When planning a cruise trip to and around the Caribbean, it’s almost a certainty that you will take a cruise to Aruba. This sunny island has been a popular destination for tourists and adventure seekers for decades, and it’s easy to see why.
Arubans consider their island to be 70 square miles of happiness. The island is in the southern part of the Caribbean. For such a small piece of land, there is so much to do. The time zone is one hour ahead of the Eastern time zone so no worry about cruise lag at this port. You can relax and enjoy all Aruba has to offer.
What to do in the Aruba cruise port
When your cruise docks in Aruba, there are plenty of things that you can do. Since the cruise port is located in Aruba’s capital, Oranjestad, tourists can easily make their way to Lloyd G. Smith Boulevard and the Renaissance Market for some affordable, world-class shopping.
Aruba cruise port shopping
Aruba is a shopaholic’s paradise, and it’s easy to understand why. The shopping district is known for the variety of available products. Some of the best things to buy while in Aruba are the following:
- Gourmet chocolates
- Stroopwafels (thin, round waffle cookies with caramel)
- Aloe products
- Dutch cheeses
- Mopa Mopa art (Mopa Mopa is the resin used in the art)
- Aruban shorts
When arriving by cruise ship, it will be so easy to find the shopping district which is just a few minutes away from the district. A large Flea Market is also open and available for cruise ship passengers.
Is shopping cheap?
Yes, shopping is cheaper in Aruba. It’s more affordable to purchase your souvenirs in the Aruba cruise port because there is no sales tax and there are low duties. The prices are also 10% – 35% lower than in the US. Definitely purchase a piece of the Mopa Mopa art as it is reasonable in Aruba.
Aruba cruise port tours
Best cruise ship excursions in Aruba
There are plenty of cruise ship excursions that tourists can try once their cruise docks. Nood, Aruba is a mere 15 minutes from the Aruba cruise port. You can appreciate tours in the city and surrounding areas.
- Island tours
- Hiking tours in national parks
- Visiting the shopping district
- Island Jeep tours
- California Lighthouse
- Beach tours
Almost 20% of Aruba is designated as the Arikok National Park and is home to a diverse list of plant life and animal species. The most well-known national park in Aruba is the Arikok National Park, and many tourists have enjoyed seeing the island’s natural landscape.
In the Arikok National Park, visitors can see many exquisite and endangered natural treasures, such as the rattlesnake (cascabel), the Aruban cat eye snake (Santanero), and the Aruban whiptail lizard (Cododo).
The San Fuego entrance to the national park is the easiest entrance to reach. This is also the entrance where tourists can find the Arikok Park Visitor’s Center. This center also houses an animal exhibit and is constructed from sustainable materials.
The park rangers will meet the group at the center for hiking tours. The park rangers will lead you on the several hiking trails that Arikok has to offer. These trails will lead you to interesting fauna, flora, and fascinating historical sites within the national park.
The hiking tours aren’t recommended for people who suffer from heart problems, use wheelchairs, or are mobility impaired. These hikes are also not suitable for pregnant women.
Booking the Arikok Park hiking tours will include parking entrance fees, free pick-up, and drop-off at your cruise ship, bottled water, and English, Spanish, and Dutch-speaking guides.
Snorkeling around Aruba
For shipwreck sailing and snorkeling excursions, you can’t beat snorkeling off the shore of Aruba. The Catamaran Snorkeling Adventure tour offers private snorkeling excursions at Aruba’s World War II “Antilla.”
You can visit not only the shipwreck but also the Arashi reef. If you are lucky you will encounter sea turtles at Boca Catalina.
Visit the California lighthouse
Located on the northwest tip of Aruba, the California lighthouse stands on the Hudishibana peak located near the Sasariwichi dunes and Arashi Beach. The lighthouse earned its name from the steamship California which was wrecked in 1910.
This historic lighthouse has become one of Aruba’s well-known tourist sites because it offers visitors a stunning view of the western coastline including coral shorelines and beaches.
The lighthouse is open every day from 9 am to 7 pm, with a $5 admission fee. Tourists can visit anytime until it closes but the best time to visit the lighthouse is at sunset. Visitors will watch the beautifully bright orange sun slowly dip into the Caribbean Ocean.
Full tour of the island by jeep
Visitors who want to make the most of their trip to Aruba can book a Full-Day Island Jeep Safari Tour. To traverse many of these places, a four-wheel vehicle is necessary. This tour will show you the unseen, wild beauty of Aruba.
This tour includes several stops at the Arikok National Park, California Lighthouse, San Nicolas, Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, Chapel of Alto Vista, and Wish Garden. Tourists can also enjoy a swim and snorkeling at the Baby Beach and Natural Pool.
Aruba is a popular parasailing destination. There are plenty of parasailing destinations in Aruba, but the number one spot is the idyllic coast of Palm Beach. Adventure seekers can glimpse the best views of the island.
Typically, parasailers board a speedboat that will race off from the Palm Beach shores to a few hundred yards away. Here they will be lifted into the sky over the Caribbean ocean. Parasailers will get their adrenaline pumping as they are lifted off the boat and into the air over the coast.
Aruba cruise port beaches
One of Aruba’s biggest attractions is its stunning beaches, and it’s no wonder why so many tourists will first visit the beaches once the cruise ship docks. When visiting Aruba, it’s best to spend a few hours at one of the island’s beaches. Some of these beaches include the following:
Arashi beach – This beach, with its coral reefs, is ideal for snorkeling. It’s known for clear, relatively calm waters and beautiful white sand. Visitors will also have the perfect view of the California Lighthouse.
Baby beach – This beach is located at the southern end of Aruba and is perfect for families with small children. It surrounds a calm and shallow lagoon, and swimmers can swim further out and still touch the sea floor.
Druif beach – This long, narrow beach is connected to Eagle beach and is perfect for relaxing and swimming because of its tranquil waters.
Eagle beach – Voted number one beach by USA Today and offers a few palapas, clear waters, and shaded areas for picnics and water sports.
Palm beach – This beach is lined with high-quality hotels and boasts plenty of piers, restaurants, beach bars, palm trees, diving, and watersports operators.
Can you walk to the beach from the Aruba cruise port?
The closest beach to the Aruba cruise port is Surfside Beach. It is a smaller beach, approximately 1.5 miles or a 15-minute walk from the Aruba cruise port. Surfside Beach is a long, thin strip of beach with calm waters. It is perfect for picnics and gatherings under the shade of trees. The calm waves will make this beach an idyllic place for canoeing and SUP paddle boarding.
The beach also boasts several restaurants and bars, including the Reflections Beach Bar & Restaurant, Barefoot Restaurant, and Pinchos Grill and Bar. There are plenty of lounge chairs and beach beds for rent.
The beach is also home to a dive school for children, as well as a floating water park. A relaxed Surfside Beach Bar is located right on the water’s edge.
If you prefer, you can visit one of the beach bars at Palm Beach. Palm Beach is about 4 miles so a taxi is a better choice. However, if you want to get into the local culture, the public bus terminal is right across the street from the port.
Are Aruba beaches free?
Except for privately owned beaches, such as De Palm Island and Renaissance Island, every beach in Aruba is free. The huts and the palapas that hotels and resorts don’t own are free to use. You will be charged if you want to use a beach, palapa, or hut owned by a resort. However, if you are a guest of the resort, usually there is no fee.
Aruba has smaller beaches, but very few of them will provide shade or palapas. So anyone who is looking for privacy will have to go far along the beach. They will also need to bring their gear, food, and water.
Keep in mind that sometimes these beaches will be littered with charcoal and beer cans. However, this litter and trash can easily be avoided on longer beaches.
The palapas are also free
There has been plenty of debate on using the palapas on Aruba’s beaches. Since the public beaches are free, the built-in palapas are available to the public, also at no cost. Beachgoers have the right to sit under any unoccupied palapa of their choice with their own beach chairs, even if they are located in front of a hotel or resort.
It’s different when the palapas or umbrellas belong to a resort or if they are located on the resort’s property, for example, near the resort’s pool or a private section of the beach. Sometimes, a resort’s property line will extend a few feet into the beach area. There will be a fee for those palapas. However, if you are a guest of that resort, usually there is no fee.
To sum up the Aruba cruise port
If there were a word, to sum up, the Aruba Cruise Port, it would be convenient. The Oranjestad cruise port has plenty to offer visitors. There is a shopping district and a significant flea market with plenty of affordable luxury items. Tours are available on the water and off the water. You can snorkel, shop, tour the island, go horseback riding, and more. And then the available beaches make it a great place to visit.
If you are traveling to Costa Maya, you may be interested in our article, Fascinating Costa Maya.