The Most Adventurous Things To Do In Aruba
Aruba’s tagline is “one happy island”, and we found ourselves repeating that the whole trip. Between the perfect white sand beaches, tropical blue waters and laid back Caribbean vibes, life in Aruba is definitely served on the sunny side. It’s not all fancy resorts, though… there’s plenty of adventure to be found on this desert island.
I got to visit with my best friend Kaitee of Moon Body Soul, who was traveling on business to hand deliver her amazing body balms to Island Yoga. It turns out shipping from the US to Aruba is crazy expensive, but flying with Copa Airlines is (relatively) not. Who knew?
We decided to get a 1-bedroom cottage through AirBNB and rent a car from the airport so we could be as mobile as we wanted. There’s also a bus system that is reliable from what we heard and taxis, but remember it is a desert island, so if you want to do much more than bop around the touristy part of the island, having a car will prove to be worthwhile.
Aruba Bucket List
The most adventurous things to do in Aruba are all found on the rugged north shore, away from the high-end tourist resorts, swim-up bars and casinos you’ll find in Palm Beach & Eagle Beach. Check out these epic half-day trips that’ll transport you to a different world.
The first easy stop is California Lighthouse at the very north part of the island. Just keep going past the “hustle and bustle” of the resorts and restaurants, and the buildings and people will begin to taper off. Eventually, the wind will pick up, and you’ll be able to see the entire south shore on one side, and the wild waters of the north shore on the other side. This is a great spot for sunset!
Abandoned Gold Mines
About midway through the north shore lies two old gold mines. The first, Bushiribana, was built in 1825 and operated for 10 years before it was abandoned; and the second, Balashi, was built by a different Aruban mining company and closed due to a lack of raw materials during World War 1. The gold mines serve as a reference point for tourists looking for the Natural Bridge, limestone that collapsed in 2005 and creates a natural pool.
Boca Mahos Natural Pool
Right by the gold mine is a hidden natural pool. You can’t see it from land, and you have to take a ladder down the cliff to get to it.
From the gold mines, look toward the north shore to the natural bridge. You’ll have to really be looking for it, but you’ll see two ladder poles sticking up above the rock ledge. Climb down and jump into the natural pool and enjoy a day of floating and meditating on the purple algae rocks. It’s amazing to be able to see and hear the wild waves being blocked off by just a fallen piece of limestone, while you’re in a peaceful pool on the other side. Side note: lot of crabs showed up at sunset, so plan to come a little earlier in the day.
Arikok National Park
Photo via Aruba.com
Almost 20 percent of Aruba is designated as Arikok National Park, protecting much of the island’s the indigenous wildlife, diverse plants and significant cultural sites. There’s many hiking trails within the park, which are best used December - April when temperatures are the lowest they’ll get all year, as well as beach access and another natural pool; but we came for the caves and drawings we read about before coming.
We decided to check out Quadiriki Cave. Upon arrival, it doesn’t appear to be much, but once you go inside, there’s a vast underground dwelling with palpable energy. Legend has it that there was one an indian chief, whose daughter was believed to be a descendant of the God of the Sun. She was adored by all of the men in her tribe, but eventually she fell for a foreigner named "white feather" and was held captive by her father in the cave, never to be seen again. She died in the cave, and it is said that her soul escaped through the hole in the top and she is now reunited with the God of the Sun.
Snorkel At Arashi Beach
There’s many underwater treasures and attractions in Aruba, both via snorkel and deep sea diving. We rented snorkel gear at Arashi Beach, and enjoyed an afternoon swimming among coral reef and colorful fish. If you’re into diving, check out these insane shipwrecks.
Aruba is tiny, so you may as well explore every single beach on this island. Our favorites were Palm Beach for the chill raft floats and pelican chats, Eagle Beach for the cute cafes, and Baby Beach (yes, all the way at the southern tip!) for the different perspective on the island and insanely clear water.
It’s worth it to take a day to explore the city of Oranjestad, rich with Dutch colonial architecture and home of the Aruban arts scene. Be sure to hit “market” located near the downtown bus terminal for the best selection of local and handcrafted goods like jewelry, wood carvings, oil paintings and clothing.
It may not be super adventurous, but it definitely deserves a nod here because one of the best parts of the whole trip was getting to practice with the passionate and knowledgeable instructors at Island Yoga and eating at Nourish Cafe. Read all about my experience and what to expect at Island Yoga here.
Other popular attractions I didn’t get to is the Flamingo Beach owned by Renaissance hotels, and kiting / wind surfing. Aruba is also a renowned Carnival destination in the spring!
Have you been to Aruba? What did you enjoy most? Anything you’d add to this list?