Aruba Travel Guide

February 6, 2017

I surprised my mother for her 50th birthday with a trip to Aruba! This was our first mother and daughter trip and we had a blast. Keep reading for a complete guide for the beautiful island of Aruba.

Bon Bini Aruba!
Aruba's nickname is One Happy Island, and within 15 minutes of arriving I could easily see why. The weather is sunny, dry and perfect year round, and the shades of blue water looks like something straight out of a postcard. Most people know that Aruba is located in the Netherlands Antilles and is just 17 miles north of the coast of Venezuela. Aruba has a diverse population, with more than 90 nationalities present. The main languages are Dutch, and Papiamento, but most Arubans speak multiple languages, including English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The official currency is the florin, but the U.S dollar is used and accepted everywhere (Atm's offer both dollars and florin). Even though the island is tiny (20 miles long and 6 miles wide), there is so much to do!

Things To Do.
Rent a Car: The only way to see the island right is to rent a car! What I love most about Aruba is that you can pull over anywhere on the island and just go into the water. Once you step outside the airport, there a variety of different car rental offices. In high season, most of the more well known car rental companies have low inventory and very expensive. We were approached by a local company asking if we needed a car rental and he gave us an extremely affordable price compared to the other companies. The car was brand new, clean, and up to standard for our trip. It was not a scam, everything was legit but I cannot find his business card for the life of me (I know, I'm horrible). But if you want to support local companies, be on the lookout for them (usually across the street, standing in between the other car rental companies).

Visit the California Lighthouse: It's located on the northern part of Aruba on a hill. For the best views over the island, you can pay a small fee to climb the lighthouse at the restaurant located on site. There is also a bus filled with ready to sell refreshments as well as fresh coconuts! I noticed many tours stop there briefly to take pictures and left. But if you rented a car, you could see this place at your leisure and you don't need to pay a tour company to see it!







Visit Different Beaches: Aruba houses many beautiful beaches. Don't just stay at one beach during your trip, go and explore the many beaches Aruba has to offer!
Arashi Beach



Palm Beach



Eagle Beach



Parasailing: I love parasailing everywhere I travel to! The best way to see the island is from above and it's a fun experience you will never forget! I booked a spontaneous parasailing trip for my mother and I, lets just say she was a bit nervous and wouldn't stop screaming the whole time. She said, "I was trying to kill her" but at least she did something out of her comfort zone! It was a very memorable part during our trip that we can't help but laugh every time I bring up that adventure. I booked it at a parasailing stand near the Bugaloe Beach Bar and Grill!




Offroading Tour: We would see many ATV, UTV, Land Rover tours on a daily basis. We thought it would be great way to the the desert side of the island by booking a tour with De Palm Tours. We would see this company everywhere and read great reviews online so we went into an office to look at the different tours they offered. The off-roading tour by Land Rover stood out to us and stopped at the places we wanted to see such as, the Natural Pool, Natural Bridge, Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, Alto Vista Chapel, and it also stopped at the California Lighthouse from afar. This was a four hour tour which included water and snacks. You get picked up by the Land Rover at your hotel and meet up with 4 other Land Rovers to start your adventure! This was so much fun, everyone had a blast, the drivers made the experience outstanding! Watch where you walk when you get to the natural pool because I tripped and fell on many pointy rocks leaving me with bloody knees and hands.
















Watch the Sunset: I'm a big sunset lover! I love sitting back and just watch the sky turn different colors no matter where I am. The sunsets in Aruba were even better and couldn't help but take out my camera and capture them.








Shop at Local Markets: If you're looking to buy souvenirs, I highly suggest visiting the Local Market! I love supporting local artisans and vendors, you'll get a better price for the things you're looking for. They have a variety of unique things to choose from that will appeal to anyone whose ready to do some shopping!

Spend the Day with Flamingos: I'm sure you have seen pictures on Instagram where people take pictures of flamingos on the beach. This is the place where it all happens.The only way to get to the flamingos is by visiting Renaissance Island, a privately owned island by Renaissance Aruba Resort in Oranjestad. Guests of the Renaissance Aruba Resort have free access to the island, but you can buy a day pass for $99 to get access! If you're going to be spending that much money on the pass, I would suggest going as early as possible to spend the whole day there. The ticket includes the boat ride to the island, a pass to get drink and lunch at the restaurant located on the private island. The private island is beautiful and of course being able to take pictures with the flamingos, was the best!








Walk around Oranjestad: Downtown Oranjestad is beautiful with it's architecture, shops, restaurants, and of course it's colorful buildings everywhere. 




Find the Aruba signs: Get some photos with the Aruba signs, they are scattered all over the island!




Where to Stay.
There many accommodations located in Aruba that go from budget, hotels, and high end resorts to choose from when planning your trip. It all just depends what your comfortable with but I wanted to have a more local experience and do as much as we can during our stay. Let's be honest, you're not in your room all day anyway so to me it wasn't a big deal to stay at hotel or resort this time around. During high season, most places are fully booked and the prices are very high. During our stay in Aruba, I choose to book in two different locations. Our first accommodation was more of a budget style apartment in Oranjestad. If you want to read a full review on this accommodation (click here). Our second accommodation was at an Airbnb located in Noord, if you want to read a full review on that (click here).

Places To Eat.
Aruba has so many restaurants around the island from a variety different cultures. It's hard to pick one to eat at with the variety of options. Here are a few of my favorite places that I've tried throughout my trip!

Eduardos's Beach Shack: This place is infamous on Pintrest and on many blogs for a reason! I was determined to find this place




Passions on the Beach: I made reservations here for dinner on my mothers actual birthday. I thought it would be a special place to go since the dinner tables are right on the beach. I booked to go right before sunset, which was perfect and stunning as we ate. The service here was SPECTACULAR! The food was fantastic and they also surprised us with birthday desert. I highly recommend coming here if you want a beautiful dinner on the beach!




Don Jacinto: We found this cute restaurant while getting lost on out first night and glad we did! This is a authentic Colombian restaurant which has amazing food! The decor at this restaurant was cute and loved how the servers wore traditional Colombian outfits. The service was great and made us miss Colombia bite after bite!

Iguana Cantina: If you're craving Mexican food, come here! The food is great and it's always busy so that should let you know it's worth trying.







Bugaloe Beach Bar and Grill: This place is located right on the water of Palm Beach and has local food, yummy cocktail menu, and live entertainment. We had lunch here after spontaneously parasailing around the island. The caramba nachos and wraps were so yummy, definitely recommend!



Try local food: My mom and I love trying local cuisines. We found a huge supermarket Super Food Plaza, where we would stop daily to get snacks, drinks, and fruits. They have everything you could ever need in there! We tried both Chill and Balashi local beers which were so good during the hot temperatures. You can find them at any supermarket and restaurant. Also try pastechi, their famous pastry that is filled with cheese or seasoned meat. It tastes and looks like an empanada and are found in all bakeries!


Until Next Time Aruba!
 This our first mother and daughter trip and wouldn't change a thing! Aruba is a beautiful island that I would love to visit again in the future. I know my mother didn't want to leave but I was glad to have surprised her with this trip. It was on of my goals for this year and it meant so much to her, since in recent years she's been been going through hard times. This trip made us closer than ever and the gift of travel is irreplaceable. If you want to see more pictures, check out my Instagram feed !


Comment below,
Have you ever been to Aruba?

Until the next post!


-WanderlustBeautyDreams ♡ 

25 comments

  1. Interesting!
    I must say you have indeed made a perfect choice. Aruba is a place to be for the numerous perks it offers both travelers and the local. I enjoyed myself to the fullest while I was there and no doubt you did too; your pictures is presently doing the talking.

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  2. Oh! This is really good. I'm sure your mum will really be proud of you now. This is the type of things we encourage on our page and I'm sure going to share this to inspire many more people.

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  3. Love your post!! I’ve been to Aruba a few times and still haven’t done all these things. Your photos are great. I still need to go to the flamingo beach. I love bungaloe beach bar too! Check out my blog wanderlustwritings.com and let me know what you think 😄

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