Aruba has been my home for the last 2.5 years, I truly enjoyed the place from the very beginning. One of the highlights of this beautiful island which will remain in my memories and always bring a smile to my face is the particular way the wind blows, that amazing breeze, made me realize I was exactly where I needed to be.
Needless to say, if you are in need of a getaway from the cold weather or just a get away from your regular day to day, Aruba is one of your best options. I am not a big planner I have to say, but I am a bit impulsive and an opportunity taker, being impulsive does not always turn out good in other aspects of my life but when it comes to traveling you just have to decide to do it, everything else will fall into place and there will never be regrets!
So just pick some days and make that decision. If you decide to travel alone, no worries, people are really friendly over there, you will have a great time and most likely make some new friends as well. I am a big fan of diversity therefore I love meeting new people from different backgrounds, is one of the things that reminds me that life is amazing.
I am sure there are different travel agencies that can make your trip easier, I always choose booking directly and figure little by little what to do there, that is because I am flexible with my choices. Thee are only a couple of restaurants that in two cases you have to book in advanced. One is if you are traveling with a big party and the other one if you are traveling during holiday season, like Christmas, New Years or any sort of event like that.
There are different options depending on your budget, there are two main areas you want to stick to, closer to the action. High and Low rise areas.
The most known as the high rise area: if you stay here you can walk pretty much all over for breakfast, lunch, dinner, party and activities. Certain famous restaurants are located 10-15 min by taxi from anywhere you stay. Is a small island so you can choose just to take a cab in case you decide to go there.
The low rise: a bit more quiet, you will probably have to take cabs for most of the places except the beach.
I rented a house, sharing with two friends, this is a great option specially if you are staying a bit longer, you get to enjoy the island from a local perspective and not just as a tourist, definitely my way of traveling. Most likely you will have to rent a car as well, you can also rent a bike, but remember is really hot!
If you are adventurous renting a car may be a good option, if so, do a 4×4, so you can go off road as well to the Natural Pools… super nice!
If you are not that adventurous, you should know that even though is a small island, it could be frustrating to drive, as there are no signs all over the place.
If you are staying for a long period, renting a car is still the best option. If you are staying for some days only I would recommend getting a car for at least two or three days and explore around, getting off the touristic area, is all safe!
Spend the rest of your vacations on the water, taking advantage of the numerous happy hours in many beach bars and just relaxing doing nothing as you deserve, well not nothing nothing, but doing anything you want without the pressure of having to do certain thing or another, just being present and living the moment.
One thing I notice from vacationers, they can not let go of the routine and daily pressure and they get trapped on the must do! so they get stressed on their own free time, and if something does not go the way planned, vacations are ruined. Please do not do that, choose your activity and enjoy to the fullest being present, feel free, you are on vacations, isn’t it the time you can truly do whatever you want? if not now when? there is no wrong or right, is your choice, your ¨me time¨ do not take that away from yourself.
Going back to getting around, the rest of the days of your short trip you can take cabs, super easy, they are usually just outside the hotels, usually any establishment will be happy to call you a cab if needed.
For tours, they will usually pick you up from any hotel.
Make sure to hit all happy hour usually associated to live bands!
My personal favorites places to have a drink, relax and really feel on vacations are at Nos Club Huis, Moomba and Bugaloe. I loved these ones specially because of the island vibe you get.
For a long while I got trapped in the night life, as is so easy to go anywhere and there is always fun everyday, these were my favorites spots:
At night I enjoyed Sopranos, a Piano Bar located in the High Rise area walking distance from there you have Sand Bar for pure Latin Music, keep walking and there is Asia, a bit fancier place for drinks and bites, keep walking and you will find Gusto. Gusto is a night club where I used to go a lot! I enjoyed it so much, the daily happy hour, the friendly bartenders and bouncers, the mix of music and the regular customers was always a good idea to have a good time. I must say many of other friends did not like the fact that is small and can get really crowded. No so much Latin music is played in this club.
There was a new place opening called 297 around the area, seemed to be a little bit more of a Miami Lounge/restaurant style. Never got to see it, but some friends who currently live in Aruba have been telling me is really fun and one new spot to go.
The Mill is the only club that is still open when the others are closed, so generally people go there after 3:00 am on the weekends. Had good parties there but also can get a bit weird late at night.On Saturdays, at the Mill, there is a tiny bar on the 3rd floor for the ones who want to go on and on, Electronic music.
On Sundays early evening, around 6:00 am enjoy the live band followed by a DJ at Moomba. I love this bar on the beach, really relaxing specially love the live band where you can dance on the sand and watch the sunset…my fav!
Every once in a while there is an art fair called Korteweg, make sure to find out if there is one while you are there, just a quick stop is always nice to see local art of young artist and artisans, plus you can make new friends as well, usually some nice drinks and local food is served as well.
The Hotel Renaissance in Downtown has life DJ 5pm to 8 pm everyday by the pool. Also a great option to vary once is a while, more of a chilling atmosphere.
In Aruba, there are some really fun events, usually by the beach, Flip Flop Festival, Love Festival, the Electric Festival. Another one that I truly enjoyed was the International beach Tennis Tournament, lots of memories and good fun to never forget. Make sure to check on the calendar when you are there and maybe you can hit one of these events.
Link to calendar of events: http://www.aruba.com/things-to-do/calendar-events-2016
Try to take a yoga class while you are there, is so nice to connect with yourself, specially in a place like Aruba, if you think about it all you are on a piece of rock in the middle of the ocean. There is yoga by the beach or my personal favorite Happy Buddha Aruba, also good place to connect with locals.
You will find all kind of water sport activities, I love the calm and not so easy paddle boarding, love diving, however the clarity of the water is not as amazing as in other Caribbean islands.
Beaches I will never forget, Boca Catalina, Tres Trapi (this one does not have much sand to lay down but the landscape is really islandy. In this case I am not king on to staying at the hotel beach as I just love being on a beach almost by myself and you can do this in Aruba so why not? Hotel beaches are usually very crowded, well depending on the hotel. If you see a crowded beach do not hesitate to rent a car and drive to one of the mentioned beaches above.
Make sure to take a boat trip! the best you can do in the Caribbean, just go for a nice sail and enjoy being surrounded by water, feel the breeze, I will never forget the wind in Aruba, get connected with nature and breath really deep!
I also loved the Butterfly farm, is small, you only take 30 min visiting it but is so cute and magical.
If you stay at The Renaissance Hotel you get access to a small little island where you can get to hang out with flamingos.
So many options! I will only mention my personal favorites, or the ones I used to go more often, must have been for a reason.
Zeerover is not a must but is an experience, you will feel the freshness of the fish, it is all deep fried so nothing fancy, one of those days you have rented a car, you can stop there for lunch! is a local ocean side where fish and shrimps are served by the weight.
On the causal but a little bit more upscale side I would like to say Pinchos or West Deck for dinner. If you have rented a car then Flying fish-bone is also super nice landscape.
Fancier than that, Quinta del Carmen, Madame Janette or Papiamento have great atmosphere. Still everything on the island is casual, no ties or jackets unless you want to wear them of course you are free to do anything that makes you happy.
For Italian, Casa Tua was my usual, perfect for an easy night followed by a drink at the Piano Bar next to it.
For more information visit http://www.aruba.com/