One thing I love to do is travel the world and explore as many countries as possible, so I rarely ever repeat vacation spots. But one place has stolen my heart – a lovely quaint island full of splendor- Aruba. This blog is not to convince you to go, but to let you know how to explore this amazing 9×16 mile island!
First things first: Where to stay?
I am one who does not like to be in crowded hotels and areas that are jam packed with inexperienced travelers and their children (this seems to be a theme in my blog posts). There are two areas you can stay at in Orangjested: the low rise area (small resorts- no larger than 5 floors) or the high rise area (massive resorts). I obviously chose the low rise area after a recommendation from a friend.
Amazing hotels in the low rise:
My first choice would be Divi Tamarijn beachfront. It’s an amazing all-inclusive hotel that has all you would ever need, even if you choose not to explore the island. All the rooms on this side are two stories high- no elevator ever needed! Each room is beachfront- you can literally throw a shoe from your balcony into the amazing blue water!
The rooms are nothing super fancy- but who wants to stay in their room all day while visiting Paradise.
Food at Divi Tamarijn: the food is pretty good at all of the restaurants and I even think they improved from my first stay to my last one. Lots of restaurants to choose from- but we ended up really liking the buffet. This is weird because I am grossed out by buffets- especially at resorts. But this buffet is nice- lots of different options and every meal had some type of carving station and you can get pastas, gyros, steak and fish specially prepared for you- with very short wait times. The fruits were delicious each day and found myself making mini sandwiches to cure my day long craving for food.
Drinks at Divi Tamarijn: the drinks are good as long as you are specific on how you like them made- I was baffled when one bartender told us about the amount of people who complain that the drinks are too strong. I honestly did not know that was thing.. I prefer a strong bourbon and was never disappointed the whole week. Lots of people order frozen drinks (insert eye roll) so sometimes it can take a couple minutes to put in your drink order. All the bartenders are very friendly and personable and take the time to get to know you on a personal level.
What to do in Aruba?
Depending on your liking – If you want to just chill- this resort is the absolute best place on the island to sit under your little hut and soak in the sun! However- I am an adventure seeker – and can’t sit still for that long- especially in the sun (my pale ginger self would run out of 100 spf sunscreen after 3 days! SO – here is what you must do:
Once at the resort, rent a Jeep Wrangler for 2 days! You will not regret it! Next, get your Jeep and head for the California lighthouse and let your adventure around the island begin!
First stop: snorkeling!
Just past the high rise area, there is an area where all the boats bring tourists to snorkel- so drive there and jump in the water with equipment that you can check out for free from the resort.
Once you check out some fish, continue your drive towards the lighthouse and then get ready for my favorite part of Aruba- exploring the unpaved back side of the island. It absolutely requires a Jeep Wrangler to explore on your own! It takes some time to drive the whole back side as you cannot go too fast because of the terrain.
There are so many neat stops to get out and take pictures including abandoned surf houses, some ancient ruins and rocky cliffs that look over the amazing but very rough waters that are not swimable (although we did see some pro surfers one day- which was pretty amazing to watch them ride the waves)!
One absolute must do: Drive to the Natural pool! The drive is absolutely treacherous but fun at the same time- you will understand why a 4×4 is necessary. Cost is $11 per person to drive to the pool! Best of luck navigating the jacked rocks and boulders – and if you get car sick- this may not be for you- lol.
The Natural pool is a swimming hole that has been carved out by the waves crashing in over time.
Other places you must go to:
San Nicolas- A true experience of Aruban life! Amazing restaurants and a cool local vibe! Also one of the most amazing beaches- Baby Beach. Follow the signs as it is very easy to get to.
As you get close- you have the option to take a right to Baby Beach- but on your way out, be daring and take the unpaved road to the left and go explore more of the abandoned surf houses, and old prison guarded by goats, and swim in some amazing water!
And if you explore unpaved roads, you never know what you might find…. we found this…
Zoom in closely…
A few other things you must do:
Go to the grocery, buy a cheap cooler and fill it with alcohol and snacks. They have no laws against eating in your Jeep- but even better- you can also drink. Just be careful 😉!
Go eat at an Authentic restaurant – yes I recommended you stay at an all inclusive- but there is nothing better than taking in the real culture!
The sunsets every night rival any place I have ever been!
The wildlife is fun too- Iguanas everywhere- some beautiful bird- and lots of crabs on the back side!
I could probably continue writing about how much I love Aruba for days- most probably didn’t even make it this far into the blog. But if you did, let me know when you want to go to Aruba and I am happy to show you around!