What to Do in Aruba: The 5 Best Experiences on One Happy Island

What to Do in Aruba: The 5 Best Experiences on One Happy Island

Aruba is nicknamed “One Happy Island,” and it’s not hard to see why. At just over 19 miles long and a mere 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela, it’s a slice of paradise that’s full of quirky contradictions.

As a territory of the Netherlands, Aruba has a surprising infusion of Dutch architecture and food. Guests sample these distinctly European elements amidst echoes of Spanish music while the heat on your skin reminds you that you’re in the tropics.

The people on the island speak four languages–Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamento, a mix of all of the above that’s native to the area. Unlike other Caribbean destinations, the topography is desert, not jungle, providing unique opportunities for adventure travel.

Most people go to Aruba to relax. While there’s nothing wrong with setting up a towel on Palm beach, I packed one in a waterproof bag instead and hit the road.

Here are my top 5 experiences on the island:

*Edit: I did not go to Renaissance Island to see the flamingos. Flamingos are not native to the island but are imported for the resort guests at the private island, which is expensive to reach and can’t be booked in advance if you’re not a guest of the Renaissance. Instead, I opted to explore as much of Aruba and its local culture as I could, and I was not disappointed!

1) Natural Pool Safari

Aruba

There’s nothing like being on a bumpy jeep ride and cruising past island landscapes to get your juices pumping! I went on the Natural Pool Safari with ABC Tours. They run twice a day, at 9am or 2pm, or you can go for a full day.

Thankfully, we did well on time so our guide, Abraham, added stops to our half-day itinerary normally only included in the full-day excursion, such as the Lighthouse and Gold Mill Ruins. They also provide snorkeling gear so that, weather permitting, you can snorkel in the natural pool, located in Arikok National Park.

Aruba Natural Bridge

We stopped by the natural bridge and were sad to see it had collapsed a few years back. However, its baby brother (pictured above) is still in place and makes for a good photo opportunity.

Some people wrote in the reviews that the ride was too tumultuous for their liking and I’ll be the first to admit, this is not for the faint of heart or those with back problems. But if you’re looking for a thrill and a good mix of sights, you can’t go wrong with off-roading and exploring Aruba’s unique desert landscape.

2) Seabob ArubaAruba

Have you ever seen those James Bond movies where he goes underwater and a device propels him away, really fast? That’s what a seabob is, an underwater machine that allows you to dive and resurface while holding your breath.

Before I tried this, I was nervous. I’m not champion breath holder, and have a tendency to choke on the slightest amount of unwelcome salt water. It’s my year of adventure though, so I stuck with it, and I’m so glad I did!

Aruba

The tour departs from Boca Catalina Beach, a popular spot for tourists but if you go on the 8am tour you get the beach to yourself.  The experience takes you swimming alongside sea turtles and on an underwater discovery of the Antilla shipwreck! The best part? Our guide took pictures on his GoPro so no one had to worry about documenting everything. I went with a group of 3 other people, and the guide, and we had an unforgettable time.

One note of caution–the wetsuit is tight and you have to lay flat on the seabob, so avoid a bathing suit that ties in the front. I had a small bruise from putting the weight of my body on the knot of my suit. Make sure you’re dressed comfortably with not too much material.

3) Segway TourAruba

I had never ridden a Segway before, but sunset in Aruba seemed as good a place as any to start! I received a tour through Danny’s 2 Wheel Adventures, and all I have to say is wow! Riding a Segway is really cool. It is ultra sensitive to your posture so that when you shift your weight forward or back the machine accelerates and stops.

Danny was an excellent guide, always vigilant and making sure we didn’t get too close to the curb since hitting one can really mess up your balance. We cruised up and down the coast and stopped for a beer at Arashi Beach, where we caught a beautiful sunset.Danny was able to provide transportation to and from the hotel. Sunset was the perfect time to go, not too hot and we caught a nice breeze while cruising.

I can’t imagine a more perfect way to have been introduced to this method of transportation and highly recommend that you contact Danny if you’re in the area!

4) Eat Dutch Pancakes

One of the best parts of being in Aruba is that it’s part of the Netherlands, so you’re treated to Dutch architecture and, more importantly, food. If you’re looking for a good breakfast to start your day, you’ll find no better spot than Linda’s Dutch Pancakes and Pizza, a staple on the island for the last 16 year.

That’s the strawberries and creme pancake pictured above, and it’s absolutely amazing. Like 5 pancakes in one, so come hungry!

5) Experience Aruba Nightlife

The party is at Moomba Beach, in the Palm Beach area. The club/bar is located on the sand, with a DJ at night and multiple areas to house and entertain patrons. While not technically affiliated with any hotel, it is adjacent to the Marriott.

Staff at Moomba gets off work around 2am, then they head to The Mill (an outside bar outside an old windmill) where the DJ plays until at least 4am and there’s enough music and drinks to keep the party going way past then. Be careful, as always.

ArubaAruba has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but it is so much more to do here than just get a good tan. If you want to experience some of the local culture, try any one of the experiences mentioned above for a guaranteed good time.

Till next time, safe travels!

Like this post? Pin me below!

Explore Aruba and discover why it's called One Happy Island!

Share:

35 Comments

  1. April 8, 2017 / 5:08 pm

    Aruba is on my bucket list and this has made me want to go even more! The Segway tour does sound pretty exciting and wow to that Seabob!! Would love to experience it!

    • April 9, 2017 / 4:19 pm

      The segway was so fun! And swimming with sea turtles will forever be one of my best experiences haha, hope you get to go too one day!

  2. April 8, 2017 / 5:56 pm

    the seabob looks perfect for me! I would love to really dive but just can’t handle being so deep for so long, so this is a great in between solution! Also interesting to see what there is to do in Aruba. I live in NL (as an expat) so hear people talking about it sometimes, but never really knew what it was like!

    • April 9, 2017 / 4:20 pm

      It’s perfect for that–shallow diving with the ability to go as quickly or as slowly as you want to cover more space in a short time. I think you’d have a great time in Aruba!

  3. April 9, 2017 / 12:51 am

    Love this Jen! I’ve only tried SUP once before…and stood up for about 2 seconds, which was JUST enough time to take a selfie for proof! I can’t imagine trying to do yoga on it. Looks like it was amazing!

    • April 9, 2017 / 4:21 pm

      Thank you RJ! It was challenging to say the least haha and I’m so glad you managed that selfie! That’s dedication haha 🙂

  4. Becky Angell
    April 9, 2017 / 2:58 pm

    This looks like somewhere I would absolutely love. The diving looks amazing, I would be a bit scared too but would of course give it a go!! How long did you actually have to hold your breath for?

    • April 9, 2017 / 4:22 pm

      I’m chicken so I would say I started with 10 seconds and got up to max of 30 as I got really comfortable. It was an incredible experience, I hope you get to give it a go soon!

  5. April 9, 2017 / 3:37 pm

    I have tried “sea bobbing” here iIPanama where it is called watermarking. I was so afraid of drowning lol. Very cool to see this side of Ruby rather than just the relaxing beach pics

    • April 13, 2017 / 1:02 am

      Thank you so much! I really enjoyed myself, and I am so glad the experience worked out for you as well! It’s a little terrifying at first but exhilarating once you’re doing it 🙂

  6. April 9, 2017 / 4:41 pm

    That sounds like so much fun! I’ve never heard of a sea bob but now I totally want to give it a try!

    • April 10, 2017 / 4:40 pm

      Neither had I! But it was highly rated on TripAdvisor and the pictures looked cool so I gave it a shot and am glad I did 🙂 They have them all over the world, hope you get to try one soon!

  7. Deepika
    April 10, 2017 / 12:43 pm

    Your “To Do list” in Aruba is Amazing! All your pics are soo stunning, it seems you are having a great time in Aruba! Keep exploring and sharing your amazing experiences ??

    • April 13, 2017 / 1:03 am

      Thank you so much Deepika! It really was a great short trip, and I hope to keep doing just that 🙂

  8. April 10, 2017 / 6:13 pm

    I never heard about Aruba before, but with all the activities you mention it seems like a great place to go. I am also not the type to lay on the beach for the whole day 🙂
    SUP Yoga sounds especially fun, SUP became popular only recently where I live and I’ve been dying to try it out. But I didn’t even imagine that you can combine it with yoga 😀

    • April 13, 2017 / 1:04 am

      It’s a whole different type of challenge! I maybe should’ve tried regular SUP first to acclimate haha, you have the right idea 🙂 Hopefully you get to visit Aruba soon and try for yourself!

  9. April 10, 2017 / 9:09 pm

    Ooh I’m not very sporty but I’d love to visit Aruba! Looks like a fabulous place 🙂

    • April 13, 2017 / 1:05 am

      I’m not either haha so if I can do it, these activities require minimal athletic ability 😉 so glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Serena
    April 11, 2017 / 5:29 pm

    Aruba really does look like one happy place, and you look like one adventurous! I love that you tried 2 things I’m DYING to try: SUP Yoga and the seabob.

    • April 13, 2017 / 1:06 am

      I will take that as the highest compliment! And I Would recommend either experience, thank you so much! 🙂

  11. May 10, 2017 / 5:30 pm

    Aruba wasn’t on my list, but this makes me think it should be!! Looks like the perfect place to relax and get fat on pancakes haha Those Seabob’s seem to be getting really popular in places now too, would love to see the footage/pics the guide took!

    • May 11, 2017 / 3:06 pm

      Yes! The pancakes were amazing and I am going to do a whole other post dedicated to the Seabob experience because so many great photos were taken 🙂

  12. Kyntra Strickland
    May 10, 2017 / 7:09 pm

    I would love to go to Aruba one day! Snorkeling with a seabob sounds like a fun experience and the beaches sound beautiful. Thanks for sharing this great information and pictures!

  13. May 10, 2017 / 7:11 pm

    The seabob and the strawberry and creme pancakes are now on my list! I have to admit I got a little bit worried when I read that you had to hold your breath while using the seabob, but I think I’d be ok. How cool is it that the guide took photos for you! That’s one less thing to think about and you can really enjoy swimming with the turtles!

    • May 11, 2017 / 3:05 pm

      It’s a little scary at first but you get the hang of it! You can totally do it, and the sea turtles make it all worthwhile <3

  14. May 10, 2017 / 7:23 pm

    I love when I visited Aruba! There’s so many pretty things to see 🙂

  15. May 10, 2017 / 8:46 pm

    I had no idea Aruba was part of the Netherlands! Those pancakes look amazing. Great article 🙂

    • May 11, 2017 / 3:04 pm

      I didn’t either initially! The pancakes were unforgettable haha I’m going back just for them!

  16. May 11, 2017 / 6:06 am

    Great post! I’ve never been to Aruba but it’s for sure on my list of destinations! Thanks for the tips, especially like the idea of a segway tour never done one of those before.

    • May 11, 2017 / 3:04 pm

      It was so cool! I would definitely recommend you give it a try, easy to learn and a fun way to see a big stretch of land quickly 🙂

  17. May 11, 2017 / 7:30 pm

    I never knew Papiamento was a language. I am sure it must be a wonderful language given its cvaried composition. You seem to have had a wonderful time in Aruba.

  18. May 11, 2017 / 8:15 pm

    I really enjoyed Aruba. It was very relaxing! I’ve always wanted to ride the seabob, but I can’t swim! I rode the Atlantis submarine instead! It was nerve-racking because I realized I had mild claustrophobia. Lol.

  19. June 28, 2017 / 3:41 pm

    Thanks for taking us there through your post! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *