Ready to discover Aruba on a budget? Here are my favourite free things to do in Aruba!
If you’ve got the travel bug and a penchant for paradise, Aruba might just be your dream destination. But here’s the best part – exploring this Caribbean gem doesn’t have to break the bank!
There are a number of incredible FREE things to do in Aruba, so you can soak up the sun and sea without burning a hole in your pocket.
From pristine beaches to vibrant local culture, there are a number of amazing things to do in Aruba that won’t cost you a dime.
One of the best parts about Aruba is the variety of free activities and attractions. It was one of the biggest appeals of visiting Aruba! You can easily visit Aruba on a budget – all of the activities we did during our time on the island were completely free!
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Free Things to do in Aruba
I’m so excited to share all these activities I found for free in Aruba. One of my favourite things to do when we travel is suss out all the things to do that don’t cost a cent!
1. Visit a Beach
Did you know you can visit any of the beaches in Aruba for free?
These pristine, white-sand beaches with crystal clear turquoise waters are entirely free to lounge on, swim at, and enjoy! Of course, you can rent beach loungers and palapas if you wish, but you can just as easily bring a beach towel and you’re all set!
Our favourite beaches were Baby Beach and Arashi Beach. Each of the beaches we visited were unique and we loved them all for different reasons, but Baby and Arashi were the best for swimming.
We knew we were going to be spending some time on the beaches in Aruba, and we knew renting loungers was going to add up; the average cost of an umbrella was $30 USD/day and loungers were anywhere from $10-$20/each!
I found this amazing company called Travel Light Aruba which rents beach chairs and umbrellas to you for the week – easily portable and even easier to set up! We rented the higher end umbrella due to windy conditions and two highboy Tommy Bahama beach chairs for $80/week.
This included drop off and pickup at our location and they were fabulous. 10/10 recommend if you want to save some cash in the long run (plus set up wherever you want and come and go as you please!)
Tip: Save even more by packing your own cooler! There are amenities at most beaches but drinks and snacks can add up. We had a cooler we packed full of beer, water, and pastechi and we were set for the day!
2. Hike Hooiberg Mountain
If you love to soak in the sunrises and beautiful views (plus get a good workout in!) I recommend hiking Hooiberg Mountain. Located a short 10-15 minute drive from Eagle Beach, Palm Beach, or Oranjestad, Hooiberg Mountain is Aruba’s third-highest peak. With almost 600 steps leading up the mountain, the payoff is worth the effort!
The views are beautiful from the top of Hooiberg, and on clear days you can see all the way over to Venezuela. You have a vantage point of the entire island from the top, and it’s magical at sunrise.
We loved hiking up in the dark and starting our day watching the sun rise over Aruba. If you decide to hike Hooiberg Mountain, remember to bring water! We hiked it twice during our visit, both at sunrise. It can get quite warm mid-day so keep that in mind.
Hiking Hooiberg Mountain is entirely free! There is no entrance fee which we loved.
Reward yourself after with a visit to Bright Bakery; we stopped there numerous times to grab pastechi and baked goods!
3. Hunt for Street Art in San Nicolas
After falling in love with the street art in Curacao, I knew we had to head to San Nicolas to see the street art.
San Nicolas often flies under the radar compared to other tourist-heavy areas, since it’s on the east end of the island. The town has transformed its streets into an open-air gallery, showcasing an eclectic mix of murals, graffiti, and street installations.
This is in an effort to revitalize this area of Aruba and attract more visitors, and I think they’ve done a beautiful job. It’s diverse, vibrant, and gives you a glimpse into what it really means to be in Aruba.
From portraits to abstract art with indigenous, African, and European influences, San Nicolas reflects the spirit of Aruba by capturing the essence of its people. This relaxing (and free) activity is one that shouldn’t be missed if you’re looking for something unique to do in Aruba.
4. Watch the sunset
It should go without saying that anyone visiting Aruba should watch at least one sunset on the beach!
This was our favourite thing to do every evening before dinner – and it’s free to do – even the parking! Eagle Beach was the closest beach to where we stayed, and we never had to worry about it feeling crowded since this beach is HUGE with enough space for everyone.
It was heartwarming seeing everyone gather for the sunset every night, and no two were the same.
Be sure to check the sunset time prior to visiting to make sure you give yourself enough time to get to the beach!
5. Explore Casibari and Ayo Rock Formations
Casibari and Ayo Rock Formations in Aruba stand as ancient geological wonders. Their intriguing shapes have no known origin, although since Aruba is a volcanic island, you can assume it’s from the violent tectonic plates shifting and causing immense pressure to send these molten rocks flying.
Located a short drive from Hooiberg Mountain, Casibari Rock Formations has incredible boulders stacked on top of one another and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
These natural formations are perfect for exploring for kids and adults alike – we absolutely loved checking out every square inch of where they were. Climb the rocks for panoramic views and go underneath them for an other-worldly experience.
Ayo Rock Formations, situated further east, boasts monolithic boulders with distinctive shapes. The site holds cultural importance as it is believed to have been a sacred site for the island’s original inhabitants, the Arawak Indians. Ayo provides a tranquil setting, with the massive rocks forming natural shelters and vantage points. You can even see 4,000 year old cave paintings at Ayo!
Both Casibari and Ayo Rock Formations stand as testament to the island’s geological evolution and cultural heritage.
There is ample parking at both locations and are about 6 minutes apart from one another. We weren’t sure if we were going to visit both because we thought they were going to be very similar, but we were so wrong. Ayo Rock Formation is absolutely massive, with stairs leading to the boulders you see driving up to the formations. You can take a path leading through the boulders which is just astounding.
Both Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations are entirely free to visit, making it a perfect addition to your Aruba island tour!
6. Discover Westpunt Boca
Since we rented a small car, we couldn’t access most of Arikok National Park, which is a paid entrance. Instead, we decided to drive to Westpunt Boca at the west end of Aruba. This captivating area on the island’s rugged coast is a short drive from Arashi Beach and offers so much natural beauty and a serene environment.
You feel really grounded at Westpunt Boca. You’ll see sand dunes, and water crashing against jagged cliffs and limestone coastline. There’s something so mesmerizing about watching water crash against the shoreline and get sprayed into the air.
You can easily stay in your car, enjoy the view, and listen to the ocean, or you make your way around the unique edge of the island. Be sure to wear shoes because the footing is very uneven (and sharp!). While we stood watching the waves crash against the coast, you could feel the water rumble underneath your feet. It’s kind of unnerving thinking how much the water has carved out of the limestone.
If you’re looking for some solitude and incredible views away from crowds, for free, then make your way to Westpunt Boca!
7. Check out California Lighthouse
The California Lighthouse in Aruba stands as an iconic symbol on the island’s northwestern tip, offering not only a stunning architectural landmark but also breathtaking panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea and the island’s rugged coastline.
Rising 98 feet above sea level, the lighthouse was named after the steamship “California,” which tragically sank off the coast in 1891. Its construction was completed in 1914, and since then, it has become a beloved attraction.
While a climb to the top will cost you $5, you can visit California Lighthouse itself for free. It’s popular sunset viewing spot and if you want to add an even more memorable experience, dine at Faro Blanco, a restaurant right next to California Lighthouse. Be sure to book early, as it can fill up quickly!
8. Admire Architecture in Oranjestad
Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba, is a captivating blend of vibrant Caribbean colours and charming colonial architecture, making it a must-see destination. The city’s historical district showcases a unique fusion of Dutch colonial influences and the vibrant spirit of the Caribbean.
Wandering through the streets of Oranjestad, you can expect to see a visual feast of pastel-coloured buildings adorned with ornate facades, intricate balconies, and shuttered windows. The architecture reflects the island’s rich history, with influences from European settlers evident in the gabled roofs and colonial-style structures.
Key landmarks, such as the Willem III Tower and the historic Fort Zoutman, stand as proud testaments to Aruba’s heritage. The Caya Betico Croes, Oranjestad’s main street, features a pedestrian-friendly promenade lined with shops, restaurants, and galleries housed in charming, colonial-era buildings. You can even catch a historic street car trolley and ride for free!
Beyond its historical significance, Oranjestad’s architecture provides a vibrant backdrop with lively colours and architectural details telling a story of Aruba’s evolution.
9. Learn about Aloe at Aruba Aloe Factory
Did you know aloe production is Aruba’s second highest source of income after tourism? If you want to learn about aloe production and check out some incredible products, head to the Aruba Aloe Factory! You can take free guided tours and check out the museum for free, as well as sample all kinds of aloe products.
Learn about cultivation, harvesting, processing, and uses for aloe. It’s renowned for its healing properties – more than just applying to sunburned skin!
If you visit Monday-Friday, you can see the factory in action and peer down into the machines they used for processing. There’s also an amazing store where you can purchase the most amazing smelling aloe products.
It is pricier, but it’s well worth it if you’re burnt – I speak from experience! Plus I love that it’s produced in Aruba and can bring back something special from the island.
One of the highlights of the Aruba Aloe Factory is the opportunity to explore their museum, which is also free of charge. The museum showcases the evolution of aloe vera usage, historical artifacts, and the legacy of Aruba’s aloe industry.
If you’re doing a self-guided tour, be sure to check out the aloe field beside the building. Under the shade of trees you can feel what freshly-scooped aloe is like, straight from the source!
10. Visit Alto Vista Chapel
Alto Vista Chapel, located in the picturesque hills of Aruba, is a serene and spiritually significant site. Constructed in 1952, the chapel stands as a beacon of faith and is often referred to as the “Pilgrims Church.” Its distinct yellow facade, against the backdrop of Aruba’s arid landscape, creates a striking visual contrast.
This charming chapel holds historical significance, as it marks the site of the island’s first Catholic church, built by the Spanish missionaries in 1750. Today’s Alto Vista Chapel is a reconstructed version of the original, and its location offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea and the island’s rugged terrain.
11. Explore the Bushiribana Ruins
The Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins in Aruba stand as a testament to the island’s gold-rush era and hold a unique place in its history. Built in 1825, these ruins represent the remnants of a once-thriving gold smelting facility constructed by the Aruba Island Gold Mining Company.
The aim was to process the precious metal extracted from nearby mines, contributing to Aruba’s short-lived but impactful gold industry.
The arid landscape surrounding the coral and limestone ruins creates a stark atmosphere in contrast to the Caribbean Sea.
Visits to Bushiribana Ruins are generally done by guided tours, you can certainly visit for free. While I would recommend a 4×4 for this side of the island, you can visit with a car for free. Just check with your car rental company if you are allowed to visit, as some companies state “no offroading.”
12. Snorkel with Sea Turtles
One of the most amazing things you can do in Aruba for free is snorkelling with sea turtles! A popular spot for snorkelling is at Tres Trapi, a secluded cove known for its clear waters and marine life.
Aruba’s azure waters are not only a visual delight but also home to majestic sea turtles that grace the Caribbean shores. The island provides a vital nesting ground for Loggerhead, Leatherback, Hawksbill, and Green sea turtles.
You can see these gentle turtles gliding through the crystal-clear waves, especially during nesting and hatching seasons. Aruba’s commitment to marine conservation includes efforts to protect sea turtle habitats, providing a safe environment for these endangered creatures to thrive.
Snorkelers have the unique opportunity to encounter these fascinating turtles in their natural habitat, creating unforgettable moments!
While snorkelling gear may not be free to rent, the experience itself is accessible without cost. Some Airbnbs may include snorkel equipment for free (like ours did!), or bring your own from home!
P.s. Aruba banned non-coral reef safe sunscreen in 2020 in an effort to protect and preserve marine areas. Be sure to bring some reef-safe sunscreen and do your part! Check out my other Aruba beach visiting tips!
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Photo of Alto Vista Chapel sourced from DepositPhotos.com