“One Happy Island”…how true it is. In a word, Aruba is Perfect.Beautiful weather, friendly people, gorgeous beaches, amazing food and so much to do. It’s been nearly three and a half years since our honeymoon to Aruba and my husband and I still talk about how fantastic our trip was and how much we can’t wait to go back. Granted…it was our honeymoon…we may be a little biased but I can honestly say of all the islands I have been to, Bermuda, Bahamas, St, Lucia and St. Thomas, Aruba was by far my favorite. If you plan on traveling to this little slice of heaven here are some of our favorite places and things to do that you might enjoy.
Where We Stayed in Aruba
We stayed at the Occidental Grand Aruba. This gorgeous all-inclusive on the beach was a perfect ten. From waking up to views of the beautiful white beach and turquoise ocean to ending each day with breathtaking sunsets, each day felt like we were truly living in paradise. We spent a majority of our time in the pool and fell in love with their Aruban Beer called Balashi. The daily pool games and bingo kept us entertained as we soaked up the sun during the day and their on site restaurants and casino kept us entertained well into the night. Speaking of restaurants, they have five of them and each one was excellent which is sometimes not always the case with all-inclusives. If you end up staying here make sure you taste their pumpkin soup because it was out of this world!!
Because we upgraded to their “royal club” status we were given access to a special restaurant, our own concierge and a beautiful lounge. Bonus: All-Inclusive = Midnight Brownie ala Modes each night!
We got lucky in the casino on the fishy game!
Fun in the Sun
At one point during our trip Joe and I both agreed that it felt more like summer camp than a vacation because of all the activities we did. We enjoyed jet skiing, wakeboarding, water skiing, snorkeling, ATV tours, and sailing just to name a few of our favorites. If you do happen to stay at or near the Occidental look out for a guy named Dorian. He taught us how to wakeboard and water ski and was a super nice guy.
We weren’t exactly sure how we felt about getting onto a “pirate ship” because it sounded a little hokey but it ended up being one of our favorite things. We chose the 4 hour sail, snorkel, swim and swing excursion which was $60 a person. It included a BBQ and open bar.
The drinks were yummy, the crew was hilarious and the snorkeling was fantastic. I highly recommend this excursion to anyone looking for some fun in the sun.
Another day trip that we really enjoyed was the Kini Kini ATV island tour which our concierge scheduled for us. It was around $60 a person and it was worth every penny. We saw a stunning natural pool, beautiful beaches, the “California” light house and plenty of gorgeous countryside. A few tips if you choose to do this…
1) Wear clothes you don’t care about because you will be filthy from the dust in the dessert.
2) Wear a bathing suit. You have the option to swim in a few of the spots you visit.
3) Go at your own pace. Our tour guide was FLYING and we tried to keep up with him at first which made my husband crash into a wall.
Eating in Aruba
The food at the Occidental was excellent. We especially loved Zen, the Japanese restaurant. The Pan-Asian cuisine was amazing and the cooks were highly entertaining. We ended up eating here a few times. In addition to Zen we also enjoyed L’Olio, their Italian restaurant.
While we spent most of our time at the hotel, we decided to have dinner out on the town twice and both times were outstanding.
Our first dinner out was at Madame Janette. Everyone we spoke to recommended eating here and we quickly realized why. The atmosphere was casual but romantic and the service was outstanding. As soon as they found out we were honeymooners they sent us champagne which was also a nice bonus.
I ordered the Surf and Turf and Joe ordered the Rack of Lamb. Everything was cooked to perfection and full of flavor. We also ordered the Potato Gratin which wasn’t my favorite but I am also not a huge gratin fan. While Madame Janette’s is on the pricier side of casual dining we definitely would go back for the food and atmosphere.
Our other dinner out was at Barefoot. Their slogan is “Elegant Dining in Flip Flops” and it was just that. We sat right next to the ocean and were blown away by the sunset that night. We were especially grateful to the owner for taking about 20 pictures so we got the perfect picture in front of it. We were on Cloud Nine that night. From listening to the ocean lapping on the beach to catching the tropical breeze, we felt like were in heaven. The beer was cold, the food was fresh and I couldn’t have asked for a more romantic date. The ONLY drawback was a few mosquitoes but our waitress gave us bug spray and after a few spritzes they left us alone.
So as you can see, we are Aruba’s biggest fans. We loved every single moment there and wished we could stay forever. We can’t wait to go back. If you have questions about vacationing here feel free to tweet me!