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What’s a perfect honeymoon destination? Aruba. This small island is perfect to enjoy the beautiful sea, the good weather and of course each other. It’s one of the safest places to go in the Caribbean.
In this blog everything you can do in Aruba will be discussed. For us this was our honeymoon but this island is perfect to visit with friends, family or your partner.
To discuss everything you need to do in Aruba I’ll split the island up in three parts. I will talk about the North, the Center and the South. In the end I will talk about the snorkel and diving experience in Aruba.
Tip: rent a car for a day or more and explore the island by car.
The North of Aruba
In the North of Aruba you can drive all the way up to a lighthouse. While you are driving you will pass by many places to go snorkeling on the side of the road.
Our favorite snorkeling places are in the North at Boca Catalina beach and Tres Trapi Steps. There you can see a lot of beautiful fishes, sea stars, if you are lucky turtles and a sting rays. At those places you can snorkel along the rocks, and there is a rope that shows you how far away from the beach you can snorkel.
The best sunset is at Eagle Beach, it is magical! After the sunset you can go dining at Screaming Eagle, which is a nice restaurant. The best thing you can do at this restaurant is to reserve a bed. Yes, you read this right, you can reserve a bed and that means you can eat on a bed and its amazing! It is a bit pricey and fancy, but it is definitely worth to go there.
The Aloe Vera Factory of Aruba, ‘Aruba Aloe’, is another place you should definitely visit because this plant was the number one export product from Aruba. You can learn about the Aloë Vera plant at their factory and of course there’s a shop where you can buy a lot of products with Aloë Vera, the best souvenir or gift you can get, just kidding. But yes, I bought a lot of souvenirs here.
Another place you can go in the North is the factory of the Aruhiba Cigars. It’s a really small factory but nice to see and of course to buy a cigar. You can try out the cigar during the most beautiful sunsets in Aruba. We tried it and guess what, I didn’t like it, but it was nice to try it.
In the North-Western coast, you can find most of Aruba’s resorts, so if you want to party that’s the place to be. A friend of mine recommended ‘Gusto Night Club Aruba’ and ‘Old Dutch Windmill’ for nightlife.
If you want to go to a spa and you still got money left, then you can go to ‘Tierra Del Sol’.
The Center of Aruba
Its nice to walk around at Oranjestad but after one hour, you’ve seen the city. Unless you really want to shop and buy stuff.
Near the Renaissance Hotel you have the ‘I love Aruba’ letters that are pretty nice. They also have other ‘ARUBA’ letters, but you will see that when you take the main road from the Renaissance Hotel to the airport.
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino
If you’re staying at this hotel, then you can choose between the Marina Hotel, for adults only or the Ocean Suites, it’s more for families but you can also stay here without children.
The nice thing about staying at this hotel is that you have unlimited access to the private island. The private island is known for the flamingos on the beach, but believe me it’s really touristic. Aruba has a lot more to offer than this beach. You can also eat your breakfast on the island or in one of the two hotels. The food was delicious, and the staff was really friendly. We’re not used to sleeping in such an expensive hotel but with the deal we got it was affordable.
Renaissance Private Island
First, I want to be clear about the private island. For us, this island was a bit overrated, and we didn’t like how the flamingos were treated by some tourists. Some people don’t like it because the flamingos are stuck on this island. Everybody has their own opinion about this and there are different theories, but for us it wasn’t that they were stuck because come on, then you can complain about every animal in the world like birds as a pet, or any pet, etc.
I believe as long as they have enough space, you could debate about this, what is enough space? And if they are treated right, then we find there isn’t a problem. Some animals are becoming extinct, so in that case we have to keep them in a safe place for their survival. I could go on about this topic but you get it right? Feel free to share your opinion in a comment below or get in touch with us!
Anyway, everybody has their own opinion about this and that’s okay. Our problem with this island was that some tourists treated the flamingos bad. Leave them alone if they don’t want to come to you.
NEVER force an animal to come. Let an animal come to you, not the other way around. So, we’re giving you the information about the island because some people want to go there. If you go there, please treat the flamingos with respect.
If you want to go to the private island from the Renaissance hotel and you don’t stay there, then you have to pay around $100 for one day, so that’s crazy expensive. Every day we saw a line before 7 am with people to buy a ticket for the island and sometimes there weren’t enough tickets, it depends on how many people are staying at the hotel (which is a good thing, limiting the crowd).
You also can’t take the first boat if you’re not staying at the hotel, but you can take the second boat, every fifteen minutes there’s a boat departing. The island is the only place in Aruba with the popular flamingos and beautiful spots with the hammocks, but there are also a lot of green iguanas who I think deserve the attention, only if they want your attention!
For the green iguanas the best time is around noon, and ask for some cherries at the bar, they put cherries in a cup for free, and the iguana’s love it! For the flamingos and green iguanas there are dispensers where you have to put a coin in (half a dollar, but you can get change at the bar), and you get some granulates. Believe me, the iguanas love the cherries even more than the granulates and it’s for free if you just ask.
I think if you want to visit this island, the best thing to do is book one night in the hotel, then you can go in the evening. It’s accessible until 7 pm, or go early in the morning on the first boat, because then it’s less crowded.
The flamingos can get annoyed by the crowd, which I totally understand. Sometimes they start attacking people, so if they don’t want to come to you please just leave them. You can always try again later!
Okay enough about the Renaissance hotel because Aruba has way more to offer than this hotel and its private island. If you’re going for one day to the island, just stay from the morning 7 am until the evening 7 pm, so that it’s worth your money.
Another thing you must do is the Hooiberg lookout. We watched the sunrise at the lookout and it’s AMAZING!! I think the sunset would also be nice.
It’s an ‘easy’ hike because there are stairs on the ‘mountain’ so you just climb stairs. But believe me, upon reaching the top you will be exhausted. Take food (a breakfast) with you and enjoy the view.
Natural Bridge, Bushiribana Ruins & Small Natural Pool
In the center of Aruba, you also have the natural bridge, Bushiribana Ruins and a New Small Natural Pool that you must see.
You need to know that the natural bridge is outside the Arikok National Park. If you don’t have enough time, I would skip this place. It’s nice but there are more beautiful places.
The Bushiribana Ruins and the New Small Natural Pool are beautiful and definitely worth a visit but if you don’t have enough time, I would choose the national park above this.
In the center you can also visited ‘Brouwerij Nacional Balashi Tropical Bottling Company’, it’s the brewery from Balashi which is the beer from Aruba. It’s a perfect place to have some lunch while you’re on the way to Baby Beach. The food is delicious and you can take something that’s made with their beer.
Arikok National Park
Everybody was telling us that you can see this national park in half a day, but we spent a whole day in here because it’s amazing and beautiful.
When entering the park you receive a map, but most of the people skip some places on the map. We really wanted to do everything on the map and it’s worth it!
Tip: don’t forget your mosquito repellent, inside the caves there are a lot of mosquitos. I always have a scarf with me to cover my skin from the sun or for on my head, so bring one if you can.
There are different entrances to Arikok National Park, and we started at ‘Vader Piet Entrance to Arikok National Park’. At the entrance you pay the entrance fee and get a map of the park. On the map there is a lot of information, so do this park on your own, it’s much nicer to do it on your own! Go to this website and learn more about Arikok National Park.
We rented a small buggy. If I would go again, I would have rented a more decent buggy (a big one). From time to time we didn’t know whether we would make it on the 4×4 road, to the natural pool, luckily we did, but it was an adventure!
I wouldn’t recommend renting a quad because the sun is really hot and you don’t have any protection, but if you like that you can go for a quad. If you want to rent a quad on Aruba, I would suggest you rent it for another day and go with your quad to the ruins and natural bridge, that’s outside the Arikok National Park. Then you can rent your quad for half a day because I think it will be exhausting to sit on for a whole day.
You can also do a part of the national park by horse if you like horseback riding. More information about different horseback-riding tours can be found here.
Don’t forget to do the ‘hidden roads’! A lot of people just go fast through the park and okay maybe then you only need half a day, but we tried to do everything. You have an amazing beautiful place called ‘Plantage Prins’ and it has a lot of cacti. The road is sometimes hard to find but definitely worth finding! It’s a small, sketchy road off the main road.
The natural pool (difficult road where you need a 4×4), we found it was overcrowded. However, it’s really worth visiting and amazing to swim in it, even though there are a lot of people.
If you want to swim in a less known natural pool there is a ‘New Small Natural Pool’, it’s already on google maps, near the Bushiribana ruins. This new natural pool is even more adventurous. You climb down a sketchy ladder and have to climb over rocks to reach it, so be careful and maybe wear protective water shoes to prevent slipping on the rocks.
Tip: bring water shoes to swim in the Natural Pool
The South of Aruba
The South of Aruba is also amazing. You should go to Mangel Halto for snorkeling and just chilling for an hour (or more). Something less known is Isla Di Oro, it’s an ‘island’ that was made for tourists with a lot of parties, but it was never finished so now it’s an abandoned building.
The restaurant Marina Pirata is good and romantic, perfect to eat by the sea and watch the sunset. It’s more expensive than Zeerovers but you also have the seafood. Don’t forget to bring your mosquito spray because yes, they are really hungry. Zeerovers is cheaper than Marina Pirata but less romantic, it’s still a must do when you are in Aruba for the fresh seafood.
When you’re going to Rodger’s beach and Baby Beach, you’ll pass a Red Anker. At that place you should find donkeys, so bring carrots for them.
Baby Beach is okay but to be honest we didn’t like it because it was too touristic. This place is known for the strange trees that are formed because of the wind.
A beach that is definitely worth visiting is Grapefield beach. We heard that you’re not allowed to drive there by normal car so rent a car that you can use off-road and go there. It’s less touristic and nice to see.
Boca Grandi is another of the many beaches on Aruba that you have to visit because it’s less touristic. The nicest thing to do in Aruba is buy food in a grocery store, so you can stop for a picnic on the beach. Don’t forget your portable hammock or just a towel so you can chill and enjoy the view.
The Palm Island is an island where you can chill. We heard a lot about this island. For more information go to their website. If you like sunbathing and relaxing, you can go there with an all-inclusive package.
Scuba diving & snorkeling in Aruba
The most amazing, epic, adventurous, breathtaking thing you can do in Aruba is learning how to scuba dive. We followed the PADI Open Water Diver course with the diving center Happy Divers Aruba. You can read our whole experience with scuba diving and the diving center in a previous blog.
I’m serious, if you are thinking about diving, just do it! Aruba is an amazing place to learn how to dive. It’s also important that you have a good diving center because they give you the good experience or the bad one. Do your research and take a diving center that matches your wishes.
Tip: read reviews on Google, and take a diving center that matches your style.
If you’re not thinking about scuba diving, then you definitely should go snorkeling in Aruba. There are really beautiful fishes in the sea, sea stars, etc. If you’re lucky you can spot turtles and sting rays. We spotted them early in the morning before the crowed arrived at the beaches.
The most beautiful places to go snorkeling are:
- Boca Catalina Beach
- Tres Trapi Steps
- Mangel Halto
You can also book a tour with Jolly Pirates Sailing Cruises & Snorkeling. They have different tours and they take you to beautiful snorkel places on a pirate boat.
There are also several shipwrecks and an airplane to discover, so if you’re into that, you’ll love it here. The most popular shipwreck is the SS Antilla.
Aruba is an amazing island to visit and I hope after reading this blog you see that this island has a lot to offer. If you find some more hidden gems in Aruba, I would love to hear from you.