Choose Your Own Adventure: a Driving Map and Daytrip Guide to Aruba
Vacationing in an unfamiliar location can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if you’re working with a limited timetable. Despite the fact that Aruba is a relatively small island, there are lots of choices when it comes to how to spend your time.
Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up some local favorites to help you use your vacation time the best way possible. In fact, you can use this post as a one-day itinerary to guide your way. Simply start with the interactive map below to get a lay of the land, and then move on to your step-by-step guide to a fun-filled Aruban daytrip.
Hit the Beach
Spending some time at the beach is a must when you pass through any Caribbean island. But there are tons of options, and it’s not always easy to know which stretch of coastline is best. In situations like this, it’s best to follow the locals. These four beaches are favored by locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re interested in a refreshing swim, a snorkeling adventure, or just a few picturesque views, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for here.
Photo by Alexandre Breveglieri
If you’re in search of the iconic Caribbean beach experience, then Eagle Beach should be your first stop. Voted the #1 Beach in the Southern Caribbean by TripAdvisor, this is the absolute perfect place to bury your toes in the sand, dip your feet in crystal clear waters, and enjoy the extraordinary Aruban scenery the island is known for.
Less crowded and often overlooked by tourists, Arashi Beach is a short stretch of coastline located north of Malmok Beach and adored by locals. Relax underneath one of the beach’s grass huts or go exploring to see some of the exotic aquatic wildlife inhabiting its waters. And when you’re done enjoying the beach, you can visit the renowned California Lighthouse (mentioned below) just a few minutes away.
Along the Malmok Coast, which is made up almost entirely of rocky outcroppings of limestone and groups of gnarled Mangrove, lies a short stretch of immaculate beach where exotic flora and fauna abound. Malmok Beach is the foremost snorkeling spot on the island, although explorers treading on foot will still find much to see.
Mangel Halto Beach
Photo via Flickr
Supported by a rich and healthy ecosystem - filled with Mangroves, parrot fish, yellowtail snapper, and other wildlife - Mangel Halto Beach is a fantastic spot for snorkeling, fishing, or simply wading through the clear, pristine waters. Gorgeous reefs at depths of over 100’, which are home to morays, octopi, and barracuda, await more ambitious snorkelers, but there is plenty to see in the shallower portions of the beach as well.
See the Sights and Soak up Local Culture
After you’ve taken some time to enjoy the beach, change course and start discovering the beautiful sights and local culture of the island
Taking a few steps off the beaten path is a sure way to add unforgettable memories to your trip. After all, you didn’t come all the way to the Caribbean to sip syrupy cocktails on sterile resort beaches, did you? Unsurprisingly, Aruba is packed to the gills with activities and adventures that are perfect for the adventurous traveler. Make it a priority to explore these unique Aruban sights during your stay on the island.
Photo by David Stanley
As the only mountain on the island, Mount Hooiberg is a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts. However, even those who are less inclined to hiking will enjoy the Hooiberg experience, with just a casual 20-minute walk to the top where trekkers will enjoy breathtaking views.
The California Lighthouse
Photo by Robert Gigliotti
As the only contender against Mount Hooiberg for the best view on the island, the California Lighthouse provides visitors with a distinct experience, mixing intriguing history with magnificent vistas. Unlike Mount Hooiberg, the California Lighthouse gives visitors the chance to see Aruba in all of its nighttime glory, should they decide to ascend its stairs after dark.
The Casibari Rock Formation
Photo by Alex Headrick
Aruba is home to some of the flattest topography in all the Caribbean, which is why the Casibari Rock Formation is such a fascinating sight to see. The formation is a huge dome composed of tonalite boulders from which visitors can gaze far across the island and its terrain. Fortunately, there are man made trails, steps, and pathways that allow visitors to experience this spot to its full potential.
Grab Dinner and Drinks
At the end of your day, you’re sure to have worked up an appetite. Luckily, Aruba is a tiny island with an abundance of dining options. Here are three of our favorites.
2 Fools and a Bull
Photo via 2 Fools and a Bull
In terms of fine dining in Aruba, 2 Fools and a Bull is one of the best in the business. Think of it less as a restaurant and more as a curated dinner party. Owners Paul and Fred admit a limited number of guests each night for a 5-course dining experience like none other.
This spot is priced on the higher end, but the experience is well worth the cost. Demand is high to get into this thriving eatery and availability is limited, so diners must reserve their spots (and confirm 24 hours beforehand) in order to be served.
Note: we were unable to include 2 Fools and a Bull on our interactive map, but their information can be found here.
Photo by Holger Zscheyge
If authentic island flavor and feel is what you’re after, Charlie’s Bar is the place to be. Charlie’s has been a major local fixture for years, and there’s no better place to get a genuine, relaxed dining experience.
To discuss restaurants in Aruba without giving a fresh seafood recommendation would be amiss, which is why Zeerover rounds out our list. This spot serves up exceptional seafood with a no-nonsense attitude. All menu items are caught fresh, fried to order, and served on a simple paper plate. Don’t let the lack of sophistication fool you; you’ll be hard pressed to find a fresher catch anywhere else.
We wish you all the best on your adventures in Aruba. Give our recommendations a try and send us your own!