An Adventurous Day in Aruba on a Cruise

Pinterest Hidden Image

How do you spend a day at Aruba on a cruise? How do you narrow it down with so much to explore on the island?

Aruba has been at the top of our list for over 20 years. When we lived in New York, everyone seemed to head to Aruba once a year. We’d look up the prices of hotels and flights, only to quickly squash the idea of ever going. “We can visit a beautiful beach when visiting my family in Puerto Rico,” I’d say to quench my envy and curiosity. But deep down, we knew we wanted to experience Aruba.

We were young, broke, and inexperienced in planning trips back then. If we could go back in time, we’d tell our younger selves, “Aruba is so worth it – make it happen!” Now, with more experience, we prioritize going after what we want.

featured blog image features a serene beach scene with clear, shallow waters gently lapping onto a sandy beach, under a wide sky lightly dotted with clouds. The scene is framed with the bold caption "ARUBA IN A DAY" positioned centrally over a translucent white barPin

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we earn a commission at no extra cost. Please refer to our full disclosure for details.

You can guess by now that we’ll return to Aruba for a longer stay. But for now, we have a memorable day at the Aruba cruise port etched into our memories. Here’s how we made the most of our time and some tips to help you plan your perfect day in Aruba.

Rainbow Over Oranjestad Aruba Cruise PortPin

Our view during breakfast. It’s going to be a beautiful day in Aruba.

Arrival at Aruba Cruise Port

The Aruba cruise port is centrally located in the heart of downtown Oranjestad. As you disembark, you’ll find yourself within walking distance of numerous shops and restaurants.

Transportation Options

  • Proximity to Local Transport: The pier is near the main bus station, facilitating convenient island-wide travel for those looking to explore further.
  • Taxis and Tours: Taxis are readily available right outside the cruise terminal. Additionally, several tour companies operate just outside, providing options for those who have not pre-booked excursions.

Disembarkation Experience

Disembarking in Aruba is refreshingly straightforward. Unlike some other cruise ports where navigating the terminal can feel like a maze, here you walk straight off the ship and into the welcoming arms of Oranjestad. There’s no fuss with long queues or confusing layouts. We stepped through the secure area and immediately found taxis ready to take us to Eagle Beach. It was a smooth transition that set a relaxed tone for our day in Aruba.

A Day in Aruba

Spending a day at the Aruba cruise port often feels too brief. While cruise days may never seem long enough, they do provide fantastic introductions to new destinations. This time, however, we got lucky. Originally scheduled to arrive later in the day, a last-minute itinerary change due to a storm cancellation at our previous stop granted us extra hours to explore Aruba’s delights.

Here’s how we maximized our extended stay, from serene beach lounging to adventurous excursions. Whether you’re visiting with a cruise or on a land vacation, Aruba offers a plethora of activities. You can relax on the beach, take a guided tour, explore the island by rental car, or snorkel off a catamaran. We split our day between Eagle Beach in the morning and an exciting tour in the afternoon.

At the end of this article, I’ve included some tour options to inspire your own Aruban adventure.

Eary Beach Morning: Eagle Beach

Early morning at Eagle Beach in Aruba. Did you know Eagle Beach is considered one of the best beaches in the world?

Eagle Beach is a quick 15-minute drive from the cruise port. Our driver kindly dropped us off right outside the Coco Loco Beach Bar as it began to open at 8 AM. The beach was utterly deserted, offering a tranquil start to our day.

We passed the bar and headed onto the beach, initially bypassing vendors offering chair rentals for $40. A bit further down, right from the bar for those of us who are directionally challenged, we found a better deal at $30 for a cozy spot under a dozen palm palapas. The setup and the view couldn’t have been more perfect.

Honestly, the seats were mostly wasted on me. With the water so serene, I preferred to sunbathe by the shoreline, soaking it all in. Meanwhile, Hubby enjoyed his relaxation time from a more distant vantage point, though I eventually coaxed him into joining me for a swim.

Both of us were thoroughly impressed by the beach and regretted not visiting Aruba sooner. We could have easily spent the entire day there if not for the tour we had booked later.

We even met a group from New Jersey who were vacationing there for the week. They adore Aruba so much that they’ve invested in a timeshare at Eagle Beach and return every year. Talk about vacation goals!


Other Top Beaches Near Aruba Cruise Port

  • Manchebo Beach
  • Baby Beach
  • Arashi Beach
  • Palm Beach

Lunch at Matthew’s Beachside Restaurant

After a morning spent basking in the tranquility of Eagle Beach, we made our way south along the shoreline, keeping our eyes peeled for a good lunch spot. Based on restaurant recommendations from fellow beachgoers nearby, we decided on Matthew’s Beachside Restaurant, conveniently located right on the beach.

Matthew’s offered a laid-back beachfront dining experience with a tempting two-for-one drink special during lunch. I stuck with my favorite quesadilla, while Hubby opted for the steak sandwich—a choice that stole the show. The steak was tender, flavorful, and so well-marinated that it made my quesadilla seem ordinary in comparison.

Other Dining Options in Aruba

If you’re exploring further or perhaps looking for something different, here are a few more restaurants I’ve noted down from our trip and previous research

Afternoon: UTV Adventure at Arikok National Park


During our vacations, I try to blend adventure with activities we enjoy. While I’m not a fan of driving ATVs due to a past mishap in Oahu, I enjoy being a passenger. Recognizing it was his vacation, too, I opted for a compromise this time—booking a UTV tour where my husband could drive, allowing me to relax and enjoy the ride without worry.

Setting Off with ABC Tour

Post-lunch, we caught a taxi to ABC Tour’s office, arriving in time for our 2 PM tour. The check-in was seamless with the reputable company, which boasts a professional setup. Opting for an extra layer of security, we paid an additional $25 for UTV insurance—worth it for the peace of mind.

Tip: If you’re heading out on a UTV tour, bring a bandana or face cover to shield against the dust. Alternatively, the tour office offers branded face covers for $5 each.

Exploring Arikok National Park

Arikok National Park, which sprawls across nearly 20% of Aruba, offers a rugged desert landscape perfect for off-roading. Our guided tour took us through some of the park’s top attractions:

  • Fontain Cave: An Indian cave made of limestone with carvings requiring a flashlight. This cave is gated and open to visitors between 8 AM and 4 PM.
  • Fontein Gardens: After visiting the cave, we dipped our feet into the pond and let the fish eat our dead skin. It was a unique experience!
  • Gorgeous Vistas and Rock Formations: The stunning coastal views and rock formations were breathtaking.
  • Conchi Natural Pool: We explored this area but didn’t swim due to the challenging waves. Beautiful lava rock formations and black sand make it a must-see.
  • Prins Bay and Dos Playas: We drove by these beautiful spots, which you should explore if you’re touring on your own.
  • Jamanota Hill: The highest point in Aruba offers a fantastic view you won’t get anywhere else on the island.

Tip: Don’t forget your water shoes. You’ll need them for this part of the day.

Our day at Arikok was adventurous and memorable, and I’ve shared more from our trip, including tips and visuals, in my Instagram story highlights—check them out for a live recap.

Can you tour Arikok National Park in Aruba on your own?

Yes, renting a Jeep or any 4×4 vehicle allows for a personalized adventure through Arikok National Park. Starting early from the cruise port or your accommodation gives you ample time to explore extensively. If planning a DIY day, consider starting at the park and winding down at Eagle Beach for a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation.

Tour Option:
Aruba ATV Tour with Natural Pool Swim [book here]

Other Shore Excursions in Aruba Cruise Port

Exploring Aruba doesn’t have to be limited to a single activity. While we opted for a thrilling UTV tour, there are plenty of other shore excursions that cater to every taste and adventure level. Here are some fantastic alternatives that might catch your interest for a day at the Aruba cruise port.

Full Island Tour [Book Now]

Spend about 6 hours getting to know Aruba inside out. A full island tour with a local guide is perfect for those who are considering Aruba for a future vacation. You’ll visit key attractions and hidden gems, gaining insights only locals can offer.

Afternoon Snorkeling Tour [Book Now]

Aruba’s crystal-clear waters are perfect for snorkeling. An afternoon snorkel tour from a boat allows you to explore vibrant marine life far beyond what you can see from the shore.

Aruba Sunset & Dinner Tour [Book now]

If your cruise schedule allows for a late day in Aruba, consider a sunset and dinner tour. It’s an enchanting way to wind down your day, combining stunning vistas with a delightful culinary experience before you head back to your ship.

Go Parasailing [Book NOW]

Imagine the beauty of Aruba from above. Parasailing is not only an adventure but a peaceful experience. Once you’re up there looking out at the amazing scenery around you, you won’t regret it.

Visit the Flamingos at De Palm Island [Book NOW]

For an all-inclusive escape, head to De Palm Island. Your day includes lunch, drinks, snorkeling, and the chance to mingle with the island’s famous flamingos—a fun-filled package perfect for families and solo travelers alike.

Read more: How to Choose and Book Shore Excursions


Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Holy cow, these pictures are STUNNING. I have never been to Aruba, and now I am thinking girls’ trip THERE. I also can see why this post took some time: it’s huge, super helpful, and full of amazing info.

    I literally cracked up at the ATV section, and I had no that a UTV existed. I feel like trees don’t usually save people, either?! But that must be a *good* story. I think I’ve heard parts of it?

    Back when I was young and dumb, I went to Costa Rica with the guys. Of course, they wanted to go ATV’ing through the scary-ass rainforest. Unlike you, though, thank gosh there were no cliffs. Just deadly critters and mud.

    Remember that scene where Anthony Bourdain is on an ATV and rolls down the desert almost KILLING himself!? That could have been me. I got stuck within the first 2 mins, and everyone was SO frustrated with the only GIRL. I felt like such a girl too. And, then I kept picturing that story I heard on the news where someone in a rural town ATV’d right into a barbed wire fence that they didn’t see and decapitated themselves. SO I THOUGHT THAT WOULD BE ME. Girl, I SO FEEL you. Where the h*ll were the UTVs when I needed one? …Although I feel like the DUDES I was with would have killed me…or totally f’ed with me. Enzo would be my knight in shining armor. I feel like because of his job, he’s responsible too. He wouldn’t try to scare the crap out of you, right?!

    Eagle Beach is gorgeous, and I am definitely not surprised at the cost of renting chairs. I am totally like you, and Tom is Enzo. I can throw my towel down, get sand everywhere, and head to the water. I get restless and like to play on the beach. Walks, water, sandcastles… Tom likes to be sand-free, clean, shaded, and needs more than one towel down or a chair set-up. In Florida, we toughed it out–I’d never pay for a chair in our home state like a tourist (lol). But abroad, bring me the drinks, heck & my lunch, and sure, I’ll take a chair. (You mentioned PR–and that’s actually where we went ballz to the walls lazy too lol–I plunked down in that pricy chair ALL DAY. SO WORTH IT!!! It was heaven).

    I’m so glad you loved Aruba, and um, I want to go see some flamingos. But not for the gram. Just for me…and they’d probably come after me or something. I can imagine snorkeling being fab too.


    1. Oh, a girl’s trip to Aruba would be so much fun. It’s a 10 hour travel day minimum for me, but I’d make the sacrifice for beautiful beaches.

      I can’t take credit for that cave picture because it’s a stock photo, but all others are mine. Can you believe they are all taken with the iPhone Pro? I mean, I do tweak them with Aggie’s presets but the difference in most of these is not much.

      Girl, I still have flashbacks to the ATV craziness. We were going up a mountain in Oahu and I don’t know, I turned wrong or something, next thing I know my ATV is taking me almost over like a cliff part of the mountain. It’s so lush there that there are trees everywhere, so the tree sort of stopped the ATV from going anywhere. I literally jumped off and climbed up. Hubby said he thought I had completely gone over. I just have no luck with these things. Hubby has scared the crap out of me many times driving because he’s too good of a driver and pushes the limits. Not me. I can’t. I’ll follow the rules LOL. Still, though, I trust his driving.

      I can’t remember that scene with Anthony Bourdain. I’ll have to check it out. I’m happy you weren’t decapitated or we wouldn’t have met lol.

      The cost of chair rentals wasn’t surprising but hubby isn’t the type of person to take the first thing offered to him. So we walked and found a better situation for $10 less. When we’re on vacation, we’re like whatever, we pay for the seats and just chill. There was definitely no drink service though as it wasn’t a resort. If I was on a serious budget and all I had was to take a taxi to and from, I would have just laid a towel down somewhere and called it a day. The chairs though are worth it, especially if you’re sticking around all day. And PR is a great place to be lazy on the beach.

      While I was in Aruba, I received messages on IG asking me if I was going to see the Flamingos. No, I didn’t go to Aruba just to see flamingos. I wouldn’t have minded seeing them but it wasn’t important and I didn’t plan to go to the resort to see them. I did see them in Bonaire in their natural habitat and prefer that experience better.

  2. Aruba is truly one happy island! I was there years ago with a girlfriend, and had a ball on both Eagle Beach and Baby Beach. (What a name for a beach, right??) Hope you’re able to return for a longer stay!

    1. I heard of Baby Beach! I need to check that one out when I’m there next time. Hubby and I definitely want to return. We wished we lived on the East Coast to be able to fly there much easier, but we will figure it out in the future. A week in Aruba will happen. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  3. I love this post! You’re so right about everyone fr NY going to Aruba… literally my parents used to go every year lol. I still haven’t gone – I always said the same thing about going to other beaches but I’ve heard the ABC islands are just different.

    This post makes me want to revisit the idea of another Caribbean cruise! We’ve done so many islands but not these!

    1. So you never went with your parents to Aruba?

      The ABC islands are very different. Wait till you see my photos and read about Bonaire. What a lovely little island. Definitely book a cruise to the ABC’s one day! Or just take a family vacation to Aruba lol

  4. Aruba sounds incredible. I would love a beach vacay! I want to go! Those pictures are beautiful. That beach looks pristine. I really want to lie on that beach, read a good book, and then go for a swim. That UTV experience sounds fun too despite the mud. Sounds like there’s so much to explore there. Good to know about the face mask and water shoes.
    The rest of your ideas for things to do sounds great too! I want to play with flamingoes!
    This sounds like a cool cruise too with how easy it is to get to where you need to go. I’d probably be stressed if it was complicated getting off the ship.
    Okay, so when are we going? Sounds like you want to go back!??

    1. Lauren – You’re so much closer to Aruba than I am! Book that vacay, girl! Convince your family to go with!

      The beach is beautiful and well worth the flight there. I absolutely want to go back. I just need more time and money to make it happen. HA. The cruise itinerary as you know I loved, just wished it was a short cruise and there are shorter cruises to this Southern Caribbean itinerary. We just liked this one at the time. Seriously though, look for a nice resort deal and some flights, go to Aruba for me. Find a book set in Aruba first and then explore. Would love to read a literary date set in Aruba.

      Thank you for being an awesome reader!

      P.S. I found a romance book set in Kauai that I’m reading now. Interested?