Aruba is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. It’s perfectly situated right outside the hurricane belt, so rest assured that travel is ideal all-year-round. In relation to most of the popular Caribbean islands, Aruba is small, but this tiny island offers limitless activities for any person or occassion.
Our trip to Aruba was actually a last minute decision. We had difinitive plans to visit the Bahamas – hotel booked, activities booked, flights—almost booked. Luckily, my travel-spidey senses kicked in and checked weather reports before making any formal commitments.
When to Travel
The weather in Aruba stays pretty consistent all-year round. It sits just outside the hurricaine belt, so you don’t have to worry too much about storms. Traveling to Aruba depends mostly on your vacation experience. If you want to get away from the cold weather, Aruba’s peak tourism is around the Winter months January – March. If you’re flexible, and anything like me- cheap deals and less crowds – low season falls around April – August.
We went to Aruba in August, during their low-season. Hotel deals were very affordable with many all-inclusive resorts.
Where We Stayed
When you think of small island and beaches, you think of nice fancy resorts along the beach. Aruba is a very small island and beach access is very easy anywhere. To add on to Aruba being so small, hotels are also very close together, crowded with tourists, and for me, not the most appealing.
When we adventure travel, especially if it is for short stays, our intent is to spend as much time possible exploring. I try to book places that are not too over-the-top luxury, but also decent enough for a comfortable, and clean, restful evening.
To make things simple, I booked our stay at Hyatt Place Airport Aruba. It is also less than a 5 minute walk from the moment you step foot outside the airport. Car rentals, if needed, are conveniently situated across the street from the airport. Hyatt, of course, is a well-branded hotel, but if we’re comparing to resort-style hotels along the beach, it definitely is the most afforable and practical for our type of stay. Your stay includes parking validation, which is helpful if you decide to rent a car. If you’re the type who loves to wake up to a nice hot cup of coffee and some food in your stomach to energize your mood before venturing out, Hyatt Place also includes free breakfast every morning.
There is a small shopping center in the hotel with a couple of restaurants, a coffee shop, and also a COVID-19 Testing Center.
There are many beaches in Aruba, but the most popular and with the most activities are in Eagle Beach and Palm Beach.
Eagle Beach: Eagle Beach is the more quiet beach, where you will find most of the locals and their families. There are a few restaurants there, but not as many as Palm Beach.
Palm Beach is the more toursity beach, where you will find majority of the resorts, shops, and restaurants. Here, you can also find Aruba’s largest mall, Palm Beach Plaza Mall. This mall is at the center of Palm Beach and offers a variety of activities catered to the entire family which includes luxury shopping, bowling, a movie theater, spas, and restaurants.
As I’ve mentioned before, as small of an island Aruba is, there is never a shortage of activities. Since our trip was a fairly short trip, I tried to incorporate land and ocean excursions.
I booked my activities through Viator, a sister company of Tripadvisor. It’s really easy to find activities, communication is prompt, and there is also a very flexible 24-hr cancelation. Click here to book your activity and a discount!
Arikok National Park
Arikok National Park takes up about 18% of Aruba. Its hiking trails are unique because it offers various views and terrains with each of their respective level of difficulty. You can expect hiking through mountainous elevations, to flat and dry desert trails, until reaching the coast where you will reach soft, white sandy beaches. From the Visitor’s Center, it is about a 4.8 mile out-and-back trail and grossly uncovered, so bring a lot of water and protection from the sun.
Instead of hiking, we decided to do horseback along the trails to reach Conchi, or the Natural Pool–which is a popular site to visit for anyone who is willing to make the trek.
We spent our 4 hour ocean excursion in a catamaran which included unlimited drinks and food. This particular boat did not feel like a party boat. No crazy dancing or obnoxious frat boy fist-pumping the air. Everyone on the boat genuinely was there to enjoy the ocean, the ride, and the adventure. Along with the ride, the boat also anchored in a couple of spots to snorkel. My favorite site was at the Antilla Shipwreck, the largest shipreck in the Caribbean. I brought my freedive fins with me, so I was able to explore the wrek upclose. The wrek is sunk on an angle. The shallowest part of the ship was only about 40 feet, so it wasn’t crazy deep for me to explore without a dive buddy —although I still consider it reckless diving without a buddy.
Aruba does not have any rideshare services. Taxis are regulated by the government and operate on a fixed rate. Aside from Taxis, there are also clean and airconditioned buses available, many connecting from the resort areas to downtown Oranjestad. You can pay by the ride (exact change) or purchase a day pass.
Private transportation is also available through booking services, such as Viator.
However, Aruba is very small so navigating around is easy if you intend to rent a car instead. We decided to just rent a car so that we weren’t subjected to transportation schedules. Plus, our hotel had parking validation so it was free to park at the hotel. Driving is easy– no large highways or crazy traffic. The only confusing thing was the roundabouts—they were everywhere and they are not as simple as you think. Know the rules and and be familiar with their roundabout signs. With all that said, though, you will learn pretty quickly on how these roundabouts work. This is a good read here because it illustrates what to expect when driving in Aruba.
Overall, this trip was amazing! I personally like Eagle Beach because it was more quiet and we were able to really experience the everyday past-time of the locals. Palm Beach does have more to offer as far as shopping and dining, but Aruba is so small, so making the drive to Palm Beach from Eagle Beach was not an inconvenience.
Aruba offers that small, simple island vibe. No Miami glitz and no Maldives glamour—just cool, unembellished, island-style living. Everyone was also extremely friendly. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that every single local we encountered had a huge smile on their face– Aruba is truly “one happy island.”
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