JOURNEYS

Have it All in the Aruban Outdoors

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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.

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TRIP HIGHLIGHT

Arikok National Park

At Arikok National Park, visitors can ask park rangers for tours of the caves, where they’ll learn about the island’s stalagmites, stalactites, and ancient rock drawings—stunning reminders of the past that stay with you long after you’ve left.
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TRIP DESIGNER

The Aruba Tourism Authority

The Aruba Tourism Authority strives to enlighten travelers on all the wonders Aruba has to offer. From white-sand beaches to beautiful desert landscapes and so much more, the Aruba Effect takes hold, sending travelers home with a warm, incomparable sense of wonder that lasts and lasts.
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Day 1Discover Crowd-Pleasing Aruba

Start your unforgettable trip by checking into the Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort for a breezy oceanfront experience in Palm Beach. Kids under 12 stay and eat for free and the Treasures of the Caribbean kids’ club is complimentary for guests. But today is about exploring Aruban fun for the young and young at heart.

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.

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Day 2Explore Arikok National Park

A trip to Aruba isn’t complete without a visit to Arikok National Park, home to rugged coastline, protected plants and animals, and postcard-worthy views. See if you can spot some of the flora and fauna in the area, including donkeys, crabs, lizards, cacti, rabbits, and a variety of birds. You can also hike from the visitor’s center along the Miralamar Trail, which takes you to the Miralamar Gold Mine ruins for a sweeping view of Aruba.

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.

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Day 3Take in the Diving Sites

The Caribbean is full of shipwrecks often explored by scuba divers, and Aruba is no exception. Aruba has around a half dozen wrecks to explore, all filled with history, marine creatures, and an underwater thrill factor guaranteed to spark a newfound love of exploration. The most famous Aruban shipwreck is Antilla, a WWII wreck sitting about 55 feet beneath the surface. The bow and stern are intact and hold lots of coral and sponges, while tropical fish weave through the site. Another great wreck to explore is the Jane C, an upright ship surrounded by coral reefs. Jane C is fully explorable, so you can wiggle your way around the ship if you’d like.

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.

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Day 4Take to the Water

What’s an Aruban vacation without some time in the water? Among the many beaches, you’ll find everything from those buzzing with people to remote and quiet stretches of soothing sand. Aruba typically has flat, shallow waters that swimmers love.

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.