Aruba is probably one of the best known and full of life islands in the Caribbean. Most people fall in love with it and return each year. I also fell in love with Aruba but as I still have so much to see and most likely I will not return as soon as I would like.
What can one say about this happy island – first thing that comes to my mind is that it indeed makes you feel happy… the island offers all comfort that one can enjoy in such a luxuriant place and some of the most amazing beaches.
This is not a green island, main vegetation being represented by cacti, mangroves, aloe vera and palm trees on the beach but it is a really developed and safe island with numerous and diverse restaurants and a vivid night life.
Aruba’s main attraction is definitely the beach and there are plenty of choices.
The most famous beach is Palm Beach – high rise area with major well-established resorts – a 4 km of white sand turquoise water beach offering water sports, bars, shops and everything you can imagine.
Palm Beach is always full and clearly tourists are taking advantage of all amenities made available here. I honestly don’t think that anyone can get bored here with so many activities to do – kitesurfing, windsurfing, parasailing, sky jet, paddle boarding, paddle board yoga, jetpack, jetlev (see also our post on Kitesurfing in Aruba).
On Palm Beach, at Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino they even have an Iguana sanctuary. Each day in the morning they feed the iguanas, so it is a nice time to spend and interact with them, being especially interesting for children.
Close to Palm Beach, about one km of walking, you can reach the less crowded Eagle Beach, which, from my perspective, is just marvelous and much more enjoyable than Palm Beach. Here you cannot feel the pressure of the big resorts and you can have the most quiet and restful time.
Right as you enter Eagle Beach coming from Palm Beach you can find the oldest 2 Divi-Divi trees in Aruba and maybe take some time and rest under their shade.
As you walk further you reach the most luxurious boutique resorts where the stretch of beach is the widest and tranquility is at its home.
I really loved taking long walks here. Also, the most amazing experience was to run barefoot on the two beaches – all together I managed to run 11 km (just trying to compensate a little all the food I’ve enjoyed). Actually, it was quite normal in the morning for people to run or walk on the beach and after to stop at Eduardo’s Beach Shack to take a healthy breakfast on the go.
Further away, if you drive towards the south of the island you can reach more secluded beaches, such as Baby Beach and Mangel Halto that are normally used by locals. Here you can also do snorkeling. All beaches are public for everybody to use.
Aruba’s capital, Oranjestad, is famous for the shopping experience it offers and for its colorful colonial buildings.
Still, it fades in comparison to its neighbor, Willemstad (in Curaçao). But even so, it is worth spending some hours there. When we visited it, they had the carnival which I can’t say is really worth the time but locals really seemed to enjoy it.
Note that most restaurants and all night life center around the area where the main resorts are (Palm Beach and Eagle Beach) and not in the capital.
There are also some other attractions to visit, such as the California Lighthouse (now in renovation), offering a great view of the island and Alto Vista Chapel surrounded by cacti on a deserted terrain.
From my perspectives the musts on the island are a stop at Zeerovers, for a truly local foodie experience – the shrimps were to die for and to adventure in one of the many bars at night listening to live music – it completes the day on this amazing island.
Further, it is the right island for start or continue practicing water sports, especially kite-surfing…
In the end is only up to us if we want to be happy but Aruba is a medicine towards happiness… so try it and enjoy the little things!
P.S. Don’t forget to watch the sunset!
- Getting there:
Aruba’s International Airport receives daily flights from all over the world, but mainly from US. As in the case of the other two ABC islands (Curaçao & Bonaire) the main visitors are from US and Netherlands. Let’s not forget that the ABC islands were all colonies under the Kingdom of Netherlands and are still related to it.
European travellers can easily fly KLM (if you book your flight when promotions are in place you may get the round ticket for approx. 650 EUR, at least from Bucharest). For EU citizens, there are no visa requirements but you need a valid passport with 3 month validity term after the estimated return date.
InselAir gives you the possibility to travel around the Caribbean at good prices but be aware that they change the flights without proper notification or excuses.
There is public transportation on the island so you can use the bus to go to different places. Still, we rented a car for two days in order to discover the island at our pace. It cost 90 $ for the two days. The airport taxi is around 25$ – 27$ and you have to take it as they don’t allow luggage on the bus.
Given that Aruba is really expensive when it comes to accommodation, I tried for the first time Airbnb and it exceed all my expectations. We stayed at Erna’s house, Modern World and everything was simply amazing, a comfortable and beautiful place (the outdoor was spectacular). The host took so much care of our needs and gave us the most valuable recommendations on what to do on the island.
Languages: They speak various languages on the island: English, Dutch, Spanish – so you can easily communicate.
Payment in dollars, in some places you might receive the change in local currency, but most places have POS.