Editor's note: We encourage our readers to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (opens in new tab) for up-to-date information on how to safely travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re looking for near-guaranteed good weather on your next trip, head to Aruba. The Dutch Caribbean island (so close to the coast of Venezuela, you can see the country) is outside of the hurricane belt with consistently warm temperatures and refreshing breezes. It offers the white sand beaches you expect from the Caribbean, along with the rugged Arikok National Park (opens in new tab), which covers nearly 20 percent of the island—just two of the reasons why Aruba has the highest repeat visitor ratio in the Caribbean. Aruba's capital, Oranjestad, is where you’ll find most of the resorts, but there are also gems outside the tourist center. The local language, Papiamento, is a mix of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and Creole, but English is also widely spoken on the island. Read on for what exactly to do once you're there, and check out the Aruba travel site (opens in new tab) to learn more about the current COVID-19 visitor health requirements.
Eat With Your Feet in the Sand and Sea
Sure, there are tables on the sand, but be sure to ask for of the coveted tables ankle-deep in water at Flying Fishbone (opens in new tab). The restaurant is found in the fisherman's town of Savaneta inside a traditional Aruban cunucu house. While you might come for the experience, the food will have you returning.
Feed the Flamingos on Renaissance Island
Renaissance Island (opens in new tab) is home to Flamingo Beach, a paradise owned by the Renaissance Hotel. Once you're there, you can kayak, float in the calm waters, relax in a hammock, and, of course, interact with the private island’s brightly colored inhabitants.
Explore Arikok National Park
Aruba’s Arikok National Park (opens in new tab) is a protected preserve covering nearly 20 percent of the island. Most trips happen in a four-wheel-drive vehicle (even then, the roads get rough!). A guide will take you to see rock formations, caves, untouched beaches, and Conchi—a natural ocean pool.
Stay on an Idyllic White Sand Beach
On award-winning Eagle Beach (an extra-wide shoreline, sugar sand), guests will find Manchebo Beach Resort (opens in new tab). Only two stories high, it offers a charming alternative to a mega-resort. A host of wellness-focused activities attract those who want to combine a beach vacation with opportunities for yoga and meditation. Relax on the stunning grounds dotted with palapas, palm trees, and hammocks.
Unwind at a Spa Paradise
Spa del Sol (opens in new tab) at Manchebo Beach Resort is a Balinese-style spa with gorgeous open-air cabanas looking out onto the beach. In one of five private treatment rooms indulge in anything from a hot stone massage to a body wrap. Alternatively, visit Moreu Facilitation & Healing Center (opens in new tab)—Aruba’s only center for energy healing—to relax and recenter with offerings like jin energy alignment and watsu aquatic therapy.
Sample Dutch Specialties
With an extensive wine selection and many unique Dutch dishes, like sucadelappen (flank steak stewed in red wine and herbs), on the menu, Quinta del Carmen (opens in new tab) is a lovely restaurant to sit back at and watch the sunset. Dine out in the courtyard or inside the 100-year-old mansion.
Find the Locals in San Nicolas
At the southern tip of Aruba, about a 30-minute drive from Oranjestad, is San Nicolas (opens in new tab), an arts district featuring large, brightly colored murals and tile mosaic benches. Winding streets are lined with galleries and cafes.
Indulge in Fine Dining at Wilhelmina
Chef Dennis van Daatselaar brings incredible food—homemade fresh pasta, steak, and seafood—to the casually elegant Wilhelmina (opens in new tab), found in downtown Oranjestad. From the top-notch service to expertly paired wines, eating at Wilhelmina is a dinner to remember.
Savor Craft Cocktails at a Speakeasy
Apotek Speakeasy (opens in new tab) is easily the best craft cocktail bar in Aruba—and not just because it’s the only craft cocktail bar in Aruba! The bar and the drinks themselves are inspired by cures for ailments, prescribed by your bartender, and customized to your taste.
Pack Plenty of Bathing Suits
You’ll live in a bathing suit (opens in new tab) during your days in Aruba, so pack one (or seven!) that can go from beach to boat to lunch, along with cut-off shorts (opens in new tab). Leave the heels at home and pack espadrilles (opens in new tab) that wont sink into the sand. For the evenings, a lightweight dress (opens in new tab) will take you anywhere!
If you've fallen in love with Aruba, book a trip here (opens in new tab).
Michelle Stansbury is a San Diego-based freelance writer who writes about travel, food, cannabis, and relationships. Misuse of the word "literally" drives her figuratively insane.
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