Aruba is the land of unbelievably blue waters, pure white sand beaches, a surprising desert terrain, a vibrant culture with delicious international cuisine and incredibly friendly people. It’s no wonder it’s lovingly nicknamed “One Happy Island.”
While on a week-long work trip this summer, I was fortunate enough to visit this enchanting island and enjoy the best that Aruba has to offer for food, fun and adventure on the island. Sadly, Kyle had to stay home for this one, but he’ll be joining me on St. Maarten in December!
And now, I’m excited to share with you my favorite experiences while on Aruba (in no particular order):
Clear your day, buckle up and prepare for a bumpy yet thrilling ride through Aruba’s rugged desert terrain to visit the island’s coolest spots! You will be amazed by the sheer amount of remarkable historic and cultural landmarks you get to admire during this full-day tour.
Highlights include the site of the famous natural bridge (which sadly collapsed years ago but luckily, a smaller natural bridge still stands), the Bushiribana Historic Gold Mines with picture-perfect views, a quick pit stop on the side of the road for natural sea salt straight from the ground, the serene Alto Vista Church with neat finds like the Aruba Peace Labyrinth (a pebble rock formation, known as a place for silent and respectful contemplation), the California Lighthouse, the magnificent Natural Pool – perfect for a quick dip, the Fontein Caves with native Arawak drawings, a natural fish pond to dip your toes in for a free spa treatment, so to speak, an abandoned plantation home and finally Baby Beach for some amazing snorkeling.
Trust me when I say, this was a day full of fun and excitement – ideal for adventurers of all ages! For more information, visit www.abc-aruba.com.
When I found out there was a brand new food tour in Downtown Oranjestad that consisted of 80% food and 20% history, I jumped on it! If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with delicious cuisine from all types of cultures, and this tour did not disappoint, plus I learned quite a bit about Aruba’s history too. A win-win, if I do say so myself. So, if you love food, history and culture, this is the tour for you!
We met downtown in the evening and walked the streets, stopping at various monuments and historic sites along the way to discuss the heritage of Aruba and fun facts about the island. Our first food destination was Cafe the Plaza, for some delicious Dutch snacks and a very refreshing local Balashi Beer. We sat down to a plate of Dutch goodies, which included frikandel, Gouda cheese, bitterbalen and chicken satay with peanut sauce, while listening to live music playing outside.
Our next stop was Cuba’s Cooking for a very tasty, Ropa Vieja, one of the national dishes of Cuba, and some delicious grouper ceviche, all accompanied by a refreshing mojito, which we learned how to make. Absolutely heavenly! Later, we stopped by the West Deck Restaurant for Johnny cakes with jerk chicken, fresh homemade lemonade and funchi hasa with carne mechada – all of which were bursting with flavor. Our final stop was the popular Italy in the World restaurant for a sweet taste of Italian cuisine with a light dessert wine paired with freshly made tiramisu, a real treat!
This mouthwatering tour is great for couples, groups and friends looking to learn more about the island while savoring satisfying local dishes. For more information, visit www.arubawalkingtours.com. You can also try their Daytime Aruba Historic Cultural Downtown Walking Tour, which consists of 80% history and 20% food and is perfect for families.
Where do I even start with this madness? How about with a disclaimer – this tour is for adults ONLY and not for the faint of heart. Picture this if you will, you’re riding on a very colorful bus with an equally colorful host, a lively bus driver, endless maracas, upbeat party music and drinks galore as you stop by bars around town. While you tour Aruba’s nightlife, you drink and drink, and then drink some more!
Our tour started with a lovely sunset champagne toast and dinner before descending into the party madness. We had five stops total, and at each location, we were given a drink ticket to redeem at the bar. If you wanted to drink more, you could purchase a “sippy cup,” making it cheaper to refill and bring your libations on the bus. We danced the night away to top 40s tunes, shook maracas until our arms felt like they were going to fall off, and a few brave men even volunteered to dance on the bar to the YMCA song and moon the audience! Yep – I saw a few asses that night, including Mama’s!
At a few stops, there were these awesome, super colorful party hats and carnival accessories you could wear while dancing, plus two free body painters for vibrant temporary tattoos. When you’re finished partying with your new pals (because lord knows by now, you’ve made good friends with your fellow bus mates), the bus drops you off at your hotel so you can hop right into bed, sleep it off and feel refreshed for your next exciting day on Aruba.
This tour is perfect for groups of friends, honeymooners, newlyweds, or anyone looking for a wild night you’ll never forget! For more information, visit www.kukookunuku.com, and be sure to request to be on Mama’s bus if you want an extra fun time! Plus, they also offer a new, more sophisticated wine tour, Wine on Down the Road, AND a casual beer tour, Beer Flights & Bites.
A truly unique way to experience parts of the island not easily accessible by car, Rancho Loco is one of the best ranches to book your horseback riding adventure. First of all, they pick you up from your hotel and bring you to the ranch, which was super convenient considering I didn’t rent a car!
From the moment you step out of the van and onto the property, you’re greeted by several majestic horses and adorable cats and dogs who call this ranch home. We were assigned horses and off we went through Arikok National Park and up the third highest mountain on Aruba for spectacular views of the island.
Many people don’t realize that Aruba is primarily a desert, so there’s a lot of cacti and the sun is extremely strong. Word to the wise, wear VERY strong sunscreen or you will burn to a crisp, but the views you will see are like no other. We then followed the trail down, descending on beautiful Moro Beach on our way to the famous Natural Pool, where we cooled off with a very refreshing swim and saw a variety of unique fish. Bring your swim goggles so you can do the same! After quality time admiring the scenery and snapping a few photos, we hopped back on the horses for a leisurely ride back to the ranch.
Our guide was fantastic – very knowledgeable and friendly, and our group had the BEST time exploring Aruba’s unique terrain. Plus, Rancho Loco is perfect for families, as children as young as three can ride with an adult. You really don’t want to miss this experience to connect with Aruba’s one-of-a-kind landscape. For more information, visit www.rancholocoaruba.com.
Honestly, this trip was a dream come true. Traveling is my passion and it’s always been a goal of mine to share that love for exploring new worlds with others by traveling to new destinations to discover the most amazing places to visit and uncover insider tips to help others have the best trip possible. It’s the reason I started this blog and now that I work for a resort company (spoiler alert, it’s Divi Resorts), one of my biggest goals has been realized. And although it’s been a while since my last post, I promise to keep providing you with the best travel tips!
Next up on my travel itinerary, Barbados AND St. Maarten! Yep – I’m pretty stoked. And this time, my wonderful husband gets to join me for a week in St. Maarten, which just happens to be the week of his birthday! To say we are excited is an understatement. Can’t wait to tell you all about the exciting things I find on Barbados and the exciting excursions we explore on St. Maarten!
PS. Check my paired down, PG-rated version of this article in Divi Resorts’ Fall Newsletter: https://bit.ly/2IUaAos