Recently, I traveled to Aruba with my family to get away from the cold, dreary weather and to decompress for a bit. It had been a while since I traveled on an airplane for a trip, so I couldn’t have been more excited to pack my summer clothes and spend a few days on the beach.
We took a connecting flight to Aruba, stopping in Miami for a layover. If you ever choose to go, I definitely recommend taking a direct flight. It is around 4/5 hours direct and many airlines, such as JetBlue, travel direct. We spent around 6ish hours traveling in total, and it ended up being a lot, especially since we had to get up at 3am. We arrived in the late afternoon, and by that time, I wanted to just relax for the evening and start fresh the next day.
Where to Stay
In Aruba, there are two main tourist locations: Eagle Beach and Palm Beach. Eagle Beach, which according to one of our cab drivers is practically Palm Beach divided up, is the condo area. Palm Beach, on the other hand, is the ‘sky rise’ area with all the major hotels. We stayed at The Ritz-Carlton, which is located at the far end of Palm Beach and is the last hotel on the strip. Even though The Ritz tends to be on the pricier side, I definitely recommend looking into staying there. Not only did it have fabulous amenities and great customer service, it was quiet because it was situated on the far end of the beach. The rest of the strip felt congested with hotels on top of each other.
This trip, we decided to balance both relaxation and sight-seeing. We did two excursions, which in my honest opinion were just okay. The one excursion that I do recommend (with a warning) is the jeep or UTV tour of the island and Arikok National Park. Aruba is a desert island, which at times was hard to believe since it had incredible ocean views. The tour takes you around to see both the caves, rock formations, natural pool and coastal cliffs. We ventured up to one of the highest points of the island and were able to see the northern coast of Venezuela. According to our tour guide, Venezuela is about a 15 minute flight from Aruba. However, do not expect to visit the country while you are on the island. Aruba has strict immigration and travel rules when it comes to Venezuela. Anyway, this excursion sounds great, right? Yes, but WARNING, it was VERY bumpy. We were pretty much off-roading, which was extremely rough on the body. If that does not sound appealing to you, I would skip it. We were in the open-air jeep, and it was a hard ride to get through. For the second excursion, we took a catamaran to a few areas to snorkel. I would personally skip the boat tour altogether. Since Aruba is outside of the hurricane belt, the weather is nearly perfect, however, they do get a lot of wind. Because of the wind, the waters were rough and made snorkeling uncomfortable and dangerous. Take the extra day and relax on the beach instead!
Now to the best part.. FOOD! I am a big foodie, especially on vacations. While I wasn’t going crazy over Aruba’s food, there were some spots where we enjoyed delicious meals:
- Flying Fishbone – If you can, try to get a table in the water and preferably at sunset.
- Madame Janette – If you’re looking to enjoy your meal without being surrounded by large families or kids, try making a reservation later into the evening at around 8pm. You also need to leave room for dessert (their Snickers cake was amazing.)
- Yemanja – This was by far one of my favorites. Not only did they have an expansive menu filled with vegetarian and vegan options, but their drinks were great. I recommend the Sweet Passion.
In regards to shopping, there wasn’t a whole lot. We stopped at one store for t-shirts in the downtown Oranjestad area. You’ll notice that many people will choose to buy their luxury or designer items while on vacation in Aruba. That is because there isn’t a luxury tax on the island, so designer items are cheaper than they would be in the states.
Overall this was one of the most relaxing trips I have had in a long time. It was nice to get away and soak up the sun! Now back to winter…