Hi fellow travelers! We are Dan and Alex. Thanks for stopping by our travel guide on the best things to do in Aruba. We’ve been happily dating for four years now and are living in New Jersey where we both grew up.
We found our love for travel when Dan’s job started sending him all over the world. He was sent on a business trip to Budapest and I came along. That’s when we realized what a big and beautiful world we live in. We wanted to see more of it and capture our amazing memories with photos.
Inspiration to Visit the Caribbean
We were inspired to visit by Aruba’s long-standing reputation for beautiful beaches and relaxing island vibes. We know that 2020 has been hard on everyone and this just felt like the perfect place for us to get away from it all for a week and unwind on this beautiful Caribbean island.
Aruba was on our travel bucket list for a while because so many people we know have been to Aruba and absolutely loved it. Many of them feel strongly that it’s their favorite island in all of the Caribbean. So we were very excited to see it for ourselves and we couldn’t help but agree with them.
A Wonderful Week in Aruba
We spent a full week in Aruba which felt like the perfect amount of time. Although, we could’ve certainly stayed longer with no complaints.
Highlights from our trip included the excursions we booked which involved a catamaran snorkeling tour where our guides sailed around the coast of Aruba to some incredible snorkeling spots. We got to see some beautiful fish and just enjoyed some lovely swimming spots in crystal-clear waters.
Another highlight was our ATV tour of Arikok National Park which was a great way to see the unique geography of the island, away from beaches.
Favorite Place: Renaissance Island
Our favorite place was our sunset photoshoot at Renaissance Island – an island owned by the Renaissance Hotel which we’ll talk about shortly.
This photoshoot was special to us because not only did we take beautiful photos but we also had some amazing memories of just sitting back and watching the sunset over the water. When we look back at these pictures, it provides us with such vivid memories. That’s always a great feeling for us.
5 Best Things To Do in Aruba
We’ve already mentioned a couple of the must-see things in Aruba and we certainly want to emphasize them again here. So below you will find our top 5 attractions/things to do on the beautiful Caribbean island of Aruba:
- Snorkeling along the shores of the island
- Visit Arikok National Park for some incredible sightseeing especially if you are into hiking or off-roading.
- Feed the flamingos on Flamingo Beach at Renaissance Island. Renaissance Island is home to six beautiful flamingos and it’s simply not a trip to Aruba without a picture with the flamingos here. And the best way to get the flamingos in a picture is to bribe them with food!
- Visit Eagle Beach. Most of the more well-known hotels are in nearby Palm Beach but Eagle Beach is just so serene. It has some beautiful water as the entire island does but we would definitely recommend taking a day to come here for the beach at least. All of Aruba’s beaches are public and open to anyone regardless of which hotel you are staying at.
- Dine at the Flying Fishbone. This is a unique restaurant where a limited number of tables are in the water (up to your ankles). It’s another beautiful place to see the sunset so reservations are highly recommended.
Meeting the Locals of Aruba
The people of Aruba are incredibly friendly and kind. Tourism is the backbone of the Aruban economy and they care so much about giving visitors a great experience. Their culture is also very relaxed and easygoing which is a great vibe for the sort of vacation you want to have on the island.
The neat thing about the people of Aruba is that their culture has been influenced by so many different countries including the Dutch who first settled on the island, the Spanish, Americans and others as well.
In fact, their local language, Papiamento is a fusion of words from all of these languages. We loved the opportunity to have conversations with our guides and other locals who gave us a closer look at their way of life.
Seafood-Rich Cuisine of Aruba
Like most island nations, Aruba’s food scene is heavily based on seafood. If you don’t like seafood, you can certainly get by on steakhouses/chain restaurants but it is a great vacation for all seafood-lovers as we are.
We tried red snapper, wahoo and other kinds of fish. There is a restaurant called The West Deck which has a great selection of seafood dishes and some non-seafood dishes that also had a fantastic flavor to it.
We also enjoyed Madame Janette which is a fusion restaurant with dishes from Europe and a bit of an island twist. To top it off, the best example of Dutch influence on the cuisine are the pancakes which can be found at most breakfast places but we enjoyed them at Diana’s Pancakes Place.
Best Places to Stay in Aruba
We split our stay at two resorts: the Renaissance Hotel in Oranjestad and the Ritz-Carlton on Palm Beach. We recommend both of them. The Renaissance Hotel is a beautiful resort and is popular because of their Renaissance Island/Flamingo Beach amenities we talked about earlier.
The only negative to the hotel is that it’s a bit far from the “main strip” of restaurants, bars and hotels on Palm Beach. So you will have to pay a bit more in taxi’s versus potential walking distance for some other hotels.
That is why we split our stay so we could take advantage of the complimentary access to Flamingo Beach while being Renaissance guests and exploring other parts of the island when we were staying elsewhere.
We loved the Ritz-Carlton but there are other great hotels on Palm Beach as well that others should consider depending on their budget.
Favorite Memory of our Week Trip
Our favorite memory was just the excitement of the day we arrived. We still look back so happily on our experience from the friendly greetings by the Renaissance staff to exploring the resort and the beach for the first time.
We loved swimming up to the swim-up beach bar at the hotel and ordering tropical cocktails for the first time. There’s just something about that excitement and energy level you have when you’re exploring a new place for the first time. We’ll always look back fondly on our trip to Aruba.
Need to Know Before you Go
Firstly, we advise against an all-inclusive hotel. One of the beauties of Aruba is that it’s completely safe regardless of where you go or where you stay.
The same cannot be said about other vacation hotspots in the southern Caribbean and thus making all-inclusive hotels more appealing given you likely won’t leave the resort at all on your vacation in those places.
It is such a luxury to walk around safely and comfortably and leave the resort for some amazing restaurants all over the island and some fun excursions. If you book an all-inclusive hotel, it will certainly limit the likelihood that you venture off the resort and immerse in the culture.
Secondly, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk at all about the Covid precautions. We felt everywhere we went did a great job at making everyone feel safe and they encouraged physical distancing wherever possible.
Masks are required indoors as they are in many places around the world. You should be prepared for that and be respectful of the rules put in place for everyone’s safety. Also, you are required to submit proof of a negative covid-19 test result within 72 hours of your flight. So just keep that in mind.
You should work diligently in advance to find a testing center near you that provides results in that timeframe which can be challenging depending on where you live. Covid aside, there is no doubt that you will fall in love with this beautiful Caribbean island. Enjoy your visit to paradise!