Aruba: One Happy Island

Endowed with an all year round warm, hurricane-free weather with average temperature in the 80s, any time of the year is always a perfect time to visit Aruba and laze around its stunning beaches.  The island, which is one of the three Dutch Caribbean islands together with Curacao and Bonaire, has a tagline “One Happy Island“. Yes, everywhere you go you can feel the happy vibe in one of the most celebrated tropical islands in the world.

DSC_0620 However, its geographical location positions it far from the U.S. mainland. Compared with Bermuda, for example, which we frequently visit because it is just less than two hours flight from New York’s JFK and Boston’s Logan airports, Aruba is almost a five-hour flight from those two airports. Still we decided to visit Aruba for the first time as we would be using our timeshare points and the airfares going there from Boston were at an all-time low ($110 or 11,000 miles plus tax, one-way on Delta Airlines). Coming back to the U.S. from Aruba, the fare is always ridiculously higher.



20180818_180551At Aruba’s tiny airport our arrival experience was indeed a very happy one: short immigration lines and efficient officers. The line to get pass through customs was a bit long though but was fast moving.  Just across the street from the arrival area were the rental car companies where we got our car and drove away to our resort.


Baby Beach, Aruba’s Gem

Before we get drowned in the many happy details of our Aruba experience, I will start with our best experience in Aruba, the remote Baby Beach in a little town called San Nicolas, a 30-minute drive south from Aruba’s capital city of Oranjestad.

20181214_200354After passing by the pastel-colored houses of San Nicolas……



img_8809….and an eerie, large swath of land filled with cactus,…..



img_8813….we finally reached the entrance to the stunning Baby Beach.



20180821_090337It was still mid-morning so the beach was almost empty and the views were gorgeous and relaxing.




DSC_0611There were only less than five people in and around the beach excluding workers of the only establishment there.



DSC_0583The early morning drive was worth the effort to reach a beach that was almost to ourselves.



DSC_0587Before we dipped in the shallow and calm turquoise waters, we took some time to have family snapshots.



DSC_0584Our best Aruba experience: the secluded and beautiful Baby Beach.



LRM_EXPORT_20180822_111610Shown here is the One Happy Island sign on the beach right next to the only restaurant in the area that also houses locker rooms and bathrooms.



DSC_0597Then it was time to spend some moments in the immaculate beach.



DSC_0594This is the northern view taken from the center of the beach.



DSC_0599This is the southern side of the beach that leads to one end of the rocky wall protecting the shore from the big waves of the Caribbean Sea.



DSC_0608The stretch of a wall or rocks is the main reason why the beach is so calm and the waves almost non-existing that makes the place perfect for toddlers and babies, thus the name Baby Beach.



DSC_0606This is certainly one of the best beaches we have been to.




DSC_0613Wildlife abounds in the beach area too.



DSC_0618And I could not wait to lie down on the beach too!



DSC_0615As we were leaving the area, covered beach chairs (the colored ones above) have started to be setup along the shore. Since the beach shore faces west, it is also an excellent place to watch sunset if driving back to Oranjestad in the evening is not an issue.



Holiday Inn Resort in Palm Beach

20180819_072823For most of our days in Aruba we based ourselves in the massive Holiday Inn Resort in Palm Beach area. It is one of the resorts in Aruba where we could utilize our timeshare points.  There is always quite a long check-in line anytime of the day in this resort but because of our status with the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) we were able to use a priority lane, thank God! We were given a room with partial sea view as shown above.



DSC_0496A few steps from the resort lobby is the beach dotted with hundreds of palm trees, thus the name Palm Beach.



DSC_0497Again, our IHG status gave us the benefit to reserve a beach hut solely for our own use during our entire stay that nobody else could use.  So we chose one that was directly in front of the beach.



20180820_092959It is an advantage to be at the beach early in the morning between 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. as the beach is not very crowded yet.



DSC_0503 2Some are still doing the morning beach walk.




20180820_082838Early in the morning kids can already start enjoying the beach’s calm and clear waters…..



DSC_0511….and the white powdery sand on the beach.



DSC_0505 2One can also do the early morning dip.



DSC_0524It is truly rewarding to be at the beach early.




DSC_0521 2It is also a perfect time to just sit back and relax on the beach enjoying the views and the morning breeze……


DSC_0514….and spend some time with family.



DSC_0527Retreating from the beachfront and venturing farther to the middle of the resort we found a beautiful scenery.



DSC_0532 2The resort’s main pool area with the swaying palm trees rising high up to the blue, spotless sky!



DSC_0547This is the center of Palm Beach!


20180820_090150My daughters enjoyed the kids’ pool.



Sunset in Palm Beach

DSC_0446With our dedicated beach front hut we were always ensured of stunning sunsets as long as we’re staying in the resort.



DSC_0442 2Sunsets in Palm Beach are to die for.





DSC_0444With the resort beach directly facing west, we have the sun setting in front of us as we lounged on the resort’s beach chairs or be simply on the beach.



DSC_0456My wife and two daughters at sunset.



20180818_190520Just a random couple on the beach during sunset.



DSC_0467Here are some of the few sunset shots I took.




DSC_0469There are some tours offering sunset cruises.



20180818_190605The sun vanishing halfway through the horizon.




DSC_0473 copyAnd another happy day has just ended in Aruba.



DSC_0495 3The resort turned on its magical evening spell as the sun set on the horizon.



Around Palm Beach Area

DSC_0537The Palm Beach area is the most touristy of all the Aruba beach areas.



DSC_0539It has lots of shopping malls…..



DSC_0536…and souvenir shops…..



DSC_0535….restaurants, convenience stores and many more. Knowing the area, we tried to avoid it unless necessary to refrain from paying prices higher than anywhere else. We just drove 5-10 mins away from the area if we wanted cheaper groceries and other stuff.




Arashi Beach

DSC_0544Arashi Beach is also another great place to watch the sunset.  We drove around 10 minutes from Palm Beach to Arashi Beach.




DSC_0542Arashi Beach is actually a public beach mostly frequented by locals.  Beach huts and chairs are available for use on a first come, first serve basis.



DSC_0543It is only a short stretch of beach but it gets pretty crowded especially in the afternoon going into sunset.



DSC_0545Before sunset, one can actually visit the California Lighthouse a few minutes drive up a hill near Arashi Beach.  One can also watch sunset from the lighthouse area. We ran out of time and we decided to stay on the beach for the sunset.



Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort

20180820_210818On our last days in Aruba we moved to Divi Village Golf and Beach Resort, one of the few resorts where we can use our timeshare points at very shockingly low rates. We vowed to be back at any Divi Resorts using our timeshare points after the experience.



20180820_210511I booked a studio unit.



20180820_194908It has one queen size bed and another queen size pull-out sofa just enough for my wife and me and our two daughters.



20180820_194720It was a very nice place for a few days stay near the beach.



20180820_210454The resort offered unlimited punch rum as welcome drinks redeemable everywhere there is a bar or a restaurant.




IMG-364eb0a07a73d8430fc0c0674bc95d64-VThe best thing for us was the fully-equipped kitchen that we heavily utilized during our stay as the package I took was not an all-inclusive one as I wanted to cook our own food.



20181214_200151The resort is actually huge and shown above is just one of the pool areas near our unit which was also walking distance from the resort lobby.



Sunset at Divi Beach

DSC_0576Just a few minutes walk from the resort across the street is Divi Beach (and farther to the right is Eagle Beach).



DSC_0549The sunsets there were amazing too but still the ones we experienced in Palm Beach were the best for us.



DSC_0552The area is not crowded during sunset.



DSC_0560Nevertheless, it is still a beautiful and relaxing place for the family to watch sunset.



DSC_0565My daughters loved the place too!



DSC_0566Indeed all of Aruba’s stretch of white sand beaches are all facing west so whatever beach you are in you’ll surely experience a unique sunset.



Our Food Experience in Aruba

20180820_174838The food experience in Aruba is not something we begged for more but the best thing that got my discriminating palate’s attention was the Aruba-made ginger extra hot sauce we had inside Super Food.




20180820_164204Speaking of Super Food, it is a huge supermarket in Oranjestad just a few minutes drive from Divi Village.



20180820_164319Since we decided to cook our food on our last days when we were in Divi Village, we came here to buy  something we could cook.


20180820_204455One of them is the marinated pork belly that tasted so good.



20180915_150305On one occasion when we were not munching on KFC or McDonald’s we tried a restaurant inside Holiday Inn Resort called Sea Breeze.



20180915_150403They were offering a reasonably-priced steak + lobster combo for dinner that sounded so irresistible.



20180915_150332We also had the fried fish topped with fried plantains.



20180819_201729The best Aruban-Caribbean bouillabaisse experience we ever had was probably this magnificent broth chock-full with fresh seafood in Sea Breeze.




img_8785Aruba’s beaches rank among the best in the world, no doubt about that.  The place has tropical weather all year round with no dangers of hurricanes. Its people, fluent in English, Spanish and Dutch, are very friendly and exude a lot of happiness. There is no reason why one cannot fall in love with Aruba.



DSC_0621Aruba’s capital city of Oranjestad is also an attraction.  However, traffic is not the best in the city center especially on those one-lane areas. Parking is a big headache too if you are not familiar with the city’s layout.  We even had difficulty finding a parking area to take the above shot at the Ike Cohen Monument, dedicated to all those who contributed to the development of the tourism and hospitality industry in the island. We parked farther from the monument and my wife and I alternated going to the site as our daughters slept in the car.

Despite the cons I have listed above, we vowed to visit the place at least once every two years. Aruba is one of the more interesting islands in the whole of the Caribbean.


1 Response to “Aruba: One Happy Island”

  1. May 8, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    Aruba sounds amazing! We are planning to visit this lovely Caribbean island next year. Cannot wait!

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