Aruba

In Destinations, North America by LA Travel Magazine

The island of Aruba sits just 15 miles north of the coast of Venezuela and is home to some of the friendliest islanders in the Caribbean. This flat island is renowned for its white sandy beaches and tropical desert climate moderated by constant trade winds coming off the Atlantic Ocean. Venture away from the resort areas and you’ll find that Aruba has more to offer than the average island. At the island’s extreme ends are rugged, windswept vistas and uncrowded beaches. Divided into parts the south west hosts the white sand beaches and turquoise waters while the north east coast, exposed to the Atlantic, has desert cacti, rough seas with treacherous currents and a rocky coastline.  Arikok National Wildlife Park is an landscape of cacti, twisted divi-divi trees and the occasional wandering goat. Here, you will find the QuadirikiriFontein, and Huliba Caves. The Quadirikiri Cave is known for the holes in its roof that allow natural light to stream into its chambers. The Fontein Cave is marked by stalagmites and stalactites and Arawak Indian wall drawings; and the dark, 300-foot-long Huliba Cave is also known as the Tunnel of Love cave because of its heart-shaped entrance.

Also in this area is the Rock Wish Garden, where people come to build their own towers of rocks in the hopes of having wishes granted.  Of course we each added our own wishing rock statue hoping that our wishes would be granted as well.

Sleep

Tradewinds Club at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is an intimate hotel within a hotel, a collection of 49 deluxe rooms that deliver the finest in Aruba luxury.  Once you arrive you are whisked away to an exclusive private check-in area. Offering panoramic ocean views, a private lounge with complimentary refreshments, and a host of elite privileges this is the best place to stay. There is even an exclusive beach reserved for Tradewinds Club guests plus an adult’s only pool called H2Oasis complete with a poolside bar and luxurious cabanas. The Club Lounge on the 8th floor of this incomparable Aruba resort is exclusive to enjoy and offers gourmet food and beverage selections throughout the day. Feel free to take advantage of their clothes pressing services, as well as other exclusive amenities and privileges.

Eat

The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino offers a total of 5 different dining options on property. Breakfast and Lunch is served daily in La Vista Restaurant and at night you’ll find Italian flavored dinner specialties here. Waves Bar & Grill and the Pool Bar serves light fare for lunch. An upscale dining experience is within reach at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, located in the North Tower of the Resort and in the Lobby you will find delicious Sushi and Sashimi at Ketsu Sushi Bar.

Listed as one of Trip Advisor’s Top 10 Must Dine at Restaurants in Aruba, we had to try the resorts signature restaurant Simply Fish. We checke our shoes at the host stand and dug our toes into the sand; Simply Fish is a genuinely unique Aruba dining experience.  During the day you would never know it existed but as the afternoon comes to an end staff members start setting up this magical dining experience right on the beach.  Try and make your reservation before the sun sets as it is a viewing party you don’t want to miss. Live music, palm trees swaying and white sand creates a relaxing and romantic setting.

Although the chefs at Simply Fish do an amazing job of catering to the tastes of meat-lovers, their line is undeniably fresh seafood dishes. We started with the Salt & Pepper Crisp Calamari followed by Filet Mignon and Macadamia Crust Grouper for our mains.  To accompany our entrees we chose the Coconut Rice and Fried Plantains to give it that Caribbean flare.  Every morsel was cooked to perfection and our server was professional yet entertaining even offering to snap a picture of us which he sent to me via email later in the evening.  Talk about going above and beyond.

Play

Beach Tennis-What is Beach Tennis you ask?  Take the fun and fast-paced sport of tennis, combine it with a beach volleyball court, the sun, sea and sand of the beach and you have Beach Tennis. How had we never heard of this before?

Beach Tennis merges the worlds of Tennis and Beach Volleyball into one sport. It can be played both competitively and recreationally and because it’s so simple to play, it appeals to athletes and non-athletes of all ages. It literally took us twenty minutes to learn and right away we were playing on a very high level (or at least in our minds we were). Beach Tennis was first played in Ravenna, Italy.  In the beginning the Italians played it with a tambourine.  After World War II the practice of playing the game with a bat like paddle or flat wooden paddle began. The sport was introduced to Italian tourists starting in the early 80’s and by 2003; it had spread throughout the world.

Paddleboard Yoga -If you’re a Yogi that loves the water then this is the sport for you! Take your Yoga to a new level and find harmony with one of the Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga classes offered at the Aruba Marriott. This 90-minute class is taught by certified SUP yoga instructor Swedish native Rachel Brathen who has been practicing yoga since she was a young teen.

We started with a brief introduction to paddle boarding, then our group was led to a spot in the water where there was an anchor waiting for us. We soon realized there is no better way to find balance in your life than by practicing Yoga on the water. You’ll work your core, arms, and legs, and improve balance all while taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the ocean.

After a while, I was able to stand up — toes digging into the board, body tense, shoulders hugged up into my ears, white knuckles clamped together — the tiniest two-inch waves would have knocked me off of my board if our instructor didn’t repeatedly remind us to relax, bend our knees, breathe, and enjoy being on the water. So I lifted up my toes and spread them out nice, fluffy, and wide, focused on my breath, let the tension out of my body, and realized that this was either going to be a lot of fun if I just went with the movement of the water and became one with the elements, or I was going to end up in the water if I tried to fight it and stay tense the entire lesson. I chose the former, and I only fell off once.

Playing around with yoga poses on a stand-up paddleboard adds even more fun to the mix. Downward Facing Dog becomes a whole new challenge, as different muscles in your body engage and relax based on the wind direction. Balancing and inversions are incredibly challenging, but fun and generally lead to laughter as one by one each of us took our turn falling into the water, which was more than welcome on such a hot day!

Island Jeep Tour– Take the back roads of Aruba and explore its historic sights on an island Jeep tour. Stops include the Natural Pool for an amazing snorkeling experience, the California lighthouse and the Natural Bridge. A Jeep tour is a must-do while visiting Aruba!

De Palm Island-Whether you are a family looking for a day of fun and adventure together or a couple seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of Oranjestad for some relaxation and pampering, this island offers something for everyone!

What’s included: All you can eat buffet (featuring local and Caribbean fare) and snacks from the grill plus open bar (soft drinks, premium beer and cocktails), use of beaches and palapas, snorkeling, snorkeling equipment and guided snorkeling tours, banana boat rides, use of the Blue Parrot water park, salsa classes and activities such as beach volleyball or table tennis.

H2Oasis-Book a cabana at the H2Oasis adult exclusive outdoor pool complete with a 10,000 square foot terrace featuring ipads, a fabulous cocktail menu, happy “hours” and a fully stocked bar with premium libations.