Aruba! Arriba! ARUBA!!! ARRIBA!!!! ARRIBA!!! ARUBA!!!
This is heard quite frequently when you visit the serenely beautiful island nation of Aruba. It is an exclamation of sheer elation. Which you will find is in overabundance here. Aruba’s slogan is “One Happy Island,” and nothing I’ve ever heard is more true.
Aruba is a tiny island about 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela, in the Caribbean Sea. Miles of endless white sand beaches draw you into turquoise waters that are always warm and tranquil. The weather is pretty constant, so there is no bad time of year to go. Rain showers can only be considered sprinkles at best and last for minutes.
Getting here is surprisingly easy with direct flights from most cities. Oranjestad, the capital city, also serves as a port of call for many cruise lines.
Most Arubans speak 4 languages, including English and Spanish, so navigating the city and its people is a breeze. I found the Aruban people to be just as lovely as their island, and happy to show you the beauty of the island and its people. And speaking of breezes, did I mention how lovely the tradewinds are that blow through the island…. ahhhhhh. ( but I digress)
There are several beaches in Aruba, and I stayed footsteps from one beach, Palm Beach and visited the Natural Pool, which is located on the windward coast.
Palm Beach is located just a short drive from Queen Beatrix Airport and is dotted with glamorous hotels and resorts, piers, casinos, beach bars (my favorite was the Bugaloe Beach Bar and Grill) and shops. Let your cares drift away with a beachfront massage, which is provided by many of the hotels along the beach. Or float in the tranquil waters and relax. The tangerine sunsets from the beach are nothing short of breathtaking. Walk a few blocks from Palm Beach to an area full of great restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. Eat a delicious meal and dance the night away!
The Natural Pool. This attraction requires a jeep ride and is best booked as an excursion. We booked with DePalm Tours. An open air Jeep picked us up from the hotel, and took us through the rugged terrain to the summit. From there, yet another breathtaking vista. Then it was a short trek down to the shore and a rocky climb to the natural pool. (Tip: If you venture here, wear slip proof shoes, as the rocky outcropping is very slippery and the rolling waves may affect visibility) But trust me, the trek is so worth it!!
After a dip in the pool, we loaded back into the jeep and took a drive across the north shore, visiting Wariruri Beach with stops at the Alto Vista Chapel (aka The Little Church), and then to the California Lighthouse at Arashi Beach, before returning to the hotel.
Downtown Oranjestad boasts the local shops where souvenirs are best purchased and also the Renaissance Mall. The mall is home to many familiar luxury brands, Loius Vuitton, Gucci, and Ferla, just to name a few. My most favorite souvenir is my Aruba Pandora charm.
Dining and Nightlife
For lunch on the beach, nothing is better than Bugaloe’s ( see link above). This beachside grill juts out from the shore and with its open air atmosphere, there are no bad views of the sea. The food is pretty good too! For dinner, there are so many option., Mojito’s Cuban Cuisine Restaurant Aruba (if you’re named for something, you should be good at it, and they do not disappoint) is a Cuban cuisine restaurant near the Renaissance Mall. And yes, the mojitos are many and each one delicious! At night Mojito’s becomes a salsa bar where there is an abundance in willing salsa instructors! Another cool thing about Mojitos- they encourage graffiti, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to leave my mark. For Italian fare, nothing beats Gianni’s Ristorante Italiano, and for All American fare ( if you’re homesick), the Hard Rock Cafe Aruba will do nicely.
Aruba has something for everyone; couples, families, girls getaways. Whether your vacation appetite is tame or adventurous, Aruba will give you wonderful memories. All in all, my visit to the Happy Island was far too short, and I look forward to my return.
Say it with me, Aruba! Arriba!!
Peaches & Pickles