When my soon-to-be in-laws invited Sean and I to Aruba, I immediately booked a 5 day getaway to the self-proclaimed “happy island.” Unfortunately, Sean had to stay home for work (and the puppies!) but that didn’t stop me from flying to some much-needed sunshine-just me and my in-laws lol! Sean and I have visited Aruba together once before so I knew what to expect: amazing restaurants, 80 degrees, bright blue ocean, and a lot of lounging. My expectations were high going in to this trip and once again, Aruba did not disappoint!!
Sean’s parents own a timeshare at the Marriott Ocean Club but the hotel part of the resort would be a great pick (Starbucks is in the lobby..just sayin’!) Most hotels are on one strip, and they all appear to be great. Even though I haven’t stayed as a guest (except at the Marriott), I’ve wandered through most other hotels (I love checking out hotels)! I was impressed with the serene open-air lobby of the Hilton. I would stay there in a heartbeat. I’ve also heard great things about the Hyatt! Fun bonus: both the Hilton and Hyatt have exotic (caged) birds around the property. There’s one all-inclusive hotel on the strip (RIU), but I personally would never opt for all-inclusive in Aruba- there are too many fabulous restaurants to try!
I have to mention the infamous flamingo beach-a private island for guests at the Renaissance. One of my fave bloggers Caitlin of Southern Curls & Pearls did a review of the Renaissance, which I’ve linked here if you’re interested in learning more about that hotel from a guest perspective. The one obvious downside of the Renaissance hotel is you are off the strip and away from the action of other hotels. However, next trip, we may stay a night or two so we can go to the private beach and be closer to town to try some of the restaurants!
The minute I landed in Aruba, I settled in to “island time.” I like to get up early, take a walk/workout, grab coffee, and head to the beach for the majority of the day. One of the best daytime activities (if you can call it that!) is floating in the ocean or lazy river. We always grab a few tubes that have been left behind. Obviously you are welcome to bring your own-I linked some fun ones below! (Currently debating which of these tubes to buy for home)!
Omg where to start! The majority of restaurants I’ve tried in Aruba are INCREDIBLE! We are a family of foodies. Trying new/different restaurants is a priority -if not one of the most important things for us on vacation! I’ve listed ALL of my faves below!
Madame Janette: my favorite in Aruba! It’s primarily outdoor dining in a garden-like area that has a whimsical feel and live music. You’ll have to take a cab-and plan accordingly for rain! I’ve tried the wedge salad and the old butcher steak-both were excellent. Definitely save room for dessert-we had the swiss chocolate souffle and I honestly think it’s one of the top 10 desserts I’ve ever eaten!
Papiamento: another outdoor dining place. Take a short cab ride (about $8) to this whimsical old home turned restaurant. The outdoor pool area was converted to a dining area and bar-the pool is still there! We started with oven-baked mushrooms and blue cheese shrimp-both were very rich/cheesy and perfect for sharing. I ordered the grilled grouper for dinner which was fresh and light. They have an incredible wine list, too!
Chalet Suisse: this place has an old-world/European feel. If you really want to indulge try the lobster thermidor -it’s a seafood and potato stuffed lobster!
Eduardo’s Beach Shack: this little place on the beach has smoothies, juices, açaí bowls and protein bites. Super fresh, healthy and reasonably priced. An overflowing açaí bowl with a ton of fresh fruit is about $10-the Small’s was $6 and plenty for me. The protein bites make a great snack!
Gianni’s: this was the first meal Sean and I had in Aruba when we went together. We ordered the Spaghetti al formaggio parmigiano -aka spaghetti tossed in a cheese wheel with flaming whiskey! So cool and fun experience (when we ordered it we didn’t realize almost every Italian restaurant in Aruba does it, too!)
Wacky Wahoo: Funky place, fresh seafood. Not a great wine list, but the food makes up for it!
Pelican Pier (lunch): we heard some bad reviews about this place, but the grouper sandwich for lunch is delicious! Wash down with a Balashi!
Acai bowl from Eduardo’s Beach Shack
Miscellaneous Aruba Tips:
-it tends to get incredibly windy in Aruba! Wear a hat or bring some spare hair elastics!
–US customs are in Aruba-so when you land back in the US it’s like landing domestically. Leave yourself plenty of time to get through the airport before your flight home! It’s advised 2-2 1/2 hours, which seems a little excessive but it’s necessary. I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants traveler, (I drive Sean crazy!) but Aruba is the one place I wouldn’t risk it. Stay organized with a cute passport case!
-I brought my Yeti with me and it was great for the beach! I drink a ton of water so this saved me 50 trips to the water fountain!
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Have you been to Aruba? What do you most look forward to on vacation?