Beyond Aruba’s Beaches
There’s so much more to Aruba than just sun, sand, and surf. The island’s distinct topography and semiarid climate allow for an array of activities, many of which aren’t available on other Caribbean islands: ecological explorations, desert safaris, horseback riding tours, and undersea and over-water adventures.
The ecological exploration can begin right at Palm Beach. Across from the Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort, the Butterfly Farm is a joyous place tropical garden is aflutter with a multitude of the gracious species. Arrive early in the morning to witness butterflies emerging from cocoons to take flight for the first time.
At Bubali Bird Sanctuary, feathered creatures rest their wings in the surprisingly lush vegetation. Both active birders and those just curious will delight in spotting Caribbean parakeets, tropical mockingbirds, blue-tailed emeralds, and possibly even a scrub flycatcher. The man-made wetland is a resting and breeding area for more than 80 species of migratory birds.
Continue the nature tour at the Aruba Aloe Museum and Factory. The influence of the aloe vera plant touches many aspects of Aruban culture, especially health and healing. It was introduced to the island in 1840, and shortly thereafter, the leafy wonder covered nearly two-thirds of the island. Aloe vera’s natural healing qualities are intensified by the southern Caribbean sun and Aruba’s desert-like climate. The science behind it all is explained during a tour of the factory, the highlight of which is the chance to purchase soothing Aruba Aloe lotions and creams. Stock up on pre- and post-sun skin-care products. The southern Caribbean sun can be scorching, but the deceptive breeze keeps many visitors from noticing until it’s too late.
Aruba’s central region is known as the cunucu, a quaint countryside filled with curious divi-divi trees, towering cacti, and enigmatic clusters of gigantic tonalite boulders. The stones at the Casibari and Ayo rock formations weigh several tons apiece yet appear to be haphazardly strewn about the land. This condition perplexed the ancient Amerindians and continues to puzzle modern geologists today.
Aruba’s rugged landscape is an ideal habitat for the world’s largest bird: the ostrich. Get acquainted with both ostriches and their cousins, the emus, at the Aruba Ostrich Farm just north of the Ayo. During an educational tour, visitors learn fun facts about the world’s fastest bird and even have a chance to hand-feed the not-so-shy critters.
Further north on the east coast, a winding road lined with white crosses leads to the charming, bright-yellow Alto Vista Chapel, the island’s first Roman Catholic church. This seaside edifice, built by native Indians and Spanish settlers in 1750 and reconstructed in 1953, exudes a deep sense of tranquillity and history.
At the northwestern tip of Aruba, the California Lighthouse stands guard over land and sea from its cliffside perch. The scenic landmark is named in honor of a ship that sank in 1916 in the rough waters a few miles offshore. The lighthouse offers rewarding 360-degree views of the rippling sand dunes and weather-beaten coastline to the east and of the marshmallow-white beaches backed by the opalescent blue sea to the west. Experienced scuba divers can view remnants of the lighthouse’s namesake wreck off the northern coast.
Snorkel, swim, relax, and play on a private oasis designed for fun, De Palm Island.
Discover Aruba’s leading landmarks and natural attractions on a narrated panoramic drive around the island, enriching your understanding of the world.
Climb aboard a colorful open-air bus for a fun ride to one of Aruba’s beautiful beaches. Moving to a Caribbean beat, visit two island landmarks before hitting the soft, sugar-white sands. Swim in the turquoise waters, stroll, play, shop for souvenirs, treat yourself to lunch on the beach, enjoy drinks at the beach bar, or just relax on your complimentary lounge chair.
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