Located just 18 miles off of the Venezuelan coast, Aruba (also known as “One Happy Island”) is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It makes up 1/3 of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, & Curaçao) and at around 75 square miles it’s also the smallest of the three islands. While that is all very intriguing, one of the facts that people find most surprising about Aruba is that it is a desert island! Yes… You heard that right. A desert island. For that reason, we highly recommend taking some time on your visit to explore the interesting and unique landscapes that Aruba offers and what better way to do that than on a self-guided UTV tour?? Yes, you can opt for a guided tour from many of the more than qualified tour operators, but we love being on our own schedule and stopping whenever and wherever we want. So, if you're like us and like to take adventure into your own hands, then you’re in the right place! In this blog, we’ve put together what we think are 8 of the best stops (from north to south) for a self-guided UTV island tour. While this itinerary can be achieved with a half-day (4-hr) rental you would really be pushing it to fit everything in (like we were lol), so we recommend a full-day (8-hr) rental to get the most out of the experience. That said, some of these will be quick 10-15 minute stops while others could take 45 minutes or more (mostly the “Secret Pool”), so plan accordingly… Especially if you opt for a half-day rental.
Note: If you are looking for a reputable company to book your rental through, we highly recommend Arubiana. We have no affiliation with them, we just had a great experience and felt that they were very fair and honest. Plus, they have an excellent app for Apple and Android with helpful information on all of these stops and more! So, even if you don’t book your UTV through Arubiana, we recommend purchasing the app for your tour.
Be sure to check out our “Adventure Day in Aruba” vlog for a closer look at our self-guided UTV tour along with a snorkeling catamaran cruise!
1. California Lighthouse (JW7X+GF Noord, Aruba)
Recommended Time: 15-30 mins
Cost: Free or $5 if you want to go to the top of the lighthouse
Quite possibly Aruba’s most famous scenic landmark, the California Lighthouse was named after the S.S. California which sank previous to the lighthouse’s construction in 1910. Perched on a hill on the northwestern tip of the island, the lighthouse offers incredible views of the island's western coastline. At the time of writing this (December 2022) Lighthouse tours are offered daily from 9am-7pm for $5/person which allows visitors to go to the top of the lighthouse for 360° views.
Pro-Tip: Don’t miss Yum Yum’s Place (AKA The Smoothie Bus) while you’re there! They have a variety of snacks and delicious fresh coconut and fruit smoothies as well as milkshakes and iced coffee!
2. Alto Vista Chapel (HXGQ+9JC, Noord, Aruba)
Recommended Time: 10-15 mins
The present Chapel of Alto Vista was completed in 1952 and stands in the same location as the original chapel, which was built in 1750, making it the oldest church in Aruba. Although the chapel is quite small at only 50’x16’ this "Pilgrims Church" as it’s called is worth a visit.