Some places pride themselves on history, culture, and a lot of other things but not many places can pride themselves on being one of the top spots for tourists globally. One of those esteemed places is the island of Aruba, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Located in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea, Aruba boasts a booming tourism industry and we can’t blame people for visiting again and again. Aside from pristine white beaches, the island also prides its culture and lively night and day life for the world to enjoy. Of course, you also can’t forget the experiences and food on the island.
Along with the Netherlands, Curacao and Sint Maarten, Aruba is one of the four countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. As such, the locals on the island are all Dutch nationals. As expected, they practice most of the traditions and cultural trademarks of the Dutch.
The country’s independence from the Netherlands began in August 1947 when it presented its first constitution for its status apart as an autonomous state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In 1954, the Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was established and it laid the foundation for the relations between Aruba and the Netherlands.
For years, Aruba worked hard to establish and maintain a healthy relationship with the Netherlands. On March 1983, the country finally reached an official agreement with the Netherlands which declared its independence. However, its independence was not given in full immediately but it instead developed a series of steps that increased autonomy gradually.
On January 1, 1986, just after its elections for the first parliament was completed, Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles, and it finally became a country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Full independence was projected 10 years later. Since then, the government worked continuously to develop the then young nation into becoming the booming Caribbean attraction that it is today.
Aruba is a unique country compared to its neighboring nations in the Caribbean region in terms of weather and climate conditions. The island is generally warm and dry all year long and it even has a cactus-strewn landscape. This isn’t an issue for the country though as the warm weather attracts visitors and more to its beaches 12 months a year.
According to recent studies, about three-quarters of Aruba’s GDP (gross national product) is gathered through tourism and other related activities. Because of its landscape and notoriety for travelers, the people that govern Aruba has focused more on developing its tourism industry so it has grown substantially over the past decades. The largest nationality that visits the country annually is the U.S., followed by Canada, the Netherland, and lastly, South America.
It may be young as a country but that doesn’t mean Aruba doesn’t have anything to brag. Before we get to what those are, here are some important details you need to know.
- 1 How to Get to Aruba
- 2 Getting Around Aruba
- 3 Most Fun Things to do in Aruba
- 3.1 Witness the Aruba Carnival
- 3.2 Search for your favorite beach
- 3.3 Visit nearly half of Aruba in half a day
- 3.4 Marvel at the beauty of nature
- 3.5 Roll your own cigarette
- 3.6 Head to San Nicolas
- 3.7 Ride a submarine
- 3.8 Snorkel with a water scooter
- 3.9 Go scuba diving… at night
- 3.10 Sing on a karaoke
- 3.11 See pink flamingos up close
How to Get to Aruba
As this is a country built on tourism, getting to Aruba is very easy regardless of what country you are from. The primary airport in Aruba is the Queen Beatrix International Airport which accommodates non-stop flights from most major U.S. cities, and other major hubs around the world. The airport is strategically located at the heart of the nation so every travel destination can be reached easily.
Regarding Visa requirements, Americans, Canadians, Europeans, and most South American citizens need only their passports to enter the country. Even if you are from other nations wherein Visas are required, you can secure one easily as the prerequisites to do so aren’t all too complicated.
Alternatively, you can reach the island through a cruise ship. There are many cruises that will get you to Aruba. While expensive, these tours will get you to various parts of the world, Aruba included. However, if you choose to go this way, you’ll only be able to explore the city for a few days or so.
Getting Around Aruba
The city is best explored via its accessible public transportation options as it is budget-friendly as well. Since Aruba is relatively small, public transportation will get you around just about anywhere.
Taxis are available on most major roads but the great thing is that they can be just a quick phone call away from wherever you are on the island. Aruba’s taxi drivers are nice and kind as well so expect them to guide you without any issues whatsoever. If you want the cheaper alternative, then you may want to take the Arubus bus system.
Aruba bus trips will cost you around $5 for a roundtrip retour card. This allows you to take two trips on the buses. An entire day’s pass will set you back $10 but if you plan your trip properly, then you’ll be able to make full use of this so be sure that you’re up for exploring before buying it. The bus line will run every 15 minutes from 5:45 AM to 6 PM. At night, the buses will run every 40 minutes until 11:30 PM.
You can also try the open-air trolley located in downtown Oranjestad. This new addition to the city is free and is a great way to navigate the main street’s shopping district and dining areas.
Most Fun Things to do in Aruba
Aruba is yet another country that you shouldn’t miss if you’re looking for the perfect summer getaway. Basically, it is an island so you can expect good weather and a lot of activities that will definitely give you the most amazing travel experience. There are even a lot of hidden gems and fun things to do in Aruba. In case, you’re traveling to this country and are curious as to what awaits you, here are some of the attractions and the most fun things to do in Aruba. Some are even unique that you will not get to experience in other countries.
1Witness the Aruba Carnival
There’s no shortage of events and festivals in Caribbean destinations such as Aruba. But among all of those, the Aruba Carnival is probably the most awaited event, especially for tourists. This is because it is the biggest party in the country as this colorful event goes on for weeks, particularly between early January and late February. Here, both the locals and the tourists can get to enjoy lively music in the streets with performers wearing ornate costumes and masks. There is also a lot of food to try and parades to see. On top of that, the dancing is non-stop. What’s even better is that you can get to do it all with the locals. Meet new friends and experience a new culture, it will surely be fun.
2Search for your favorite beach
Being a part of the Caribbean, you can also expect a lot of beaches in Aruba. Explore some, if not all, of them as you visit Aruba. Who knows, you might find your favorite beach. But what makes exploring the island’s beaches one of the fun things to do in Aruba is that you have a lot of choices – from the surf-worthy spots to even the calmest beach, you have a lot to choose from. Also, you can get to enjoy some water activities. Here are some of them.
Jet Blade, Jet Pack, and Hoverboard
Ditch the banana boat and Jet Ski activities and other common water activities and make a blast as you try the jet pack. Basically, this will boost you up in the sky as water blasts from your propelled jetpack. You can even fly up to nine meters high and fly like a bird! Don’t worry, you will always be guided by certified instructors. If you’re looking for the most fun things to do in Aruba, this is one that you should try out.
There is also a jet blade if you’re looking for a wilder ride. It’s just like a jet pack. However, it’s not placed on your back, rather in under your foot. Hence, you will feel a lot freer because you will not have something to hold on to in case you feel scared for a bit. Still, it is a nice experience because unlike the jet pack, a jet blade will propel you up to 30 feet in the air. You’ll definitely feel the rush.
If you’re feeling braver, you can also try the hoverboard that has enough power to kind of throw you up to 40 feet in the air. It’s like you’re flying and surfing at the same time.
If you don’t feel brave enough yet, it’s fine, you’ll still be able to enjoy the waters of Aruba and take a trip on an aqua donut. This might not be as extreme as a jet blade, jet pack, or hoverboard but it still sure as fun as it’s a motor powerboat that everyone in the family will enjoy. It can even hold up to 10 people. Basically, it just looks like a big life ring where you can comfortably sit. Sometimes, there’s even a table at the center plus an umbrella that will make the ride all the more relaxing.
If you aqua donut is too chill for you but jet packs, hoverboard, and jet blades are too extreme, why not go in between – and that is parasailing
Another one of the fun things to do in Aruba when you’re at the beach is to ride a parasail. In this activity, you’ll be towed in a motorboat as you are strapped in an especially designed canopy wing that resembles a parachute. As the boat speeds up, the higher you’ll fly. It can even take you up to 400 feet in the air. As you soar higher, you can get the best panoramic views of the island. It’s thrilling yet kind of relaxing at the same time.
3Visit nearly half of Aruba in half a day
Aruba is actually a small country. In fact, it only covers approximately 74 square miles of land and weighs just about the same size as Brooklyn. Even so, it still quite impossible to explore every corner of it in a day… or is it?
Actually, you can quite explore nearly half of the country in half a day; just visit the Arikok National Park. This is because the park covers almost 20 percent of the country. It stretches from Aruba’s arid center to its eastern and western coasts. And doing so is actually also one of the fun things to do in Aruba. Here, you’ll see centuries-old cacti and rock-face paintings. It also has a number of hiking trails where you can get to see bright quartz that’s peeking through the desert soil. Furthermore, you can fill your eyes with the most beautiful flora and succulents flourishing. There are wind turbines, sea cliffs, and swimming spots nearby.
4Marvel at the beauty of nature
Speaking of the Arikok National Park, the place also has plenty of natural landscape that will leave you in awe, especially the Boca Prins. Here, you can get to fill your eyes with the beautiful dramatic cliffs, gorgeous sand dunes, and windswept waves. What’s even better is that it isn’t as crowded as the other places on the island and it’s definitely one of the fun things to do in Aruba. A cave, called the Fontein Cave, is also a stone throw away from the location and you can explore it too. Inside, ancient rock formations and pictographs made by the Amerindians centuries ago awaits you. It’s not just a place for some sightseeing but it is also a place that will give you a glimpse of the country’s past.
5Roll your own cigarette
Whether you’re a cigar aficionado or not, rolling your own cigarette is one of the fun things to do in Aruba that you shouldn’t miss and you can do that at the Aruhiba Tobacco Farm. This is apparently because the country has only one hand-rolled cigar maker. But what makes this activity more fascinating and unique is that they offer tours where you can also learn more about the history and culture that goes into every Aruhiba cigar. However, if you’re planning to try this activity out, you might want to schedule a visit first as some visitors who have already been there only did a self tour so they can accommodate you. Also, note that the place isn’t that big. Still, it is interesting and worth the drive.
6Head to San Nicolas
Since Aruba is one of the best summer destinations, expect to see crowds in most of its popular tourist spots especially in the north coast. But don’t worry, you can still enjoy the island without a huge number of tourists. If you want to avoid crowds as you can head to San Nicolas, a town located in Aruba’s south coast. Here, you can find a thriving local art scene. Visit several galleries and authentic artisanal shops for that much more relaxing trip. Also, you have lots of Instagram worthy spots too. The streets in San Nicolas alone as astoundingly colorful murals that aren’t just a sight to see but will make your Instagram feed all the more lovely too. And don’t worry if you want to hit the beach. San Nicolas also has several beaches that have calmer waters that are perfect for when you’re traveling with kids.
7Ride a submarine
You’ve probably heard of boat tours and all other fun things to do in Aruba while you’re at the beach. However, have you heard of a submarine ride? Yes, you read it right, Aruba has a submarine and it’s not just for display. Rather, you can really board it for a really unique experience. With this experience, you’ll definitely not just going to explore the surface but beneath it as the submarine will take you to a journey over 150 feet below the sea. Needless to say, you’ll experience the unique activity as not all tourist attractions offer such tour. Even Costa Rica beaches, also a popular summer destination, don’t offer this unique activity. And what’s even better is that the captain of the submarine will take to the two popular shipwrecks in the country. On top of that, you will get to see the barcadera reef as well, which is, by the way, one of the places in the country that has the most colorful marine life. It’s not just one of the fun things to do in Aruba but is also a unique one, right? So don’t miss out on this too.
8Snorkel with a water scooter
Aruba doesn’t just have nice beaches but below its waters, you’ll be in for a treat too as it is also rich in marine life. Thus, a lot of people try snorkeling whenever they visit this place. However, snorkeling with just plain gears is so yesterday. In Aruba, it would be much of an exciting experience if you will snorkel with underwater scooters, also known as seabobs, and it is one of the most fun things to do in Aruba too. With this, you can explore the waters without having to kick too much. Plus, you can “swim” faster. Hence, it is also good for people who are handicapped. It’s definitely a unique experience.
9Go scuba diving… at night
Scuba diving is also as common as banana boats and snorkeling at any beach. But if you’re in Aruba, this experience has been leveled up as you can go diving at night and it is also one of the fun things to do in Aruba. Nothing below the waters change, though. However, this experience brings more excitement as, needless to say, you can get to see the underwater world at night. It is also more thrilling to see shipwrecks and coral reefs. Don’t worry, you’ll dive in the company of an instructor. It’s really a must-try so you can see the place in a different light.
10Sing on a karaoke
If you want to sing your heart out, Aruba also has a twist to the common karaoke party. In this island, you can get to sing karaoke on a bus. Yes, it really exists and touring the island is on this is one of the most fun things to do. Here, you can sing as many songs as you want. They even have some props like maracas to make the experience even more fun. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the mic if you’re sitting at the back of the bus as they have wireless mics. It’s definitely a fun trip. The bus is also known to go bar hopping and dinner tours. With this, you’ll not just get to explore the island but you can also get to party while on the bus. What’s even better is that it’s for people of all ages. That said, it’s definitely a must-add to your list of activities in Aruba.
11See pink flamingos up close
Seeing flamingos up close and personal is also one of the most fun things to do in Aruba. But we’re not talking about a zoo. Rather, we’re talking about flamingos by the beach. Apparently, this is because flamingos live on a private beach that is owned by the Renaissance Resort and they are the main attraction on the private island. And the best part of it is that you can see them for free – but that is if you’re staying at the Renaissance Hotel.
But the resort isn’t just for seeing flamingos. It is also perfect for when you want to relax. Don’t fret much if you have a limited budget as it is also possible to book a day pass.