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Things to Do in Aruba

Any traveler who dips their toes into the welcoming waters of Aruba can see what makes it the most visited island in the southern Caribbean. Miles and miles of white-sand beaches stretch along its shores, where year-round beach weather is made even more palatable by the island’s location safely outside the dreaded “Hurricane Alley.” The capital of Oranjestad features colorful colonial architecture and can easily be toured on a two-hour walk. And the ends of the island are arid, craggy, windy, and uncluttered, but still less than an hour’s drive from the city. The official languages are Dutch (because the island is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) and Papiamento (a Spanish Creole language), but English is widely spoken. Most tours visit a mix of man-made and natural island highlights such as Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, the California Lighthouse, Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations, Arikok National Park, and the Natural Pool. Travelers can choose their level of adventure, covering most of the 20-mile (32-kilometer) island on a day tour: Watching the highlights from the seat of a 4x4 vehicle, riding on horseback, or rumbling over rugged terrain in an ATV. Snorkeling and scuba diving also draw visitors, as Aruba is home to the Antilla Shipwreck, now a hot spot for underwater plant and animal life, as well as a healthy reef at Arashi Beach, but both can be seen by semi-submarine tour for those who prefer to stay dry.
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Arikok National Park
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With deserted beaches and rocky coves, dusty plains dotted with cacti, and ancient limestone caves, Arikok National Park feels worlds away from the luxurious resorts of Aruba’s north coast. Covering almost 20 percent of the island, the park, one of the best reasons to venture south, offers a spectacular backdrop for outdoor adventures.

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Natural Bridge
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For many years, Aruba’s natural bridge was a top tourist attraction on the island. The bridge sadly collapsed due to erosion in 2005. However, its ruins still remain, along with a smaller natural span known as “baby bridge.” The surrounding landscape is wild and beautiful, and the smaller bridge still attracts large numbers of tourists.

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De Palm Island
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Just off of the western coast of Aruba, De Palm Island attracts visitors from the main island looking for an all-inclusive beach day. In addition to hosting an array of outdoor activities, De Palm Island also offers simple rest and relaxation on its three beaches.

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Natural Pool
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Tucked away on the eastern coast of Aruba, in a basin formed by volcanic rock and fed by water from the Caribbean Sea, the Natural Pool is as simple as its name implies—but sometimes simple is simply the best. Unreachable by car, a trip to the Natural Pool in Arikok National Park is all about the adventure through Aruba’s less disturbed countryside, with a dip in pristine waters awaiting those who make the off-the-beaten-track journey.

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Andicuri Beach
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Andicuri Beach stretches for 230 feet (70 meters) along Aruba’s east coast, and is known for its turquoise blue waters and limestone cliffs that offer visitors a bit of shade. The beach attracts travelers in search of a tropical experience, but strong currents and serious waves make Andicuri less than ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

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Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins
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Located in Aruba’s desert interior, the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins are the stone remains of a gold smelter that was established by prospectors in the 19th century. Once considered sacred by the indigenous Arawak people, the site offers a unique look at Aruba’s history and can be explored with a variety of guided tours.

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California Lighthouse
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Located near the northwest tip of Aruba and the popular Arashi Beach, California Lighthouse is a landmark on this small tropical island. Known for impressive views of the Caribbean Sea, as well as the nighttime stars, the lighthouse is one of the most photogenic spots in Aruba.

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Baby Beach
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Gentle surf and waist-high waters earned Baby Beach its name and reputation as one of the most popular beaches for kids in the Caribbean. Add in soft, sugar-like sand and waters as warm as a bathtub, and it’s no wonder this sheltered man-made lagoon on the southeastern tip of Aruba is popular among locals and visitors alike.

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Alto Vista Chapel
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With the blue Caribbean sky and calm sea as its backdrop, the Alto Vista Chapel, or “Pilgrims Church,” is one of the most photographed attractions on the island of Aruba. This bright yellow chapel, which also hosts weekly religious services, is visited by Christians and non-Christians alike and is a popular stop for small-group tours.

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Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations
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The Ayo and Casibari rock formations are popular stops on many Aruba tours, despite the fact that they are basically piles of rocks woven with cacti. These natural structures offer a unique view of the volcanic forces on Aruba. Some intrepid travelers clamber on top of them to score panoramic views of the island.

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More Things to Do in Aruba

Antilla Shipwreck

Antilla Shipwreck

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Due to the Caribbean’s treacherous rock outcroppings, the waters of Aruba are lined with shipwrecks. These wrecks create fruitful diving and snorkeling sites, as they host scores of marine life, plus enticing historical stories. Aruba’s most popular is the Antilla Shipwreck, named after theSS Antilla, a cargo ship that sank in 1940.

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Boca Catalina

Boca Catalina

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Boca Catalina boasts unspoiled white sand beaches and calm, placid waters. The postcard-worthy scenery makes for pleasant sunbathing, while free public parasols offer some shade. Boca Catalina is also one of the best beaches for snorkeling. Here, you’ll see scores of fish, black coral structures, and more in the warm Caribbean.

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Palm Beach

Palm Beach

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Aruba’s Palm Beach hosts many of the Caribbean island’s luxe high-rise hotels, which is no surprise, as these lovely two miles (3.2 kilometers) of sand are prime real estate. The beach hosts sunbathing vacationers, refreshment stands, and water sports booths. Two piers lined with restaurants and shops offer entertainment and some much needed shade.

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Aruba Aloe Factory & Museum

Aruba Aloe Factory & Museum

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While the name of Aruba might connote white sand beaches, sunshine and tropical drinks with those little umbrellas in them, the truth is that Aruba is an amazingly diverse little island nation, and nevermore is that apparent than when visiting the Aruba Aloe Factory and Museum. Aloe is native to Aruba, and thanks to its medicinal and restorative properties, it has become one of the leading exports of the nation.

Learn about the history of aloe and Aruba while on a complimentary walking tour offered in English, Dutch, Spanish or in Papiamento – the native language of Aruba – every 15 minutes. You’ll explore the grounds, learn about aloe’s restorative properties and see the processing methods of this amazingly versatile plant.

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Malmok Beach

Malmok Beach

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While Aruba has its share of the wide, sandy beaches that the Caribbean is known for, it also offers a more rocky and rugged option: Malmok Beach. This thin strip of sand runs alongside, and sometimes around, jagged limestone and rocks, and it’s home to one of the best snorkeling spots on the island.

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Arashi Beach

Arashi Beach

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Arashi Beach, one of Aruba’s northernmost beaches, is a secluded spot popular with diehard divers and serious sunbathers alike. Arashi’s clear water, soft sandy bottom, and generally calm surf make it ideal for swimmers and snorkelers as well.

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Philip's Animal Garden

Philip's Animal Garden

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A nonprofit organization that provides sanctuary for over 50 species of animals, Philip’s Animal Garden raises money through tours and donations to pay for the upkeep and rehabilitation of the animals it rescues. Here, visitors can observe and interact with an assortment of tropical birds, pigs, leopards, deer, alpaca, and other animals.

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Guadirikiri Caves

Guadirikiri Caves

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Hidden among Aruba’s white sand beaches and tropical waters lies the Guadirikiri Cave network of underground tunnels, filled with centuries-old rock formations. Stalagmites and stalactites (along with plenty of fruit bats) sit quietly in two dark, damp, dome-shaped chambers. Light passes into the cave only through holes in the ceiling.

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Lourdes Grotto

Lourdes Grotto

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Named for the French Catholic landmark, Lourdes Grotto is an ornate shrine carved into the side of a limestone hill in the San Nicolas area of Oranjestad. Built in 1958 by a local priest and his parishioners, the grotto features a 1,500-pound (680-kilogram) statue of the Virgin Mary, along with candles, flowers, and other offerings.

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Frenchman’s Pass

Frenchman’s Pass

A narrow passage between coral cliffs above Aruba’s Spanish Lagoon, Frenchman’s Pass is like many of the island’s attractions in that it’s a historical point of interest that also boasts stunning scenery. However, this pleasant sight for history buffs nature lovers, and ghost hunters alike, is mainly seen by visitors driving through it.

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Aruba (Oranjestad) Cruise Port

Aruba (Oranjestad) Cruise Port

The Aruba (Oranjestad) Cruise Port serves as the gateway to one of the region's most popular vacation destinations—Aruba, in the Dutch Caribbean. Known for year-round warm weather, excellent beaches, and several historical landmarks, Aruba makes for a great day-trip while cruising the Caribbean.

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