If you follow me on Instagram, you know we visited Aruba for the first time in late March. I received a few emails and DMs about our itinerary from friends planning on visiting the Happy Island this summer. I didn’t have time to journal during our visit so I’m typing this all from memory and if you, like me, journal after the fact, just take lots of pictures in the moment. Those 100s of pictures give you your own little diary and they’re almost better than words.
10 Reasons to Visit Aruba
- You can drink the water which means you can brush your teeth in the water and not with a bottle. Salad, fruits, and vegetables are totally safe, as well.
- Retailers accept USD everywhere and charge USD to your card so you don’t have to pay international fees.
- The island is virtually safe since they rely on tourism to support their economy.
- The water is calm enough to float in one spot all. day. long.
- The locals are super friendly, inviting, helpful, and kind.
- The sand is white and the water is clear, need I say more? Ok, I will.
- The flight is easy peasy from most American cities. Most of my friends didn’t have to deal with a layover.
- Since it’s so windy, when it rains, it rains only for a couple minutes and passes before you have time to reapply your sunscreen.
- If you’re not into sunbathing, there are other activities… snorkeling, visiting flamingos, dirt biking, ATV/dune buggy riding, Animal Garden.
- It’s hot but it doesn’t feel hot thanks to the trade winds.
Pssssssssss There’s a really fun, safe, party bus company that a friend’s aunt owns. If you want to see the island night life, I recommend reserving a couple seats on Aruba’s party bus, Kukoo Kunuku.
- Download movies on your phone or iPad just in case the plane doesn’t have screens.
- Bring extra batteries to charge your technology. Don’t forget chargers for those bad boys.
- Pack RUB IN sunscreen because it’s way too windy to spray it on.
- Bring a shirt with SPF to wear while eating lunch on the beach.
- Book restaurants ahead of time on OpenTable. Click here for Open Table Aruba. Research sunset times for best dining times on the beach.
- Don’t get a sunburn before your massage appointment.
- Book a hair washing appointment for when you’re halfway through the week. It will save you so much time.
- Worth spending $5 to rent a float for the day.
- Book your beach cabanas the DAY YOU ARRIVE. Book it immediately after the hotel gives you access to the booking portal.
Let’s dive in.
The Short Version.
Flight: American Airlines
Hotel: Marriott Stellaris
Breakfast – Apples & PB at home
Lunch – Zoe’s Kitchen in Flight (Ordered the Hummus Platter)
Dinner – Atardi, Scallops & Salmon (Best vibes, super romantic, great service, delicious food)
Breakfast – Muscle Milk and Fruit from the Hotel Starbucks
Lunch – Waves Beach Bar & Grill, Burger (not very good, order the Fish Tacos… YUM)
Dinner – Passion on the Beach (good service but food was just okay. Atardi’s food and vibes were much better.)
Breakfast – Brekkie Buffet at the La Vista Restaurant (I could’ve eaten that buffet for EVERY DANG MEAL. I was living the dream at breakfast… they seriously had everything you could dream of…….overnight oats to quinoa breakfast bowl to fresh smoothies to the best French Toast ever…….and had options that were Vegan and GF.)
Lunch – La Vista, Steak Salad (not so good, Greg’s fish sandwich was delish)
Dinner – Pelican Pier, Buffet (I recommend not doing the buffet)
(massages are real nice after a sunburn… oops)
Breakfast – Brekkie Buffet at the La Vista Restaurant
Lunch – Waves Beach Bar & Grill, Fish Tacos (very good)
Dinner – Ruth’s Chrisn (food was typical Ruth’s Chris)
Greg went out for drinks with the guys at MooMba Beach Bar.
Breakfast – Brekkie Buffet at the La Visa Restaurant
Lunch – Muscle Milk and Fruit Saved from Breakfast
Dinner – Private dinner at MooMba Beach Bar & Restaurant (food was good)
Danced through the night while the bar was reserved for our private party.
The Long Version.
We left Charlotte (and Hazel Reagan) and headed for Aruba. American Airlines serves Zoe’s now so it was a treat to have some familiar food on the plane. I recommend the charcuterie plate but would definitely avoid whatever they served on the way back, I believe it was some sort of BBQ chicken and potato and salad. Avoid it, folks. Trust me.
We enjoyed peanuts and Titos on the way there but unfortunately for many, there weren’t TVs by each seat. I *always* download movies and shows on my iPad prior to take off just because you never know… I’m a bit OCD (okay, maybe a lot) when I travel but we can touch on that in another post. I’m the girl who immediately [Clorox] wipes everything down when I take seat. Greg is a good man, y’all. He just goes with it.
As soon as we landed, we flew through customs since we were from the States, picked up our luggage, and fled to a taxi. The drive in to the resort was nothing spectacular but it was fun to see all the “American” restaurants, the cruise ships, and the bent palm trees (it’s windy 24/7). When we arrived at the Marriott, we were greeted with a delicious pineapple and mango juice and the biggest, warmest welcome. Vacation, alas!
We got settled in into our rooms, changed clothes, and went to dinner at Atardi. This is where it gets good. [Pro Tip: if you’d like to dine here (I promise you, it’s incredible), book weeks in advance on Open Table!! Look up the sunset on google and book just before the sun goes down. The restaurant gets booked well in advance.] Y’all, this was so unexpected. All of the tables were on the sand, the lights above were twinkling, and the ocean was just so peaceful. It was the most amazing dinner I had ever experienced (and then there was the honeymoon but I’m skipping ahead… we haven’t made it that far in the story yet).
After walking back to our rooms, it was lights out for me because I was sunbathing in the AM.
In the morning, I was greeted by the sunshine so I quickly lathered up in SPF and was out the door, totally forgetting suncreen for my face and chest. Bad decision because only a few hours later, I had the worst sunburn of my life and I usually tan. My dad says to this day, he is covered in freckles from the Aruba sun. Protect your skin before your travels by getting a spray tan. Don’t be shy with the sunscreen either… since it’s so windy, get the rub in kind.
We spent the day on the beach drinking fresh smoothies and watching the water full of sunbathers and water splashers <– not me. We asked the locals if the Marriott was always this busy and they said “not always”… most timeshare owners visit during March and the majority of them come from Boston or New York. The beach was sort of crowded but we were able to book a cabana the first day and the first day only… it was a bummer because I was so sunburnt the next day. Once you check into the Hotel, they give you access to an online portal to book cabanas.. it’s $30 a day and so worth it. We were disappointed we couldn’t rent one the rest of the week since people tend to book all day and not show up. They have a policy in which they give up spots if people don’t show up but it really wasn’t enforced. The cabanas made for cute pictures from different spots on the beach so I truly appreciated them!!
A couple into our stay, we tried the adult pool but I definitely would not recommend it. Our friends had a weird encounter at the adult pool with an older couple yelling at them about moving a chair from their “claimed” spot. (By 10am, all the spots are taken by towels reserving chairs at the adult pool but people truly don’t show up. It’s bizarre.) This couple continued to berate the young men working the pool like it was their fault a chair was moved out of the shade. It was so awkward and we left the situation. Our friends were brave enough to stay and just move their seats to accommodate the couple. We would not return for the rest of the trip. The fun is had at the “everybody” pool which includes DJs or bands throughout the week and a pretty snazzy swim up bar. Stick to the big pool, friends!!
We were lucky enough to try out a couple restaurants offsite for a few nights. Nothing was as wonderful as Atardi but Passion on the Beach was a close second for dinner. It was quiet and truly romantic. Our server was great and the views were gorgeous (I recommend booking a reservation just before sunset) but the food was rather boring. The rest of the restaurants were fine and Ruth’s Chris was Ruth’s Chris but I do have to say, the breakfast was my absolute favorite meal of the day. This girl loveeeeeesssss an all you can eat, stuff all you can fit in your purse, breakfast buffet. I would go back to this hotel JUST for the breakfast buffet.
The rest of the trip was as magical as ever. I enjoyed being on the beach with Greg and it was fun to rent floats with a girlfriend for the day. Float rentals are only $5/day and I could not recommend them more.
Oh! I almost forgot… in case you missed my Instagram stories…
A bird totally pooped right on my head at breakfast so I just HAD to get my hair washed at the Spa. They fit me in ASAP seeing that it was an “emergency” (I would hate to see what a real spa emergency might be) and Greg and I did a couple’s massage… he didn’t get his hair washed though.
Sorry for being so wordy today but hey! I gave you the option to read the short version.