All About Aruba – 8 Things to do in Aruba
In the Caribbean sea is the island of Aruba, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Aruba is a favourite holiday location because its reliably warm and sunny weather year-round attracts beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts alike. While the pristine beaches are where many holidaymakers will spend their time, Aruba has even more to offer. From historical sites to parks and nature sanctuaries, here are eight things to do in Aruba:
Nicknamed “the Sunrise City”, San Nicolas has a multitude of things to keep you busy should you decide to visit: pristine beaches and genuine charm so far from the polished perfection of the resorts. Come here to get a taste of genuine life on the island. One of the popular places for visitors to drop by is Charlie’s Bar. Since the 1940s, scuba divers have been hanging their underwater discoveries on the walls there, creating a collection of trinkets and treasures.
Travellers from all over the world have added to the collection with international memorabilia so make sure to leave something when you visit. San Nicolas also has a lot of street art gracing its walls and buildings so be sure to keep an eye out!
The Butterfly Farm
Step into a lush tropical rainforest, wander through the vibrant flowers and trees, past the pond and waterfall, and admire the hundreds of beautiful butterflies dancing overhead in a dazzling rainbow. The Butterfly Farm is within a large meshed enclosure where the butterflies can fly freely, showing off their vivid colours and unique patterns. The guided tours through the farm run all day lasting for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. You’re welcome to take photos and videos of your experience. When you’re finished, the farm has a gift shop full of butterfly related souvenirs so you can take a memory of the visit home with you!
Arikok National Park
This stunning National Park covers almost 20% of the island! You can explore the rugged terrain yourself or with a guided tour. Covered in tall cacti, these hills have a desert look to them and are home to a number of geological, cultural, and historical sites – such as the gold mine at Miramar. While exploring you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the coastline, surrounded by local flora and fauna. With the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, and the ground beneath your feet, this is the ideal place to lose a few hours and connect with nature.
The largest shipwreck dive is the Antilla wreck, a 400 foot long 1939 German freighter. Its sunken remains are 60 feet below the surface and are a popular spot for divers and snorkelers. Aside from wrecks, Aruba is also home to some beautiful dive sites in the form of protected barrier reefs. They offer the chance to get up close and personal with the underwater wildlife and see gorgeous underwater flora. The popular spots include Mangel Halto, Boca Catalina, and Santana Reef – each offers unique opportunities to see shoals of fish, stingrays, octopi, or even sharks!
The Bushiribana Gold Mine
On the northern coast of Aruba, you’ll find the abandoned Bushiribana gold mill. In 1824, gold was discovered in Aruba and the Bushiribana mill once processed ore from the mines in the nearby hills during the ensuing gold rush. The industry produced more than 3 million pounds of gold. Now, all that remains are the ruins of the mill but you can wander through them and feel the whispers of history in the walls.
The name of the island’s charming capital literally translates to “Orange City”. The striking Dutch colonial architecture is mixed with Spanish and Caribbean touches and many of the buildings are painted in pastel shades giving the city a cheerful feel. Within the streets you’ll find shops, restaurants, museums, and galleries, all waiting for you to step foot in them. The Aruba Historical Museum is a must-visit for any history buff and has artefacts that tell the history of the island.
At the waterfront Wilhelmina Park, you can possibly spy iguanas sunning themselves at the water’s edge. Hopping on the Aruba Streetcar, a free open-air bus, is a great way to see the city as it runs between all the top attractions.
Philip’s Animal Garden
Philip’s Animal Garden is a non-profit rehabilitation centre and sanctuary for more than 52 species of animals. The sanctuary runs educational and interactive tours, perfect for animal lovers and families, especially those with younger children. Some of the visitors’ favourites include snakes, kangaroos, monkeys, emus, ostriches, and ocelots, but the sanctuary is also home to goats, pigs, horses, and donkeys. Ask the staff about the residents and they’ll be ready to tell you the stories of each animal. If you want to get up close and personal, you can even feed the animals!
Aruba Aloe Museum
Visiting the Aruba Aloe Museum is both educational and free! During the tour, you’ll learn everything about aloe plants. A short film covers the history of the plant’s production in Aruba, then you can watch your guide “filet” an aloe leaf to extract the flesh. You can see where the plants grow, learn about their health benefits, and then walk through the factory where the products are made and packaged. After the tour, you have the opportunity to buy some aloe products from the gift shop. While this may not be a typical attraction it would definitely be a refreshing experience that’s different to anything else on this list.
“It’s fascinating to find out what Aruba has to offer, aside from the beautiful beaches. After writing this article I now desperately want to visit San Nicolas; anywhere nicknamed “the Sunrise City” will immediately pique my interest, it just sounds so romantic! ”