It’s time to Plan Your Aruba Vacation! Aruba is a beautiful island and we’re sharing our travel tips for visiting Aruba.
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OMG, it is COLD here this week! 🙁 I know, I know, it should have been cold months ago, but I’ve enjoyed being spoiled by the mild winter we’ve been having here in Maryland. The rapidly dropping temperatures have me dreaming of vacationing in my favorite place, Aruba. I’m not sure I could ever get enough of laying in the sun there.
Melinda is the one who turned me into an Aruba convert. She had been a few times and always came telling me how amazing it was to vacation in Aruba. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and we planned an Aruba girls’ trip where we lay on the beach, swam in the ocean, and basked in the glory that is Aruba for a whole week! Melinda and I went back again in October 2015, with our guys this time, and it was just as amazing. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling and I have to tell you, if a beach vacation is what I’m looking for, I may never visit anywhere else. We love it so much we want to share what we know with you because everyone needs to visit Aruba at least once!
When to Go:
Aruba’s peak season is mid-December – mid-April. Melinda and I have visited in October and November so I can’t speak to how it is during the peak season but I can say that visiting in October and November was perfect both times. The weather is still beautiful, it may rain for a bit at times but the showers are always short and then the sun comes back out. The beach isn’t overly crowded, and there is no waiting for a table at the restaurants so you can be a little more spontaneous when it comes to picking a place to eat.
The weather in Aruba is consistently warm year-round with an average temperature of 82°F (28°C). Even in October and November the temps can get up in the 90s and it is hot! That Aruba sun is a lot stronger than what we are used to in the U.S.. You’ve got to be diligent about applying sunscreen and make sure you find yourself a little shade where ever you decide to lay out because when that noon time sun hits you are going to want a little relief from the direct sunshine. The water is gorgeous and it is my favorite place to be during the hottest part of the day!
Even if you are traveling to Aruba in the winter and it is cold at home make sure you are dressed for the warm weather because as soon as you get off that plane you are going to be in the hot Aruba airport. Our best piece of advice: Proceed straight to customs. I know you are going to be tempted to stop and use the bathroom at the first set of restrooms you see. Don’t do it! Melinda is still bitter because the guys insisted on stopping and we wound up waiting in the customs line for over an hour. The reality is that, especially on the weekends, a lot of planes come in at the same time. So no matter what you do you may find yourselves waiting for an extended period of time in an airport hallway that has no air conditioning. Be prepared!
Once you are through customs you can either head to the rental car place just outside of the airport or grab a cab. Cabs from the airport to downtown cost about $20 US. They are regulated by the airport so you just go up to the cab stand and they will take care of you.
Where to Stay:
Visitors can stay in two of the main sections of the island, the High Rises and Downtown. The High Rise section is located in the northern part of the island and there are many hotels to choose from and a happening nightlife. You see more families in this are because there is so much to do including a mall and a movie theater. Downtown is located near the airport in Oranjestad. This is where the Renaissance Hotel is located and for Melinda and I it is the only place to stay because they have their own private Renaissance Island where you can spend all day basking in the sun among the flamingos. We are going to write a whole separate post about the island so keep your eyes out for that. For now just know that it is an amazing experience!
Where to Eat:
Ok, I know you’re thinking why is a food blog talking about traveling to Aruba? Well, besides the fact that we just love it so much that we want everyone to go there, we also do a lot of eating when we’re there :). There are so many amazing restaurants and we’ve spent a lot of time checking out new places and visiting our favorites, sometimes two or three times! Aruba is part of the Dutch Carribean, which means it is a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the food there is an interesting mix of Dutch and Carribean.
Here are some of our Aruba restaurant recommendations:
Que Pasa – Don’t let the name fool you this is not a Mexican restaurant. Que Pasa is at the top of our list every time we visit and we usually dine there are least twice and sometimes we just stop by for a dessert.
They have unique upscale dishes and their specials change daily. We were lucky enough to get to spend a little time with Chef Miriam last time we were there and she shared a recipe for Grouper Caprese with us that will be up on the blog tomorrow.
If you go you have to try the Seafood Pil Pil and their Banana Fritters…or if you have the time get their Chocolate Souffle or Melinda’s favorite, their Chocolate Creme Brulee…now I’m hungry.
Cuba’s Cookin’ – Is right next to the Renaissance and it is usually our first stop after we arrive from the airport. There is a nice outdoor seating area and the food is authentic Cuban cuisine. You don’t get much better than their Ropa Veija and fried plantains!
Delimar – We tried this for the first time last time we were in Aruba and it was really good. It is a little Peruvian seafood restaurant that is easy to miss on from the outside but make sure to stop in for lunch one day. They have lots of flavorful dishes to choose from including a delicious fish and tomato stew that I loved. Make sure to ask about the specials!
El Gaucho – Ok, I’m not gonna lie, this is a touristy restaurant but you know what? I’m a tourist, and we think this restaurant is a fun experience, especially if you order their sangria…the secret ingredient is vodka! This is where our infamous profile picture was taken :). The steaks are delicious and there is no way you are leaving this place hungry. Pass on dessert though you are better off swinging by Que Pasa and finishing off the night with a dessert special and some hot tea.
La Trattoria El Faro Blanco – Do not leave the island without enjoying dinner and the sunset at La Trattoria El Faro Blanco Restaurant. This restaurant is located at the California Lighthouse. You dine outside on a beautiful stone terrace overlooking the island and the view is amazing. They serve Italian cuisine and we all enjoyed it, especially the osso bucco. They are open for lunch but you really need to see the sunset. The sun goes down fast so make sure you make a reservation for an hour or so before sunset so you don’t miss it!
The Dutch Pancake House – This may have been my guy’s favorite part of the trip. He is a huge fan of Dutch pancakes and this place has a huge selection of savory and sweet pancakes in all sorts of flavor combinations. He and Melinda’s husband wound up having breakfast and dessert there several times…I’m pretty sure they were on a first name basis with the waitress by the time we left!
Things to Do:
Alright so if you’re going to Aruba you’re going for a relaxing vacation spent on a beautiful beach, soaking up the sunshine, and reading a good book. I’m all for that! There are a few other things you should check out while you are there though. Aruba is only 19.6 miles from North to South and that means it is super easy to rent a car for the day and explore the island. You pretty much can’t get lost, and that’s coming from a girl who can get lost in her own neighborhood if she really tries. If you pick up the car first thing in the morning you can see everything and be home by dinner time. Aruba is a desert island so the scenery is so different from the tropical islands i’m used to and it is beautiful in its own rocky, cactus-y way.
If you go sight seeing here are a few stops we recommend.
California Lighthouse – We mentioned the California lighthouse earlier. If you are a fan of lighthouses, or if you just love a good view this is a must-see! Make sure you stop into the restaurant and grab a bite while you’re there you won’t be disappointed.
That’s it guys, that’s Aruba, one of my favorite places on Earth. Have I convinced you to try it out? Now I’m dreaming of warm sandy beaches and chocolate souffle…better start planning our next trip!