Top 7 Things to Do in Aruba (June 2018)
My wife and I are all about beach vacations. We got engaged at Laguna Beach in California, took a trip to Curacao last year and now decided it was time to experience the magic of Aruba. This was my favorite trip I’ve ever been on in my life. The phrase “one happy island” is definitely true in Aruba. The beach trip was relaxing, adventurous and beach filled. For me, a vacation needs a lot of adventurous and athletic components to it. I felt like we got that in Aruba. So here’s my top 7 things to do in Aruba.
1.) UTV Excursions
I’m a big fan of taking excursions while on islands. It’s generally a great way to learn about the island, see the whole island for yourself and have fun in the process. We took a 4-5 hour UTV excursion through De Palm Tours (the premier excursion group in Aruba). It was amazing to thrust the UTV into 4-wheel drive and off road it through their national park – Arikok. We did some amazing things – from swimming and snorkeling in a natural pool, to walking on the baby natural bridge, to seeing the black sand beach, the old gold mine ruins, and an old church. It was an amazing way to experience Aruba and there was plenty of adventure.
2.) The Beaches
Obviously, most people come to Aruba for the pristine beaches and they didn’t disappoint. Overall, the water is very clear (although not as clear as Curacao). You really can’t go wrong with any of the beaches. Find a beach, pop the sunscreen on and enjoy it.
3.) Horseback Riding Excursion
We took a 2-hour horseback riding excursion through Gold Mines Ranch. The team was great and helped the beginner or advanced horseback rider have an amazing time. You ride right near the ocean and have beautifully scenic views off the coast. This was only my second time on a horse and my wife’s second. Although there were some moments where we didn’t feel 100% in control of our horses (Barney and Picasso), the more we rode and got use to them, the more confident and seamless the ride got. We did a healthy bit of “trotting” on the horses. That was fun, but a little more challenging as the horses like to compete to be the fastest horse. WARNING: Our butts were super sore the next day since we’re not accustomed to riding horses often. However, this was an amazing experience that you must do.
4.) Renaissance Island & Flamingo Beach
The Renaissance Resort & Casino is the only hotel on the island that has their own private island. We stayed at the Renaissance Resort, so we could experience the island without having to pay $100 a person (per day) to experience the island (that’s assuming the island wasn’t at capacity). There’s a boat at the resort that takes you to the island every 15 minutes. It’s a 10-15 minute boat ride to the island. When you arrive, the island is broken into two sections – Iguana Island (family friendly) and Flamingo Island (adult only). There’s a restaurant on the island, gym, small store, bathrooms, and a rental spot. The big draw here is Flamingo island with 6 wild flamingos that live on the island. You can feed them, get your Instagram photos or just enjoy their presence. We spent a lot of time on the island swimming, snorkeling, laying in hammocks, taking pictures of the flamingos and enjoy the beauty. Definitely a must even if it’s only for a day.
My wife is NOT into snorkeling at all. Because of this, I normally don’t snorkel too far out since I’m normally flying solo. I try to keep with nearby snorkelers as a safety precaution. You’re essentially exploring someone else’s home without an invitation. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. The snorkeling in Aruba was good, although I think Curacao is a better spot for this. I snorkeled in a couple places: Flamingo Island, the Natural Pool in Arikok, Arashi Beach (known for snorkeling) and Boca Catalina (also known for snorkeling and right next to Arashi). The highlight of my snorkeling experience was seeing a squid on the bottom of the ocean floor (Flamingo Beach). I also saw lots of schools of fish and a wider variety at Arashi and Boca Catalina.
I’ll be honest. There were a lot of specific food places that I had researched prior to going and put on my list. However, we didn’t get to any of them. We were busy with beaches, activities, and excursions, so we ended up opting to eat at spots in the hotel zone near the resorts (pricier and not as good). The food prices in Aruba surprised me as they were pricier than what I thought they’d be. But as a tourist location and island, it does make sense. We had some great grilled shrimp on the island, calamari, grouper, and lobster tails. Living in NYC, it’s hard to impress me with food. Overall the food was standard, but pricey. However, I did enjoy having more seafood than usual.
7.) Shopping & Hotel Amenities
There are a lot of shopping centers and malls. Our resort was right next to a mall with 60+ stores. Across the street was a marketplace with numerous food options, a cinema and other items. We utilized these areas to walk around, explore, take in the Incredibles 2, get drinks and hang out.
Further, sometimes it’s nice to use the hotel’s amenities and take in the ambiance of your hotel. Reading by the pool, swimming at night after the sun went down, using the hotel gym, getting drinks at late night hotel pool bars, and ordering room service while watching tv were all some of my low key favorite parts of the trip.
Overall, it’s a great island to explore. If you’re from United States, this island is really simple to navigate and there’s not a lot of planning that needs to go into your trip. Almost everyone on the island speaks English, they take U.S. currency, they drive on the same side of the road and are completely geared for tourists. It’s a very safe island and is really easy to navigate as it’s a small island (19 miles by 6 miles). I almost rented a car to explore as I felt that comfortable.
If you’re looking to get away for a few days, I highly recommend Aruba!