Aruba’s got us hooked. It’s captured our hearts. it’s so much more than just a sandy-feet escape; it’s a Caribbean island unlike any other. It’s what the locals, and now us too, call One Happy Island, where moments are measured in happiness rather than minutes! Located off the coast of Venezuela, it measures only 8km wide and 30km long, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty and diversity. It boasts a splendid coastline with an array of beaches from those with gently lapping tides and sands so white they demand sunglasses to look at, to those woven in mangroves or cacti with a crashing surf; it’s the home of diverse landscapes, flushed in the classically Caribbean white-blue-green hues, and hidden nooks yet to be discovered by the next adventurer; and its towns and cities are full of zest and life that add a flawless finesse that’s distinct to the island.
Where to stay?
Aruba’s only over-water bungalows and beach villas is the only place to stay! Located on the serene southeastern coast of the island in the old capital of Savaneta, Aruba Ocean Villas is a hidden gem tucked away off the beaten track, where you can escape the humdrum of the world and slip into the soothing pace of paradise. Past the hammocks draping the lush greenery of its location and the indoor-outdoor lobby are 6 villas: 3 over-water and 3 nestled on the edge of the sands of a private beach. It’s manicured to perfection: each has plush beds, deep soaking bathtubs, Aruba-made toiletries, your very own hammock for dreaming in bohemian and an inviting deck with idyllic views out to the turquoise Caribbean Sea and the lush landscape that surrounds the beach. Here, love truly is all around: not only is the resort decorated with love in mind, but the staff reflect the happy, friendly personality of the island with their loving, family approach to hospitality. It’s the perfect place for a romantic getaway or the ideal honeymoon spot.
What to do?
Don’t miss the chance to get up close and personal with flamingos! Catch a boat out to Renaissance Private Island, just off the coast of Aruba, to check flamingo-feeding off your bucket-list, followed by beach-relaxing in a private cabana. There are limited tickets out there each day which cost $100USD per person, so securing a scarce day pass is a little challenge to be aware of!
The New Natural Pool is a small swimming hole with a hidden, somewhat sketchy-looking ladder down! This protected pool formed when rocks collapsed to create a natural cove of ocean water filled with fish; it’s a great spot for a picture, an amazing place for a snorkel and you can even catch a sunrise horseback ride out there!
The pool is located in Airkok Natural Park, which covers around 20% of the island’s surface. While you’re in the national park, it’s worth heading out in an ATV ‘safari’ to check out the rest of the desert terrain. It’s a scenic and exhilarating ride along the coastal roads and through the rugged outback of the north of the island, to see: the famous California Lighthouse at the very northern tip of the island, with the nearby California White Sand Dunes for hiking, to go snorkelling or paddle-boarding at Mangel Halto (a secluded beach with delightful mangroves, a beautiful reef, colourful fish and calm waters), and to end your journey at beautiful Baby Beach, where you can expect white sands and tranquillity.
Eagle Beach is known to be one of the world’s best beaches with turquoise-clear waters and long stretches of golden sands. Here you’ll find somewhere a little quieter than the main tourist stretch of Palm Beach. It’s got swings for that Insta shot, jet-skis for adventure, a lovely beach restaurant, and a west-facing location for the perfect sunset views.
Boca Keto is one of the most secluded places, and the most beautiful bays, in Aruba, and can really only be reached by ATV / SUV while you’re on an excursion in Airkok National Park. But it’s magical; raw, organic nature.
Check out the colourful streets (we’re talking bright pinks, and pastel-coloured houses!) and pretty colonial architecture of downtown Oranjestad, with lots of high-end boutiques, malls, and great restaurants and bars for the foodies!
Go scuba diving! The waters are clear and there are plenty of fish! There’s also a shallow shipwreck near the California Lighthouse, which is a rare find in the diving world!
Where to eat?
Eduardo’s Beach Shack is THE go-to brunch spot! Its just how you’d imagine: colourful smoothie bowls, avocado toast and healthy vegan options make it an Instagram dream and its beach-side location is the icing on top of an already-delicious (vegan!) cake! ;)
For a romantic meal, take a sunset dinner cruise out into the Caribbean Sea; it’s simply one of the must-dos while you’re here!
Aruba Ocean Villas does have its own on-site restaurant too, lovingly called The Old Man & The Sea. It offers a Caribbean menu, serving fresh catches each day.
Aruba Ocean Villa over-water bed: @lyss
Flamingos in sunset: @argenel
Underwater shot: @suahuatica
Villa inside: @meirr