Aruba’s principal attractions are the gorgeous beaches and azure waters. But it is worth it to travel beyond the beaches to explore the culture and unique topography of the island. Main tourist areas offer a myriad of choices for dining and nightlife. Though free musical entertainment is offered at several venues, the most stunning show is the daily gorgeous, colorful sunset along Aruba’s western shore. Hotel beach bars and independent lounges provide happy hour prices to enjoy this spectacle, which can segue into a romantic dinner right on the beach.
1. Explore the island on horseback
Aruba is home to several ranches that offer guided horseback rides across various parts of the landscape. Located in Arikok National Park, Rancho Daimari runs two-hour “traffic-free” tours (meaning you won’t encounter any cars) of the park and nearby sights, including the Cura di Tortuga, a naturally occurring pool surrounded by volcanic rock. If you’d like to have more control over the sights you’ll see, Rancho Notorious has seven different tour options ranging from one to three hours, in a variety of settings. For the perfect blend of desert scenery, beautiful coastline, and local history, book a ride with Rancho La Ponderosa, whose two to two-and-a-half-hour tours begin in the interior of the island and head northeast, over cacti-dotted hills, to remote Wariruri Bay and the 19th-century Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins.
2. Stay at an adults-only boutique resort
Large-scale resorts are prominent on Aruba, and the island is a popular destination for families, so some properties can feel crowded or overrun by children. If you’re seeking a more tranquil environment, book a room at Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts, Aruba’s sole adults-only boutique property. Away from the high-rise hotels of Palm Beach, Bucuti is located on Eagle Beach, arguably the island’s finest stretch of white sand and undoubtedly one of the best in all of the Caribbean. Popular with honeymooners and couples, this intimate resort features only 104 rooms and suites, ensuring that you’ll never feel overwhelmed by your fellow guests. Eco-friendly and LEED-certified, Bucuti offers a quiet kind of luxury, with friendly understated service that allows you to truly relax. In addition to a full-service spa, the property also features a fitness center, outdoor pool, sunbeds and palapas (thatched huts) on the beach, and an outdoor restaurant and bar where you can drink and dine from morning ‘til night. Because it offers a unique experience on Aruba, Bucuti’s occupancy rates remain around 90% year-round, so be sure to book well in advance.
3. Visit a national park
Nearly 20% of Aruba’s landmass is designated as Arikok National Park, a wonderful place to spot indigenous flora and fauna, including the Aruban burrowing owl (known locally as “choco”