a picturesque snap of the gorgeous shoreline behind a divi-divi (twisted tree). Also,the Aruba beaches you’ve likely already heard of are Palm Beach and Eagle Beach. They are nice and enjoyable if you’d like to be in the middle of the action and within walking distance to high-rise hotels, ocean bars on the pier, and options for water sports like parasailing and tube rides. It’s nearly impossible to find a beach you won’t like on this island.
If being under the sea is your kind of happy, you’ll be in love when you get to Aruba. The island is surrounded by shipwrecks which have made wonderful homes to beautiful coral and a variety of creatures in the depths of the deep blue Caribbean. Pedernales, which is close to the Holiday Inn Hotel, is a great spot for beginners. Seasoned divers should check out the SS California if they’d like to snap some great underwater pictures. While the currents are a bit stronger here due to its location, divers run a high chance of coming face-to-face with the islands population of hammerhead and bull sharks.
If you’re anything like my grandma, a roll of the dice is right up your alley. Aruba has a great entertainment scene with casinos playing a noticeable role. I took a stop to play the slots at the Renaissance hotel’s casino in the heart of downtown Oranjestad. Wherever you see a group of hotels, and tourists with money to blow, you’ll find a number of casinos. If you lose too many dollars, you can enjoy a few complimentary drinks to ease the pain or check out some of the great musical artists and local bands that work the clubs. Most of the islands casino’s are 24/7 to ensure that you never have a dull moment.
Gucci, Gucci, Louis, Louis Fendi, Fendi, Prada… but seriously you might think you’re in the middle of a Kreayshawn song when you see all the luxury stores the grace the island of Aruba. The cities of Oranjestad and Noord each have large shopping malls where luxury knows no limits. Duty free is the way to be! If you’d rather take things low key, you can also find a number of souvenir shops around the main hotel areas. If you want to travel like a local, I’d suggest going deeper into the island and finding a strip mall with local shops.
I was surprised by the variety of cuisines in Aruba. The islands inhabitants are from all over. Fresh seafood was abundant, but so was Chinese, Italian, Colombian, traditional North American, Caribbean, and of course local flavors too. Venture away from the main strip and into the heart of the island for some great tastes. Everyone speaks English and is happy to converse in your native language. Except this one lady who runs a Colombian empanada stand off of Route 2. She will throw you serious side-eye if you don’t speak Spanish. Luckily, her food is so darn good you won’t care and will still love her anyways!
From hills to scenic strolls along the coast, Aruba is a great place to get your walk on. Most hikers take advantage of the Arikok National Park which is a nature preserve covering nearly a fifth of the island. Mount Jamanota, the island’s highest point, can be found here. Another popular stop is Hooiberg. It’s a volcanic formation covered in cati and scenic trees. Once you make it up the 587 stairs to the top, you can do your best Sarah Palin impression while viewing another country from the one you are in. On a clear day, you could see Venezuela from your backyard.
There’s fancyish. Then there’s fancyish ballerific style. In Aruba I hit that status as I sped across the ocean, wind in hair, salt water splashing on my skin, and arrived at a private island off the shores of Aruba. I got there early enough that I was mostly alone outside of the staff and another guest. My visit was through the hotel I stayed at. However, there are many tours where the same style of experience can be booked and often times it includes an open bar. Swinging on a hammock with nothing between you and the ocean but a cabana boy/girl to bring you limitless fruity umbrella drinks sounds pretty nice. Right? Righhht?! Of course it does!
All Those Other Things
There is plenty more to see and do in Aruba. The California Lighthouse is a big destination, but I wouldn’t plan to spend more than 5 minutes there. There are also Indian caves, tranquil old Dutch villages, an aloe vera plant, a gold mill, and historic churches just waiting to be explored. I’m the type who likes to visit a place once and then travel on the next destination. Yet, I can say Aruba just has that something special. That vibe that makes you want more. I can’t wait to visit this island again and hope that you will check it out soon!
Have you been to Aruba? Are you planning a trip there soon? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.