Aruba for families, where kids never ask “Are we there yet?”

From ostrich and butterfly farms to water sports and a surprising national park on Aruba

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Kid-friendly Aruba is ideal for families who enjoy playing on sandy beaches and trying water sports. Since many hotels have spacious suites and offer a huge number of activities for all ages, you may never leave your resort. If you do want to explore, Aruba has an incredible national park, a paved seaside trail for walking and biking, several animal reserves, and a free weekly festival with food, music, and dancing.

Aruba West Coast Beach Time

Swimming is safe, even for young children, at most of the west coast beaches. The seven-mile sweep of soft white sand that stretches from Palm Beach to Eagle Beach is one of best family-friendly vacation spots in the Caribbean.

Watersport outfitters are located at all the following beaches. Look into snorkeling from the shore or book a boat excursion that includes snorkel gear and shallow water stops around Boca Atalina or Malmok Beach. Certified divers explore deep-water dives and the well-known Antilla shipwreck, also known as Aruba’s Ghost Ship.

Palm Beach is hyperactive with visitors. Teens love it and parents relax under palapas watching their kids trying non-stop watersports. Shops, restaurants, and high-rise hotels are within walking distance. Just to the south,

Eagle Beach is comparatively quiet. The white sand is wide and soft; the sea is calm and shallow near shore. Nearby hotels are low-rise and there are fewer restaurants and shops within walking distance.

Baby Beach, near San Nicolas at the south end of the island, is a manmade lagoon with calm, shallow water ideal for small children. For food and cold drinks head to Big Mama Grill Bar at the south end of the beach.

Photo: Rebecca Genin, Aruba Tourism Authority

Aruba Submarine Tours

De Palm Tours submarine trips allow everyone to experience Aruba’s underwater beauty without getting wet; Atlantis Submarine descends 130 f/40 m, while Seaworld Explorer puts you just 5 f/1.5 m below the surface. Both give adults and kids an up-close view of colorful fish, coral reefs, and shipwrecks.

Family Day Trips to Other Islands

De Palm Island is a fantastic day trip for families, and accessible via a ferry just south of the airport. Spend the day swimming and snorkeling or zipline over all the activity.

Renaissance Island, the private off-shore retreat of Renaissance Resort and Casino, a Marriott property in Oranjestad, offers day passes to non-guests. The resort has separate accommodations and beaches for adults and families.

The Birds and the Butterflies

Get to the Butterfly Farm at 8:30 when butterflies are most active. Kids are awed by the fluttering creatures; guides have answers to all their questions. Take time to feed fish, linger in the garden, and browse the gift shop for souvenirs. Admission allows for return visits. The Bubali Bird Sanctuary is also nearby and free; the best time to watch birds is right after sunrise and around sunset.

Explore Aruba’s Wild Side

Kids love wildlife and Aruba is home to three animal parks.

The Ostrich Farm shows the life stages, from egg to adulthood, of these large flightless birds. About 80 ostriches and their emu cousins reside at the farm, packed with interactive activities.

The Donkey Sanctuary (free) has about 100 rescue animals. Each endangered animal gets food, medical care, and plenty of attention from visitors.

Philip’s Animal Garden, a sanctuary with more than 50 species of exotic animals, offers interactive tours that allow visitors up-close experiences.

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Bon Bini Festival

Aruba holds a Bon Bini Festival ($5) outside Fort Zoutman in Oranjestad from 6:30 to 8:30 every Tuesday evening. It features local dancers in traditional island costumes, music, and authentic Aruban foods — and offers a firsthand experience of the island’s culture and traditions.

Arikok National Park, more New Mexico than Florida

It’s fun to explore Arikok National Park by jeep, ATV, or on horseback. The jolly bumpy adventure and wild landscape will surprise you, as this side of the island is a desert. Highlights include rocky cliffs plunging into the sea, a calm natural pool, and an abandoned mine. Explore it on your own or take a guided walking tour with a friendly park ranger. (Pregnant women, young children, and anyone with medical problems should take the walking tour.)

Photo: Rebecca Genin, Aruba Tourism Authority

Linear Park

The paved trail at Linear Park is perfect for walking, jogging or biking. (Some resorts have bikes to rent or loan.) It’s a 15-minute walk from downtown Oranjestad; the trail runs along the coast to the airport. When kids spot the huge inflatable water toys at Splash Park, they’ll beg to join the fun. Plan to hang out at Surfside Beach to watch the sunset, and grab a Dutch panini or burger at the Surfside Beach Bar.

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