Five Family Must-Sees in Aruba
While families vacationing in Aruba can expect idyllic beach days filled with swimming and snorkeling, there are more places where parents and children can have one-of-a-kind experiences.
Arikok National Park – Almost 20% of Aruba is within this beautiful national park that “takes you on a memorable journey of the island’s past, offering unique geological, cultural and historical sites.” Families can explore these on their own or take guided tours.
While it’s possible to hike to one of the park’s most popular sites called Natural Pool, or Conchi,
a 4x4 vehicle (which can be rented on the island or hired as part of a guided tour) is the easiest way to get there. This gorgeous swimming hole is protected from the surf by rocks, and it’s an idyllic place you’ll remember fondly the rest of your life.
Also at the park are three caves: Fontein, Baranca Sunu and Quadirikiri Grot. Bats live in them, and they emerge at night in flying hordes to search for food. Fontein Cave is famous for its 1000-year-old Arawak Indian drawings.
The Butterfly Farm – Visit early in the morning for a chance to see exotic butterflies hatching! There’s a 20-minute tour included in the admission fee when visitors learn about the butterflies’ life cycles, and children will learn how to handle butterflies and caterpillars without harming them. Admission tickets are valid throughout the length of your Aruba vacation.
Philip’s Animal Garden – The owner is indeed named Philip, and he built this non-profit organization that focuses on rescuing exotic animals in and around Aruba. Visitors can interact with animals and feed some of them and learn about the animals’ lives and habits. Visitors can also enjoy meals at the garden, with various package purchases. A few of the animals include: Jaguarundi (eyra cat), Red Kangaroo, Donkey, Ocelot, Burmese Python, Nigerian Dwarf Goat, Capuchin Monkey, Cayman, Bengal Cat and Alpaca, as well as many types of Parrots, Parakeets and other birds.
Donkey Sanctuary Aruba - They are sweet, yet stubborn. Friendly, yet independent. And they are perpetually hungry! Aruban donkeys are a tradition that was rescued before they could become completely extinct. The cute creatures were introduced to the island more than five centuries ago, because they were the perfect mode of transportation for our desert island. Today they are no longer needed to haul goods and people, but they do have a sanctuary where head scritches, apples and carrots are gratefully accepted. While there is no admission fee, donations are welcome.
Aruba’s Jolly Pirates – For families with older children, you can have a 4-hour sail on an 85-foot pirate schooner that includes snorkeling at three of the island’s most popular sites that teem with schools of tropical fish. One site has a World War II 400-foot shipwreck that is home to a lot of diverse sea life. The experience includes a barbecue lunch, and there’s even a ship rope swing where you can unleash your inner Jack Sparrow.
Jagger the donkey lives at Donkey Sanctuary Aruba. Photo credit: Sophie Scott
Three caves at Arikok National Park each contain unique beauty. Photo credit: admack66
The Natural Pool at Arikok National Park isn’t easy to get to, but it’s worth the effort. Photo credit: Bjorn C. Torrissen