There are so many activities for families in Aruba. After 20 plus visits to the island, I can say I have learned a few things about the beautiful Island of Aruba.
Sandcastle building, shell hunting tours, art classes, Papiamento language classes, and merengue dancing are just some of the many activities offered at Aruba’s resorts and hotels – most of which boast special kids’ programs, deals, and all-day camps.
Resort fun is just the beginning! As families seeking something more than a traditional Caribbean experience will discover countless kid-friendly attractions and activities throughout the “One Happy Island”.
Here is our list of the Top Family Activities in Aruba:
Archeological Museum of Aruba
Originally the old family home of well-known local World War II hero Boy Ecury, the Archeological Museum of Aruba opened its doors in 1981 and has been dedicated to educating guests on the island’s rich culture and history ever since. Extensively renovated in 2009, the museum’s interactive activities and attractions bring Aruba’s culture to life in a way that resonates with children and adults alike. The modern two-story building houses the areas devoted to Amerindian culture and archaeological finds from various digs around Aruba. The three periods of Amerindian habitation are documented: Pre-Ceramic period of 2500 BC –1000 AD when semi-nomadic bands of Amerindians migrated from the South or Central American mainland; Ceramic Period of the Caquetio Indians, the hunters-fishers-gatherers who inhabited Aruba from 900 –1515 AD until enslaved and taken to Hispaniola; and the Historic Period from 1515 – 1880 AD.
Arikok National Park
Sprawling across nearly 20 percent of the island’s landmass, government-protected Arikok National Park is an exciting playground for families. All ages alike rejoice as they venture the 20 miles of rugged and wild, desert-like terrain via ATV/UTV, Jeep safari, horseback, or by foot. Tucked along the rugged northern shore, Arikok National Park is home to many hidden beaches, cacti, natural bridges and pools, historical cave paintings, and indigenous flora and fauna including the Aruba rattlesnakes, burrowing owls, and blue whiptail lizards. The park’s Visitor’s Center provides an enriching overview of the land’s culture, history, and conservation efforts.
Aruba Ostrich Farm
Although Africa is the native land of the ostrich, the intriguing birds find Aruba’s rugged landscape the perfect place to call home. Given every half hour, guided tours provide memorable experiences, educating guests on the mating, rearing, and feeding habits of the largest living bird species in the world.
At Aruba’s southern end, the famous Baby Beach wraps around a shallow and remarkably calm lagoon, making it a prime destination for families with small children. Decades ago, Lago refinery workers created the lagoon by constructing a protective concrete barrier in the water, giving their families a safe beach to enjoy within the Lago colony.
Known as the Caribbean capital of beach tennis, Aruba beckons world-renown pros and amateurs alike to explore this competitive yet recreational sport. Simple to play, beach tennis is equally popular with families, who can reserve a court and paddle at MooMba Beach Bar & Grill and the Tropicana Resort & Casino’s beach tennis complex, or take it a step further by signing up for lessons with a local pro from Beach Tennis Aruba.
Bubali Bird Sanctuary
With some 236 registered species of birds—locals and visitors are captivated with “birding” opportunities. The observation deck is the perfect spot for parents and their children to see herons, egrets, gulls, skimmers, coots, cormorants, numerous species of ducks and more up close. The dirt road entrance is located across from the big red windmill by the high-rise entrance.
This is one of our family’s favourite activities in Aruba. Located at Palm Beach across from the Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort, the Butterfly Farm is a wondrous tropical garden filled with butterflies from around the globe. Children delight as they discover the miracle of metamorphosis firsthand – especially in the morning hours when the most activity occurs – witnessing new butterflies emerging from their chrysalis and taking flight for the first time. Passionate butterfly experts provide 15 to 20 minute guided tours all day every day, revealing secrets of this fascinating species.
Catamaran Sailing and Snorkeling
An array of sailing charters offer family-friendly catamaran sail and snorkel excursions. These activities include lively music, open bars, and snacks or light lunches. Families gear up with snorkel equipment and plunge into the turquoise waters to view the colourful marine life. Among the most popular snorkel spots is the shipwreck of the Antilla. At 400 feet this is the largest shipwreck dive in the Caribbean.
The non-profit donkey sanctuary feeds and provides medical care to approximately 90 endangered animals. Families can stop by to help with the daily chores of feeding and caring for the donkeys – a great educational experience for children.
Several ranches on the island offer horseback-riding tours for both experienced and beginner riders. Most of the horses are gaited Paso Finos, making for a comfortable, cradled ride along trails that lead along the coastline or weave between the towering candle cacti and huge boulders of Aruba’s desert terrain.
The calm waters and mangrove lagoons along Aruba’s southern fringe are ripe for exploration by kayak. The inherently quiet nature of kayaking enables paddlers to observe the birds and marine species living among the mangroves without disturbing them. Organized tours set out from Spanish Lagoon, making their way up the coast to popular spots like Mangel Halto. These tours offer the benefit of knowledgeable guides and usually include snorkelling, swimming, beach time, and lunch for an entire morning of enjoyment for the whole family.
Aruba is home to the Caribbean’s only outrigger canoe company. Aruba Canoe offers a variety of tours, with the eco-friendly snorkel and paddle combo being a favourite. Starting at the beach at Governor’s Bay downtown, the tour begins in the outrigger canoe. From here your family will paddle for about 20 minutes to a small, private island just off the coast. Here you will have the opportunity to snorkel the colourful reef (all equipment provided) for close to an hour. After snorkelling, the group paddles back to shore.
De Palm Island
Families who want to take a break from the bustling beaches of Palm Beach, but still want to soak up the sun, often opt for a day trip to Aruba’s only all-inclusive destination, De Palm Island. Providing exclusive island access and a perfect dose of action, visitors can plunge into island activities including SNUBA, Sea Trek Underwater Helmet Walk, snorkelling, banana boat rides, the water park, or the all-new zip line. Adults kick back in a lounge chair on the island’s private beach or relax with a massage overlooking the Caribbean Sea, while kids splash around in the water park or indulge in De Palm Island’s unlimited food and beverage offerings.
Standup paddleboarding (also known as SUP) is an ancient form of surfing originating in Hawaii. Over the past decade, this sport has grown exponentially, with Aruba being one of the
first Caribbean destinations to embrace the activity. Our calm, flat waters provide the perfect venue to learn and enjoy this activity as a family. Many resorts have paddleboards available for guests, as do many water sports companies.
All along the leeward coast of Aruba, the calm, flat sea and the steady trade winds make sailing an ideal family activity. Several watersports operators offer catamaran cruises that showcase gorgeous scenery set against the turquoise canvas of the Caribbean Sea. Families looking for an extra-special treat can take advantage of several unique sailing excursions, including snorkel cruises and sunset sails. Food and beverages are generally included in these sailing excursions.
Aruba’s coastline features a series of close-to-shore reefs that are ideal for snorkelling. Up-close encounters with a vast array of colourful sea life is a memorable activity for families. Some of the popular areas for snorkelling include Boca Catalina, a small cove and beach area on the way to the California Lighthouse, and Mangel Halto, located near Savaneta heading south from the hotel areas.
Families will appreciate the engaging Aruba Downtown Walking Tours. Enjoy the hospitality and knowledge of a local expert as your family journeys by foot through our historic capital city to monuments, museums, and visits to several historic buildings boasting our Dutch colonial architecture. Enjoy “tastes” of Aruba with a few culinary stops offering samples of authentic Aruban cuisine.
Thanks to highly favourable wind and water conditions and year-round pleasant weather, Aruba is the windsurfing capital of the world. Year-round, avid windsurfers slice the water and kite surfers play with the trade winds on this piece of paradise. Watersport operators and instructors in Aruba are plentiful, providing equipment rentals and lessons.
With Aruba booked for New Years’ 2022 we are just counting the days until we return to our favourite Caribbean Island! For more photos of this amazing island, check out our Instagram Highlights HERE.
To learn more about Aruba and assistance with your future vacation plans, schedule an appointment to chat with us HERE.
**portion of this post originally published by the Aruba Tourism Authority.