In collaboration with Aruba Tourism Authority
Traveling To Aruba – One Happy Island
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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