Aruba is a classic for good reason—sun, sand and those glorious trade winds…what’s not to like? I know what some of you are thinking, isn’t that exactly the problem? Aruba is one of those places that everyone wants to visit so isn’t it crowded all year long? The answer is no! I don’t like crowds either, so trust me it is possible to enjoy all that Aruba has to offer sans the cruise ship hoards. We had such an action packed trip, I’m splitting up our recap into a few posts. Here I’ll focus on how to enjoy all the luxuries Aruba has to offer.
When to Go
To avoid the crowds, you have to go in the summer. I know this seems counter intuitive, who wants to go somewhere hot in the summer? But, Aruba is the exception that proves the rule. Aruba, along with the other ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) are outside the hurricane belt, so they enjoy Sunny, 80-90 degree weather all year round. And Aruba in particular has those glorious trade winds for about 11 months out of the year (avoid September there will be no breeze), so even though it may be 90 with 100% humidity, you will be able to survive more than 5 minutes on the beach.
Where to Stay
The first step to enjoying all the luxuries Aruba has to offer is your choice of resort. For the luxury traveler who also wants to have fun, I recommend the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino—one of the mega resorts on the island, the hotel has everything. And if they don’t have it, you will be able to find it nearby. For example, some of the best water sports vendors are located right on the Aruba Marriott Resort’s beach. Also, since you are in Aruba, make sure you get an ocean view room.
On our trip a few weeks ago, we had an amazing view of the ocean from ours, and we really enjoyed having a balcony. It was the perfect place to sit with a glass of wine before dinner and just enjoy the breezy view.
What to Do
Aruba is an island that puts emphasis on fun—there are so many different activities and water sports you can take part in. Even though I do not consider myself an “active” traveler–typically I would choose the spa over a hike–Aruba convinces you to step out of your comfort zone. Think about it: even if you fall off while windsurfing, you’re still in waist deep warm turquoise water, so go for it and try something new!
Snorkeling: The one activity that literally anyone visiting Aruba needs to do, no matter you’re age or level of scaredy-cat-ness is a snorkel cruise. RedSail was amazing! You go out on this beautiful catamaran to two wonderful snorkel stops, the Antilla Shipwreck and Catalina Bay, to see all types of tropical sea life, coral and even a shipwreck! Oh by the way, the cruise is open bar!
JetLev: This seems to be the new “it” activity on all the big resorts. Pro tip: it’s a lot harder than it looks, so be prepared for a few face plants while you get the hang of it! But it does make for a good profile pic, so give it a try. RedSail is our choice here as well.
Windsurfing: Aruba is one of the world’s top spots for Windsurfing, so you have to sign up for a lesson. The best place to learn is Vela Aruba, right in between the Aruba Marriott Resort and the Ritz. Pro tip: once you find your balance it is a ton of fun, so don’t let the first 5 minutes of nervousness deter you from sticking around for the full hour!
SUP: Vela also offers Stand Up Paddleboard rentals. This activity scores high on the chill-o-meter, so if JetLev or Windsurfing isn’t for you, paddle boarding may be your thing!
ParaSailing: This is my #1 activity recommendation. Don’t let fear of the unknown scare you off. This was the only activity that we did not book in advance, but when we saw how many people were doing it, we just had to go for it. And did it pay off! Aruba Water Sports did an amazing job. Parasailing is the only way to get a truly 360 view of the island; we highly recommend facing your fears and giving it a try.
Where to Eat
Aruba has no shortage of fine dining options. Whether you are looking for a romantic beachside evening or a chic night out, Aruba has what you are looking for!
- Romantic sunsets: Aruba has one of the best sunsets I have ever seen! So you need to have dinner one night at Passions on the Beach at the Amsterdam Manor Resort. Request a front row table by the ocean and just enjoy the golden sunset over the horizon while you dine on succulent ceviche.
- Sophisticated beach front lunch: Located on Palm Beach only a few minutes walk down the beach from the Aruba Marriott Resort, Hadicurari serves fresh, local favorites. Recommendation: ask for the catch of the day.
- Chic night out: Screaming Eagle offers something that you won’t find anywhere else on the island, a chic, Miami South Beach VIP experience. You have to dine in one of the Lounge Beds. You’ll feel like you are at a stylish South Beach nightclub. Oh and the food is delicious!
- Adults only: Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort is the only adults-only boutique resort on the island, so if you are looking for a quiet night out I recommend their Elements Restaurant. Another wonderful beachfront spot, Bucuti offers innovative takes on Aruban classics. We were very impressed with the level of service, perfectly attentive, but not over bearing. Also, go there for the perfect sunsets!
- Foodie heaven: If you are a foodie you need to go to The Kitchen Table by White if you ever visit Aruba. Their dinner is the ultimate food experience on the island. Each night they serve 16 guests at 7-8 course meal at one big chefs table. You will not regret taking part in their “culinary adventure”.
Bonbini! Stay tuned for the next installment of how to enjoy “One Happy Island!”.