Aruba, Jamaica, ooooh I wanna take ya…
Planning a trip to sunny Aruba? Well you’ve come to the right place! It’s true what they say, “Aruba is one happy island”. From eating fresh seafood, to enjoying the simplicity of an island oasis, I have some really great recommendations for the trip that you will want to take this year! I knew I wanted to go away somewhere warm during the holidays, and last year I promised myself I’d be in Aruba before the new year. Lucky enough, it happened! Here is a roundup of where to stay, where to eat, and how to simply relax on your island getaway.
The plane ride from New York City to Oranjestad is about 4 hours. I recommend getting an early morning flight via JetBlue out of JFK so that you have the whole day to lounge on the beach and relax before your night out on the town! There are three main tourist areas in Aruba. The closest town to the airport is Oranjestad which is more of a commercial downtown area. It is very family friendly with high-end shopping and a great resort called The Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. The next area is Eagle Beach which is more serene and quiet, with an adults-only vibe (my personal favorite). Finally, there’s Palm Beach where all of the high rise hotels are located. The beaches here are a bit more crowded, but you have a lot of bars along the beach and places to do water sports such a parasailing, jet-skiing, and snorkeling. The beaches are public and you can rent lounge chairs for about $5 USD a pop. A bit more inland from here is the town of Noord where I wouldn’t have gone to since it’s away from the beach, but one of my favorite yogi’s, Rachel Brathen, recently opened up her new studio, Island Yoga, and I just had to pay her a visit! Getting around from one area to the next is about a $9 USD cab ride. It’s well worth it and a responsible way to get around after all of those Mango Margaritas!
My boyfriend and I started our vacation in Eagle Beach where we stayed at The Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa (he is really great at planning these things!) The resort has such a friendly and accommodating staff, great ambience, three great restaurants on the premises, and most importantly the bar is a stone’s throw away from the oceanfront. As you arrive you’re greeted with a homemade mojito (very nice touch), you catch a glance of the picturesque palm trees, the mint green water dances in the distance, you hear the waves crash, you feel the perfect Aruban breeze kiss your skin, you plop yourself down on a lounge chair, drink in hand, and ask yourself, “is this paradise?!” After a few cocktails, you jump in water that’s just the right temperature, and then you answer yourself, “yes it is”.
After two days of exploring Eagle and Palm Beaches we headed over to The Renaissance Ocean Suites in Oranjestad. We wanted to get a feel for all of the different areas, but we stayed here mostly because the resort has its own private island where you can hang with flamingos! This was the highlight of the trip for me. They are such beautiful creatures and look a lot like yogi’s doing tree pose. There’s a boat that leaves the resort every 15 minutes from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. and takes you directly to the island in 10 minutes.
Finally… the food!!! The first night we ate barefoot with our toes buried in the sand at Passions on the Beach. They had the most incredible ceviche I’ve ever tasted and a really great wine list. Passions provided a romantic ambience that included tiki torches and a steel drum band playing in the background. Another great place that was recommended to us was Madame Janette: seafood with a french flair. This place is really popular with Americans who frequent Aruba, so make reservations in advance. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu; just eat to your heart’s desire! Lastly, Iguana Joe’s was a no frills Aruban staple with lots of Caribbean food options. We enjoyed their jerk chicken skewers, mini Jamaican beef patties, Shrimp Josephine, an award-winning dish, which was served in a coconut cream sauce (to.die.for.) and “the best ribs in the caribbean”! This place was really fun, with a laid back ambience. Don’t forget to order a potion from the “Proceed with Caution” drink menu. These really yummy cocktails are served in half carafe glasses. You will only need one! We got the iguana mama and the lethal lizard. Variety is the spice of life! Don’t you agree? Lastly, grab a bottle of their medium hot sauce as a souvenir for your friends!
I hope this post inspires you to take that island trip you so deserve! If you have any other Aruban go-to’s that I’ve left out, please leave a comment below. I’m already dreaming about my next trip! Where are you headed this year?