Dutch influence still lingers on this balmy Caribbean island, part of the former Netherlands Antilles until its independence in 1986. Aruba is a contrast: the island's arid interior is dotted with cactus and windswept divi-divi trees while secluded coves and sandy beaches make up its coast. Aruba's long and colorful heritage is reflected in its dialect. Called Papiamento, it is a tongue that combines elements of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, African and English.

Top things to do and see in Aruba: View Excursions

  • 1California Lighthouse

    Perched on a high elevation and named after the steamship "California," which sunk off the coast of Aruba, this lighthouse was built in 1910, and offers stunning views of the island and coastline.

  • 2Oranjestad

    Oranjestad, Aruba's largest port, is the island's capital and offers the best shopping experience on its main street. It is also known for its impressive Dutch Colonial architecture.

  • 3The "Antilla" Shipwreck

    The 400-foot "Antilla" is one of the Caribbean's largest shipwrecks and also one of its most popular attractions. It was sunk during World War II and is home to many kinds of exotic sea life.

  • 4Baby Natural Bridge

    Baby Natural Bridge is a stunning rock and coral formation. The original Natural Bridge fell into the sea in 2005, but the smaller bridge remains a must-see island highlight.

  • 5Ayo or Casibari Rock Formations

    These dramatic formations are shaped by boulders, some the size of small houses and weighing several tons. Arawak Indians would visit in order to hear incoming thunderstorms and draw on the rocks.

  • 6Ostrich Attraction

    Dozens of extroverted ostriches and emus live at this unusual farm, where you can get an up-close look at the gawky creatures' life cycle and even try hand feeding them!

  • 7Beaches

    Aruba is famous for gorgeous, palm-tree lined white sandy beaches which are home to calm clear waters, making them perfect locations for swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing.

  • 8Butterfly Farm

    Aruba's Butterfly Farm is home to hundreds of exotic butterflies who fly freely within large meshed enclosures. Witness all stages of their life cycle and with guidance, handle these tiny creatures.