Aruba is an incredible island with endless white, sandy beaches, epic water sports and desert landscapes. It’s incredibly difficult to narrow the list to just the top 5 things to do in Aruba, but here’s our take at everything you need to do and see while you’re in Aruba.
Stay on Palm Beach
Whatever you do, book a hotel on Palm Beach. Palm Beach is the main hotel zone in Aruba and it’s where most of the activities operate from. The beach is long, white and the ocean is a teal blue color that will blow your mind. The calm water is nothing short of extraordinary. Most of Aruba is a desert, so the contract of the desert interior with the tropical beaches is stunning.
On Palm Beach, there are endless hotels for every budget. We stayed at the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino (check out our review, here). If you’re tied to a certain brand for the points, there are a number of them: IHG, Hyatt, Marriott, etc. Their locations are all excellent as they sit beachfront with the endless blue sea in front. The sun sets directly in front of the beach as well, so you have sunlight from as early as 8:30am through the last ray. Therefore, we recommend splurging on the oceanfront rooms with balconies to enjoy the sunsets over the ocean.
A reasonable, but frill-free, beachfront hotel will run you around $100 at something like the Holiday Inn, while a luxury escape will run you upwards towards $500. There really are options for every budget, making Aruba a great escape for everyone.
Night Dive the Antilla Ship Wreck
Aruba has a number of incredible wrecks to dive at a variety of depths. There are several ships and planes below the surface that have become popular dive sites over the years. Since there is diving at nearly every depth, it makes Aruba an excellent place for novice and expert divers alike. Antilla Ship Wreck is truly one of the best dives we have ever experienced. We went out at night and saw incredible sea life surrounding the massive hull of the ship, including: moray eels, manta rays, sting rays, turtles and thousands of fish. We can’t recommend a night dive here enough.
One reason we always recommend night dives is because you typically leave as the sun is setting, maximizing your day on the beach, while also getting an incredible sunset “cruise” pre-dive. It was a magical evening and we were the only divers around.
Not certified? That’s ok! There is a program called “Discover Scuba” and most dive shops will offer this option. If you are interested in diving, they take you out to practice and then dive at a shallower depth. Keep in mind that it’s important to work with a reputable company, so be sure to do your research before you go.
UTV adventure with De Palm Tours
Throughout our trip in Aruba, we barely sat still. There were so many activities that we wanted to do that we didn’t let our days go to waste. We were ecstatic that the Marriott invited us to take the half-day long UTV adventure. Max and I love getting dirty and driving fast, so this is the perfect activity for us.
We were picked up at 7:30am at the hotel and we were on our UTVs by 8:45am. These 2-person off-road vehicles (3-person available) were a blast! Not only do you go off-roading on crazy dirt roads, but you also get an incredible tour of the island. We stopped at number of popular locations, such as the black stone beach, natural pools, a beautiful church and an old gold mill ruin.
We arrived back to the hotel at 2pm in time to kite board for the rest of the afternoon. The UTV adventure is 100% worth the $125 per person. I will definitely be taking the tour again if I return to Aruba.
Along with the incredible land-based activities on Aruba, there are endless water sports, particularly on Palm Beach. Due to the calm waters and endless teal hues, tourists flock to the ocean for anything from jet-skiing to kite boarding.
Max and I are avid kite boarders, so when we saw some kites in the distance from our balcony, we knew we had to get out there. We spent our afternoons kiteboarding over the crystal clear waters. If you’re a kiteboarder, note that the wind is always offshore so in order to rent gear, you are also paying for a boat pick up. We went through Vela Sports, located down the beach from the Ritz/Marriott.
Most hotels on the beach also offer paid or complimentary access to kayaks, paddle boards, snorkels as well as paid jet skis, parasailing and every other activity imaginable. Most hotels offer their own amenities at the concierge desk, but there are a number of “beach shacks” along the beach that offer water sports as well.
Overall, Aruba is one of our newest favorite destinations. The all-year great weather, stunning beaches, luxury hotels and endless activity offerings make this a unique and beautiful destination for couples and families alike. If you’re looking for a place to escape, even just for a few days, don’t look past Aruba.