Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, this tiny gem of a Dutch island boasts white sand beaches, beautiful natural land forms, and activities for the luxury and budget traveler alike. It’s located just north of Venezuela. These 10 non touristy things to do in Aruba will have you buying a flight in no time.
Many people tend to associate Aruba with casinos and high rise hotels. While the island may have its fair share of both, making it feel like a tourist trap more than an escape into paradise, it’s quite easy to venture off the beaten track and have an adventurous, romantic, and peaceful time in Aruba.
Visit the Abandoned Water Park
Bet you didn’t know there is an abandoned water park in Aruba! This place is not for the faint hearted. You’ll find yourself wandering through overgrown weeds that wrap around rusted slides, a pool filled with murky water, and animal statues that seem to be watching you. It’s located at the bottom of Hooiberg Mountain. Check out my detailed blog post about the abandoned water park.
Hike Hooiberg Mountain
This 165 meter high volcanic formation offers a strenuous yet wonderful hike for those of you looking for some exercise and a great outdoor activity. There’s a steep climb of 650 steps that take you to incredible views of the entire island of Aruba. On a clear day, you can see Venezuela from the top.
Visit Arikok National Park
I recommend renting a jeep and exploring the national park on your own terms. There’s a breathtaking coastline with waves that crash against cliffs, the Guadirikiri, Fontein, and the Huliba Caves, all inhibited with bats, and a ton of wildlife like iguanas and lizards. This is a great outdoor activity to really experience the natural part of Aruba.
Visit the Donkey Sanctuary
This sanctuary was founded in 1997 as a non-profit, volunteer organization. To get your fix of adorably massive heads giving you big-toothed smiles, definitely visit the Donkey Sanctuary. The sanctuary is free and you can come in and roam around with the donkeys, feed them, and pet them!
Visit Philip’s Animal Garden (animal sanctuary)
This non-profit also focuses on rescuing the exotic animals of Aruba. The owner built the entire sanctuary from scratch, including the cages. They have rescued camels, ostriches, snakes, bunnies, monkeys, deer, donkeys, horses. The animals are so cute and you can feed them! Adults are $10, children are $5.
Relax on Eagle Beach
While this beach can get quite busy, it’s still less touristy than any of the beaches along the stretch of high rise hotels. Come during off season and there’s a good chance you’ll have the beach to yourself! You’ll find places to grab some shade and relax with a cold beer.
Relax on Baby Beach
Since this beach is a bit out of the way on the south side of the island, you’ll find it’s one of the least touristy beaches. The water is beautiful and there’s a restaurant nearby. If you don’t grab one of the huts, there’s plenty of trees and places that offer shade.
Explore the Casibari Rock Formation
These tonalite rocks sit in the middle of the desert in Aruba and weigh several tons. Hikers can climb to the top of these rocks for some rewarding views of the island. This is another good place for the adventurous, where you’ll also find walking and hiking trails.
Hike to the Natural Pool
Though there are usually quite a few people at the natural pool, it’s definitely worth visiting. You can see the natural pool two ways: arrive at the park’s entrance and hike 45 minutes to the pool, or take a 4×4 tour (the roads are pretty tough). I did the 4×4 tour, which also takes you to the natural bridge, and I highly recommend it! The tour is a lot of fun and there’s nothing like driving around Aruba on an ATV.
Alternatively, if you’re on a strict budget, you can hike to the natural pool. Take a taxi or drive to the entrance and hike 45 minutes to the pool. You’ll get to go swimming as a reward! Make sure you bring enough water since the hike can get hot.
Visit the Ostrich Farm
For some hilarious memories, visit the ostrich farm, which is home to dozens of ostriches and emus. You’ll get to feed and hang out with the rescue animals. Guests can take a tour of the farm, which costs $12 for adults, and $6 for children.
If spending hundreds of dollars a night to stay in a hotel room with thousands of other people doesn’t appeal to you, Airbnb is very popular in Aruba (sign up for Airbnb today with my link and you’ll get $40 in travel credit!). You’ll have the chance to stay in a house in a local neighborhood.
For those of you looking to get away and spend time in a beautiful hotel room, these top hotels are the best on the island.
- Coconut Inn Aruba
- Aruba Blue Village
- MVC Eagle Beach
- Caribbean Palm Village Resort
- Boardwalk Hotel Aruba
Non Touristy Restaurants
There are quite a few restaurants in Aruba that are known by everyone straight off the bat. But what about the other, lesser known restaurants?
This restaurant opened over 25 years ago, and features some traditional dishes of the island. They serve dishes with Spanish, Dutch, English, and French influence. The owners of the restaurant are so sweet, and their food is delicious.
For some cheap Indonesian cuisine, Indo has it all. From rice and noodle dishes, soups, and roti’s, you may yourself ordering more than one dish purely because of how delicious it is.
Aruba is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Visitors can stay in Aruba for a maximum of 30 days, and no more than 180 days in one year. Check to see if your country requires a visa for Aruba.