My husband and I escaped for a little tropical vacation in May 2019. We went to Aruba! It would be a great honeymoon destination. Here are a few tips and tricks on what to do in Aruba.
We found Aruba to be safe. We didn't do a lot of roaming around at night as we aren't night life people.
We opted to stay in an Airbnb in the middle of the Island - the hotels were a bit out of our budget and the airbnb we chose had its own little pool. We felt very safe in our airbnb.
We were surprised to see that most of the island is the desert landscape. The time we went it was extremely windy - which I read about in my travel books, but reading about it and experiencing it are two different things. It was sustained at least 15 MPH winds at all times. There is apparently a windy season and non windy season. I suggest finding the non windy season as the wind made the water choppy and hard to see through when snorkeling. It also wasn't great for the sea sickness! It was so hot though, that the breeze made it bearable! See how windy!
We highly recommend renting a car. We used Optima Car Rental. They were fantastic. For the first 3 days we were there we had a little compact car - on the second day it had a mechanical issue - we took it back and they did a quick swap of the car. Our final day we traded in that car for a Jeep - they even let us return the jeep a few hours passed the time because our flight left later in the day. Great customer service and fair prices.
We went to many beaches while we were in Aruba. On the far end of the island is Baby Beach, which is a nice lagoon. There is a great coral reef area for snorkeling - we saw alot of fish, but the wind made it hard to swim so we tired out very quickly.
Every day we packed a cooler and chairs that came with the Airbnb and found a quiet lunch spot.
For snorkeling, Mangel Halto had some of the best on the island! There were so many reefs around that area- there is a buoy farther out that an apparently wreck is under but it was windy and out there in the deeper water had me spooked a bit so I made us turn around. If we go again, I will try again.
To save money on our trip, we opted to go to the grocery store and pick up some supplies to make breakfast, lunch and dinner for every day we were there. There are two main grocery stores on the island that tourists visit. They accept credit card. There are TONS of other grocery stores on the island that are much more reasonably priced - some take American dollar but some need the local currency. They don't take credit card.
Eagle Beach has the famous Divi Divi Trees -these are recognizable because they are used alot of photo shoots and calendars.
Our favorite beach place that we always ended up was Tres Trapi Steps - it is between Malmok Beach and Arashi Beach. You can jump off the rocks into the water. Although the snorkeling wasn't fantastic here, we did see a sea turtle. The water tended to be calmer here so we swam here alot.
Our favorite day of our trip by far was when we rented the Jeep and went to the Arikok National Park. It costs about $15 for the day pass. You definitely need a Jeep or 4' x 4' to get the the Natural Pool. You could take a sedan to go to the caves though.
We went to the caves first - Fontein and Quadirikiri Caves. At Fontein Cave there was a park worker who gave us a wonderful tour of the cave and showed us things that we would have definitely not seen if it weren't for him. Different rock formation, crabs living in the caves, and what the writings on the walls meant. The red markings on the ceiling are the ancient writings.
The guide also showed us to spring nearby the cave where small fish and tadpoles live. You can put your feet in the pool and the fish will eat all the dead skin off your feet. It was a surprise and delight moment because in all the research and travel book reading I did - this little area was never mentioned.
We then took the Jeep to the Natural Pool (Conchi) - luckily the weather was cooperating that day so we were able to swim there. If the ocean conditions are very rough, they close the pool because it could be very dangerous. You can see if the picture below the Natural Pool.
The drive there was very bumpy - I definitely hit my head on the side of the car because I wasn't stabilizing myself enough. It was a fun ride though! My husband had a blast navigating the roads. Once we got to the natural pool, we hopped right in and there is some amazing fish in that pool. It was the best snorkeling on the island for sure. When the really big waves crash over the wall, it pushes you all the way to the other side of the pool. It is exhilarating and a tad bit scary!
Another fun must do of the island is to visit the Donkey Sanctuary. You can go to the store and buy your own carrots and apples or they have feed available for purchase there. We opted to bring our own. Make sure you get to the enclosed area before you start taking out the food. The donkeys swarm you. They are super nice, but pushy for food. The people at the Sanctuary were very nice and care tremendously about the well being of the donkeys. We loved our visit there so much, we went twice!
A tip for departure - you will be going through Aruba Customs and USA customs when you are departing Aruba. Make sure you build in enough time. We waited an hour to get through the USA portion of the customs. Prepare to be asked for your passport at least 6 times.
We did enjoy our time in Aruba! Everyone asks if we went to see the flamingos. The flamingos belong to Renaissance Hotel. You have to stay there to access the island with the flamingos. The cost to stay at the hotel was higher than we could afford so we opted to go in a different direction. They do have day passed to the island for sale - but they were over $100 each and My husband and I like to do more adventuring than laying on a beach so we opted no to. I'm not disappointed either because we took that saved money and rented a jeep for an adventure of a lifetime in Arikok National Park.
If you have any questions on things to do or on anything about Aruba, send me a message. Happy to help!
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