This has been a crazy year (in a good way) and a tad bit of this craziness took us to Aruba. We had been on a bunch of regular trips but we were missing the beach after the daily city life.
There we were on our way to the most relaxing 4 days on One Happy Island – Aruba
Fun fact: Although Aruba is only 19 miles from Venezuela, it is a part of North America and belongs to the Netherlands.
Choosing Aruba was a simple decision because there are plenty of direct flights as well as the fact that we didn’t need a visa to go there. Another big factor was it falls out of the hurricane belt so we weren’t worried about bad weather.
The island is so tiny you have to zoom in to find it on the map. When we arrived our car rental guy told us oh you’ll see everything you have to in 2 days.
We only ended up hanging out on the West Coast of the island for 4 days and had still not had enough. The beaches are extensive and are lined with clear turquoise blue serene waters on one side and the as you drive along the coast you’ll see the other side of it with huge cactus and a bone-dry desert. It left us thinking of how all the humidity in the air wasn’t affecting the desert ecosystem.
The weather was well above New York Temperatures and was hitting ‘feels like’ temperatures of about 100 degrees (38 degrees Celsius) so don’t forget to carry your over-sized straw hats!
What did we do there ?
Well, we spent most of the time beach hopping. Each of the beaches are unique in their own way and are just as beautiful. Some of my favorites were Palm Beach, Eagle Beach, Divi Beach, Mangel Halto Beach. If you’re looking for water sports, and the crowd, Palm Beach is your best bet. If you prefer a quiet sort of beach, spend the afternoon on Eagle beach close to the famous Divi tree. You can even spend a day picnicking at Baby Beach or go snorkeling at Mangelo Halto.
Snorkeling seems to be the common favorite hobby in the area. You’ll find kids to adults to the elderly with their snorkeling gear looking at corals and colorful fish. We went snorkeling at Mangelo Halto and it did not disappoint.
What made our stay even more pleasant was the vibrant and colorful vibe of Oranjstead and the friendliness of people.
I normally go scuba when I have the chance to and I had heard Aruba has some great diving sites but due to my limited time there, I couldn’t make it on this trip. Instead we chose to go 140 feet deep into the ocean in the Atlantis submarine to check out the Aruban marine life. It was quite the experience to board the submarine about a 20 mins boat ride into the ocean and then descend to touch the ocean bed. If you don’t dive, this is a great option!
We’ve all seen pictures of people playing with Flamingoes in Aruba. There is a slight catch though, they are available only on the Renaissance Private Island which you can access only if you’re staying at the hotel or you can purchase a ticket online at 7am the previous day. We didn’t end up going to it but we did cross the island on the way to our submarine!
A thought that stayed in my mind was, Aruba had a ton of luxury shopping compared to any other island I have been to. At first, I thought it is a cruise ship destination, so there must be foot traffic or prices must be lower than other close inlands, but no. It’s all the same, so if you enjoy shopping, keep that space in your suitcase.
Wondering where to stay?
Definitely stay in the hotel zone between Eagle beach and Palm beach. The area is conveniently located close to plenty of restaurants, bars and casinos (if you like gambling).
My favorite part – Where did we eat?
If you don’t go to Zeerovars to eat, don’t go to Aruba! This cash-only joint is right on the water and serves freshly fried seafood. The sunset from the jetty tables is a cherry on the seafood-cake you are gobbling!
If you fancy fine dining or want a romantic date night, then Elements Restaurant in the Bucuti & Tara Resort is a great option. Make sure to make a reservation for about 20 mins before sunset that day so you can enjoy the complete experience.
Pelican’s is another gem on Palm Beach set up right in the turquoise waters. The seafood platter there was delish! Definitely check it out if you’re around for lunch by the beach.
On one of the evenings, we grabbed a drink at Piet’s Pier Bar. It had a beautiful ocean view. It can get really windy there though. Remember to keep your belongings close. My sunglasses literally flew into the water like it was a weightless object!
The main-street J.E. Irausquin Blvd has a ton of restaurants, bars and coffee shops lined up too if you prefer going exploring the local scene and nightlife. Gusto is supposed to be the popular night club there.
I hope my travel guide helps you plan your trip. Let me know if you end up using my recommendations 🙂