Beautiful beaches, glorious weather and a fabulous food scene are just some of the attractions of the wonderful Caribbean island of Aruba, just off the coast of Venezuela. If your idea of a perfect holiday is baking in the sun by the sea all day and dining out on great seafood in the evening, then this is the perfect Caribbean island for you. However, if you like being more active and getting out and about exploring, you’ll also find Aruba is a perfect fit.
Here are my top ten things to do in Aruba
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1. Take a yoga class on the beach
Aruba, where the sun is said to always shine and the local motto is ‘one happy island’, has a natural energy flow that attracts many people looking to practice yoga. And there is no better way, in my mind, to start the day than with a yoga class on the beach. With the cooling sea breeze, the natural soundtrack of the waves and the sun still low in the sky, the lesson I had with Cacao Yoga was both tranquil and energising.
Aruba, with its calm warm waters, is also an ideal setting for SUP yoga, where yoga is practised on the same boards used for stand up paddle boarding. You can find out more about yoga in Aruba here.
2. Eat fish and seafood
It’s no surprise that you’ll find great seafood on any island, but the seafood I tasted in Aruba was the best I’ve ever had. Nos Clubhuis on Moomba Beach is the haunt of local fishermen and they bring the best of their catch here each day, most often wahoo, mahi mahi or tuna. Don’t miss the ceviche, chunks of white fish marinated in lime with peppers, red onions and cilantro.
Another superb seafood dish is Wilhelmina Salad in the restaurant of the same name in Oranjestad. Succulent grilled scallops and chunks of Caribbean rock lobster with a salad of haricots and edamame beans and a sprinkling of bacon and pine nuts. So good.
3. Chill out on Eagle Beach
Eagle Beach is my favourite beach on the island and ranks among one of the best beaches in the world. The soft white sand seems to go on forever and the aquamarine water is, of course, crystal clear. There are a number of lovely Aruba hotels along here, some with restaurants and sun beds on the beach and stand-up paddle boards and jet skis available for hire. Then there are quieter stretches where you can have a patch of beach all to yourself, although it does get a busier at Easter as local families traditionally camp out here.
4. Go shopping
If you love nothing more than browsing in designer boutiques then you will love the centre of Oranjestad. Louis Vuitton, Prada, Ralph Lauren — they’re all here eager to catch some of the big bucks that the cruise ships bring in, no doubt.
5. Explore old Oranjestad
Personally, I was much more interested in the historic Oranjestad, a colourful collection of buildings unlike any I’d seen before, some sadly in ruin but many beautifully restored.
6. Go Deep Sea Fishing
I love being out on the water and thoroughly enjoyed a morning’s deep sea fishing. Sadly we had to come in early as one of our group was very sea sick so we didn’t catch anything. We did see a pod of dolphins though, which was thrilling. And if you have more luck than us you can arrange for your catch to be taken to another fabulous seafood restaurant in Oranjestad, Driftwood, where they’ll cook it for you in a traditional Aruban style. Find out more about deep sea fishing with Driftwood.
7. Get saucy at Charlie’s Bar
When it comes to character and atmosphere, my favourite restaurant on Aruba is, without a doubt, Charlie’s Bar in San Nicolas. It first opened in 1941 when the town was known as the New Orleans of the Caribbean. Charlie’s Bar is laid back, quirky and very welcoming. They serve fabulous traditional Aruban food here and if you like things spicy, ask for some Honeymoon Sauce but proceed with caution — it is claimed to lead to passionate lovemaking!
8. Discover Street Art
Another reason why you should visit San Nicolas is its wonderful street art. This little town had been in decline for years, but the tide has turned and it is once again set to become the cultural heart of Aruba. You can read more about it in the article, Street Art in Aruba, the unexpected Caribbean by Heather Cowper.
9. Hike, swim or ride in Arikok National Park
Covering nearly 20% of the island, Arikok National Park is a fabulous place to explore with rolling green hillsides dotted with cacti and dramatic rugged coastlines, caves and ancient sites to discover. Go for a swim in the natural pool, check out the historic Indian drawings or relax on one of the secluded beaches.
10. Watch the sunset at Passions
Book a front row table on Eagle Beach at the fabulous restaurant Passions on the Beach and dine with the cool sand beneath your toes and a view of the sunset over the ocean. What could be a more romantic end to the day?
You’ll find more tips on the wonderful food and drink scene in Aruba in my article, Where and What to Eat and Drink in Aruba.