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12 Photos That Will Put Aruba On Your Bucket List


The most beautiful places on Aruba.

In collaboration with Aruba Tourism Authority

Traveling To Aruba

When we arrived at our hotel in Aruba there was a concierge waiting to greet us. It was late, and when I’m tired I struggle to stay on task. I get distracted easily and my mind wanders. And at that particular moment, as the friendly man walked us through all the details of our stay, the subject of my preoccupation was a photograph on the wall. A girl was lounging on what appeared to be a net suspended above impossibly blue water with a huge smile on her face. The concierge noticed and asked whether or not I was interested in hearing about some of the sailing tours that the island offered. Embarrassed, I shook my head no.

Traveling for me, generally consists of sleeping in a van or tent, not cruising around on luxury yachts, so I felt way out of my realm. But that night, as jet-lag settled in, the image kept popping into my restless head. The photo was waiting for me as I passed through the lobby on my way to breakfast the next morning. Walking up to the front desk I sheepishly confessed that maybe I’d like to hear a little bit more about the sailing trip in the photograph after all. The next thing I knew I was signed up for a five hour cruise to snorkel, kayak, and rope swing into that same impossibly blue water!

One Happy Island

I was in Aruba to work, but the word vacation crossed my mind more than once. It was impossible not to feel relaxed. Aruba’s slogan is “One Happy Island,” and it doesn’t take long to understand why. Warm water, inviting beaches, and picturesque palms swaying gently in the breeze greet you at every turn. And if that wasn’t enough, the people on Aruba are so friendly that it was often hard to tell who lived there, and who was actually just on vacation. Everyone it seemed, resident and visitors alike was happy to be there! So a few days later as I watched the turquoise blue water drift underneath me from my perch at the front of a giant sailboat, I wasn’t surprised to feel a familiar smile creep over my face.

Relaxing on the Monforte III.
Relaxing on the Monforte III.

A Dozen Ways To Put A Smile On Your Face In Aruba

1. Feel The Warmth On Aruba’s Eagle Beach

Eagle Beach is consistently named one of the Caribbean’s top beaches, and as soon as you see it, it’s pretty obvious why. White sand melts into calm turquoise waters along this 14-acre stretch of beach, and there’s no shortage of activities available to fill your day.

Enjoying Eagle Beach - consistently voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.
Enjoying Eagle Beach – consistently voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.

2. Swim With The Fish On A Snorkeling Cruise In Aruba

There are any number of snorkeling cruises available on Aruba for you to enjoy. We opted for Pelican Adventures Champagne Brunch Cruise. The cruise stops at three different snorkeling destinations, including the SS Antilla, an awesome shipwreck off one of Aruba’s more rugged stretches of coast and home to lots and lots of colorful fish!

Exploring a ship wreck off the coast of Aruba on one of the many snorkeling tours.
Exploring a ship wreck off the coast of Aruba on one of the many snorkeling tours.

3. Spend The Day On A Private Island In Aruba

Flamingo Beach at Renaissance Private Island has become a bit of a hot spot for sun worshipers and Instagrammers alike. If you stay at Renaissance Aruba, entrance to the private island is complimentary. Otherwise you can show up at the front desk first thing in the morning, and try to secure one of the few passes put aside for non-guests each day. The entrance fee will put you back about $100 US. Flamingos are not native to Aruba, but I was assured that the six resident Flamingos at Flamingo Beach are very well cared for, and even receive monthly veterinary check-ups to make sure that they remain happy and healthy. That being said, I would highly recommend doing your own research into any form of animal tourism before participating.

Flamingo Beach at Renaissance Private Island.
Flamingo Beach at Renaissance Private Island.

4. Explore The Caves In Aruba’s Arikok National Park

With no shortage of places to explore, Aruba’s beautiful Arikok National Park comprises almost 20% of the island’s land mass. Some destinations in the park require 4×4’s, so you’ll need to rent a Jeep, or join one of the many ATV and off-road tours offered. Other sites like the Quadirikiri Cave are easily accessible by car.

Exploring The Caves In Aruba’s Arikok National Park.
Exploring The Caves In Aruba’s Arikok National Park.

5. Stay Green At Aruba’s Bucudi & Tara Beach Resort

Long before catch phrases like “eco-tourism” and “eco-resort” went main stream Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort wanted to promote environmentally conscious luxury. The result is North America’s first CarbonNeutral® resort hotel. You may pay a little more to stay here than some of the other resorts on Aruba, but you can rest well at night knowing that Bucuti & Tara is just as passionate about preserving the island’s beauty as you are.

Aerial view of the beautiful Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort on Aruba.
Aerial view of the beautiful Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort on Aruba.

6. Take A Swim At Aruba’s Spanish Lagoon

Protected by mangrove forests, Spanish Lagoon has exceptionally clear calm water. It’s a popular place for snorkel tours, and a great day trip!

Heading back to the boat after snorkeling in Aruba’s Spanish Lagoon.
Heading back to the boat after snorkeling in Aruba’s Spanish Lagoon.

7. Catch As Many Aruban Sunsets As Possible

It seems like every night there’s a beautiful sunset on Aruba, and it’s worth trying to catch them all. One of my favorite spots that we caught sunsets at was Mangel Halto. Featuring mesmerizingly blue water, and random staircases offering easy access into the water, and it’s a fun place to hang out. While you are in the area make sure to save room for the fresh catch of the day at at local favorite Zeerovers.

Soaking in the sunset at Mangel Halto.
Soaking in the sunset at Mangel Halto.

8. Feel The Wind In Your Hair On An Aruban Sunset Sail

I doubt you could ever get tired of watching the sunset from one of Aruba’s stunning beaches. But if you are looking for a change of pace, there are a number of sunset sails. If nothing else, they make for pretty subjects in all the photos you’re going to take from the beach!

Aruba sailing trip.

9. Cool Down At The Small Natural Pool In Aruba

This natural swimming hole is located about 100 yards down the coast from the Bushiribana Ruins. A popular stop on a lot of ATV tours, it can get pretty crowded. If you arrive when  tour group are there, and you have a little time, it’s worth waiting them out to have this cool spot all to yourself!


10. Escape Aruba’s busy Resorts scene At Baby Beach

When I started posting about my trip to Aruba, I got a number of messages from people recommending Baby Beach. And I’m sure glad they did! Baby Beach is located on the southern tip of Aruba, far away from the main resort area. That’s not to say there aren’t people there, but it’s a different experience. My favorite part of this perfectly half-moon shaped beach was the shallow, crystal clear water. If you prefer wading over swimming, this is your spot!

Baby Beach, Aruba.
Baby Beach, Aruba.

11. Rent A Jeep To Drive Around The Island

There are many areas of Aruba, particularly in the National Park that are inaccessible without a 4×4. Renting one even for a day is well worth it if you plan on exploring away from the beach resorts while you are there. We used Amigo Car Rental to rent our Jeep.


12. Treat Yourself to A Luxury LAGOON Cruise In Aruba

The Monforte III was the ship in the photo that welcomed me to Aruba that first night. Crazy thing is, the experience aboard the Monforte lived up to the images! Friendly crew, yummy food, and most importantly no overcrowding! Just you, the sun, and that impossibly blue water!


Photos for this blog were created in collaboration with Quin Schrock. I can never thank him enough for his ability to make the best moments stand still just long enough to capture them forever.

A special thanks to the Aruba Tourism Authority for hosting us on their beautiful island. As always, all ideas and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. Thank you so much for your time and support! – jess

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  1. Mike says:

    Beautiful photographs and really helpful information too! Aruba is one of those names that everyone knows, but I feel like I never actually knew anything about it. Always enjoy your posts. One of the best travel blogs out there.

  2. Steven says:

    Spectacular! I’ve never seen aruba look this beautiful!

  3. Kim says:

    Spectacular photios and helpful travel tips. It looks like the perfect escape from our rainy winters in the Pacific NW!

  4. Elise Daw says:

    Your best post to date.. what a dream! So I take it drones are widely accepted on the island?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Elise! Thanks so much. Really glad you liked it! Yes, for the most part drones are widely accepted on Aruba. The rules are always changing though, so it’s a good idea to double check before you go!

  5. Tony says:

    Where were the Divi Divi trees?

    • Jess Dales says:

      They are on the beach in front of the Amsterdam Manor. But if you mean why aren’t they on this list, it’s because they always had a million people camped out under them while we were there. We tried sunrise, sunset, mid-day. It was a no-go. And quite frankly, it didn’t seem like that location needs any more attention haha.

  6. K says:

    From Aruba, and absolutely love this! Gorgeous picture!

  7. matthew says:

    Wow! I have so enjoyed your pictures. You so lovely. So enjoyed the Cenote pictures. I was in Tululum and Chichen Itza about 15 years ago and was stunned with the beauty. The town called Valladolid you mentioned seems like a place I would so enjoy. Only wish I was traveling with a lovel, gorgeous woman like you. Peace Matt

  8. mily says:

    wow this is honestly the best blog about aruba I’ve seen ! and I have been looking for hours haha how were you able to take the areal photos!!
    also any rec on routes around the island on the 4×4? thank you!! <3

    • Hi Mily! Thank you so much. I’m so glad that you found it to be helpful. We had a Jeep and drove around a bit, but we didn’t actually go on any of the official 4X4 tours that are available.

  9. Dee Lavers says:

    I loved reading some of your experiences! I lived in Aruba for 5yrs! My grand parents lived there and that was nice! We lived in what was then known as The American Colony, at the Northern end of the Island! We left for NYC, WHERE WE WERE FROM, my grandfather suddenly died! I heard that the Colony was basically torn down after we left! My Dad was with Esso Standard Oil and he was laid off! Wonderful
    Life there !

    Dee Lavers. Email dlavers 177@ gmail.com

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Hi Dee. I’m so glad to hear that you have fond memories of Aruba. It’s such a beautiful island, with a wonderful personality. We had a great trip, and I hope to return someday.

  10. Pauline Jean Arcinas says:

    I’m thinking on what to do in Aruba but you always give me goosebumps with all your adventure.

    • Jessica Dales says:

      That’s so awesome to hear Pauline! Aruba is so beautiful, you really cant go wrong. Enjoy your trip!

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Hi, I’m Jess, an outdoor enthusiast based in Seattle. I grew up exploring the Pacific Northwest, and early on was infected with the travel bug. I tried to suppress my wanderlust in pursuit of a traditional career path, but after a short stint as a lawyer, I left the confines of my office to get back in touch with my roots. Now, I wander the world taking photos, making memories, and sharing my love for travel with others!

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