aruba vacation

Find Sun, Sand and Serenity on an Aruba Vacation

An Aruba vacation is, in many ways, perfect. There’s near-eternal sunshine, it’s located outside of the path of hurricanes and serves up a variety of top resorts, dining and activities wrapped around a friendly and welcoming vibe.

“Aruba is an extremely safe island, which appeals to a lot of people,” said AAA travel advisor Jennifer MacPherson. “It’s OK to walk around at night. It’s got great all-inclusive resorts, and it’s also an excellent place to stay at a non-all-inclusive hotel because there are so many restaurants to choose from.”

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aruba vacation
The architecture in Aruba’s capital city, Oranjestad.

At 75 square miles, Aruba is small enough to explore easily but big enough that it’s possible to find solitude without having to drive too far from the island’s main hotel zone on the northeast coast just outside the capital city of Oranjestad.

The resort area is concentrated on two beautiful beaches: Palm Beach, primarily home to larger, high-rise hotels and the hub for Aruba’s water sports activities, and the low-rise Eagle Beach, fringed by a lively boulevard lined with restaurants, shops and nightclubs.

Aruba Accommodations

“Aruba has everything from all-inclusive resorts to top-notch luxury properties and boutique hotels,” said MacPherson.

Travelers seeking an Aruba all-inclusive, adults-only, experience can book Riu Palace Antillas on Palm Beach near the popular De Palm Pier, or the more laid-back Divi resorts, which offer the option of beachfront accommodations, a stay in a quiet village setting or alongside the links at Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort.

Boutique hotel options include the excellent and eco-friendly Bucuti & Tara Resort on Eagle Beach – which also has one of the island’s top beachfront restaurants, Elements – and the wellness-focused Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa. The Aruba Ocean Villas in the fishing village of Savaneta has a trio of luxuriously private overwater bungalows, while budget-conscious families often choose the highly rated Holiday Inn Aruba on Palm Beach, which has three pools, a spa and a casino.

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Aruba Ambiance and Adventure

Dotted with divi-divi trees – with their sideways branches, the trees are a national symbol of an island where cooling trade winds blow almost constantly – Aruba’s broad, white sand beaches are a magnet for visitors, many of whom go directly from their hotel rooms to the shore each morning to stake out a spot for the day.

“With the trade winds you don’t always realize how strong the sun is, so I always advise my clients to use sunscreen and take advantage of the beach umbrellas and palapas offered by their resort,” notes MacPherson.

Water sports like parasailing and Jet Skiing can be found right off Palm Beach and Eagle Beach, while visitors who want to try their hand at windsurfing head to Malmok Beach near the northern tip of the island. Sunset cruises cast off each evening from Aruba’s west-facing beaches, and Jolly Pirates sets sail for day trip snorkel adventures with a swashbuckling party theme.

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aruba vacation

Aruba Excursions

If you’re wondering what to do in Aruba outside of the hotel district, don’t worry – there is plenty.

Despite the palm trees shading many a resort swimming pool, Aruba is a desert island – a fact that quickly becomes clear once you venture beyond the hotel districts. The island’s sparsely populated east side is dotted with cactus, its rugged coastline fringed with cliffs frequently pounded by strong surf. Arikok National Park, which covers about one-fifth of the island, attracts hikers with its high hills and cool caves. The park also has a pair of undeveloped beaches and a natural pool sheltered from the wind and waves by rocks.

Guided tours of Aruba’s backcountry by all-terrain vehicle, e-bike, and on horseback are popular, although many visitors opt to rent a car and explore the island on their own. Day trips include historic sites like the Bushiribana gold mine ruins and the Casibari rock formations with their prehistoric drawings, and wildlife destinations like the Aruba Ostrich Farm, donkey sanctuary or butterfly farm. If you visit the charming and petite Alto Vista Chapel, be sure to stop at the neighboring boutique winery.

Those who have been on Aruba cruises might be familiar with the trolley in Oranjestad, which leads from the cruise port to the downtown shopping district, a smattering of interesting museums and the distillery, Pepe Margo, where you can sample and purchase locally made spirits in a traditional Aruban home. Even the island’s grittier port city, San Nicolas, has been beautified with colorful murals and has a blossoming art scene.

Aruba Dining and Cuisine

Aruba’s culinary diversity is reflected in top restaurants like Papiamento (named for the island’s local language), which serves upscale local cuisine in a historic cunucu house. At Flying Fishbone, guests dine on fresh seafood on the beach. For other styles of cuisine, there’s French at Bohemian and Peruvian dishes at Lima Bistro.

The California Lighthouse on the northern tip of Aruba is one of the island’s most photographed sites; savvy visitors head there in the evening to catch the great light and enjoy a sunset dinner at the nearby Faro Blanco, an elegant Italian restaurant with a formal terrace overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Like almost everything else in Aruba, ordering and paying for your meal is a breeze. English is spoken almost universally on the island, and the U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere.

“Most of my clients who stop in Aruba on a cruise end up going back there on vacation,” said MacPherson. “Once you go to Aruba, everywhere else pales in comparison.”

Plan your Aruba vacation with the help of a trusted AAA travel advisor. Call 866-423-5585 to speak with an advisor today!

Have you been to Aruba? Tell us what you love about it in the comments below.

2 Thoughts on “Find Sun, Sand and Serenity on an Aruba Vacation

  1. I have been to Aruba 60 times from 1979 (when there was next to nothing on the island) to this past May. From the 1st trip to the last, I had a blast! In the late 90’s, I even traveled alone twice, rented a car, drove all over the island, beyond the resort areas, VERY SAFELY. I felt so empowered & wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

    What initially brought me to Aruba was the weather. In my opinion, the most reliable for vacations, as I had been burned by other destinations with a week of rain.

    Secondly, I love the Aruban people. They are the sweetest, kindest & friendliest people I have met in my travels.

    And the food is outstanding! The fish is fresh daily, the vegetables are grown locally, year-round & the flavors are fantastic. You must sample the local cusine. I am hooked!

    Drink the warter! It is desalinated carribbean sea water & delicious! (Better than what comes out of my faucet by a long shot!)

    I could go on forever! I highly recommend it & I am currently planning my next visit!

    1. I am thinking of going to Aruba in October with a friend. We loved Cancun an all inclusive in October. It’s just a little get away, escape from caregiving for me. Can you recommend a reasonably priced place to stay?

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