*Our adventures in Aruba were sponsored in part by Aruba Tourism and DePalm Adventures Aruba, and as usual the opinions expressed here are our own.
The Caribbean Island of Aruba is downright gorgeous, with crystal blue waters and white sand beaches that stretch on forever. On our recent vacation in Aruba, we were so mesmerized by the beauty of Divi Beach. We almost didn’t leave the Tamarijn Aruba All-Inclusive Resort where we were staying! But venture out we did, and we are so glad for the experience of seeing more of the island and then returning to our beachfront rooms for a dip in the ocean. There are many things to do and activities in Aruba with kids, and we’ve featured a couple here to give you some ideas.
Activities in Aruba With Kids
Believe me, it was tempting to stay put in our comfy lounge chairs all day on the beach under the shade of palm-thatched palapas. The only thing missing from that whole situation was someone to bring me umbrella drinks and the occasional nosh. Imagine that – we had to actually get up and walk down the beach a few yards to the resort restaurants. Poor us.
We’re so glad we explored more of the island, and enjoyed our adventures out and about. Based on our recent experiences, here are a few activities in Aruba with kids that will make your family happy.
Snorkeling Tour on a Catamaran
Aruba is famous for being one of the world’s top underwater playgrounds, with scuba divers and snorkelers traveling from far and wide. The island’s reputation holds true, because these clear ocean waters are teeming with brightly colored tropical sea life.
Looking forward to sailing and snorkeling on Aruba, we hooked up with DePalm Tours Aruba. They picked us up from our rooms at the Tamarijn Resort on a big comfy air-conditioned bus. From there we were transported to the dock where the catamaran was moored. Sunscreened up and ready for a day in the tropical sun, we jumped on board the Palm Pleasure 70-foot catamaran with about 30 others and were on our way.
Now our family has been on a few boat tours, some better than others. This was one of the best we’ve experienced. The boat was in great shape, the crew was friendly and the equipment brand new. We hit several dive spots up the coast past the high-rise hotels, and were treated to amazing underwater views. Right away, we found ourselves surrounded by brightly colored fish of all shapes and sizes. There were pink ones, deep blue ones that looked like Dory, striped yellow and black ones, and many more. I even saw a giant clam!
Plenty of Dive Spots
One dive spot was super cool because it featured a sunken shipwreck. Looking down from above, we could see the corroded deck and hull as it listed to the side about 30 feet down. With such clear water, it was easy to make out the details of what once was. Spooky in a way, but super cool – the kids loved it.
After jumping off the boat and swimming with the fishes, we worked up a good appetite. Lucky for us, the crew of the Palm Pleasure served up a delicious lunch of salads, fish, chicken, coconut cake and drinks. The bar featured all kinds of tropical cocktails, as well as punch, sodas and waters.
Tickets for this fun adventure start at $94 for adults/$66 for kids. The entire experience lasted about 6 hours from door to door.
Off Road Adventures
After sitting on the beach for a few more days, we were ready for another adventure. This time, we wanted to take a land tour to the other side of the island where few people live. In fact, it was fairly deserted. Once again guided by DePalm Tours, we were picked up at the hotel – this time in an off-road jeep complete with bench seats. We were off and running for our Natural Pool Safari.
Heading towards the north side of the island, we bumped and lurched and laughed our way along rocky dirt roads. Up and down hills and into ravines we drove, as our driver/guide told us about the terrain and history of the island. Only about 69 square miles in total, Aruba is an interesting mix of coastlines. On the hotel side, the beaches are long and wide. Over on the other side, the coastline is craggy rocks, crashing waves and tiny sand areas hardly worth calling beaches at all. From our vantage points along the coast, we did find some inviting coves with beautiful small beaches.
We started by visiting a natural pool along the rocky coast. Visitors could easily scramble over the rocks and into the refreshing pond, snorkeling to see tropical fish. Our tour also hit some hot spots including the famous Natural Bridge. (Please note, the rock formation fell years ago so now the visitor’s center is there without an attraction. Still, they do make a great cheese empanada and have super clean restrooms!) We also stopped at the historic Bushribana Gold Smelter ruins, where long ago men melted and forged gold nuggets found on the island. Farther up the coast, we stopped to view the historic Alto Vista Chapel and the California Lighthouse. Both have beautiful views of that famous Caribbean coastline.
Tickets for the Natural Pool Safari start at $102 for adults and $79 for kids 8-12. Younger kids are not permitted.
Aruba Butterfly Farm
Another day we were feeling more peaceful, and learned there was a butterfly farm nearby. Actually, it was only about ten minutes up the road from our hotel. Since they were little, our girls have always been fascinated with butterflies so we had to go. Quaint and sweet, the Aruba Butterfly Farm was surprisingly well stocked. Walking through the entrance and gift shop, we were escorted into the netted gardens.
Inside there must have been hundreds of butterflies. Just like the many colorful fish we saw while snorkeling, the butterflies swirled around us in a riot of colors. We literally saw every color of the rainbow represented in these delicate creatures. My favorite were the giant blue ones, but really they were all breathtaking up close. Some even landed on us, checking us out to see if we were giant flowers.
At various places throughout the meandering paths, little huts are set up to house the chrysalises and cocoons formed by caterpillars. They looked like little jewel boxes, holding colorful dangling earrings or something. Every 30 minutes or so, a guide leads groups on a tour through the gardens. She told us about the butterflies and moths flying around us, what they ate, how they lived and reproduced. We saw more kinds of caterpillars than we have ever seen in one place.
We sat and watched the butterflies’ peaceful flights for a very long time. Photos were hard to get because those suckers can really move, but we managed a few good ones.
Tickets are $15 per person, and your ticket can be used again for the remainder of your stay on the island of Aruba.