Aruba, home to the happiest people in the world with constant sunshine beating in your face, is a true paradise to those who live here and those who come to visit. Whether your are looking for a completely relaxed time under a palm tree with a Margarita in your hand or a trip full of activities, Aruba has it all! See below for some recommendations on your next Aruba getaway!
Where to Stay?
Holiday Inn Resort Aruba Beach-Resort & Casino
I don't know about you guys, but when we travel we always look to stay at the accessible and affordable location, so that it's convenient for the rest of our trip. Holiday Inn resort is literally THE place to stay at! Located in the middle of high rise hotel area and given it's perfect location, the hotel is a walking distance to majority of restaurants, shops, and also a quick bike ride (they are complimentary) to some hidden gems and the California Lighthouse. The views from the rooms onto the turquoise water is certainly a dream. The staff is extremely accommodating, the resort is very nice and clean, and the food here is literally amazing! If you get a chance make sure to grab dinner at the Sea Breeze!
Where To Eat?
Sea Breeze (located at Holiday Inn Resort)
Whether you come here for lunch or dinner, you will be pleased with the food that is served. I would always suggest to get any of the seafood items, because where else will you eat something that fresh if not on an island? Make sure you grab the Goat Cheese Duet as an appetizer during dinner, you will thank me later :) As you will see we had the pleasure of having our table on the sand, if you want to do that as well, make sure you reserve it ahead of time! We loved watching the sunset while having our toes in the sand!
Address: Klipstraat 2, Oranjestad, Aruba
So maybe not necessarily a place to eat, but to grab a few drinks is certainly worth the time! They will only let you in if you have reservations which makes it a more intimate setting. The drinks are literally out of this world, they have an entire wall of drinks which you can pick from and they are called "prescriptions", I mean how fun right?! Just don't be like me and order 2 shots not realizing it was not a cocktail regardless they were delicious!
Address: Baby Beach, San Nicolas, Aruba
Whether you come here for a drink, for the views, or the food, it's well worth it! Located on the southern side of the island, is this amazing place with an infinity pool, which creates the perfect shot for your Instagram! Right after, you can walk down to Baby Beach and enjoy the rest of your day in the most turquois waters on the island. Note, if you want to enjoy the pool, it's $15 per person for an hour and you have to order at least one drinks (no biggie right?).
Where To Sightsee?
About a 6 km/ 3.7 mile bike ride from Holiday Inn is this amazing Lighthouse! Don't wait to take photos all the way at the top. Make sure to stop by along the way since the cactuses create a really cool foreground with the lighthouse in the background.
On your way to the lighthouse, you will pass by a hidden gem, which is perfect for snorkeling. It gets quite the attention during the day, so if you want it all to yourself arrive early!
East Coast of the Island
Ok so everyone will tell you that in order to drive the east side of the island, you need a 4x4. Well even though we booked a Jeep, upon arrival we were told they don't carry Jeeps (you should have seen my face LOL). So we got an SUV; I would say if you drive VERY slow and are an experienced driver, you may be able to get away with an SUV for portion of the drive ( we drove from the Alto Vista Chapel to the Natural Bridge). It's really up to you, BUT if you do choose to go there, thew views are something else. That side is certainly not for swimming AT ALL, the water is rough and extremely dangerous, and we would advise against attempting to swim there.
Couple of things we recommend visiting here:
- Natural Bridge
- Bushribana Ruins
- Wariruri Beach
- Alto Vista Chapel
Arikok National Park
So if you continue your trip on the East side, you will run into Aruba's only National Park. It is quite large and takes up about 20% of the island, so it really is worth visiting. Entrance is $15 per person and from what we were told you really need a 4x4 to enjoy all it has to offer. We accidentally left the park and since it was closing time we had no way of coming back. If you stop here make sure to visit Conchi Natural Pool, Quadriki Caves, and Klein Aruba.
Listen, whenever there is an opportunity for us to see animals, we are right there! This sanctuary was the highlight of our trip! They have so many donkeys you can feed and pet. They are super gentle, so kids are welcomed as well. You can easily purchase food there for couple dollars, and it goes directly to these lovely animals and their staff. They also have 5 cats roaming around, so you know I was in heaven :)
Known as the downtown area, we absolutely loved exploring the city and the colorful Dutch architecture! Everywhere you turn, you just want to snap photos. Being from Chicago we certainly don't get this much color with our buildings :) Places recommended to photograph: Royal Plaza Mall, City Hall, and Plaza Daniel Lao.
Before we let you go, we wanted to note some tips that I think you will find helpful:
- The whole island has zero traffic lights, it's all round abouts, so make sure you are comfortable with them before renting a car.
- Everyone speaks English and we felt very safe the whole time!
- Wear strong SPF! the sun is way stronger here since it is closer to the equator.
- Phone/Internet service is quite difficult, get a Sim card for $20 (for a week) at Setar (their phone carrier location).
- You will pass USA customs in Aruba, so plan to be at the airport earlier than you usually would.
- If you want to fly a drone, you have to contact their government. Read more about it here.
- Buy snacks and water at a big super market, will save you some $.
- If you want to rent a Jeep, call and confirm they actually have them, don't just rely on your Expedia search.
- Tap Water is safe to drink! We did and we were totally fine :)
We hope this Aruba guide will help with making your next vacation that much more dreamy! Make sure to visit this One Happy Island soon!
Adri & Kam