Last Updated on November 26, 2023 by Ray Roman
Travelers can enjoy the stunning white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and laid-back ambiance that can only be found on an island in the Caribbean nation of Aruba.
If you’re planning a visit to Aruba, you need to know the best cities in Aruba to visit so you can make the most out of your trip!
Although it’s one of the smallest Caribbean islands, there is so much to do in Aruba! From snorkeling and kitesurfing to shopping and beach hopping, there is something for everyone.
To help you plan your vacation, we’ve created this guide detailing the best cities to visit in Aruba. By the end of this article, you’ll have all the information about this incredible island!
1. Santa Cruz
The Santa Cruz and nearby Paradera districts cover much of central Aruba. Arikok National Park, Aruba’s top wildlife park, dominates the entire eastern side and is definitely worth a visit.
The park covers a range of barren hills and much of the storm-battered east coast, strewn with rocky coves known as “Bocas”.
Attractions include the Dos Playa and Boca Prins beaches and the remarkable “Conchi” natural saltwater pool shielded from the surf by a wall of big boulders. The only ways to get to the pool are on foot, by horseback, or by using unique 4×4 vehicles.
Even though the nearby Natural Bridge collapsed in 2007, Andicuri Beach is still one of the island’s most remote and has good surfing conditions.
Petroglyphs made by the native Caqueto people can be found in Fontein Cave and Quadirikiri Cave and former plantation sites like Cunucu Arikok and Plantation Prins.
The climb up the steps to the top of the cone-shaped Hooiberg, a small hill with breathtaking views, is another well-liked activity beyond the park’s boundaries.
The enormous groups of huge rocks known as the Casibari and Ayo Rock formations are among the neighboring Paradera’s many attractions.
Additional features are the kid-friendly Aruba Ostrich Farm and the strikingly exposed ruins of the Bushiribana Gold Mine.
2. Palm Beach
Aruba’s most popular tourist areas are located around 3 miles northwest of Oranjestad along the serene Caribbean shore.
The area’s first significant strip is Eagle Beach, Aruba’s largest and most popular white sand beach.
Though there is a collection of all-inclusive resorts to the south, centered on what is known as Punta Brabo, the hotels that line the sands here tend to be low-rise, less formal affairs than in Palm Beach.
There isn’t much to do here save swimming, playing in the sea, or just relaxing on the beaches, but just at the northernmost point of the beach are the island’s incredibly picturesque fofoti trees, which rise straight out of the sand.
Palm Beach can be found about a mile north of Eagle Beach, past a little headland. Most large resorts are situated here, lining a stunning 2-mile stretch of sand.
You’ll also find top-notch bars, clubs, boutiques, casinos, and dining establishments here. A portion known as “Fisherman’s Huts” at the northern end is a well-liked location for windsurfing and kiteboarding.
The Butterfly Farm and Bubali Bird Sanctuary, a wetland preserve, are located between the two beaches, and both offer welcome respites from the heat and sand.
3. San Nicolas
Compared to the more established tourist areas to the north, San Nicolas is located 12 miles southeast of Oranjestad along the coast and offers a different experience.
This neighborhood has predominantly been made up of Afro-Arubans since the 1920s when the island’s oil refinery sector first began to take off here on the southernmost point of Aruba.
The Community Museum, the Museum of Industry, and a few neighborhood art galleries along Zeppenfeldstraat, the district’s main street, are also worth a visit to learn about the area’s rich cultural history.
You may also visit Charlie’s Pub, a landmark in the area since 1941, and take in the more than 50 hand-painted murals that adorn the buildings’ sides.
At the southernmost point of the island, just outside the main section of the town, are several less-frequented beaches, the nicest of which is Baby Beach, with shallow waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Another well-liked spot for kiteboarding is Boca Grandi, which lies on the windier eastern side of the island.
Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba, is a bustling port city with remnants of Dutch Colonial architecture, though it is now best known as a haven for shoppers.
Here you’ll find several malls and the usual assortment of upscale shops, designer boutiques, and jewelry stores.
Most of the shops are located along the pedestrianized Main Street, which serves as the hub of downtown Oranjestad.
Nevertheless, Lloyd G. Smith Boulevard, which runs along the waterfront, is also lined with upscale boutiques, including Gucci, the Renaissance Mall, Swarovski, and the Royal Plaza Mall.
The Museo Historico Aruba, the island’s history museum, is one of Aruba’s historical highlights and is located in Fort Zoutman, the island’s oldest structure.
You can climb the 1868 addition to the fort, the Willem III Tower, located at the museum to get a bird’s-eye view of the city.
The “Bon Bini Festival,” a celebration of the island’s culture with local performers, music, and dance, is held at the museum every Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The National Archaeological Museum Aruba, which has more than 10,000 Amerindian items, is another place enthusiasts should visit.
The Cas di Cultura, Aruba’s national theater and cultural hub, is located in Oranjestad as well and hosts year-round performances by regional and worldwide performers.
The Aruba Aloe Factory Museum and Shop honor Aruba’s long history as a producer of aloe vera; the Hato Plantation was established in this location in 1890.
Top Tips For Visiting Aruba
Now that you know the best cities to explore in Aruba, here are some of our top travel tips for visiting this vibrant Caribbean island.
1. Make Time For Flamingo Beach
Flamingos can only be found on the Renaissance Aruba Private Island in Aruba. Here, you may spend the day unwinding on a secluded beach while surrounded by flamingos!
Cabanas, a spa, and various water activities are also available on the island. We strongly advise selecting this if you can only participate in one excursion or activity throughout your trip.
Staying at the Renaissance Aruba Resort is the most convenient travel method. Admission to Renaissance Island is provided free of charge to hotel guests. You’ll require island passes if you’re not staying at the hotel.
To see if any passes are still available, you must check the website first thing in the morning of the day you plan to visit.
Lunch, a cocktail, and towels are all included in the price, costing about $125 USD per person.
2. Rent A Car
Although some visitors can cope by using cabs while they are in Aruba, we strongly advise renting a car.
This gives you the freedom to tour the island at your own pace. You can also explore several beaches, restaurants, and even the natural pools without taking a tour if you rent a car.
Driving on the right side of the road, as Americans do, makes getting around Aruba simple and stress-free. Be prepared, though, for plenty of traffic circles.
Even if you are renting a car, you might prefer to start your trip with a Jeep excursion. These guided tours are an excellent way to get oriented on the island.
3. You Can Take US Dollars
The island’s legal currency is the Aruban florin, but US dollars are also widely accepted. Also, many ATMs in Aruba allow you to withdraw dollars and florins.
Nonetheless, you should exercise caution if you wish to have dollars, as some ATMs only issue florins.
One of the most important things to know before visiting Aruba is that you can get change in US dollars and Aruban florins while paying with cash.
4. You Need To Wear Sunscreen
Using sunscreen when taking a trip to the Caribbean is always a good idea. Many visitors to Aruba mistakenly believe that the sun isn’t very strong because of the island’s windy climate.
This is not the case, so you should wear sunscreen 100% of the time, regardless of the weather.
Keep in mind that this island is located very close to the Equator. In general, the more direct sunlight enters the atmosphere, the closer you are to the equator.
Moreover, Aruba’s beaches’ white sand reflects the sun’s rays.
Best Cities In Aruba Final Thoughts
Aruba is a fantastic vacation destination, and with this guide, you’ll have no problem making the most out of your Caribbean adventure!
No matter where you visit, there is something for every type of traveler in Aruba.