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Things to see and do in Aruba

Attractions in Aruba

Climb Hooiberg

Shaped like a giant haystack, (hooiberg actually means "haystack" in Dutch), this volcano rises dramatically from Aruba's flat interior to the northwest of Santa Cruz. The 165m (541ft) summit is accessed via a series of steps and offers views across to Venezuela on clear days.

Enjoy the sights of Bubali Bird Sanctuary

You don't have to be a twitcher to appreciate Bubali Bird Sanctuary, which is home to herons, egrets, gulls, cormorants and many other species. Viewing platform have been erected throughout the park and provide excellent opportunities for birdwatching.

Explore the underwater world

A mecca for divers and snorkelers, Aruba has 40 dive sites where visitors can meet the local marine life or explore WWII wrecks. As well as stunning coral formations, bountiful marine life and sunken ships, visitors can enjoy excellent visibility in Aruba's crystalline waters.

Go wild at Arikok National Park

This enormous park covers one-fifth of the island's landmass and contains a multitude of plants and animals, including flamingos. The park as it's known today was only fully realised in 2000 and is striving to increase the work of conservation and education on Aruba.

Hit the beach

The question is: which one? Hadicurari Beach is renowned for its snorkelling, Baby Beach is ideal for children and Palm Beach is well located for a post bathing beer. Feeling more active? Aruba's trade winds offer ideal conditions for windsurfing and kite surfing at Arashi beach.

Lounge under the Divi-Divi trees

Aruba's unofficial trademark, the distinctive Divi-Divi tree (also known as watapana) stretches out at weird and wonderful angles. Locals use the iconic tree as a natural compass, as they always point in a southwesterly direction due to the trade winds that blow across the island from the northeast.

Make a pilgrimage to the Chapel of Alto Vista

You can't fail to miss the Chapel of Alto Vista with its bright yellow exterior acting as a beacon to worshippers. Also known by locals as the "Pilgrim's Church", it is located on the north coast and boasts a 100-year-old hand-carved oak altar.

Marvel at the cave art

The three best-known caves in Aruba are located in Arikok National Park and contain some fantastic examples of early cave drawings. Arawak Indians, the original inhabitants of Aruba, used to reside in Fontein and their primitive art remains on the walls. The caves at Guadirikiri are a haven for bats, while Huliba Cave is the place for romance, apparently (it's nicknamed the "tunnel of love").

Party hard at the Bonbini Festival

Hedonists are well catered for in Aruba's colourful capital, Oranjestad, which hosts the Bonbini Festival every Tuesday. This weekly shindig takes place in the courtyard of the Historical Museum and offers an insight into local customs, music and cuisine, as well as a chance to get to know the islanders.

Saddle up and go horse riding

Exploring Aruba on horseback is a highlight for many visitors. There are riding trails throughout the countryside and along the coast. Choose one of the many ranches or horse-riding tours and you'll soon see why it's one of the most popular things to do Aruba.

Shop till you drop

Duty-free shopping entices many to part with their cash in Aruba. There are shopping malls across the island, specialising in everything from jewellery and homeware to leather goods and designer fashion. The most popular place to melt the credit card is Caya GF Betico Croes in Oranjestad.

Strut your stuff at Carnival

Aruba's annual Carnival kicks off in January and the party keeps rolling until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. During these hedonistic weeks visitors can shake their meat to the local beat, admire dazzling costumes and watch colourful processions. The question is: can you keep up?

Tee off for a round of golf

Golfers can enjoy three courses in Aruba of varying size. Aruba Golf Club and The Links at Divi Aruba both offer 9-hole courses that are fine for a swift round. However, if you have, time tee off at Aruba Tierra del Sol's beautiful 18-hole course, which is easily the pick of the bunch.

Unearth artefacts at the Archaeological Museum of Aruba

The Archaeological Museum of Aruba has reopened in the restored historic Ecury complex in central Oranjestad. A former family home, the building has been transformed to a state-of-the-art museum that preserves Aruba's Amerindian cultural heritage. This is the perfect place to get up to speed on the rich culture and history of the island.

Unwind in colourful Oranjestad

Aruba's Dutch colonial history is most evident in the capital, Oranjestad, which abounds with pretty gabled buildings. Also here is Fort Zoutman, the oldest building on Aruba (1796), and home to the Aruba Historical Museum. Fresh fish can be bought straight from the boat at Oranjestad's daily market in the Paardenbaai (Schooner Harbour).

Tourist offices

Aruba Tourism Authority in the UK

Address: 25d Copperfield Street, London,
Telephone: (020) 7928 1600.

Aruba Tourism Authority in the USA

Address: 100 Plaza Drive, New Jersey,
Telephone: (201) 552 1110 or 1 800 862 7822.
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