48 Hours In Aruba

Above: Dock on Palm Beach, Aruba (Photo: Shutterstock/Jo Ann Snover)
Above: Dock on Palm Beach, Aruba (Photo: Shutterstock/Jo Ann Snover)

You don’t need to be on the island of Aruba long to see why it’s known as “one happy island”. Though small, there is an abundance of things to see and do (and eat), but if you only have a limited amount of time, here’s what not to miss.

Where to stay

Whether you’re planning a guy’s getaway, taking your wife on a romantic vacation, or need a great spot to go with your family, the Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino caters to multiple types of traveler. If this is a kids-free trip, make a beeline for the tranquil H20asis adults-only pool where you’ll find lounge chairs, cabanas that can be reserved for more privacy, a bar and an inviting pool (we didn’t want to leave). If you’ve got your family in tow, the large freeform main pool is the perfect setting for kids of all ages. When you’re not soaking up the sun by the pool, try your luck at Aruba’s largest casino, rent a paddle board from Vela Windsurf, hit the beach, work off the extra vacation calories at the gym or enjoy an afternoon at Mandara Spa (there are four VIP couple rooms, ahem).

What to do

Aruba is known as the birthplace of beach tennis so what better place to get a taste for the sport. Played in a regulation beach volleyball court, think of it as playing doubles tennis on sand, with a slightly depressurized tennis ball. It’s easy to learn and fun to play, not to mention a great workout. You can take lessons through Beach Tennis Aruba behind Moomba Beach Bar, about a 10 minute walk down the beach from the Aruba Marriott and then reserve a court and paddle when you think you’re ready for the big leagues. 

If you’ll be in Aruba on a Thursday, head to San Nicolas for the weekly Carubbian Festival. The lively, entertaining event features costumed dancers, singing, great local food and the chance to get to know another side of Aruba. The event runs every Thursday night from 6p.m. to 10p.m.

What to see

The island of Aruba isn’t very big making it easy to see all of it in a short amount of time. The easiest way to maximize your time while getting a taste for Aruba’s diverse landscape (one that goes from white sand beaches to desert-like expanses) is to book an island tour. De Palm Tours offers several options and guides are friendly and knowledgeable. Our tour took us clear across the island and ended with a chance to swim, snorkel and sunbathe at Baby Beach, a relaxing stretch of sand where the water is clear and shallow. There are a few places to grab a bite to eat or a Balashi (the local beer) close by and beach beds can be rented if you want to guarantee yourself some reprieve from the sun.

Where to eat

Fresh fish and seafood is the name of the game in Aruba and there are a few great places to get it. Simply Fish at the Aruba Marriott is the place to take your wife or girlfriend for a romantic night they will likely never forget. You’ll be dining on expertly cooked fish and seafood dishes directly on the sand to the sound of the sea behind you – it doesn’t get much better than that.

For a dose of local flavour head straight for Zeerover in Savaneta, a simple waterside eatery that churns out excellent grilled or fried fish (whatever gets caught that day), along with shrimp, French fries and fried plantains.

If you happen to be at the Carubbian Festival, make time for a drink at iconic Charlie’s Bar, a favorite among both locals and tourists. The bar was founded in 1941 and features some of the most eclectic décor we’ve ever seen. Quirky, lively and definitely worth a visit.

Jessica Padykula

Jessica Padykula

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on Styleathome.com, ElleCanada.com, Slice, Travel + Escape, Thrillist, AmongMen.com and SheKnows.com among others. When she’s not writing or researching a story she can be found planning trips to places near and far in a never-ending quest to travel the world. You can follow her on Twitter @JessPadykula

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