You have a lot of options when it comes to booking an Aruba excursion. It can be stressful trying to decide on the perfect, most affordable way to explore the island with kids. When planning for her family’s cruise port day in Aruba, our contributor Heidi Gollub used a website called ShoreTrips, to make this complicated process a little easier. Through the site, she found an affordable excursion with a local tour company, booked it, and enjoyed a relaxing port day discovering the best things to do in Aruba on a Cruise Port Day.
What to do in Aruba When You Only Have One Day
*Heidi was a guest of ShoreTrips for the purpose of this Aruba excursion, but as always opinions are 100% her own.
Aruba is not a huge island, but there is a lot packed into its 21 miles. There are many cruises to Aruba, so it is helpful to book excursions in advance to get exactly what you want. If you only have a few hours at port to see and do it all, I recommend booking a budget-friendly excursion through ShoreTrips.
Your English-speaking tour guide will pick you up from the cruise terminal in an air-conditioned bus and whisk you around to see the sights. You’ll get to explore the rugged eastern shore, the natural northern coast, the sandy beaches in the west, and plenty of area attractions along the way. Our tour guide, Clifford, narrated as he drove, educating us on everything from the languages Aruban children learn in school (English, Spanish, Dutch, and Papiamento) to the average price of homes in the neighborhoods we drove through ($95,000). We learned a lot in a short amount of time, and enjoyed our tour of this “One Happy Island.”
Stop 1: Aloe Vera Factory and Museum
While not native to the island, aloe plays a big part in Aruba’s history. Our first stop on our ShoreTrips excursion was the Aloe Vera Factory and Museum. Here we enjoyed a plant-cutting demonstration outside, followed by a five-minute indoor tour of the factory. We learned how aloe is grown, cut by hand, and processed to make medicine and skincare products. Then, we were let loose in a lovely gift shop, where we loaded up on Aruban aloe vera, bath bombs, and sugar scrubs. We used the bathroom in the museum and got back on the bus. Clifford kept us on a tight schedule and there was much more to see.
Stop 2: Casibari Rock Formation
Our next stop was Casibari Rock Formation and Garden, considered to be one of Aruba’s famous natural wonders. We climbed to the top of the unusual rock formation and took some time to look out over the island. You can see quite a distance from here since Aruba is mostly flat. If you’re lucky, you may also spot iguanas and geckos in the garden. There’s a bathroom here, but not much time to use it. This stop was only 15 minutes and we were off to the next destination.
Stop 3: Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge, a famous formation of coral limestone, collapsed in 2005. But, you can still visit its smaller neighbor, “Baby Bridge” (or “Son of a Bridge,” as Clifford called it) and watch the surf pound the rocks. This is a rugged part of Aruba and past this point, only Jeeps and ATVs can drive on the dusty trails. It’s neat to see, but also a little worrisome with kids who like to get a little too close to the edge of the rocks. Hold hands, take a few pictures, and head to the gift shop before hopping back on the bus. You’ll only have 15 minutes here, too, but it’s long enough to appreciate the strong currents that took the original Natural Bridge down.
Stop 4: Alto Vista Chapel
At the Alto Vista Chapel, you can take a walk through the circular, stone Peace Labyrinth, visit the remote Catholic church, and buy a snow cone. There are no bathrooms here, but plenty of small vendors outside the chapel will sell you a watermelon or pineapple snack. Clifford informed us that the island is full of wild donkeys, sheep, goats, snakes, birds, chicken, and roosters. But here, we only saw lizards. We enjoyed watching them while eating our snow cones.
Stop 5: California Light House
Our final destination before hitting the beach was the island’s California Lighthouse, named after the S.S. California that sunk just off the shore in 1891. Access to the lighthouse is $5, and you only have 15 minutes before you need to be back on the bus, so we opted to just enjoy the panoramic view of the northwest tip of Aruba from the Faro Blanco Restaurant. Also available at the restaurant are drinks from the outdoor bar and access to the bathroom for $1 per adult. Are you sensing a theme? Yes, we used every bathroom in Aruba. That is the joy of traveling with kids!
Stop 6: Snorkeling at Arashi Beach
At last, we made it to the beach for some fun in the sun! Clifford dropped us off at Arashi Beach with snorkels and said he would return in an hour. So, we had some time alone to walk along the sand and wade into the Caribbean Sea.
This beach is beautiful but rocky and the waves are strong. It’s not the best for snorkeling in shallow water. If you have small children, consider bringing water shoes to protect their feet and water wings to help them float. Palapas on the beach are free, and beach chairs are available for a fee. Don’t forget to bring your own towels.
There is a snack shack here, with bathrooms and showers available for $1. Our hour went quick, and Clifford returned right on schedule to take us back to the cruise ship. All in all, we had a great, fast-paced day in Aruba!
About This ShoreTrips Excursion
If you would like to book this exact Aruba excursion, visit ShoreTrips. It’s only $65 per adult and $46 per child age 12 and under. Some of the things to do in Aruba on a Cruise Port Day includes excursions. Excursions includes roundtrip transportation from the cruise terminal (no taxi required), two bottles of cold water for each guest, and snorkels to borrow. No cash is necessary, but you may want to bring along a few dollars for snacks, bathrooms, beach chair rental, and a tip for your guide.
The website says the tour is four and a half hours, but it was closer to six for us, after picking up guests from their hotels. Bring snacks, or plan to buy them along the way. If you would prefer to skip the snorkeling, you can take the same Highlights of Aruba tour for $10 less and it will be an hour shorter.