When you think of Aruba, what do you think of?
Do you think of long white sand beaches, romantic sunsets, Aloe vera, kiteboarding, jeeping, and wind?
These are things that set Aruba apart from other Caribbean Islands. Aruba is located 15 miles north of Venezuela. It is an Independent Country with ties to the Kingdom of Netherland. In fact, they were celebrating King’s Day when Bonnie arrived.
Aruba is relatively small at 19.6 miles long and 6 miles wide. Although small, there is a lot to do. It is outside the Hurricane belt and has average yearly temperatures of 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Aruba’s Slogan is “One Happy Island”
Bonnie’s husband, Gary had a business trip to Orlando. Bonnie wanted to escape mud season and enjoy some beach, sun, and fun! They decided to take a quick trip to the Caribbean.
Bonnie started researching Southwest Airline’s international trips from Orlando. Southwest Airlines flies to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Montego Bay, Jamaica, or Aruba direct from Orlando. Bonnie started looking at Images of Aruba with Pink Flamingos on a beach and that was when she decided to travel to Aruba!
With Southwest Companion Pass her Airline ticket was just $60.30. Her husband’s round trip from Orlando to Aruba was only $368.06. Gary and Bonnie are loving the Companion Status this year!
Bonnie’s picture she took in Aruba, it could be a postcard!
These pink flamingos really sell Aruba! Want to visit the Flamingos? Just book an overnight at the Aruba Renaissance Resort. As a guest of this hotel, you can go to their private island for free by water taxi. Flamingos aren’t freely walking around the island of Aruba. If you want to see them you have to go to this resort. They have 6 Flamingos located on the adult section of the island. Bonnie booked directly with Marriott Rewards for $165 a night. This is a big deal because they charge a $99 fee to non-guests including lunch and a drink. The hotel is in a great location, has a fun pool with a Miami vibe. Bonnie would highly encourage you to book at least one night there during your trip.
Bonnie stayed at two Marriott properties during her 4-night vacation. For 120,000 Marriott rewards points, she scored a 3- night stay at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino for $10.50. You can read her review here @ Bonnie’s Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. It’s right on Palm Beach with beautiful sunsets!
It was nice to stay in two different locations on the Island. One in Palm Beach and one Downtown. You can access different shops, restaurants, and bars. Palm Beach is more vibrant, more tourists and more happening with bars staying open later.
Aruba is appealing because of the white sand beaches and Caribbean blue water. The sunsets are beautiful and romantic. All you need is a glass of wine or champagne and Aruba is pure romance!
Keep in mind it is always windy on the island due to the northeast tradewinds. It’s the perfect place for windy sports like windsurfing and kiteboarding. Kiteboarding is on the husband’s bucket list after visiting Aruba. He would like to return and spend 7 days with a kiteboard and lesson package. They say it takes quite a few lessons to learn this sport.
Gary was captivated by the kiteboarders. Or maybe it was the female kiteboarder wearing a thong??
Bonnie’s Highlights of Aruba
The water is warm! The white sand is soft and isn’t hot. It is the perfect beach for those that love to take long walks! The people are friendly and welcoming. It is a beautiful island and doesn’t have poverty like other islands in the Caribbean. The seafood is amazing and affordable. Here are some of Bonnie’s recommendations of what to see and do in Aruba.
Sip wine and watch the sunset from Palm Beach
The Travel Channel and Conde Nast Traveler have voted Palm Beach one of the world’s best beaches. It also has one of the best sunsets on the island. There are shops, a luxury mall, bars, and restaurants you can dine at with your feet in the sand. You won’t be at a loss for things to do. There are beach shacks selling watersports from kiteboarding, windsurfing, jet skiing, boat tours and more.
Watch the Kiteboarders near Palm Beach
They get some serious air! Something tells Bonnie it takes a lot of practice to do that. It’s easier than it looks. It’s a great place to people watch. Men with ripped abs and some women windsurf in a thong!
Take a 4×4 tour by UTV, ATV or Truck!
Bonnie and Gary rented the white Jeep from Top Drive. If you know how to change a tire and are accustomed to 4-wheeling you should rent a Jeep. It’s nice to be on your own schedule to tour the full island. You can enjoy dinner at the Flying FishBone or try a local restaurant away from town in the evening.
Jeep Rentals are on average $180-$200 USD for a 24 hour period. Once you reach the Natural Bridge area it’s easy to get lost. Bonnie and Gary ended up on quite the adventure trying to get to the Natural Pool. The rental companies have warning stickers on the dash stating the Jeep is not covered when going there. After going through a water crossing you would be surprised how hard it is to find a car wash on the island.
Aruba reminded Bonnie of being in Moab! It’s desert and rocky. The biggest concern is popping a tire on a sharp rock. If from the USA you may not have cell coverage if you get a flat tire. On some jeep roads, you may not see another vehicle and the trails are unmarked. Bonnie’s big advice is to follow the tour companies or simply book a tour first. They will take you to the raw and natural parts of the island that you want to see.
Go to the Natural Pool
If you look to the left of the sign in the picture above you will see the large rocks that form a natural pool. You can swim and snorkel in the protected pool-like area. The steps are steep and rocky to get down to the pool so wear shoes you can hike in. Fisherman used to keep their turtles in this pool before the 1930’s. This side of the island is under-developed, raw and natural. It’s quite beautiful and the seas are rough from the high winds. Here is this small oasis that has become a top destination in Aruba to visit.
Play in the Ocean
Snorkel, Windsurf, Swim, Get on a boat. Just have fun in the water! Bonnie took the Afternoon Delight Snorkel tour on the DePalm Catamaran. She enjoyed snorkeling at the Antilla Shipwreck. It was like snorkeling in an underwater aquarium.
Aruba Rock Wish Gardens
On the North Eastern Coast, you will come to piles of rocks known as the Aruba Rock Wish Gardens. It was created by tourists! Collect a pile of rocks and make your own stack. Each rock you stack you get to make a wish. If you come to Aruba, visit the Rock Wish Gardens and make a wish. Hopefully, everyone has had a wish come true that has stacked a rock. You can get there by taking a 4X4 tour or driving yourself with a Jeep rental. It’s a pretty easy drive on dirt roads along the ocean and not far from the California Lighthouse.
Eat Seafood! Eat lots of Seafood!
There are so many amazing Seafood restaurants on the island. Bonnie was impressed how good and affordable the food was on the island. One her favorite things to do in Aruba was to eat Seafood and sample ceviche from all the different restaurants.
Bonnie’s favorite Cerviche was found at the Hadicurari Restaurant on Eagle Beach. They have light up menus! These are great for the middle-aged that need reading glasses! You can dine with your toes in the sand and the food is yummy too! The shrimp and lobster pasta was a recommendation from our waitress and it was a delicious dish. Bonnie went to a restaurant that claimed to have the best Cerviche on the Island but hands down Hadicurari was better.
Try the coconut shrimp at the West Deck Bar & Grill. If you love coconut shrimp you can order a dozen of them. They have good margaritas and Chandon sparkling wine by the glass. It’s a fun place for lunch or dinner and if you are lucky they may have live music on the deck.
The Waves Bar & Grill at the Aruba Marriott Resort has the best fish tacos. Try the local papaya-habanero sauce made on the island. It’s hot and spicy! An order of 4 tacos for $15 is a great deal. Every day for lunch Bonnie and Gary split an order. They have happy hour from Noon- 1 pm & 3-4 pm! It’s buy one get one drinks. Marriott Elite members get 10% off food too.
Bonnie enjoyed fresh fish, lobster, shrimp, on the entire vacation. Seafood was the only thing she ordered except for coffee, and wine! She could bore you to death with food pictures right now or make you hungry for a trip to Aruba!
Go to the Flying Fishbone for a romantic dining experience at sunset!
OK, maybe one food picture!
Aruba Tips from Bonnie
Wear tennis shoes or easy walking shoes to the Natural Pool. The steps are steep and rocky. Bonnie wore wedge flip-flops and it wasn’t a great idea.
Dutch and Papiamento are the official languages of Aruba. English and Spanish is widely spoken too.
Learn a few words of the local language.
Biba Dushi means “Living the good life”.
Bon Bini means “Welcome”
Aruba’s water is safe to drink. They purify and distil seawater on the island. Tap water is served at local restaurants.
The official currency is the Florin AWG but US dollars are taken everywhere. Credit cards are taken almost everywhere.
Departing Aruba to the USA- Get to the airport early! You will need more than 2 hours because you go through US customs before departing Aruba! It takes awhile to get through security twice! You will need to pick up your luggage after passing through customs. On the bright side, you won’t have to go through customs when you arrive back in the US.
Aruba is too windy to fly drones! We attempted it twice. You may lose it in the Ocean forever.
Don’t try to shop on a Holiday! Bonnie arrived on King’s Day, shops were closed. Sunday the shops were closed. Monday was Labor Day and the shops were closed. Check and plan your shopping day before you go.
What to buy in Aruba?
Aruba is known for it’s Aloe Vera. Buy lotion from the Aruba Aloe store. They have a store in the USA departures terminal. Don’t buy it before you go through US customs or they take it from you when you go through security. No liquids allowed above 3.4 ounces.
Buy a Wish Upon a Rock bracelet to wear your wish from Aruba. Since the stores were closed Bonnie ordered one online. There is a promo code in the Coupon book you get at the airport and you can use it online or at the store.
Petty theft exists in Aruba. Watch your valuables on tours, by the pool at your resort, and on the beach. Bonnie’s iPhone 7 plus was stolen on a catamaran snorkel cruise along with another passenger’s phone. She contacted the De Palm tour company and the concierge at her hotel. She posted rewards on various Facebook Aruba pages offering a reward. On the bright side, her wallet and wedding ring wasn’t stolen and was in her backpack also. Her phone was on the very top part of the bag and easy to grab.
Bring a hair band with you when dining. It’s so windy you will want your hair tied back so it doesn’t blow in your face when eating! Bonnie had to tie her hair in a bun using a pen one night when dining on the beach to keep her hair out of her face.
Bonnie’s Aruba re-cap
It’s hard to be positive about a place when bad things happen. Bad things can happen anywhere. Just beware of your valuables when traveling to Aruba. Hopefully, Bonnie’s blog post will help create awareness so it doesn’t happen to you. There are signs around the island warning you to lock your car doors and remove valuables from your car. You will find posts on reviews of bags stolen from high-end resorts at the pool. “One Happy Island” isn’t so happy when you feel you have been violated and a victim of theft.
Bonnie was having a fun time until her phone was stolen. Just because of one bad apple, does not mean you can judge an entire island. The people were friendly on the island. The water is warm, the white sand is soft, and the beaches are beautiful! Oh, and the Seafood is delicious and affordable too! Aruba is perfect for a 4-7 night vacation. Want to get happy with a beach vacay? Plan a trip to Aruba but just watch your stuff.
Cheers from Bonnie on a windy day in Aruba