The island of Aruba is one of the most popular cruising destinations in all of the Caribbean. Cruise guests arrive in the port at Oranjestad and find themselves immediately immersed in the culture and native beauty of the island. Aruba is packed with fantastic activities, sights, and experiences, however, visitors often find themselves limited by the guided recreations provided by their cruise ship. They want to have the best experience possible and make use of their time as wisely as they can, but they don’t want to fall into tourist traps and miss out on the best of what the island has to offer.
The Royal Plaza in Oranjestad is a typical brightly-colored building
Thankfully, striking out on your own to explore the island of Aruba isn’t as scary as it may seem, and there are many gems hidden off the beaten path that visitors can easily access and enjoy. All you need is a rented Jeep for transportation and a taste for adventure.
So gather your courage and let us guide you to a few of the island’s best little-known attractions. You can use the interactive map at the end of the post, which has the location of each attraction clearly marked, to find your way.
Horseback Riding on Wariruri Beach
A perfect day for horseback riding in Aruba (Photo by Rebecca Schley)
Tucked away on the island’s north shore, Wariruri Beach is a sandy cove accessible via the dirt road running north toward the Bushiri Gold Mill Ruins. All modes of transportation are permitted on the road, but the beach itself is only accessible by foot or on horseback. The absence of 4x4s and ATVs makes this spot one of the purest stretches of coastline on the island.
After you make the trek to Wariruri Beach, there’s plenty to see and do. This beach is a favorite spot for surfers and anglers, and there is an amazing naturally formed bridge on the right side of the beach.
Druif and Rodgers Beaches
A perfect day at Druif Beach (Photo taken by Timothy Valentine)
Unlike the more popular beaches like Baby Beach or Arashi Beach, the Druif and Rodgers Beaches offer all the beauty of a Caribbean white sand beach with none of the over crowding or hassle. These beaches are as close to paradise as you can get – gorgeous turquoise waters, flowing palms, and beautiful wildlife.
Fort Zoutman Historical Museum
Photos taken by Jasperdo (top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right)
If you’re interested in seeing the authentic cultural heritage of the island of Aruba, then Fort Zoutman is an ideal stopping point. Constructed by the Dutch Army in 1798, the fort is the oldest building on the island. The artifacts and documents preserved here are unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere. And there’s even an island welcome party every Tuesday evening beginning at 6:30pm. Just stop in and see the island’s rich history while experiencing a genuine welcome to the island!
The art gallery has stunning gardens you’ll enjoy wandering through (Photo by Etnia Nativa)
This native Aruban art gallery is a true diamond in the rough. Most tourists overlook it, but it’s packed with beautiful creations crafted by local artists. There’s no better way to get a feel for the island’s local art culture than to visit the Etnia Nativa.
The National Archaeological Museum of Aruba
Museum entrance (Image used with permission: National Archaeological Museum of Aruba)
Aruba isn’t just rich in art and history. It also has a surprisingly rich collection of fascinating archaeology. Secrets and uncovered mysteries about the very first inhabitants of the island are revealed in the museum’s ever changing catalog of exhibits.
Aruba, aside from being a much traveled cruising destination, is also one of the most popular scuba diving destinations in the Caribbean. Here are three of the best dives in Aruba.
The Antilla Wreck
Fish are abundant at the wreck (Photo taken by star5112)
As the largest ship wreckage dive in the entire Caribbean, the Antilla wreck isn’t something scuba enthusiasts want to miss. The ship is surprisingly well preserved, and much of its interior can be explored. What’s more, there is a variety of amazing underwater plants and creatures to be seen.
The Jane Sea Wreckage
Preparing for the dive (Photo taken by star5112)
Although it’s not the biggest, the Jane Sea wreckage is considered to be on the best shipwreck dives in all of Aruba. Diving connoisseurs come from around the globe to enjoy this amazing dive. It is a little deeper than the other dives in Aruba, so visitors should take that into account before planning their trip.
A lionfish, an uncommon, but beautiful sighting (Photo by Tambako the Jaguar)
This 120-foot oil barge was sunk intentionally in 1991 to serve as a natural coral growth environment and diving spot. Since it sits closer to the water’s surface, it’s considered a relatively easy dive – great for beginners. Also, the shallower depth makes for stunning coloration in the coral and fish seen by divers.
What are your favorite hidden Aruba gems? Let us know and we’ll spread the word!