Aruba Travel

Aruba: The Ultimate Vacation Guide

Julie Aruba 19 Comments

So, you are planning a trip to Aruba? Just so you know, there is more to Aruba than sipping tropical drinks in the shade of a palm tree (although that alone would make for a great vacay). Go snorkeling, learn to kitesurf, explore Aruba’s gorgeous beaches, and take an UTV tour of the island. Whether you are here for just a few days or for longer, there’s plenty to keep you busy.

Best Experiences in Aruba

Go Beach Hopping

It’s no secret that Aruba is home to some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches. Visit Palm Beach, where the resorts and most of the water sports are located. Some people say that Eagle Beach is one of the best beaches in the world. Or leave the crowds behind at some of the out of the way spots like Arashi Beach, Baby Beach, or Boca Keto.

Palm Beach

Palm Beach


Start exploring today! Read about Our Top Ten Beaches.


Snorkeling & Scuba Diving

Tyler Snorkeling Aruba

Snorkeling Aruba

Snorkeling is a very popular activity in Aruba. Some of the best beaches for snorkeling are Malmok, Boca Catalina, Arashi, and Mangel Halto.

Scuba divers can go diving at The Antilla, a German freighter that was sunk in WWII.

Explore Arikok National Park

White, sandy beaches line the western coast of Aruba. The east side of the island looks vastly different. In Arikok National Park, drive on dirt roads through desert terrain where cacti grow wild, and explore the rocky, volcanic coastline. This is the spot to go hiking, explore secluded beaches, and swim and snorkel in the Natural Pool.

Natural Pool


Read more: How to Visit Natural Pool


Go on an UTV Tour

A UTV is a four-wheel drive off-road vehicle. These are perfect for exploring the dirt roads and trails along the east coast of Aruba. Explore Arikok National Park and the dry, desert areas around the Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations. De Palm Tours offers UTV tours of Aruba.

De Palm Island

De Palm Island is a coral island that has been transformed into an island getaway, complete with restaurants, places to go snorkeling, banana boat rides, and even a zip line.

For more information, visit the De Palm Island website.

Enjoy the view from the California Lighthouse

The California Lighthouse sits atop a hill on the northern part of Aruba. For views over the island, you can pay a small fee to climb the lighthouse.

California Lighthouse

Learn to Kitesurf

Aruba is a windy place, perfect for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Hadicurari Beach is the place to go for kitesurfing lessons.

Kitesurfing

Cruise on the crystal clear waters of Aruba

There are numerous options to cruise around Aruba. Take a snorkeling cruise, watch the sunset from a catamaran, or go on a happy hour cruise.

Aruba Drone Photo

Go shopping in Oranjestad

Jewelry stores are plentiful in Aruba and most of these can be found in Oranjestad, the colorful, capital city of Aruba. Or, visit Renaissance Mall, the place to go shopping at luxury retailers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, and more.

Oranjestad

Ostriches, Donkeys, Butterflies, and more

Aruba may not have a zoo but it does have several animal sanctuaries, all offering different experiences. Feed ostriches at the Aruba Ostrich Farm, see kangaroos at Philip’s Animal Garden, learn about 400 species of butterflies at the Butterfly Farm, or pet the donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary.

Flamingo Beach at the Renaissance Resort

Instagram has made this a very popular spot in Aruba. It seems everyone wants to have their photos taken with the coral pink flamingoes here.

There are two ways to see the flamingoes: either stay overnight at the Renaissance Resort or pay $99 per person for one of the limited passes for non-guests of the hotel. It’s a lot of money to spend if you want to see some flamingoes, especially when there are so many gorgeous beaches you can visit for free.

If this is something you really want to do, consider booking one night at the Renaissance Hotel. You can get a room for as little as $150, depending on the season, and this gets you two days on the island. If you are traveling as a couple, this is a much more cost effective way to see those flamingoes than paying for a non-guest pass.

How much time should you spend in Aruba?

In February, we spent four days here. This included the time for our flights to and from Maryland. Aruba does work for a quick getaway like this, giving you just enough time to explore the island and enjoy the beaches. Kara said that one more day would have been perfect, and I agree. Five days seems to be the perfect amount of time to spend in Aruba, but a lot of people visit for a week or longer.

Where to Eat

Eduardo’s Beach Shack

We all loved this place. Eduardo’s Beach Shack sells fruit smoothies, fresh fruit, acai bowls, and vegan protein balls. This is where we bought breakfast every morning…a delicious, healthy way to start to the day.

Eduardos Beach Shack

Eduardos Beach Shack Aruba

Azia Restaurant & Lounge

This is a new hip and trendy restaurant in Aruba. Azia serves Asian fusion food done tapas style. You order several small plates to share or keep to yourself. The cocktails are outstanding…we recommend the Pornstar Martini!

Azia Aruba

Bavaria German Restaurant

For a taste of Bavaria in Aruba, this is the place to be. Dine on sauerbraten and Wiener Schnitzel and sample German and Belgium beers off of their extensive beer menu. Make sure you leave room for dessert!

Bavaria Aruba

Dutch Pancake House

Ever had a Dutch pancake? This you have to try!! Want a pancake topped with fruit and ice cream? How about one topped with ham, walnuts, brie, and honey? The choices are endless and the food is delicious!

Dutch Pancake House

Zeerovers

This spot has more of a “local” feel to it than the restaurants located around the resorts. Zeerovers is located in Savaneta, about a half an hour drive south of Palm Beach. This restaurant serves today’s freshly caught fish. The best part of this experience is dining on the open-air deck with views of the ocean. Zeerovers is nothing fancy…think plastic tables and chairs. But the food is great and the prices are relatively cheap.

Zeerovers

Pelican Nest Seafood Grill

This is a decent restaurant in Palm Beach. We loved it because the views from the pier are awesome and so are the drinks. At the end of the day, we would have our own little happy hour here.

Wacky Wahoo’s

This is a place that we never made it to but wish we had. I spoke to a man at our hotel who spends two weeks every year in Aruba and eats here half the time. Wacky Wahoo’s also gets rave reviews for their seafood on Trip Advisor. If this is a spot you want to try, call for a reservation well in advance of your trip. They book up fast!

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort in Palm Beach. If you are looking for a mid-range hotel on Palm Beach, this is one to consider.

Holiday Inn Resort Aruba

Holiday Inn Aruba

The Holiday Inn has an awesome location, being located smack in the middle of Palm Beach. It is within walking distance of many restaurants, including our favorite, Eduardo’s Beach Shack. The beach is beautiful although it does get crowded midday. Our room was clean but it was a bit dated and worn.

Tim and I walked the length of Palm Beach several times. The Hyatt Resort and the Marriott both looked amazing, and the Ritz looked phenomenal.


If you are planning a trip to Aruba and have any questions, feel free to comment below!! Cheers!

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Comments 19

  1. Excellent article, a true guide on the benefits of living in Aruba.

    The first week I was in Aruba I did everything specified here, the following year I experienced a little more and so I went for 5 years in a row … until I decided to move to Harbour House Aruba (www.harbourhousearuba.com), now I can save a lot of money and enjoy this beautiful island without worries.

  2. Excellent post I already wanted to go again to the great island of aruba. I usually stay in my Harbor House apartment (www.harbourhousearuba.com), because everything is close! The last time I was in Aruba, it was two years ago and flamingo beach had it a few kilometers away. I visited california lighthouse, eagle beach, flamingo beach, and had a lot of restaurants nearby to sample the delicious food of Aruba. Thanks for sharing this information

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  3. Definitely Aruba is one of the best destinations to go on vacation. I have been residing in Azure Beach (www.azure-aruba.com) for a few months now and it has been the best investment of my life. The island is beautiful, has great natural attractions, has an incredible climate and the fauna is very diverse. I always recommend Aruba for anyone who wants a few days of tranquility

  4. What is a Palapa ? We stopped there (Aruba) on a cruise and when on the UTV ‘s on the rocky coast ,next time I would like to see the western coast!

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  5. Hi Julie,

    Thank you so much for all the wonderful detailed information. My husband and I are going to Aruba in July for 8 days and will be doing just about everything you have suggested. I appreciate you taking the time to put this all together. We are from Maryland as well!

    Leah

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      I know…those beautiful flamingos. We went to the Renaissance Hotel to get tickets to see the flamingos…at $99 per person, it was going to be a $400 excursion for our family of 4 to see a few flamingos. This just wasn’t worth it for us (not to mention that they were already sold out at 10 am). Cheers, Julie

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  6. I’m happy to report the Holiday has slightly changed their palapa system. At 3:45 you get a numbered card. At 4 pm they do a “lottery” & pull numbers. You choose your palapa by number. We had our perfect spot 4 out of 5 days. We also liked how close we were to shops & dining. My teenager loved exploring the ocean everyday

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      Thank you, Maria! I am so glad they did this…it beats waiting in line for hours. Thank you again for letting us (and all of our readers) know this. Cheers, Julie

  7. We are planning a high school senior trip. And yes parents are going. Would you recommend Palm Beach or Eagle beach. And would there be a hotel that you would recommend with teenagers in mind . And is there anything that stands out that you truly should do in Aruba .

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      Hello Kim. Palm Beach has lots of resorts, restaurants, and water sports. I would recommend Palm Beach. Eagle beach is much quieter. We stayed at the Holiday Inn right on Palm Beach and this would be a great place to stay with teenagers. We really liked going out to the Natural Pool. You could also learn how to kitesurf or just have fun with the water sports right on Palm Beach. The other must do thing is snorkeling. I mention good snorkeling spots in this post. Cheers, Julie

  8. It looks like paradise! The pictures are just wonderful, I loved the one with Kara on the hammock, so pretty!

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