Monday, 25 June 2018

Top Things To Do In Aruba

Aruba is an island in the Caribbean just off Venezuela, that has a friendliness that can't be beaten, beautiful azure waters, a rich and diverse cuisine, and year-round sunny weather.  It's the perfect destination for first-timers to the Caribbean, a gorgeous honeymoon destination and is a special place to visit.  I recently visited as the guest of Aruba tourism, staying at the Hilton Aruba, and here is my post on the top things to do on this amazing Caribbean island.

Enjoy the beaches and watersports

Aruba has some beautiful beaches

Aruba has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. All the beaches are clean and the sand is a fine almost white, coloured powder, safe to walk barefoot. In fact, Eagle Beach has been voted the third best beach in the world by Tripadvisor travellers.


The winds make it perfect for sailing, surfing and windsurfing




If you don't want to relax on the beach, you could also consider one of the watersports for which Aruba is known. The trade winds cool the heat and give the added benefit of making perfect weather conditions for sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.  Don't forget the high factor sun cream though as it's easy to get burnt, I recommend at least a factor 30. The sea is also warm and the water crystal clear so perfect conditions for snorkelling too.

Explore the Aritok National Park


Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins

Nearly 20% of Aruba, to the north, is a national park and it a great area to get off the beaten track and go exploring. On my recent trip, I took a jeep safari by ABC Tours. We explored the north of the island, a rough and ready landscape with towering green cacti, jaw-dropping limestone cliffs, the historic Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins and the beauty of the 'Conchi' Natural Pool.


The Natural Pool can only be accessed by a 4 wheel drive vehicle, horseback or on foot due to the rough terrain but it's worth the journey to get there. The locals know it as 'Conchi' which means bowl, and it's a beautiful swimming hole, just be careful of the slippery rocks you have to cross to get there. 

Admire the street art in San Nicolas 
San Nicolas street art

Sint Nicolaas or San Nicolas is a town on the south-east of the island and was home to an oil refinery which closed in 2012. To attract more people to the area, street art has been encouraged and each year more murals cover old shops and buildings. I thought it was the best street art I have ever seen, some of it even looks three-dimensional and it is a great reason to visit this town.


So colourful and vibran

Cosecha San Nicolas is also worth a visit if you are in the area. Here you can find artwork and crafts by local artisans such as jewellery, paintings and ceramics. If you want to support the local artists, buy something, even if it is small as the money goes to the talented craftspeople.

Make your own jewellery at Terrafuse


Terrafuse has a Trip Advisor certificate of excellence 

Terrafuse Aruba is a non-profit organisation that promotes the art of glass making, ceramics crafting and bronze sculptures in Aruba. Marian and Ciro Abath, have many years of experience as artists and they run workshops from their home for people from beginners to more experienced artists. I participated in the glass making workshop during my stay and found it fascinating. 

I made these glass beads at Terrafuse!

Marian taught us how to manipulate glass in the simplest terms, how to make glass beads by building up the layers and how to heat the beads to the correct temperature to shape them.   Safety is taken seriously as the glass melts at 1300 F/700 C, and you need to wear goggles. After making tiny seed beads (the most difficult step in the workshop!) you make several bigger beads with different designs.  Marian was very patient with me which I think is the mark of an excellent teacher and I was amazed at the result - a beautiful leather bracelet with individual glass beads.

Find out about the uses of Aloe Vera

Aruba Aloe is worth visiting for the small museum and tour

When you are in Aruba take a visit to Aruba Aloe. Aruba Aloe make products from Aloe Vera, a succulent (like a cactus), known for its caring and healing properties, and it is especially good for sunburn, skin care and stomach problems. At the small factory, you can take a short 15-minute tour, find out about the properties of this fantastic plant, read about Aloe Vera in the museum and then buy products in the gift shop too. 

Aloe Vera has many health properties

It was interesting to find out that the juice of the unprocessed plant smells like onions and that unless it is treated, it has a laxative effect! All products here are, of course, treated and made of the finest quality. I can particularly recommend the sun cream which has a lovely subtle coconut smell and feels very nourishing on the skin.

Admire the architecture

Alto Vista Chapel

Aruba has some interesting architecture, from buildings with a colourful Caribbean vibe to architecture that reminds you of Aruba's Dutch influence.  One building worth visiting if you are in the north of the island is the Alto Vista Chapel. The island's first Roman Catholic church was built in 1750 and reconstructed in 1953. A small, winding road dotted with cacti leads to the chapel – the white crosses on the road mark the way. Inside it's simply decorated, the altar and small lighted candles being of significance. 



The California Lighthouse is also worth a stop if you are doing a tour of the north of the island.
The lighthouse was named after the S.S. California - which sunk previous to its construction in 1910. For a small charge, you can walk to the top and see the amazing views. Also, there are refreshments stands and a cafe in front of the lighthouse. I had some amazing fresh coconut milk here, the vendor just cut off the top of a coconut, gave me a straw and let me drink the sweet and refreshing milk. The perfect drink on a hot day. 

Eat the local food


Fresh fish at Westdeck

Ah Aruba, I fell in love with your delicious fresh seafood and fish! The most common fish found includes mahi-mahi, red snapper and grouper, and the shrimps are outstanding in Aruba, so large and juicy. Also try the local hot papaya sauce, which tastes amazing with fresh fish.


Balashi the local beer

If you want to try a traditional Aruba cocktail, I recommend the Aruba Ariba, a mix of vodka, rum and fruit juices. The local beer which is called Balashi is very light and refreshing and in my opinion, tastes a little like Kronenburg lager. 

Keshi Yana at Papiamento

For a taste of traditional Arubian cuisine, try the Keshi Yana a spicy mix of chicken, peppers, capers, olives and tomatoes, baked with a shell or topping of Gouda cheese. Why Gouda you may ask? Well Aruba is part of the Kingdom Of The Netherlands and its citizens are Dutch nationals, so it's only right that the traditional Dutch cheese Gouda, be incorporated into one of its dishes. I tried Keshi Yana at Papiamento and it's an incredibly tasty dish but very filling, so have it only if you are hungry.  


Elements restaurant

Other restaurants to recommend include Elements for the best beachside location, Caribbean music played on kettle drums and high end beautifully presented food and Pelican Nest, a laid-back beach shack place, think fish tacos, conch fritter, chicken sandwiches and pan-fried mahi-mahi. 

Take in the famous Caribbean sunset


Sunset dining at Elements

Lastly, take in the famous Caribbean sunset on this beautiful island. You can't miss it, just look out of your hotel window, or take a stroll on the beach. I saw the best sunset at Elements restaurant. Eating delicious seafood outside with the warm orange glow of the sun makes an unforgettable experience. My only disappointment is that I didn't have my husband with me to share. 


Hilton Aruba view from my room

Aruba is such a vibrant and amazing destination for a holiday. I hope you get the chance to visit one day.


Hilton Aruba room

I stayed at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort and Casino, a luxury hotel, right on Palm Beach. With a spa, casino, kids club, beautiful pools and plenty of places to eat and drink, it's a great place to stay and highly recommended.



Pin for later


Here is a video I created for the travel blog and YouTube channel I have with my husband, Fly Drive Explore.


For more information to plan your holiday in Aruba, visit the Aruba Tourism Website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter or follow the hashtag #OneHappyIsland on social media.

Have you been to Aruba? What activities would appeal to you?

*I was a guest of the Aruba tourist board. Natural pool courtesy of Anna from Don't Cramp My Style

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54 comments

  1. Aruba looks like an amazing place to head to and the food there looks so delicious as well. Stunning view.

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    1. It's a really lovely island and so much to see and do too.

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  2. Well naturally as I am obsessed with street art I love the sound of San Nicolas street. And Aruba looks absolutely stunning, one of my sisters is actually called Arooba (pronounced the same).

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    1. San Nicolas is such an interesting place. The street art has really made people go to the area. Great name your sister has!

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  3. Aruba looks absolutely incredible and your photos make me want to go so badly x

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  4. Aruba would have to be all about the watersports for me I think - so nice to be able to enjoy all of that lovely sunshine and clear waters

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    1. So many things to do on the water, lots of sailing and windsurfing, and I've never seen waters so clear so it's perfect for snorkelling too.

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  5. That natural pool looks wonderful. You're making me want to visit!

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  6. A friend from work came back from here recently and had nothing but praise for the place! After read this post I really should go!!!

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  7. Aruba has now gone on my bucket lists it looks magical. Dinning at Elements looks amazing

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    1. I wish my husband had been with me at that point. It was so romantic.

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  8. What a beautiful place! The 'Conchi' Natural Pool looks so inviting and I love the street art. I'd definitely like to visit Aruba one day, not least to sample some traditional Arubian cuisine!

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    1. I hope you get the chance to go one day Emily.

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  9. The natural pool sounds great and we'd love to visit the Caribbean! Going to make this our first stop!

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    1. It's a great Caribbean island for a first timer as it's very safe and not rough around the edges

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  10. Oh wow love the pictures! I think I would just be chilling at the beach all day, as the sea looks insane... and eating food too lol x

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  11. Wow what a gorgeous place Aruba is with so much to see and do! Your photos are gorgeous, now I really want to visit!

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  12. Gorgeous! Aruba looks stunning and definitely somewhere I would love to visit!

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  13. Lovely photos here. Aruba is one Caribbean island I want to visit.

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  14. Aruba is such a nice place. I would love to visit it sometime!

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    1. Hope you do get a chance, you won't be disappointed!

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  15. Oh it looks beautiful and relaxing here. I bet it is an amazing place to visit.

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  16. Aruba looks so wonderful! I would love to visit one day and enjoy all those gorgeous beaches. The food everywhere you went looks delicious too!

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    1. The food was amazing. Very cosmopolitan but with the emphasis on fresh seafood and fish.

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  17. Wow what an idyllic place! I would definitely risk those slippy rocks to get a swim in the bowl x

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  18. Aruba looks and sounds amazing. I've only been to the Caribbean once and would love to go back. And that street art is amazing, so detailed! Sounds like you had a wonderful time Mel x

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    1. I had an amazing time and it's made me want to explore the Caribbean more now.

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  19. Aruba looks like an amazing place to visit with so much to see and do. I also love trying local food when away and the fish looks delicious :)

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    1. I think you have to try the local food don't you?

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  20. What an adventure - the beach there looks incredible

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  21. So colourful and I love the different influences here to quite a few of the islands. #farawayfiles

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  22. Gosh it looks amazing here, I can only dream of going to Aruba! Pics are stunning and seems like there is a lot to do - I like the idea of exploring the national park.

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    1. The national park is rugged and interesting to see.

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  23. Aruba looks beautiful, the jeep safari sounds like fun & I love your street art photos. #farawayfiles

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  24. I never realised that Aruba is so close to Venezuela, it looks stunning and I would love the chance to visit one day. I bet you wish you were back!!

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  25. I would love to go to the Caribbean one day! That water looks absolutely Devine. Love the street art too :)

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    1. The water was the clearest I have ever seen Hannah.

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  26. Aruba looks absolutly breathtakingly beautiful! The beaches are gorgeous, I'd love to visit one day! xo

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  27. This is on my bucket list! Amazing post!

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    Replies
    1. I hope you get the chance to go one day, it's a beautiful island.

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