If you’re looking for a tropical paradise to escape to, Aruba is a destination that should be on your radar. Located in the southern Caribbean, this small desert island is known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and warm, sunny weather.
With a unique blend of Caribbean and Dutch culture, Aruba offers vacationers diverse experiences, from water sports and outdoor adventures to shopping and nightlife. Whether traveling with your family, friends, or significant other, Aruba is a vacation destination that will leave you wanting to return.
Aruba Travel Tips
If you’re planning a trip to Aruba from the East Coast of the United States, you’ll be happy to know that Aruba’s Atlantic Standard Time is the same as Eastern Time. This means little to no jet lag and an easy adjustment to the local time.
Renting a car in Aruba is also a great way to get around the island and is relatively easy. If you’re 25 or older with a U.S. driver’s license, you shouldn’t have any issues renting a car in Aruba. Plus, with more roundabouts than traffic lights, navigating the island is a breeze. Despite being a small island, Aruba offers a variety of attractions, including beaches, restaurants, and nightlife, making it the perfect destination for a fun-filled vacation.
While Dutch is the official language of Aruba, most locals also speak English and Spanish. This makes communication easy for tourists and allows them to fully enjoy all that Aruba has to offer. Additionally, the currency used in Aruba is the Aruban florin, but US dollars are widely accepted, making it easy for travelers to pay for things in the local currency or with dollars.
When it’s time to leave Aruba, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll need to clear U.S. Customs and Immigration before departing. Therefore, arriving at the airport at least three hours before your scheduled departure time is recommended. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy a stress-free and enjoyable vacation in Aruba.
A Fusion of Flavors with a Caribbean Twist
The cuisine of Aruba blends Caribbean, European, and South American flavors with a focus on seafood, stews, and soups, often served alongside rice and plantains.
The town of Noord, which hosts most of the beachfront hotels and resorts, boasts a variety of culinary experiences. For instance, Papillon serves French-Caribbean flavors in a romantic outdoor setting illuminated by candlelight. Meanwhile, Fisherman’s Hut provides a laid-back atmosphere where you can sample the island’s fresh seafood and enjoy live music.
If you’re looking for a gourmet dining experience with a stunning view, Atardi allows you to indulge in exquisite dishes while watching the breathtaking Aruban sunset with your toes buried in the sand.
Even if you venture away from the main hotspots, Aruba still has plenty of exciting and unique culinary options. For instance, in Oranjestad, the capital city of Aruba, Yemanja Woodfire Grill serves international cuisine that delights the senses with thoughtful preparation from Chef Joyce de Cuba and her staff.
If you explore San Nicolas, also known as Aruba’s “Sunrise City,” you can find charming eateries such as the Kulture Cafe. This cafe is located in a monument and museum that provides an opportunity for conversations over a cup of coffee.
Aruba’s Beautiful Beaches
According to TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice award 2023, Aruba’s Eagle Beach ranks as the top beach in the Caribbean and the second-best beach in the world. Renowned for its Fofoti trees, palapa huts, and serene ambiance, Eagle Beach is ideal for couples seeking a beach getaway. Moreover, Aruba’s Arashi Beach and Baby Beach also rank among the top 25 beaches in the Caribbean this year.
Palm Beach, the Main Resort Area
For those who prefer a livelier atmosphere, Palm Beach, the primary resort area, offers a variety of high-rise hotels, casinos, beach bars, and opportunities for water-based activities. This two-mile-long beach is where most of the action takes place.
Mangel Halto Beach
Visitors seeking some of the best snorkeling, kayaking, and standup paddleboarding experiences on the island should head to Mangel Halto Beach. The calm waters of this beach are filled with vibrant marine life.
Surfside Beach is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a romantic breakfast picnic with a stunning view of the clear blue sea. The Kwihi trees provide a natural shade, and the ambiance is perfect for a romantic outing.
Royal Aruba Aloe Factory and Museum
The Royal Aruba Aloe Factory and Museum is a popular attraction in Aruba, showcasing the island’s long-standing history of aloe production. You can learn about aloe vera’s cultivation and production process at the factory and museum, one of Aruba’s top exports.
The museum features a fascinating collection of artifacts, photographs, and documents that detail the history of aloe production on the island, dating back to the 1800s. Visitors can also witness the production process firsthand through a guided tour of the factory, which includes a visit to the aloe fields and processing areas.
You can purchase aloe-based skincare products at the museum’s gift shop, including lotions, creams, and soaps from locally sourced aloe. The Royal Aruba Aloe Factory and Museum is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in learning about Aruba’s rich cultural history and natural resources.
Explore Arikok National Park
Arikok National Park, located on the eastern side of Aruba, covers nearly 20% of the island’s total land area. The park is home to cacti and indigenous animals such as Aruban rattlesnakes and whiptail lizards.
Vacationers to the park can explore its rugged terrain, which includes rocky hills, caves, and stunning natural pools. Arikok National Park also features several hiking trails that lead to breathtaking views overlooking the island’s coastline.
Aruba’s Natural Bridges
Aruba’s Natural Bridges are a unique geological formation. These bridges were formed by the powerful force of the ocean waves crashing against the island’s limestone cliffs over thousands of years.
The largest and most famous of the natural bridges, known as the “Big Bridge,” measured approximately 100 feet in length before it collapsed in 2005 due to natural erosion
However, several other smaller natural bridges are still scattered along the northern coast of Aruba that are worth exploring.
Kayaking Mangel Halto Beach
Mangel Halto is a fantastic destination for those who love kayaking and snorkeling. With its crystal-clear waters and beautiful coral reefs, it’s a great place to explore the underwater world of Aruba. Paddling through the calm waters of the mangroves is a peaceful and beautiful experience, where you can spot local wildlife and enjoy the scenery.
Snorkeling the Mangel Halto Reef / Spanish Lagoon
Snorkeling in Mangel Halto allows you to see fish, sea turtles, and other marine life up close and personal. It’s important to remember to respect the environment and take care not to disturb the ecosystem. Mangel Halto is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty of Aruba.
San Nicolas Murals
The San Nicolas murals are a must-see for art lovers and culture enthusiasts visiting Aruba. Located in the historic district of San Nicolas, these murals are a stunning collection of street art created by local and international artists.
They cover buildings and walls, telling the stories of Aruba’s history, culture, and people. The artwork is incredibly detailed and colorful, showcasing a range of styles and techniques. The murals reflect Aruba’s diversity and creativity and serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of public art in transforming communities.
Sunset Catamaran Cruises
A sunset catamaran cruise in Aruba is a perfect way to enjoy the beautiful waters and scenery of the island. Soak up the sunset on the deck of the catamaran, enjoying a drink from the open bar while admiring the gorgeous views of the Caribbean Sea.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
Staying at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is a luxurious and unforgettable experience. The resort is located on Palm Beach and offers stunning views of Aruba’s turquoise waters and sandy beaches.
The rooms and suites are spacious and elegantly designed, with modern amenities and comfortable furnishings. The resort has onsite restaurants and bars, serving delicious cuisine and refreshing cocktails. The Stellaris Casino offers exciting gaming options, with slot machines, table games, and a sportsbook.
The spa provides a range of relaxing treatments and massages, while the fitness center offers state-of-the-art equipment and fitness classes. The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is the perfect place to unwind, relax and indulge in the luxury of one of the most beautiful destinations in the Caribbean.
This article Island Adventures: Travel Tips and Things to Do in Aruba on Your Caribbean Vacation originally appeared on Wander With Alex.
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog, where she provides vacationers with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, explore, and escape! Alex’s mission is to help peopl find the perfect vacation destination.