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Trip Ideas

Better Than the Beach? The Top 5 Things to Do in Aruba

Lying in temperate south Caribbean waters is the highly-coveted island of Aruba. With its beautiful white sand beaches and perfect year-round weather, it's no surprise that the spot is a popular holiday destination for millions of people around the world.

Measuring just under 20 miles long and 6 miles wide, this tiny island is full of fantastic things to do and see. Obviously, the beaches are to die for and are the biggest attraction, but away from the water are many surprising things to see. Here, you’ll find a few of the more offbeat things to do in Aruba.

Dive the Sites

Scuba diving is one of the most popular sports in Aruba, and the island is a destination for divers from all over the world. Great reefs abound here as well as wrecks that are always so much fun to explore. The numerous varieties of marine life species and the beauty of the colorful coral reefs make any dive an awesome experience. There are many dive shops, such as JADS, that provide everything you could possibly need to enjoy diving.

Even if you’ve never dived before, you can learn in a very short time. Advanced certification training can be gotten very easily for those that have already begun their training. During my short visit and few dives, I got to dive down to a couple sunken planes, a couple wrecks, countless giant morays, macro critters, and lots more. Aruba definitely boasts some of the best diving in the world.

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Photos courtesy of Aruba Tourism Authority, aruba.com

The California Lighthouse

The California Lighthouse is one of Aruba’s most famous landmarks. Like all lighthouses, it was originally built to warn ships away from the coastline. While it does still fulfill this function, it is now open to the public. Climbing up to the top gives tourists the most spectacular views of the northwestern part of the island you could imagine. Nine flights of stairs sounds more daunting than it really is – it’s well worth the effort. Guides can lead the way if you like, and they will give you great history of the lighthouse as well as the entire island.

If you happen to make the climb in the evening, you’ll be treated to the most spectacular sunset you will ever see. During the day you will get a great view of the sandy beaches and rocky coral shorelines of the area, as well as a magnificently landscaped golf course. There is a restaurant next to the lighthouse, and the California Sand Dunes are also adjacent to it, where you can spend the rest of the day enjoying more of what there is to see in Aruba.

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Hit the Casinos

Gambling is alive and well in Aruba, and there are some wonderful casinos such as those at Marriott Aruba Resort and Casino where you can try your luck. Open 24 hours a day, the casinos offers all the traditional table games you could want, as well as a giant selection of slot machines. There is sports betting, and several days a week there are some great bingo tournaments. This casino is one of the classiest and upscale ones you will find on the island, and it is so much fun to try to beat the house and pay for your entire vacation – or at least enjoy the free drinks they give you while you are playing!

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Rock Out

The Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations are also known as “ Aruba’s Stonehenge.” Like the Stonehenge of England they are of an unknown origin, and are extremely popular with both the tourists and locals alike. They are located in the center of the island, which makes them an ideal place to see, and get pictures of almost the entire island. The Casibari Rock Formation is the largest of the two formations, and has been made very people friendly. Steps, trails, handrails and narrow tunnels have been created that make getting to the top much easier, although it is still a challenging feat. Once you are at the top, however, you will see that it was well worth the effort! The view of Palm Beach and Oranjestaad are spectacular.

The Ayo Rock Formation does not have steps or handrails or well groomed trails, which makes it ideal for more adventurous people who want to get away from the crowds. This is where the ancient Arawak Indians used to live, and would often seek shelter when they knew a major thunderstorm was approaching. You can even see the hieroglyphs and markings these native people left. You will not want to leave without making this one of your top places to see in Aruba.

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Photos courtesy of Aruba Tourism Authority, aruba.com

Laugh a Minute

Aruba Ray’s Comedy Show is one of the most fun places to go for the evening after a wonderful day of playing in the sand and surf. Ray himself performs, along with three other comedians each night. Every one of them brings so much energy and humor that you will laugh until you cry. The caliber of entertainers will surprise you, with many of them featured on Comedy Central and the Tonight Show. While much of the show is geared for a mature audience, people of all ages are welcome to attend.

There is a bar, so you can sip on your favorite cocktails while being entertained all evening long. It is located in the Marriott, so if you are staying there, or nearby, it is a perfect place to go for an after-dinner show. They even hold a raffle during the evening where you might win your very own t-shirt!

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This story was published as part of a partnership with Marriott Traveler. Read the original story: Better Than the Beach? Find the Top 5 Things to Do in Aruba by Justin Carmack, a regular contributor toMarriott Traveler.

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