We’ve been to almost all of the Caribbean islands, but never to Aruba. Last month, we had a chance to experience this “Happy Island,” and we were more than pleasantly surprised with what we found. For instance, we had no idea that it rarely rains in Aruba; the island is famous for endless days of sunshine, clear blue skies, and an arid desert climate and landscape. It’s the one place in the Caribbean where vacationers are virtually guaranteed to avoid rain (average annual rainfall is less than 20 inches).
The beaches are gorgeous, the people are incredibly friendly, and we never have seen so much security on an island in the Caribbean. In addition, there is no need to buy bottled water in Aruba—its tap water is pure and refreshing, meeting the highest quality standards of the World Health Organization. Who knew?
We stayed at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort and Casino and would definitely stay there again. If you’re looking for wellness activities, their daily schedule is filled with them. Starting today until September 22, they are amplifying the activities on-site, ranging from sunrise meditation to healthy cooking classes with the chef (there will even be a healthy cocktails portion). How awesome does this look?
While in Aruba, be sure to enjoy pure bliss at the oceanfront eforea Spa at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort. It’s Japanese-inspired bamboo relaxation area is just the beginning. The tranquil atmosphere and incredible services make this a must stop on your Aruba trip. The spa features include a Vichy room, steam room, sauna and cold plunge pool for an incredible sensory journey. We highly recommend the Signature Aloe and Rum Stone Massage, an 80 minute treatment, which combines hot black beach stones, lime infused massage oil and local rum with pure liquid aloe vera—pure heaven!
We highly recommend a Clear Kayak Tour with Aruba Clear Kayak. The south coast of Aruba is filled with marine life, corals, and reefs. You will see all of this and more (like a sea turtle if you’re lucky!) on a tour with Clear Kayak Aruba, which hosts guided tours in the morning and evening. It’s a wonderful experience and workout!
ABC Jeep Tour is a fantastic way to visit Aruba’s most interesting historical sites, as well as its best natural monuments. You will explore Aruba like a local and gain insight into the island’s history and lore, all while feeling like you’re on a roller coaster in the Caribbean desert. The guides are fun, and it’s a great way to spend a half-day on the island. We recommend going early in your vacation—on the second or third day of your stay—so you learn your way around the island very quickly.
A few experiences unique to Aruba to consider:
Cool off in Conchi, Aruba’s Natural Pool
Beyond the turquoise waters and sun-kissed, sandy shores exists the “real” Aruba—where natural bridges, caves, desert-like terrain, thriving culture, 90-plus culinary influences, and countless other hidden gems await visitors’ discovery. Located along the rugged northern shore of Aruba, nestled at the base of the limestone cliffs within Arikok National Park and covering nearly 20 percent of the island, adventurers must trek through the rocky ravines on horseback or ATV or hike wild, untamed terrain to discover one of Aruba’s most secluded spots—the Natural Pool, known as Conchi in Aruba’s native language, Papiamento. This shell-shaped basin is surrounded by a large barrier of lava rocks that greet crashing waves from the Caribbean. When conditions are right, thrill-seekers are invited to climb the rocks to enjoy simultaneous views of the sea and desert before plunging headfirst into the pool. Others choose to relax and bask in the cool, serene waters. The juxtaposition of Conchi’s tranquility against the lively, crashing waves of the sea is reflective of Aruba, an island of contradictions.
Ultimate Sand Bar Island
Aruba offers 25-plus toes-in-the-sand and floating dock dining experiences for visitors to enjoy. Guests who love seafood or simply the sea make it a mission to spend their entire vacation only eating at restaurants on the water.
Mangel Halto Drift
Tucked away along the western coast in the Pos Chikito district near the Spanish Lagoon, Mangel Halto is beloved for its beauty and seclusion. Locals retreat to this secret spot to “drift” on the water during a stand-up paddleboard excursion or snorkeling adventure, or “drift” off to sleep under the mangrove trees after a relaxing afternoon picnic.
The Cove Coast
Tucked along Aruba’s rugged northern shoreline are countless coves, each with their own personality. Discover the Cove Coast by renting a Jeep and starting your journey on the sandy road behind the California Lighthouse, cruising to the right side of crashing waves for more than 30 minutes as you discover coves ranging from Andicuri, a bodyboarder’s delight and great escape from crowds, to Boca Prins, offering unparalleled views of iconic north shore scenery and access to cocktails and cuisine at Arikok National Park’s only full-service restaurant.
Where to dine:
- Pincho’s Grill & Bar—Complete with 360 degrees of oceanfront views, it’s one of the most romantic places to watch the sunset.
- Flying Fishbone—Very romantic, toes-in-the-water experience
- Barefoot Restaurant
- White Modern Cuisine
- The Kitchen Table
- Screaming Eagle
- Passions on the Beach—This oasis will make you never want to leave the one happy island.
- Zeerovers—A local hotspot and guaranteed favorite on the water
- Faro Blanco
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