Dry, desert-like Aruba blooms with experiences for you to share with your kids and teens. The island’s gorgeous white sand beaches and calm turquoise waters are just the beginning.
Bounce off-road on a Jeep tour, meet ostriches and visit a donkey sanctuary, learn to windsurf and play beach tennis, and discover underwater wonders by snorkeling over coral reefs and taking a thrilling dive in a submarine
Here are 16 of the best things to do in Aruba with kids.
Swim at Palm Beach
On the island’s west coast, visit the famous Palm Beach, one of the best places to visit in Aruba. Located north of Oranjestad, the beach dazzles with two miles of white sands lapped by a turquoise sea.
Arrive early to select a prime place along this popular beach in Aruba, with its calm waters. Along with swimming, teens like strolling the strand, taking in the scene. There are plenty of activities on hand: paddleboarding, for example, and for the adventurous, kitesurfing.
Conveniently located across the street from Palm Beach, Paseo Herencia Shopping and Entertainment Center features restaurants and some of the best shopping in Aruba.
At Aruba Aloe, teens will find locally produced soothing skin products. Sample perfumes at Maggy’s, and find T-shirts at Island Vibes.
For families who can’t decide what to eat, and for those who can, Fusion Cuisine features pizza, pasta, and sushi. Hungry teens appreciate the large portions at Che Bar, an Argentinian grill.
Bounce Along the Coast in a Jeep
Discovering Aruba’s wild side, its north coast, by jeep is one of the best things to do with kids in Aruba. Muscle your way over the rugged cunucu (countryside) in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
On some tours, you drive your own four-wheeler over dirt roads, following a guide who takes you through a landscape of fast-breaking surf, tall cacti, boulders, and the skeletons of leafless divi-divi trees.
Depending on the tour, you might pass the California Lighthouse, one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world, and the Alto Vista Chapel built in 1952 on the site of Aruba’s first Catholic Church, constructed in 1758.
The thick stone walls of the Bushiribana gold mine ruins rise apparition-like from the rugged landscape. From the 1824 discovery of gold in Aruba to the 1916 closing of the mine, the facility extracted more than three million pounds of the precious metal.
Further inland, the Ayo Rock formations are the remnants of ancient Indian caves and some tours take in this spectacle, too.
If no one wants to take the wheel, select a guide-driven tour. Teens like the bouncy, wind-in-your hair trip.
Discover Arikok National Park
Arikok National Park’s 7,907 acres preserves Aruba’s natural, desert-like landscape.
Hike trails dotted with cacti and explore caves. In Fontein Cave, see centuries-old rock drawings by the Caquetio of the Arawak tribe. The bats are interesting, too. They hang upside down from the ceiling, waiting for dusk.
In Quadirikiri Cave, sunlight from an opening in the rocky roof streams in, creating patterns on the stone walls. Cool off by soaking in Conchi, a natural pool protected from the sea by boulders.
A four-wheel drive is required to reach the natural pool and several jeep tours visit the site.
Have a Close Encounter With an Ostrich
Kids of all ages love a visit to the Aruba Ostrich Farm, home to a collection of ostriches and emus. These impressive birds, although flightless, can run at great speed; ostriches at 43 mph and emus 31 mph.
The visit is a chance to learn about the care and maintenance of these fascinating birds, and their habits, with a visit to the hatchery at the end, and the pens where the juvenile birds are kept.
Kids will enjoy a chance to feed the birds, too; stand with a bowl of food and they’ll quickly gather round to peck at it.
After the visit, you can order ostrich or emu egg omelets at the Savanna restaurant or opt for beef burgers, grilled grouper, and chicken pita sandwiches.
Learn to Windsurf at Hadicurari Beach
Head to Hadicurari Beach with your teens to learn windsurfing, one of the best things to do in Aruba.
The island’s constant winds make it a draw to windsurfers from all over the world, all the more so for the annual Aruba Hi-Winds, the Caribbean’s largest windsurfing competition.
Hadicurari Beach’s flat, shallow waters create ideal board-surfing conditions. At the beach, also known as Fisherman’s Huts, you and your teens can learn to glide along the surface by taking lessons, regardless of your previous experience.
It’s also fun to watch the experts skim the waves, sun on the white sands, and swim in the calm sea.
Explore Underwater on an Atlantis Submarine
Kids love the opportunity to take a dive on an Atlantis Submarine. From the vessel’s portholes, you get a diver’s-eye view of underwater wonders without getting wet.
Choose from two recreational submarine options. To board a vessel that cruises the sea and descends to depths of 140 feet, you first take a short ride to the submarine’s floating dock.
As the sub cruises to reefs and a shipwreck, you’ll look out for schools of tropical fish, barracudas, and sea turtles, amazing sights for non-diving and non-snorkeling kids and adults.
If your family prefers a stationary sub that doesn’t dive deep, then opt for the Aruba Seaworld Explorer whose hull sits five feet below the surface within sight of the Antilla, one of the largest shipwrecks in the Caribbean.
Visit a Butterfly Farm
Butterflies amaze kids. At the Butterfly Farm, families learn about the lifecycle of these colorful creatures as they grow from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to winged adult.
As you stroll the Butterfly Farm’s netted tropical garden, hundreds of butterflies, some with red stripes, splashes of blue and orange, green and black, and other vibrant combinations, flit by.
To encourage the delicate beauties to alight on your shoulder, if that’s what you want, wear red and consider a dab of citrus-scented perfume.
Spend the Day at De Palm Island
Spending the day at De Palm Island is a great family activity in Aruba, especially if your teens have energy to burn.
On De Palm Island, located minutes from the mainland by boat, you and your teens can twist down water slides, bounce on banana boat rides, snorkel the nearby reef, and tuck into lunch from the buffet.
To walk on the seafloor and float among the fish, try the Snuba and Sea Trek, experiences that provide air, enabling you to explore underwater. The kids’ waterpark features child-sized slides and water sprays.
Hug a Donkey
Donkeys have inhabited Aruba for more than 500 years. Islanders rode the beasts of burden and strapped goods to their backs. When motorized vehicles replaced the donkeys, they were left jobless and eventually homeless.
The Aruba Donkey Sanctuary, situated mid-island in Bringamosa, shelters and feeds 130 of these victims of modernization. For a donation, you can hug these docile creatures, and if you bring carrots and apples, you’ll become their heroes.
Swim, Sun, & Play Beach Tennis at Eagle Beach
Eagle Beach, a signature island strand, is often voted as a top Caribbean beach. Stroll the wide, white sands, swim in the calm water, rent water toys from vendors, and find the much-photographed fofoti trees.
Often mistaken for divi divi trees that grow in dirt, the fofoti roots in sand and is an iconic symbol that Aruba is known for.
On Eagle Beach, try one of the island’s fastest-growing sports: beach tennis, played outdoors on sand courts. Consider reserving lessons ahead of time from the Beach Tennis Aruba Club.
Hungry? Then line up with the locals at Mama’s Food Truck, stationed in Eagle Beach’s parking lot and known for its generous portions.
A favorite plate mixes steak, shrimp, and local fish and comes with French fries and sweet plantains. Even teens won’t go hungry.
Tour the Aruba Aloe Museum, Factory, and Store
Discover how the prickly aloe vera plant is used to create soothing skin products on a tour of the Aruba Aloe Museum, Factory, and Store in Hato. Watch how workers filet the thick leaves so that the gel can be squeezed from the cuttings and turned into 100 percent natural lotions, creams, body scrubs, and other products.
The best part of the visit for teens is the shop, where they can stock up on balancing facial toners, makeup removers, lip balms, and gels to soothe sunburn, which is especially handy for anyone who has overdone windsurfing, swimming, and other sports in the tropical sunshine.
Swim With Sea Turtles at Boca Catalina
There’s something magical about swimming alongside sea turtles as they rhythmically propel themselves through the water with their flippers.
The beguiling creatures feed on the seagrass beds situated 12 to 20 feet offshore at Boca Catalina, a small rocky beach located on Aruba’s northwest coast.
This is one of the best places in Aruba to snorkel, where you could find angelfish, needlefish, starfish, and other critters along the reef, as well as sea turtles. The best time to snorkel and swim is in the morning when the wind and currents are less strong than later in the day.
Kayak Spanish Lagoon
Kayaking the scenic Spanish Lagoon, a protected estuary in Pos Chiquito on Aruba’s southeast coast is one of the best things to do with kids in Aruba thanks to the abundance of wildlife.
Thick mangroves line sections of Spanish Lagoon’s banks, where you could spot the nests of burrowing owls. The critically endangered species is a national symbol of Aruba.
You could also look out for iguanas basking in the trees, land and sea birds, and if you take to the water with a mask and snorkel as part of your trip, vibrant coral reefs and shoals of tropical fish.
Snorkel & Dive Mangel Halto
Snorkeling Mangel Halto, a small beach in Pos Chiquito on Aruba’s southeast coast, is a wonderful experience for novice snorkelers as you can swim or walk through the calm water to the reef’s edge and peer down to spot sponges, yellowtail, parrotfish, and other colorful critters.
For experienced divers, a dive over the 110-foot deep reef is also likely to reveal moray eels, barracudas, and octopi.
Wade at Baby Beach
Baby Beach, at the southern end of Aruba, is a tranquil lagoon protected by an artificial breakwater. The beach itself is a half-moon of brilliant white sand, and the water a deep shade of aquamarine.
Since the natural pool is only five feet deep and free of currents, the beach is ideal for young swimmers and snorkelers. There are huts dotted around for shade and for hungry teens, BBQ platters and seafood platters from Big Mama’s Grill.
Read: Best Food in Aruba
Shop for Souvenirs
For most teens, it’s not a vacation unless they take home a souvenir. For sweets imported from The Netherlands, shop grocery stores for Verdake, Droste, and Lindt chocolates.
Stock up on Stroopwafels, which are crispy wafers with a caramel filling, and Speculaas cookies spiced with ginger and cinnamon.
Find T-shirts at Style Aruba, the I Love Aruba Shop, and scores of other places in Oranjestad, which is packed with shops.
Many island stores stock Aruba Aloe products, including soothing face creams, sunburn gels, and soaps. Look out, too, for handmade jewelry, arts, and crafts; check for the Made in Aruba tag to support the local economy.
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