It’s been about 9 months since I’ve visited Aruba. Nevertheless, the memories are still fresh in my mind! We actually booked this trip last minute because we wanted to ‘escape’ spending Christmas on Curacao. Christmas for me means spending it with family. Because we moved to Curacao 2 years ago, it meant spending it without them. I was ready for a nice distraction and a new location.. so Aruba was perfect!
Aruba is only a 20-minute flight from Curacao, so you can easily combine a trip between these two islands.
Where to stay in Aruba?
There are a lot of well-known hotels on the island such as Marriot, Renaissance, Holiday Inn, Hilton… Most of them are located right next to the beach at Palm Beach. Because we booked the trip last minute in the most popular week of the year, almost every hotel was either full or overpriced. We decided to book via Airbnb and were pleasantly surprised! Not only was the location of the accommodation ideal, the rooms were brand new and perfect for a couple.
What to do in Aruba?
The most obvious answer is to visit the beautiful long stretched beaches that this island has to offer! But there’s more 🙂
Arikok National Park
Please make sure that you do your research before you enter this park. I would highly recommend to rent a jeep if you want to see the whole park. There are different areas in Arikok National Park with beaches, caves and viewpoints. You have paved roads where you can ride with small cars and unpaved roads where a 4 × 4 jeep is needed. Make sure you ride really slowly, even on the paved roads, we found multiple deep holes in the road. You don’t have to do everything with the car. There are also multiple hiking paths in the Arikok National Park. You can ask for more information about these at the Visitor Center at the entrance.
Fresh fish at Zeerovers
This was one of my favorite places that we visited! Not fancy at all like most of the other restaurants on Aruba. This probably was my favorite because it’s the first place we visited on the island where locals also hang out. I always love visiting local places above the tourist spots. Zeerovers is located right next to the sea and is surrounded by fishing boats. The fishermen bring their fresh catch to the restaurant, so you’ll always have fresh fish.
You order your fish (depends on the daily catch of the fishermen) at the entrance of the restaurant and they will put in a basket. Your order will be delivered to the kitchen and they will prepare your fish.
Dinner on a bed at Screaming Eagle
I always do my research when it comes to the nicest lunch and dinner spots when we go on a trip. One I had to cross off my list was Screaming Eagle. Instead of having dinner at a table, you can have your dinner on a relaxing lounge bed! Not only was the dinner location an experience, their food menu was refreshing. No wonder that this restaurant was voted as the #1 Restaurant in the Caribbean in 2015.
Shop till you drop in Oranjestad
Well, if you have a lot of money. Although there are a lot of shops in Oranjestad, most of them are really luxurious. I’m talking about Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Cartier… A little out of my budget, but there’s also a Zara and Mango. Oranjestad is besides the shops really cute. These renovated colonial buildings are painted in bright pastel colors.
The California Lighthouse is located on the north side of the island. It was not far from our Airbnb and easy to access by car. The lighthouse is named after a ship that sunk right of the coast of Aruba: the SS California. You’ll have a serene view of the island from the top of the lighthouse. There’s also an Italian restaurant, La Trattoria el Faro Blanco, located underneath the lighthouse which provides a beautiful view.
Beaches on Aruba
The most famous beaches of Aruba are Palm Beach and Eagle Beach. We spend our first day on Palm Beach and decided we weren’t going to spend another day here. Not only is this beach surrounded by big and tall hotels, it was really crowded. Probably also because of the high season. I did however enjoy Eagle Beach a lot. It was less crowded than Palm Beach and meets all the requirements of a tropical island beach: long stretched, turquoise water and white sand.
We also visited smaller beaches like Baby Beach, Mangel Halto and Boca Grandi. We discovered most beaches by driving around and stop at the beaches that we saw on our navigation app.
My favorite breakfast/lunch spots
- Craft: thé spot for a good cup of coffee, fresh fruit, waffles or a açai bowl.
- Eduardo’s Beach Shack: has multiple açai & poké bowl options.