Insider’s Guide to Aruba
Off the coast of South America, you will find Aruba, a Dutch-owned Caribbean island renowned for its immaculate stretches of white-sand beaches and strikingly beautiful turquoise seas. Located outside the Hurricane Belt, with constant cooling trade winds, Aruba has more sunny days than any other Caribbean island. With more than 90 nationalities, the island has become the epicenter of a cultural mosaic. While Dutch and Papiamento are Aruba's official languages, most Arubans speak at least 4 languages, including English, Spanish and Portuguese.
The uber-luxurious Ritz-Carlton opened its doors in 2013 on the island’s pristine Palm Beach. The 320-room Ritz-Carlton, Aruba is the island’s most lavish hotel, with a 24-hour casino, a 13-treatment-room spa and four 4 restaurants. Expect to pay around $450 per night.
More of an intimate, boutique venue, Boardwalk Hotel Aruba features spacious rooms with fully equipped kitchens and private patios with charcoal grills. Built on the site of a former coconut plantation, the hotel has a luxurious garden with hammocks on the terraces. Rooms start at around $165 per night.
If you want an all-inclusive hotel, the Divi Aruba is the one to book. Overlooking The Links at Divi Aruba 9-hole golf course, the Divi Village All-Inclusive Villas offer spacious studios, one1- and two2-bedroom villas with designer furnishings, luxury amenities, plasma TVs, an in-suite welcome bar, and private terrace or balcony. Rooms start at around $575 per night.
What To Do
While it’s easy to spend serene afternoons relaxing in the endless sunshine, adventure-seekers will discover Aruba -- though only 19.6 by 6 miles long -- is chock-full of exhilarating land and water activities. From catamaran sailing and underwater exploration to off-road jeep safari excursions through the rugged Arikok National Park, there is a plethora of island action.
You can board one of Red Sail Sports’ luxury catamarans at any of their 3 full-service dive and watersports centers to take you to Aruba's best snorkel spots. The company also offers a guided safari adventure designed to showcase the rugged and unseen beauty of Aruba -- places only accessible by 4-wheel, off-roading vehicles.
For fans of stand up paddle boarding (SUP), the calm coastal waters of Palm Beach and Mangel Halto provide a serene venue for the sport, giving paddlers a unique perspective of the island while getting a full-body exercise workout.
Inside the Paseo Herencia Mall lies a small kiosk called Mia Spiaggia, meaning "my beach" in Italian. Filled with lights, ambient music and the sparkle of locally crafted jewelry, this little store has a unique selection of gifts ranging from jewelry to children's toys to an Aruban natural aloe vera soap. Paseo Herencia Mall is within walking distance from Aruba's high-rise resorts.
A popular fashion boutique in Aruba, ShabbyShic features home décor and apparel with a unique style. The friendly staff allows you to take your time while you meander through the store’s vintage furniture, beautiful chandeliers, paintings and Buddha statues. Whether you’re looking to pick up a dress to wear on your final night of vacation, or to pick out a beautiful necklace, earrings or scarf to commemorate your trip, a visit to ShabbyShic is a must.
Where to Eat
Aruba's authentic culinary combinations range from local dishes like gouda-glazed chicken or beef keshi yena and keri keri, a Criollo-dressed fresh fish stew, to international dishes such as Argentinian churrasco, Middle Eastern shawarma, and Japanese sushi and teppanyaki.
Guests visit Papiamento, a 175-year-old authentic Aruban manor house situated in lush tropical gardens, to tour the mansion and wine cellar before or after dinner. And those craving the “catch of the day” often stop by popular local eatery Zeerover for an Aruban Balashi beer and basket of fresh fish and traditional side dish, pan bati, an Aruban pancake.
Aruba’s Best Beach
Aruba’s Baby Beach features crystal-clear, calm waters and the best snorkeling on the island. The beach’s extensive coral reefs offer a kaleidoscope of coral and tropical fish, including parrotfish, blowfish and angelfish, as well as an impressive swimming cove.
Major carriers to Reina Beatrix International Airport from the United States and Canada include Delta, American Airlines, US Airways, Continental, JetBlue, AirTran, Spirit and Air Canada. Aruba is a direct flight away from more than 10 major US cities, making it a quick Caribbean escape.