At only 20 miles long, with warm, sunny weather year-round, and welcoming locals willing to give you insider tips on how to make the most out of your trip, Aruba is an easily accessible destination with ample outdoor opportunities for everyone. There are plenty of beaches for swimming, snorkeling, diving, kitesurfing, kayaking, and more—sure to delight travelers seeking something different. And there’s Arikok National Park, which covers about 20 percent of the island’s land mass and offers unmatched hiking, cave exploring, and wildlife watching. Plus, the Aruba Butterfly Farm and the Aruba Donkey Sanctuary are just two of many activities well-suited for kids and families. In this outdoor-focused itinerary, we’ve put together a trip that you and your group will be talking about long after you’ve left Aruba.
Day 1Discover Crowd-Pleasing Aruba
At Aruba’s Butterfly Farm in the Palm Beach area, walk through a tropical garden full of flittering butterflies. Here, you can see the life cycle of butterflies, plus get a look at butterfly habits and metamorphosis. If you go in the morning, you might even see butterflies emerging from their chrysalis and taking their first flights.
Head to the Aruba Donkey Sanctuary where visitors can book a private donkey hugging and petting session and take a tour of the grounds. Donkeys have been on the island for more than 500 years, and this sanctuary in Bringamosa has about 100 donkeys that have found a safe home here. The Sanctuary has a visitor’s center, cold drinks, and donkey-themed gifts and souvenirs.
To see marine life from above, grab some kayaks and head to Mangel Halto, one of the island’s most pristine and secluded beaches, where mangroves twist through the shore and allow you to paddle your way through shallow, shaded water. Mangroves support an array of sea life, so this is a great way to interact with nature with the whole crew.
Day 2Explore Arikok National Park
Moro Beach, also called “Little Aruba,” after a large rock near the shore that’s shaped like Aruba, is worth a visit, too. Sit back and relax while staring out at the teal waters that are popular with surfers and bodyboarders. There are also two cave formations here, Fontein Cave and Quadirikiri Cave, which you can explore to learn about the park’s history and how the caves were formed. For the more adventurous sorts, enjoy climbing up more than 600 feet to Jamanota Hill to see the view from the highest point in Aruba. Children up to 17 years old get free admission. These journeys in Arikok National Park will leave you longing for more Aruban adventure long after you return home.
Day 3Take in the Diving Sites
To see two sunken planes, head to the Renaissance Airplanes site, where both a YS-11 and a Convair 240 were sunken to create a dive site. The planes host an array of marine life and sit about 80 feet below the surface. Novice divers and snorkelers enjoy Aruba’s newest wreck, the Kappel, which was sunk in 2009. It sits about 45 feet below the surface and attracts fish, crabs, and an abundance of other sea species.
Day 4Take to the Water
Kitesurfing is a popular sport here due to the strong trade winds, and beginners and experts alike enjoy zipping across the ocean. Vela Sports Aruba, Aruba Kitesurfing School, and Armando’s Kite Shack all give lessons in kitesurfing. The island is crawling with great snorkel spots, too. Arashi Beach has a bit of reef to explore, while Catalina Cove is great for kids and families. A popular beach for photography and watersports is Eagle Beach. Grab a float and take in the sweeping Caribbean views.
After wrapping up your trip full of outdoor adventure, you’ll probably find yourself experiencing the Aruba Effect—a feeling of happiness that fills you up for months after you return home, bringing out a lighter, brighter you. And what’s even better about the Aruba Effect? It’ll warm your soul with such sweet memories you’ll be planning your return sooner than expected.