Last updated on July 13th, 2022
Aruba is a beautiful island known for its gorgeous turquoise water and white-sand beaches. While it has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, there is more to Aruba than meets the eye. One Happy Island offers a variety of fun and unique things to see and do, both at and away from the beach. This doesn’t mean that the well-known areas like Eagle Beach and Palm Beach are not worth visiting, it just means there is more to Aruba than you may be aware of.
If you are ready to escape the crowds and visit a less touristy Aruba, read this guide of 15 unique and non-touristy things to do in Aruba.
Unique and Non-Touristy Things to Do in Aruba
If you are looking for things to see in Aruba that are lesser-known or not crowded but filled with beauty, this list of non-touristy things to do in Aruba is for you.
Want a ready-to-go Aruba itinerary with most of this list already on it? Read my One Week in Aruba Itinerary.
San Nicolas Street Art Murals
To see the artistic side of Aruba, you will want to visit the San Nicolas Street Art Murals, the first suggestion on this list of unique things to do in Aruba. The San Nicolas area is small but full to the brim of beautiful murals and street art. With new murals every year, over 40 murals are to be found in this area, all of them being eye-catching and unique. Visiting the street art murals of San Nicolas is the perfect way to experience Aruba’s vibrant arts scene and enjoy the island’s beautiful southern coast.
Donkey Sanctuary Aruba
One of the most adorable and unique things to do in Aruba is to visit the island’s Donkey Sanctuary. Historically, donkeys have played a surprisingly large role in Aruba’s development. Until cars were brought to the island, donkeys were actually the main mode of transportation! There are over 100 donkeys that call the sanctuary home, and you’ll be able to get up close and personal with these friendly creatures. Who doesn’t want to cuddle or hug a donkey?
Arikok National Park
Did you know almost 20% of the land in Aruba lies within Arikok National Park? This massive park is full of things to see and do, from rugged desert landscapes to seaside cliffs and caves with indigenous paintings. I had never seen so many cacti before! The great thing about Arikok is it’s small enough that you can explore the majority of it in a day, but it’s large enough that visitors can spread out and it never feels too crowded. For all my recommendations on visiting the park, read my Ultimate Guide to Arikok National Park, Aruba.
Ayo Rock Formation
One of the best non-touristy things to do in Aruba is to visit some of the island’s unique rock formations. Ayo Rock Formation is a beautiful example of Aruba’s natural rugged beauty. The towering formation is imposing but easily accessible, and you can walk in between the massive boulders through a series of pathways. You can find rock paintings at Ayo which speak to the island’s rich history. If you climb to the top of the Ayo rock formation, you will see stunning views of the surrounding area. Interacting with and being so close to the Ayo rock formation was one of my favourite things to do in Aruba.
Casibari Rock Formation
Another great rock formation worth checking out is Casibari. The Casibari Rock Formation is located in a residential area but, like Ayo, can be climbed and explored. A series of trails and steps lead visitors to the top of the formation where you can experience breathtaking 360-degree views over Aruba, including the nearby Hooiberg. You can easily visit both of these rock formations in one trip as they are only a few minutes apart, and each is uniquely beautiful.
Hiking Hooiberg Lookout is undoubtedly one of the top non-touristy things to do in Aruba. Hooiberg Lookout is a volcanic formation that is located right in the heart of the island, the only high peak on the island. The climb to the summit is steep with lots of steps, but the views from the top are worth it. On a clear day, you can even see Venezuela from the mountaintop.
One of the most unique things to see in Aruba is Natural Bridge. Several naturally-formed rock bridges can be found throughout Aruba, but by far the most striking is Natural Bridge and the nearby Baby Bridge. Unfortunately, Natural Bridge collapsed in 2005, but the remains are still worth seeing in person. Thankfully, Baby Bridge, located just across from Natural Bridge, is still standing and a great spot to visit. You will be amazed to see how years of erosion from the salty ocean waters naturally formed these bridges.
For a historic side of Aruba, the Bushiribana Ruins are a must-visit. Located on the northern coast of Aruba, the ruins are from a historic gold mill likely built in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Many may not know that Aruba was home to a mini gold rush after the mineral was found on the island in 1846. These ruins provide an excellent opportunity to reflect on Aruba’s history and consider how the island has changed over the decades.
To experience one of the most beautiful and calm beaches on the entire island of Aruba, you must visit Baby Beach. Located on the southern coast of the island, Baby Beach consists of a crescent-shaped beach and a shallow lagoon with gentle waters. Away from popular Eagle and Palm beaches, Baby Beach is away from the crowds. Relax on the powdery white sand or go snorkelling in its crystal clear waters, and enjoy an afternoon at Baby Beach.
When visiting the north side of Aruba, stop by the California Lighthouse. California Lighthouse was first lit in 1916, and even though it’s no longer in operation, visitors are welcome to climb to the top and take in sweeping views of the ocean and coastline.
One of Aruba’s best-kept secrets is the sand dunes that can be found on the island’s northern coast. The Arashi Dunes are a great place to escape the crowds and do a little bit of exploring on foot. Walking through these dunes makes you feel like you’ve stepped onto another planet. The Arashi Dunes are also conveniently located near California Lighthouse, so you can easily visit both in one afternoon.
Boca Catalina Beach
It’s no surprise that Aruba is full of beautiful beaches, and Boca Catalina ranks as one of the best. Boca Catalina is considered one of the top unique things to do in Aruba because of how small and secluded it is. If you want to avoid the more touristy beach options, I recommend visiting Boca Catalina. Boca Catalina is known for being a top beach choice among locals, so you’re guaranteed to have a great experience. During my visit, I went snorkelling at Boca Catalina Beach.
Aruba Aloe Factory & Farm
You might be surprised to learn that Aruba is home to one of the world’s only aloe companies to grow and manufacture the plant from start to finish. The Aruba Aloe Factory & Farm is home to a factory and museum that visitors are welcome to tour. During your visit, you will learn all about how the over 100-year-old company grows and processes its aloe. A visit to the aloe farm is sure to impress, and you’ll be glad you took the time to visit.
Another non-touristy beach option in Aruba is Surfside Beach. Surfside Beach is known for being a relatively quiet location to experience the island’s signature white sand beaches and clear waters. There are a few bars and restaurants just off the beach that make it a great place to relax and unwind for a few hours. Unsurprisingly, sunset is a wonderful time to visit this hidden gem.
The Butterfly Farm
Rounding out this guide to the top unique and non-touristy things to do in Aruba is the Butterfly Farm. The Butterfly Farm consists of a tropical garden that is full of a variety of butterflies. You will be able to learn about the life cycle of the butterfly as they transform from caterpillars, and the farm itself is a great photo spot because of how beautiful it is.
What is Unique in Aruba?
Aruba is the perfect tropical destination because of how much variety it offers on a relatively small island. You can experience everything from snorkelling to hiking to the top of a volcano and exploring historic ruins. There’s truly adventure everywhere in Aruba, and straying away from the touristy side of the island will reward you with some incredibly unique experiences.
Non-Touristy Places to Eat in Aruba
After all this exploring, you’re sure to have worked up an appetite! Aruba is home to some amazing restaurants, and these are my recommendations on non-touristy places to eat.
Zeerovers is a local favourite that serves up delicious fresh seafood. This oceanfront restaurant is unassuming in appearance, but you don’t want to miss eating here. Since the restaurant is located a bit of a drive from Aruba’s main touristy areas, you won’t have to worry about large crowds. Make sure you bring cash with you as they are cash-only.
Pika’s Corner Aruban Cuisine
Pika’s Corner Aruban Cuisine is a small corner cafe that is an excellent destination for traditional Aruban food. A hit among locals, Pika’s is a great place to try some authentic Aruban dishes and flavours in a small, casual setting.
The Pastechi House
A pastechi is a fried half-moon pastry filled with various sweet or savoury ingredients, and The Pastechi House is one of the best spots in Aruba to taste this local favourite. Pastechis are a traditional Aruban snack, so visiting The Pastechi House is a great way to sample this beloved snack.
This guide is the perfect tool for visitors who want to experience another side of Aruba. Whether you choose to visit one or all destinations on this guide to the best unique and non-touristy things to do in Aruba, you’re guaranteed to have a fun time! Aruba has so much to offer and is a great vacation spot. I hope you find this guide helpful as you plan your trip to Aruba.
Hope this information helped you plan unique and non-touristy things to do in Aruba.