The preparations you put into a trip influence how well you can execute your plans and how much time you will have to enjoy yourself once you get there. For those of you that follow our travels, you know that we tend to gravitate towards ease: Easy flights that get us to our destination fast, all-inclusive plans that make it simple to enjoy ourselves, and Caribbean islands that exude a laid-back lifestyle that helps us feel relaxed.
This trip was not as easy to navigate. After our last-minute trip to the USVI (which ended up being one of our top beach vacations), it sparked an interest in me to stretch our travels and see new things. Aruba’s tagline is “one happy island” and we were happy as clams to have our chance to see the Southern Caribbean Island. Read on for our travel tips and save yourself some time by following our guide before visiting this beautiful island.
Getting to Aruba
We were coming right off of Giana‘s birthday, and a busy softball tournament season so we were pressed to squeeze in a family trip on one of our only open weeks. It was Gigi’s turn to have a birthday party, we allow our kids to have a celebration on alternate years. While I consider myself to be a very thorough planner, I was jumping into this trip a bit more lax as I had spent my time and energy making my eldest 12th birthday a fun tween bash.
Aruba is an expensive trip. The peak season spans from May to October and the weather is ideal. Low 80s with minimal rain and a tropical breeze that makes for sunny days that aren’t sweltering. Tourism is a top economic generator for them, and they cater and develop to tourism. The island displays less poverty than the 3rd world countries we have visited previously. They provide a safe place to visit and offer all of the travel amenities we all hope for when we are picking a vacation destination.
Highly acclaimed activities:
Many of the experiences we have boiled down to the connections we make along the way. When I pick a destination, I look for a place where I can connect. I need to connect to my inner thoughts as I give my mind and body a break from the day-to-day. We love to connect with the natives and dig into what their culture has to offer and how they view the world through a totally different lens. When you ask the right questions and show a general interest in their practices, they are more than willing to share with you the best places to eat and the points of interest you can’t leave the island without visiting.
A vacation is a vacation, and a trip is just a trip but the value of traveling for me is the space and opportunity I get to focus my attention on my husband and my kids. When I saw Samiah’s photography I was immediately drawn to her visual artistry and her versatility. The way she frames emotions had me intrigued. I was looking for more than posed beach pics, I wanted someone to capture candid moments of our family vacationing and I found so much more by reaching out to Samiah and CONNECTING.
I love my family passionately, these years that we have together are vital to me. I realize that girls will be out of the house in a matter of years because time is moving too rapidly. When we can carve out time to relax and unwind as a family, I want everything to go seamlessly.
I made a few dinner reservations prior to our departure basing my selections primarily on traveler’s reviews and a few tips from friends who have been. I booked Samiah for a photo shoot and then I inquired with her about advice on taking a boat cruise to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. I discovered that Samiah not only takes amazing pictures, but she could help us with other aspects of our trip, as she is a part of a collaborative group that can assist with all aspects of an Aruba visit. We took out the Midnight Sun through Terra Escapes and ordered the most sensational fruit basket from their personal chef. Our private yacht ride at sunset was by far the highlight of our trip. I only wish we had taken more advantage of their concierge services.
“We provide visitors of Aruba with a contemporary-style concierge service, infused with local knowledge and tailored to your utmost desires. We are a team of young Aruban entrepreneurs who are passionate about shaking up the usual, especially when it comes to Aruban tourism. We are experts at creating memorable and unusual experiences – and we think this is exactly how Aruba should be experienced!
We are entirely dedicated to supporting locally owned companies and giving visitors an authentic connection with the heart of Aruba. We specialize in crafting Aruban adventures that no one else could. In collaboration with your wants and needs, we will provide you with an itinerary that will be crafted to exceed your wildest expectations.”
Aruba is a small island only 6 miles wide and although the island isn’t vast in size there are several one-of-a-kind points of interest that you don’t want to miss. I could have used three more days to see and do a couple more things. The island is laid out in a way that you must consider transportation. We took taxis for part of our trip and rented a car for the second half. My sister-in-law suggested we take the full island tour, early on in our trip. She has given me so many helpful tips, I scheduled it.
The tour was 6 hours, which was longer than we anticipated but also totally worth it. It helped us to decide where we wanted to double back to on the duration of our time there Viator.com.
The rock formations in front of the clear blue ocean with the waves crashing in made for such a vivid scene at the Casibari Rock Formations. The sea on the coastline on the northeast part of the island after you pass the California lighthouse is not safe to swim in, but man it is one of the most magnificent views I’ve ever witnessed. We learned about the factory that produces aloe and we fell in love with the man-made lagoon at baby beach.
I love a good animal encounter and I tried to avoid artificial commercial interpretations of the wild but when the Renaissance owns an island with Flamingos and it was hard to resist. Tickets are limited but we got an insider tip from Terra Escapes. If you book a massage performed in a hut on the island you get an automatic in. I booked a couples massage and added our kids. The receptionist at check-in said she had no notes in the system about our kids. A stressful start to something that was meant to be relaxing but eventually we handled it.
FYI children are only allowed on the adult side, where the flamingos chill between 9 and 10 AM and after 5 PM. We got there around 11ish, so we were going to wait it out for the flamingo experience.
Lucky for us the flamingos aren’t concerned with restrictive wrist bands. They took a gander over to the family-friendly side around just past 3 PM. Perhaps the reason they put the flamingos in the adult’s section, is because they are WILD and will take a nibble of your kid’s hands.
Another thing we noticed was the unified front that Aruba has to achieve sustainability, the eco-friendly efforts were widespread. We were not served plastic cups or dinnerware at any location. Bamboo strays and paper bags were used exclusively. You can read more about Aruba’s initiative to provide a green and clean approach to tourism here:
“The pursuit of happiness and wellbeing is the cornerstone of Aruba’s approach. Ultimately, we hope to be the model for a low-carbon, sustainable and prosperous economy that can be replicated in other island nations.”
Laufty Aruba Recommendations:
Concierge: Terra Escapes
Photography: Samiah Sarid Photography
Lodging: We split our stay between the Divi Village Golf and Beach Resort and a VRBO property called Casa Mia.
We opted for a King Balcony Suite with Queen Pullout at the Divi Village Golf and Beach Resort. Our room was right across from Sea Breeze Restaurant. The property has a golf course and an infinity pool with a kid’s slide. There is a free shuttle service around the properties although we didn’t really use the other resort access. We had plenty of space to spread out and we had a delicious lunch at Mulligans Clubhouse. Everyone loved their meals. Most of our entertainment came from watching the iguanas that were taking over the place.
Casa Mia had a cool lanai area, a built-in outdoor BBQ, and a small pool with a fountain. We enjoyed eating dinner and had a big breakfast on the large wooden table out in that backyard area. It is fenced-in, so you feel like you have your own private oasis. The girls didn’t have to wait on us to get ready to go to the pool, they could just jump in. The beds were extremely comfortable, and the kitchen was well stocked. The home is in a residential area across the highway from palm beach hotels and a strip of restaurants, shopping, and bars. My only suggestion was to provide oil or butter for cooking and more toilet paper.
Property ID: 7421858ha
- Dinner menus that are riveting
- Tropical drinks that knock you off your feet
The first night we ate at the west dock. It was a very cool beach hut atmosphere. The girls loved climbing onto the huge beach chair, and we ate our way through two dozen coconut shrimp.
My family is obsessed with king crab legs and while fish is on most menus, there were only a few restaurants I could find with crab legs on them. The aqua grill was one of the best dinners we had but I’m sure James wasn’t thrilled to pay the bill.
We were greeted with a glass of champagne and ate dinner with our feet in the sand at Passions on the beach.
Daniels Steak and Chop was right in the mix of everything. The décor is very contemporary. Parking was limited but the food was good here.
Kalin’s Mexican Cuisine Are you a fan of margaritas? Who isn’t? We had a fun night at Kalin’s with the passing of sombrero hat, and the swing at the entrance but then they came around poured a shot down the hatch, and shook our noggins. Check out our Tik Tok of our fiesta: