I can safely say that Aruba is one of my favorite travel destinations. The island is beautiful, the people are friendly, and the restaurants and activities are some of the best in the Caribbean. Having returned from my trip to Aruba a couple of days ago, I wanted to give you some suggestions of the best restaurants, activities and hidden gems in Aruba.
But first; on a personal note: I have actually been going to Aruba since I was 7 years old. My grandfather has a timeshare there, and so as a kid, I went quite frequently. My parents even let me and my best friend travel to Aruba by ourselves (to meet my grandparents staying there) when we were ten years old. Once I was in high school (…and then my undergrad degree… and then my master’s… and then law school) I wasn’t able to take the time away to visit this magical island.
This trip was my first trip to Aruba in nearly 20 years. It was a very personal trip for me because it was the first time I have been since my grandmother passed away last year (read more about my relationship with her / what a fashionista she was) It was really interesting because a number of people remembered her and asked about her. Even the owner of her favorite restaurant in town remembered her fondly and gave his condolences. She certainly had a big personality and it was great to meet with people who knew her.
Best Way To Get Around Aruba:
Okay, on to the good stuff! First up: when you get to Aruba go to Budget rent a car to pick up a car for the duration of your trip. Aruba has so much to explore that you will want your own vehicle to get around to restaurants and beaches in different neighbourhoods. Budget is right across from the airport- when you walk out the door it is about 15 feet directly ahead of you – so it is ideal for convenience!
Driving around Aruba is actually quite easy. Most tourist type things are very well marked and your GPS map will work easily in Aruba. Just be sure you are prepared for a LOT of roundabouts (This country LOVES its roundabouts)
Best Unconventional Thing To Do:
In a world of sand, sun and pina coladas it is nice to find something to do that is a bit different. I cannot recommend highly enough the yoga & pilates classes at Manchebo beach resort. They have both morning and evening classes (I did the morning classes 5 out of the 7 days I was there!) and they are such a great way to unwind and feel healthy during your vacation. The classes are held, as you can see in the photos below, in the most gorgeous outdoor spot overlooking the beach.
On a similar note – the outdoor restaurant at Manchebo, Ike’s, has amazing healthy breakfasts which I would recommend grabbing after your yoga/pilates class! The chia pudding is so delicious, and an absolute must try!
Let’s be honest, you can’t really go wrong with any beach in Aruba. Aruba is lucky enough to have crystal clear water and fine, white sand beaches. That said; there are different perks to different spots.
If you’re interested in snorkeling, two of the best beaches are Boca Catalina and Baby Beach. Baby beach is usually quite busy, but definitely worth checking out. Boca Catalina is very small, but has great snorkeling to see fish. It’s not a reef sight so you get different fish than you would in other locations. I also like that Boca Catalina is easily accessible and very close to the low-rise hotel area.
If you want great views, and don’t mind people, Eagle beach is fantastic. This is the beach I spent most of my time at- simply because it is right out front of where I was staying.
Places to Visit:
The Aloe Museum/Factory is definitely worth a visit when you need a break from the beach (or when it rains!) Free guided tours (that last about 15 minutes) run every 15 minutes and are a great way to learn a little bit about One of Aruba’s biggest exports and a great little Aruban company. The gift shop at the end is SO good. Get at least two tubes of the sugar scrub cubes – You’ll thank me later!
The California lighthouse is also worth a visit. It is a great way to get a sense of the geography of the island.
That is all for today; stay tuned for Friday’s post for more! On Friday I’ll be covering the best places to eat (so many restaurant reviews), as well the #1 place to shop and the “most instagramable places”
Thank you so much to Budget Rent-a-Car Aruba & Manchebo Resort & Spa for collaborating on this post. As always, all reviews and opinions are my own.
that's so interesting about your grandmother being so known there, i'm sure those comments made you feel good. my dad and stepmom also have/had a time share there, and were actually in the local paper for the amount of time they'd been going there, and were declared honorary citizens lol. after my father passed away, aruba was the first place i thought to vacation, as a way to honor him that year. and in keeping with my father's tradition for themselves, my boyfriend bought me a gorgeous ring that he said he had to keep going since my dad always bought he and my stepmom jewelry there.
can't wait to see your restaurants and see if i remember any of the places!
Yes it definitely was cool to have people remember her and hear some of their stories/memories of her.
That is SO cool that your dad and stepmom spent so much time there as well! Haha I love that they put them in the local paper that is just so very Aruban (so sweet!)
I am sorry to hear that your dad passed away; that is really cool that you were able to vacation in Aruba after he passed as well- a great way to stay connected to him.
Aww that is such a sweet boyfriend move – he sounds like a keeper!
I hope you liked the restaurant post and saw some places you remembered! Would love to hear what some of your favorite restaurants are there!