If there’s one thing Aruba is known for, it has to be the incredibly sunny days and pristine beaches where you can soak up all those beautiful rays. But this island, just 27 kilometres away from Venezuela, has a mix of both Latin and Dutch culture, delicious food and endless opportunities to either relax or get fit. Here’s our travel guide to Aruba’s best hottest spots, food and activities.
Travel guide: Where to stay
The lively spot: Radisson
The Radisson on Palm Beach is where you’ll want to be if you and your girlfriends are looking for a lively nightlife minus the club and party scene. First thing’s first – you can’t beat the beach at this hotel. It sprawls across the hotel’s grounds and is perfect for relaxing during the day (test out the scuba diving or set sail in the early evening for more adventure). By night the beach bar and pool area is hopping with music, dancing and lots of frosty cocktails. After a $30 million renovation in 2012, the Radisson upped its vacation appeal with loads of pretty touches (just walk through the lush gardens and past the lagoons sprinkled throughout the property). The Radisson is also perfectly situated across from a shopping/dining strip where you can pick up some souvenirs (Aruba’s famous for their aloe vera) or grab a few drinks at night.
Bonus: Larimar Spa is the ultimate place to relax and rejuvenate after a day of windsurfing. Pamper your muscles with an aloe vera and rum massage and veg out in the bamboo-enclosed lounge area before heading back to the beach.
The ultimate seclusion: Bucuti
If the party scene is over the top for you and you’re looking to get some major quiet time in, Bacuti is your spot. One of the island’s most romantic hideaways, you can lounge poolside, sip drinks on the beach or hit up the spa for a couples massage.
Bonus: Eagle Beach is known as one of the best beaches in Aruba and is right on Bacuti’s backdoor. Two hundred yards long and stretched out along Aruba’s best shores, Eagle Beach is a quiet retreat with sparsely spaced lounge chairs that are calling for you to settle in with your e-reader and a wide-brimmed hat.
The rich and famous: The Hyatt Regency (aruba.hyatt.com)
If anything but luxe doesn’t fit into your lifestyle (you just can’t live without your Celine clutch), then this is your prime vacation spot. Either book a romantic, posh vacation for you and your man, or pretend you’re totally A-list with your girlfriends with a large suite, killer heels and frosty cocktails at the poolside bar.
Bonus: ZoiA Spa is a luxe escape from the real world, especially if you pamper yourself with one of their all-natural facials.
Where to dine on the next page …
Travel guide: Where to dine and drink
The romantic spot: Papiamento Restaurant (papiamentoaruba.com)
This romantic hotspot feels more like dining in Italy thanks to its amazing patio space next to a glistening pool and tree-covered terrace decked out in white lights. But you are in Aruba and the menu has classic with and Aruban twist. The totally romantic spot? The wine cellar in the 126-year-old mansion the restaurant calls home. Feel extra posh by booking a private wine tasting before dinner.
The perfect sunset: Pinchos Grill & Bar (pinchosaruba.com)
Perched on the water, Pinchos is one of the most romantic spots on the island, mainly because it has some of the best sunset views not only on the island but quite possibly in the Caribbean. Be sure to sit facing the sunset (it will last only about 10 minutes) and take in the Caribbean glow with a sangria. It’s also one of the best places to enjoy seafood (the pan-seared Caribbean grouper and the local Mahi Mahi were two of our favourites).
The modern twist: White Modern Cuisine (whitecuisine.com)
What do you get when you mix a classically trained chef and a forager in Aruba? You get White Modern Cuisine. Frank Kelly sources the yummiest and freshest greens, flowers, mushrooms, berries, fruits, nuts and seeds and brings them all back to the restaurant. From there Chef Croes creates masterpieces like a 40-ingredient salad and dishes that are just as beautiful to look at as they are to eat.
The best ways to stay fit in Aruba on the next page …
Travel guide: Where to get fit
Beach Yoga at Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa (manchebo.com)
If balancing in your dancer pose beachside doesn’t inspire Zen, we’re not really sure what will. Your yoga instructor will take you through a class on one of Aruba’s prettiest and widest beaches. You can swing by if you’re not a guest for a session, or if you are staying at the resort be sure to use your complimentary class.
Manchebo is also the best spot on the island to stretch your inner yoga sense and practice poses on a paddleboard. This intense, core-strengthening session provides an amazing workout as well as a new way to experience yoga.
Aruba is windy. The constant, breezy gusts keep the temperatures at the perfect level, but also provide ideal conditions for windsurfing. Try your hand at the water sport, and get in an incredible core workout, by booking a one-on-one session with Aruba Active Vacations
(aruba-active-vacations.com) at Fisherman’s Huts. Hint: Be sure to book a massage post-windsurfing lessons since you’ll likely use muscles you never even knew you had.
Bike ride at the National Park
One of the most stunning features in Aruba is their sandy, desert-like national park called Arikok. Make a day or afternoon of it and hop on a bike (rent them at Rancho Nostorious,
ranchonostorious.com), and take a spin around the rugged cliffs, paths and coastlines of this 34- square-kilometre park. Thrill seekers can peek inside caves filled with bats, take a dip in the famous natural pool, or keep things on the tame side and pack a picnic to enjoy along the shores.
You’re in the Caribbean, so how could you not dive into the clear waters and take a look at all those pretty fish and intricate coral reefs? Make the excursion even more special by booking a private tour (Tranquilo Sailing,
tranquiloaruba.com) so you can dive, lounge and relax on your own time.