Within 5 days, you can experience 7 excursions in Aruba which will exhilarate, challenge and amaze you. This was my first time ever in the Caribbean! I was ridiculously excited to land on this desert island just 480 miles from Venuzuela. Nicknamed ‘One Happy Island’ by the locals, I was itching to discover the wild things to do in Aruba.
I stepped off the plane. The sun immediately hit me. ‘Let’s do this!’ I declared.
It was time to fling myself into the activities in Aruba. I raced through the desert, snorkelled above a dreamy shipwreck and gleefully face-planted into waves whilst windsurfing. In San Nicolas I gawked at street art, kayaked around the deep blue coast and screamed at the top of my lungs whilst clutching the sides of an accelerating, rogue jeep.
You don’t have to be as mad as me to try all of these adventures in Aruba, but you’ll have an awesome time with whatever you choose! I’ll show you everything I experienced, and throw in the all-important Aruba beaches and best places to eat on the island.
Bike Tour to California Lighthouse
The beauty of Aruba island is how its appearance drastically changes from one side of the island to the next. One minute you’re in the hustle of bustle of modern Oranjestad, sipping on Aruba Ariba cocktails and getting down with night owls in Gusto nightclub. Yet, head north in the morning and you’re suddenly in the Caribbean version of Breaking Bad.
It’s hot. Wild. Secluded, undeveloped and stunning. I went on a bike ride to California Lighthouse with Aruba Active Vacations from their base at The Fisherman’s Hut. What a journey! You’ll laugh at me, but this is the first time I’ve seen a cactus the same size as me. In England, they’re usually in a plant pot, standing no taller than half the size of my hand.
If you’re up for seeing panoramic views of Aruba from the lighthouse, I recommend the California Lighthouse Guided Tour. It’s named after an English steamship that became shipwrecked off the coast.
Lunch at Moomba Restaurant
Once you’re finished, from here I recommend grabbing lunch at the open-air seaside Moomba Beach Bar & Restaurant. Their fish is top-notch; it was one of my best things to eat in Aruba. Sip your cocktail, say hi to the odd iguana and check out the port before you go.
If you’re back here in the evening, grab their buffet! I happily pigged out. It will compliment the hip and happening live music going on here at sunset.
Natural Pool Aruba Off Road Adventure
When they told me to put my seat belt on and double-checked it, I didn’t think anything of it. When they warned me to remove my bandanna from my head, I felt they were overreacting. It’s windy in Aruba, but not that windy right? Yet, the minute the land rover’s power ignited and our driver slammed his foot on the accelerator, I was screaming for mercy. If you fancy seeing your life flash before your eyes and the historic sites of Aruba, the Aruba Natural Pool Off Road Adventure is for you!
Highlights include Arikok National Park, the Natural Pool, Natural Bridge, Alto Vista Chapel and California Lighthouse. Worth every goddamn dollar.
Dinner at Papillon Restaurant
After calming your nerves, go and relax in one of the top Aruba restaurants: Papillon Restaurant. It’s French, it’s next to Eagle Beach and the onion soup is to die for. Feeling like you have an ounce of energy left? Hit the nightclubs next door!
The first day may have hit you hard, so take it a little easier (just a little easier) today. I started my morning off with some Aruba windsurfing. It was my first time ever trying to windsurf, but Aruba is apparently one of the best spots in the world to learn! I arrived early in the morning raring to go.
I face-palmed the sea a lot but the joy of finally being able to stand up and be carried by the wind was pure pleasure! Yes, those shocking tan lines are real. I applied sunscreen like a saint but I still burnt to the point of a crispy slice of bacon. Be careful in the sun!
Lunch at Charlie’s Bar Aruba
For lunch, I ordered a Jeep for the day from Amigo’s Car Rental and headed off to Charlie’s Bar Aruba.
Quite possibly my most favourite bar in the whole wide world (truth) I could have spent all day in here. The food and drink are top-notch but what really makes it special is its decor. I’ve never seen anything like it. Head to San Nicolas Aruba and experience it for yourself!
Street Art Aruba
Discovering Aruba’s street art is an adventure in itself. The Aruba Art Fair started in 2016 to encourage tourists to come to the quiet area of San Nicolas after the oil refinery closed down in 2009. Many murals later and it’s working! You can spend a good hour hunting for all the art and it’s 100% Instagram worthy!
Relax on Baby Beach Aruba
After street art hunting, spend the rest of the afternoon on Baby Beach. The waters are warm, calm, shallow and easy breezy. On the beach next door, you can also find some epic Aruba kitesurfing! Watch the experts do their thing and consider it as an activity for yourself!
Aruba Pub Crawl
Aruba’s nightlife is banging. As a solo female traveller, I’m always looking for the perfect opportunity to go and party with others. The Aruba Pub Crawl will sort any solo traveller right out. They’ll give you a shot at each stop and they pick you up and take you home! Just make sure to eat something before you go. I recommend self-catering this night. There are plenty of supermarkets in Aruba which you can stop at and grab something.
Arikok National Park Aruba Caves
What particular excites me about this area is the chance to see the island’s earliest inhabitants’ marks left in the Fontein and Gaudirikiri caves. The drawings are at least 1000 years old! Switch on your phone’s torch to make your way into the depths past the bats…oh and watch your step for snakes when you come back out.
Lunch at Boca Prins Restaurant
Dining at Boca Prins Restaurant is a given if you’re in Arikok National Park. It’s in the middle of nowhere and boasts some pretty awesome views.
Antilla Aruba Snorkelling (i.e Booze Cruise)
I stepped onto the Palm Pleasure to be an underwater Indiana Jones and check out the famous World War II Antilla shipwreck. I thankfully managed that. Yet afterwards, I also became the equivalent of Rhianna on a booze cruise.
With an open bar, this is the perfect time to sample Aruba’s infamous cocktail, the Aruba Ariba! Vodka, rum, creme de banana, orange, cranberry and pineapple and your underwater experience will double in pleasure immediately. The water is crystal clear and the shipwreck fascinating. Get down there and opt for the snuba option if you want to go further!
Dinner at Papiamento Restaurant
Out of all the places I ate at in Aruba, Papiamento Restaurant is the creme de la creme of restaurants in Aruba. The food is original, divine, fresh and taste-tingling excellent. You’re also dining outside in a garden around a beautiful swimming pool. Treat yourself!
Kayak in Aruba along Mangel Halto
Mysterious hidden caves and lush mangrove forests await you on this kayaking adventure! This particular Aruba Kayak Adventure was a challenging one as the waves were so rough the day I went! It added to the thrill for me and I really did have to row.
Dinner at Barefoot Restaurant
To top your trip off, how about taking your shoes off, sinking them into the sand and going for a delicious sunset dinner at Barefoot Restaurant. The views are glorious and the food scrummy!
Other Excursions in Aruba
There are so many other Aruba excursions that I would have loved to have tried. Interested in horseriding, a seabob tour, diving, getting in a submarine or extreme mountain biking? Go check out the other things to do in Aruba!
Essential Aruba Travel Information
Make sure to check out these 50 facts about Aruba. Aruba is bloody hot. Bring sunscreen. The drinking water is safe and tasty! The main languages are Dutch and Papiamento but locals speak English and Spanish too. You can use dollars, there’s ATM’s everywhere and internet access is easy peasy.
Want to know more about visas, flights, etiquette and getting around? Make sure to check out my Aruba Travel Tips (coming soon) and Aruba Packing List.
The best place to stay in Aruba
I’m a solo female traveller. When looking for accommodation, I want to stay in a place which is ideal for one, yet allows me to meet the locals and other guests. I’m always on the look out for somewhere safe, homely, price-friendly and with the option to cook. Aruba Sunset Beach Studios in Noord are a true slice of paradise.
They’re just 100 feet from the beach and they have a lovely little pool and jacuzzi there. Being able to drink my morning coffee in the tropical garden was a total bonus! They’re super nice people too. How can you not follow their house rules?
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This trip was made possible by the Aruba Tourism Authority. My opinions as always are completely honest.