The Caribbean Sea is one of the jewels of the western hemisphere, a beautiful place that offers many great island retreats. One destination that you may have heard of is Aruba, a small island off the coast of Venezuela and directly south of the Dominican Republic.
Besides the scenery and pleasant weather, there are a lot of other things to do in Aruba. We’ll talk about some of these activities in the paragraphs below.
1. Arikok National Park
When you think of Caribbean island, you probably don’t think of anything like Arikok National Park. That’s because what most people think of when they think of Central America is rainforest, and Arikok National Park is low grassland, similar to the plains of the Western US or the African Savannah.
Among the many species native to Aruba are several species of bats and birds, as well as a species of poisonous snake known as cascabel. While the cascabel and birds make their homes in the open, the bats can be found in caves within the park.
The Arawak indians, some of which still live in the park, have left some of their history in these caves, in the form of paintings. You might want to look for them if you ever visit the park.
2. The Butterfly Farm
In addition to its national park, there are a lot of other animal-related things to do in Aruba. One of these is the famous butterfly farm.
Central America is teeming with unique wildlife, but one type of wildlife most of us don’t think about is butterflies. Many species of butterfly are exclusive to the tropics and Aruba is doing what it can to preserve them. It’s one of two Caribbean islands to have such a farm.
It’s famous among visitors, and you can even take guided tours.
3. Donkey Sanctuary
Adding to the many great surprises that Aruba offers its visitors is the donkey sanctuary. We don’t often see donkeys on those charity commercials about endangered species, but they’ve been declining on the island for quite awhile.
In response to this drop in numbers, the donkey sanctuary was created in 1997. The animals are friendly, and the experience is fun and educational.
There’s no mandatory price of admission, but donations are encouraged, and the cause is worth donating to.
4. Fort Zoutman Archaeological Museum
The Fort Zoutman Archaeological Museum, despite its name, is hard to call a fort, or an archaeological museum, or even just a museum. The fort itself is just that–a fort. It was built by the Dutch in 1798 as a defense against pirates and its colonial neighbors.
Aruba is somewhat unique because only a few other places were colonized by the Dutch.
The fort is located in the Aruban capital of Oranjestad, where there is also a whole host of other Dutch colonial buildings dating from the late 1800s and early 1900s. These buildings are also considered a historical attraction. This area is named the Ecury Complex after its previous owners, and many consider it to be part of the archaeological museum.
The archaeological museum is also home to many historical artifacts. Much of the exhibit is dedicated to the indigenous peoples of Aruba. Most of Aruba’s population is a mixture of Caucasian, African-descended, and indigenous peoples, so honoring the original inhabitants is important.
5. Bushiribana Ruins
An interesting fact about Aruba is that it experienced a gold rush early on in the 19th century. It began when gold was struck in 1824. Mining enterprises soon answered the call and tried to grab up their share of the gold before it ran out.
The Bushiribana ruins are a remnant of those times. Built in 1825, the Bushiribana ruins were once a smelter. The gold rush ended in the mid-1830s, and today the ruins are all that’s left.
6. California Lighthouse
How does a lighthouse on an island south of the Dominican Republic end up with a name like California? The story is quite fascinating.
The name comes from an American boat that crashed on the island in 1891. The sand dunes in the area were also named after California. To prevent other ships from making the same mistake, a lighthouse was built not far from the original site of the wreck.
The strangest part of the whole story is that while the ship crashed in 1891, the lighthouse wasn’t built until 1910. While there’s not much of a need for lighthouses anymore, the place is still a popular tourist attraction that is worth seeing.
It would feel wrong if we didn’t mention the beautiful waters of the Caribbean in some capacity, and snorkeling seems like the right way to do it. Aruba is known for having clear waters that are perfect for viewing marine life.
There are several places to go snorkeling in Aruba, but one area many swear by is Mangel Halto, a reef near the southwest of the island.
Interesting Things to do in Aruba
There are a lot of unique things to do in Aruba. The island is a place of many twists and surprises, and each one offers an amazing experience. There are plenty of opportunities to interact with animals, both on land and at sea.
Architecture is also an important part of the island’s history. Many of the island’s most popular sites that have withstood the passing of yesteryear into modern day.
If architecture isn’t your thing, there’s also cave paintings and historical museums that are sure to make any historian’s day.
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