Taste and Tell’s Guide to the top 6 things to do in Aruba – frolic with flamingoes, snorkel in the blue waters, ride a horse to conchi and more!
Oh, Aruba. This small island off of the coast of Venezuela offers more than year-round sunshine, white sandy beaches and crystal blue waters. 5 days wasn’t nearly enough time to explore every bit of the island, but I’m pretty happy with all that I was able to cram in!
Today, I have compiled a list of the top 6 things to do in Aruba. There is so much that the island offers, but these were my favorites!
#1: Stand Up Paddle Boarding at Mangel Halto
If I had to choose the place that would get my vote for the most beautiful place on the island, Mangel Halto would be it. It is seriously breathtaking. Located on the southeast coast, Mangel Halto is a popular spot among the locals. There is a large area that is pretty shallow that was the perfect place to learn how to stand up paddle board (or SUP). This was my first time learning to SUP, and while it was quite challenging, and my legs were sore for a few days after, I can definitely see why people love it. The snorkeling on this beach is supposed to be pretty amazing, as well, but I have read things that say that it is not for beginners, because there are spots where the current is quite strong.
Years ago, I was scuba certified and had the chance to go scuba diving several places in the Caribbean. Ever since, I have been a bit underwhelmed by snorkeling. But Aruba made me change my mind. I went out on my own one afternoon, venturing north to what I think was Boca Catalina. I immediately fell in love. I have never in my life seen so many fish. Hundreds and hundreds of them. I didn’t see a lot of really big fish, but tons of starfish, coral, and smaller fish. I was really hoping to see a turtle, as I heard that this beach was a good place to spot them, but never did see one. Just one more reason I need to return! But there were times when I would be swimming and completely surrounded by fish. It was amazing! Next time, I think it would be fun to do a guided tour, but I was pretty impressed with what I found just off the beach!
#3: Take a Horseback Ride to Conchi
Conchi is natural “pool” located in the Arikok National Park on the north side of the island. Conchi is only accessible by horseback, ATV or by foot. Part of our group came in by jeep, while the rest of us ventured there on horseback. My husband is allergic to horses, so I had to take advantage of this opportunity since he wasn’t there with me. It was a beautiful ride, the horses were wonderful, and the guide was great. My only regret is that the morning was a little overcast, and we got there right after sunrise so the light was super harsh and I couldn’t get a good photograph to really capture how beautiful it was. The pool is closed off from the ocean by rocks and volcanic stone. Waves crash over the back of the pool – it is quite the sight to see. Water shoes are recommended (oh, how I wish I would have had some), as you do have to climb through the rocks to get into the pool. I have read that it can get crowded at times, but it was empty while we were there. (Our tour was through Rancho Daimari, which I would totally recommend.)
#4: Spend the Day at Renaissance Island
When I first started doing research about Aruba, I came across some pictures of flamingos. And those flamingoes went on the top of my list of the things that I wanted to see. Unfortunately, though, flamingoes aren’t native to Aruba, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend a day at the beach with them!! The flamingoes actually hang out on the private island owned by the Renaissance Hotel – Renaissance Island. The island is reserved for hotel guests, who can go to and from the island as much as they want. (Key card is required to ride the boat that takes you to the island.) But for a fee, (it was around $100 for the day when I went), you can spend the day on the island and hang out with the flamingoes. There is a family friendly side of the island, and an adult only side of the island. The flamingoes are on the adult side of the island. If you aren’t staying at the Renaissance, it is a little pricey, but the beaches are nice and would be a great way to spend a day.
#5:Visit the California Lighthouse
Located on the northwest tip of the island, the California lighthouse is a great place to visit for beautiful views of the island. Named after the SS California, which wrecked off the coast in 1891, the lighthouse once served as a way for ships to steer clear of the island. Right now, the lighthouse itself is undergoing renovation, but the views from the area are some of the best on the island. I have heard that this is the perfect place to watch the sunset (although I did not have a chance to watch the sunset here). There is an Italian restaurant located near the lighthouse, and I’m guessing once the renovations have finished, you’ll be able to catch a pretty spectacular view.
#6: Relax on One of Aruba’s Beautiful Beaches
If nothing else, make sure you spend some time relaxing on the beach. I was so bad and had so many things I wanted to see, that I didn’t take enough time to sit back and relax. But Aruba’s beaches are some of the most beautiful you’ll find.
I talked about Palm Beach already – where the Hilton is located. Some will say that Palm Beach is the best beach on the island for relaxing in the sun. Also popular is Eagle Beach, located south of Palm Beach. While Palm Beach was amazing and perfect for spending time in the water, I actually loved Eagle Beach. It was a lot less busy, and the white sand was breathtaking. The surf is a little stronger, but not so much that you can’t go out into the water. If you are there the right time of year, you may even find markers where turtles have laid their eggs, waiting to hatch.
But regardless of which beach you choose, take some time to lay on a hammock or under a palapa or swim in the crystal blue water. You will not regret spending plenty of time on one of these beautiful beaches!!
Follow my travel board and never miss any eats or adventures while I’m out and about!