Billing itself as “One Happy Island,” Aruba has a reputation as a sunny paradise. The island is home to numerous perfect beaches and a host of activities that will keep all members of your vacation entourage happy. With direct flights from many U.S. cities, Aruba is the perfect place to spend a long weekend (although, you can also keep yourself happily busy if you can spare more time.) Below are some of my favorite ways to spend your days and nights.
One of the main draws of Aruba is its crystal-clear waters and abundant beaches. The perfect way to spend an afternoon or two is doing almost nothing or perhaps floating in the Caribbean sea. A book and a cocktail may be all you need for an ideal day. There is a beach to suit almost any beach preference. Eagle Beach is a classic and is one of the widest stretches of sand. Surfers will want to seek out the largely deserted strip at Dos Playa. And families are encouraged to visit aptly-named Baby Beach, a shallow lagoon that is perfect for young kids.
Multiple water activities
Many hotels offer complimentary paddle boards and kayaks, but to really enjoy Aruba, it is advisable to take a snorkeling or snuba trip with De Palm Tours or another well-known outfitter. Most snorkeling trips visit several spots and on one I recently joined we made three stops and saw schools of fish, a group of languid turtles and the Antilla shipwreck. I am partial to snuba diving, but there is also the opportunity for scuba diving on the island.
A lesser-known gem of the island is Arikok National Park. Nature lovers will appreciate the almost 8,000 acres of trails surrounded by rugged landscapes and multiple species of towering cacti. This is the perfect place for an early morning hike, but you can also enjoy the park by driving around the well-paved roads. In addition to the spectacular scenery, you can also visit the Quadiriki Cave and see some original cave drawings. En route, nature lovers can stop by the Ayo and Casibari rock formations where visitors can clamor around giant boulders and spot quite a few friendly iguanas.
Aruba is home to over 90 nationalities and the food scene is rich with multiple options. Food is influenced by the island’s Dutch history, as well as South American and Caribbean cuisine. An abundance of fresh fish means that you should definitely indulge in some local mahi-mahi, grouper or Caribbean lobster.
For the ultimate Aruba experience, you need to head over to the Marriott Stellaris where you can enjoy a barefoot dinner with a spectacular sunset view. The hotel’s Atardi restaurant offers a great beachside dinner featuring surf & turf, grilled shrimps and an amazing coconut cake. For a casual, waterside vibe, stop by West Deck. This is a great place to grab lunch and enjoy some spicy jerk shrimp and a side of Johnny cakes. Another local favorite is Yemanja Wood Grill, a popular spot that offers both superfood salads, classic French onion soup, Wagyu burgers and lamb chops.
Multiple dining options means you never have to be bored at dinnertime.