To give cruise ship passengers an overview of the most important highlights that are closest to their port of arrival and departure, 10Best Local Experts have compiled an updated list of recommendations that include a variety of options to fit as many personal tastes and budgets as possible. Aruba visitors can choose between full day island tours, half day water activities or a combination of sightseeing and shopping or casino hopping.
Of course, there are many other options to have a fun-filled day in Aruba, like an all-inclusive package on De Palm Island or a visit to Aruba’s National Park Arikok, but to cover some of the best attractions close to the port of call, the two most important museums of Aruba should be included on any vacation itinerary.
A snorkeling trip with Private Snorkeling Aruba, or an underwater experience with Atlantis Submarine Expedition, both offer a glimpse of the island’s exotic marine life. If visitors want to jump on a tramcar and cruise through downtown Oranjestad to soak up the island’s culture, architecture and shopping opportunities, the tramcar station is right at the entrance of the cruise ship terminal. Be ready to rail away, browse around, or take a short cab drive to Druif Beach or Eagle Beach – if a peaceful day at one of Aruba’s most beloved attractions is all it takes to have a blast.
“Travel + Leisure” magazine named this stretch of powdery soft white sand, one of the “10 Best Beaches in the World.” This public beach offers plenty of parking, shady picnic areas and palapa huts. Swimming is wonderful here and local hotels can set you up with equipment for water sports or other beach activities. There are also facilities right on the beach, if you want to book a skiing trip, a jet ski or banana boat ride on the spot. If you prefer a more peaceful and secluded area to spend your day on this beach, pick one of the seagrape trees on the far end of Eagle Beach and decorate it with well-packed beach bags, towels and a cool box full of ice cold beer.
Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Eagle Beach is part of the longest beach strip on the island, and close to downtown Oranjestad.
Liliana’s expert tip: Start at Eagle Beach and stroll along Aruba’s western shore to visit the different beaches and resorts on your way.
Bring your best haggling tricks and get ready to bargain for T-shirts, local arts, crafts and delicacies. This flea market at the dock of Oranjestad’s harbor used to be Aruba’s first public market. Years ago, before the big supermarkets started to pop up everywhere, farmers and fishermen brought their fresh fruits, vegetables and fish here, at these open-air kiosks along the harbor, for locals to barter and buy. The Waf (wharf) was desolated for a while, but one day it picked up its trading habits and resuscitated as a flea market, bringing tourists closer to the island’s culture and traditions.
Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The Wharfside Flea Market may not be the only flea market on the island, but it was the first and most meaningful one.
Liliana’s expert tip: Be sure to bring plenty of florins or US dollars – these will be strictly cash transactions.
Cosecha – meaning ‘harvest’ in Papiamento – is a fine local art and craft gallery boutique in the heart of Oranjestad. An ever-changing array of locally made sculptures, pottery, glass and ceramic art, paintings, handcrafted jewelry, driftwood decorations and fashion collections, gives a fascinating glimpse of the Aruban culture and heritage. By introducing the Seyo Nacional Pa Artesania (national qualifying seal of approval for artisans), the Department Of Culture sets out to establish and maintain an adequate standard of craftsmanship quality on the island. The Cosecha initiative plugs perfectly into this concept, and has two locations: downtown Oranjestad and San Nicolas.
Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Cosecha brings out the best local artists and artisans the island has to offer to meet the downtown marketplace.
Liliana’s expert tip: Every week, Cosecha will be featuring live local art demonstrations in-store.
If scuba diving is not your thing but the wonders of the deep fascinate you, De Palm Tours has just the thing: the Atlantis Submarine Expedition that allows you to see a stunning array of marine life, from fish and sea turtles to coral and stingrays. If just being under the water (even in an airconditioned submarine) makes you jittery, try Atlantis’ semi-sub, the Seaworld Explorer, which stays on the surface but offers incredible views from the hull. Tours are offered daily, call for specific times. The Atlantis Submarines Expedition tours begin at the Adventure Center in downtown Oranjestad where you will take a short transfer to the submarine onboard our shuttle vessel SubSeeker.
Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Atlantis Submarines Expedition is a one-of-a-kind underwater experience in Aruba.
Liliana’s expert tip: Children must be a minimum of 36″ in height and 4 years old to ride the submarine.
Together with the seasoned Captain Milton and his crew, guests have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience local fishing in Aruba. Teaser Charters don’t hold the Caribbean record of a 1086 pound Blue Marlin for nothing. Fully equipped, top of the notch deep sea and inshore fishing trips are available for half and full days, all depending on the customer’s wishes. Catches of the Day can be delivered to a restaurant or hotel on request, except for billfish. The Teaser team practices a strict ‘catch and release’ policy for these species, promoting sustainable tourism to help protect the island’s natural resources.
Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Teaser was one of the first fishing charters in Aruba and still operates with the same passion and responsibility as when they started out.
Liliana’s expert tip: For a more personalized ocean adventure, contact Teaser Fishing Charter via email.
Aruba’s main shopping street, Caya G.F. Betico Croes (named after ex-member of parliament Croes, who was responsible for setting Aruba’s independence from the Dutch Antilles, back in 1986) is a half-mile long smorgasbord of international and local shops, snack bars, art galleries and department stores. Good buys include Dutch cheeses, chocolates and china, British woolens, French perfume and Swiss watches. Aruba has no sales tax, and the duty is low (usually around 3-4%), so plan to buy your souvenirs and gifts here. The Caya G.F. Betico Croes is still undergoing a major renovation, including the newest feature: a solar-powered tramcar that transports visitors from the cruise-ship terminal to several points downtown.
Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Caya G.F. Betico Croes is Aruba’s main street and pride, with a complete facelift and exciting new features like a tramcar.
Liliana’s expert tip: Visit Aruba’s oldest department store, La Linda, if not for active buying, then for a browse-driven tour – this venue is indispensable, especially among local Carnival groups in need of colorful fabrics and shimmering beads for their yearly costumes and floats.
Constructed in 1798, as a means of defense against pirates, this old Dutch fortress now houses the Historical Museum of Aruba. The restoration of Fort Zoutman took place in 1974 and in 1983 the Willem III Tower was finished, enabling Aruba a historic museum of its own. The exhibition offers displays chronicling the island’s early history from ancient Caiquetio Indian artifacts through Spanish and Dutch colonialism. The Willem III Tower was built in 1868 and added to the Fort with Aruba’s first public clock and served as a lighthouse equipped with a spire and petrol lamp. All tours conclude with refreshments.
Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Fort Zoutman Historical Museum and Willem III Tower give visitors an introduction to Aruba’s history and culture.
Liliana’s expert tip: The Bon Bini Festival takes place every Tuesday evening (6:30 – 8:30 pm) in the outdoor courtyard of the Fort Zoutman museum, celebrating the island’s culture and history. “Bon bini” means “Welcome” in Papiamento, and that is the perfect word to describe the warm environment of this festival.
The Green Bike Aruba project is an incredibly smart family initiative that finally introduced the environmentally friendly bicycle-sharing system in Aruba. With a fleet of hundred bicycles divided among the eight stations along Aruba’s west coast, bikers can explore the island at their own pace, seven days a week, and round the clock. Depending on the duration of the stay, visitors (and locals) can opt for hourly, daily, weekly or yearly passes. Unlocking and returning is made super easy because of the technologically advanced and secure Green Bike systems. This human powered public transportation not only reduces your carbon footprint, it’s also very gentle on your budget.
Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Green Bike Aruba gives adventurers an exciting opportunity to discover Aruba’s highlights on their own pace, at attractive rates, with zero impact on the environment.
Liliana’s expert tip: Download the Cyclefinder mobile app to check bike availability before heading to the station.
Aruba Walking Tours is a relatively new attraction on the island, offering visitors unique strolls through Aruba’s cultural and historical lanes. A two and a half hour excursion alone gives sightseers a broader and deeper view of the island’s identity, thanks to the insightful guidance of ADWT’s Local Experts. Main highlights include the downtown monuments and museums, local tastings for the foodies, quick shopping stops for the shopoholics and some mingling time with the locals. Aruba Downtown Walking Tours has it all covered – complimentary pickups, wifi, gift cards – so that customers get the most out of their precious Caribbean vacation.
Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Aruba Downtown Walking Tours is a new, unique and more up-close-and-personal way to get acquainted with Aruba (and Arubans).
Liliana’s expert tip: Daily tours start at 9 AM. For customized experiences and other departure times, private tours for couples, families and corporate groups are available.
Aruba Heli Tours has been taking to the skies since 2002, providing passengers with the most memorable island experiences. Whoever dreamt of taking a helicopter ride can check mark their bucket list by hopping on board a Robinson 44 and soar over Aruba’s mesmerizing landscapes. The certified and experienced team of Aruba Heli Tours are ready for take off, whether guest are planning a sneak peek ride, a beach tour, or a half hour island sightseeing flight. If you’re looking for a unique vacation adventure, take flight with Aruba Heli Tours, there’s no better way to soak it all in than from a bird’s eye view.
Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Aruba Heli Tours is the only helicopter service in Aruba, turning a great vacations into an unforgettable journey.
Liliana’s expert tip: Aruba Heli Tours is located at the Renaissance Marina, right behind the Renaissance Convention Center.