We recently booked our next big family vacation (to Costa Rica!) and I’m reminiscing on some of my favorite trips we’ve taken. Everything about Aruba was 100% amazing — so amazing that several times we considered going back there for this trip! After all, we know the island is safe, the people are great, the food is delicious and the beaches are pristine. And look at this view!
We stayed at Amsterdam Manor right on Eagle Beach. By far the prettiest beach (with the whitest sand!) I’ve ever stepped foot on. The water is so clear that you can walk out to your shoulders and still see your toes.
I loved that there were no peddlers on the beach. Not once did anyone approach us trying to sell us anything (as often happens in the Bahamas and Jamaica). If you wanted to jet ski, parasail, go tubing, you could easily find a vendor but they weren’t going around trying to sell the service to you.
Parasailing was such a great experience. You could see so much of the island and we saw HUGE sea turtles as we went up! The ride goes by very quickly but was definitely worth the price.
Aruba has the BEST happy hours – everything is 2 for 1! I would recommend not doing an all-inclusive stay in Aruba, and instead venturing out to explore the local bars and restaurants. The food is fresh and delicious and the drinks go down smooth.
Balashi is the local beer and definitely worth trying while on the happy island. It’s a light beer so easy to sip while sitting out in the warm Aruba sun. Your chances of rain while visiting are slim to none and the average temperature is 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
One of my favorite places is the Butterfly Farm. Not only can you see tons of butterflies up close and personal, the staff is very knowledgeable and teaches you while you’re there.
Your ticket is good for the rest of your vacation, so you can go back multiple times while visiting the island.
It’s such a different experience than you’ll have anywhere else and magical to be up close and personal with the butterflies (and moths!). Where else can you see the life cycle of these creatures?
We kayaked over to De Palm Island and loved every second of it (take a waterproof camera!). While the majority of the kayaking was easy, I will say it got a little tough just before reaching De Palm Island and I was TIRED on the way home.
The guides were great and they also had someone who followed us through the beginning along the shoreline playing paparazzi! De Palm island is great if you have kids but kind of overwhelming if you don’t. We got away from the craziness for a bit and went snorkeling while there.
We did eat while on De Palm island but it didn’t compare to the food we had elsewhere. Our first night, we ate at Passions on the Beach right at Eagle Beach. We watched the sun set while we devoured fresh fish and champagne.
Definitely make reservations if you are planning on dining on the beach. It fills up fast. For that matter, make reservations for anywhere you’re planning on dining. Other favorite restaurants included Madame Janette, Blue Lobster, Amadeus and the ceviche at Bugaloe.
One of our most favorite experiences was the ABC Jeep Tour with our guide Ivo. We did the natural pool tour, which also included the ruins and natural bridge, and a quick stop by the chapel.
Ivo grew up in Aruba and was able to answer every question thrown his way. And while the drive in the Jeep wasn’t the smoothest – we felt very safe with him driving. The history of the island is quite fascinating. We were super impressed with the schools and government. Also, it’s worth noting how NICE every local was and how helpful.
The natural pool was an incredible sight and we did go down in it. The waters were a little rough and splashing over so I tried to steer clear of the edge. Some people were jumping in the pool from the cliffs but I wasn’t that daring.
This side of the island is vastly different than the beach-y side. You’d never want to go swimming on this side as it is incredibly rocky and rough. But boy are the views stunning.
Aruba, although in the Caribbean, is not a tropical destination. It has a desert climate.
You’ll see all sorts of lizards on the island, everything from huge iguanas to smaller colorful lizards. They don’t want to bother you any more than they want you to bother them. There are a few curious ones who will show up at the beach restaurants to snag some scraps.
Amsterdam Manor is between the low-rise and high-rise sections and a bus ride or cab ride away from downtown, but worth the trip. It’s very walkable once you’re down there and you can explore the shops and casinos.
If you’re looking for a safe, clean and beautiful place to vacation with friendly and helpful locals, good food and excellent weather, then Aruba is your spot. Flights are quick and relatively cheap from the East coast. Your happy hours will be extra happy on this amazing island, their tagline is “one happy island!”