The ABCs :: Aruba {Spotlight}

[trip style = sun + beach]

{Editor’s Note: After a short and sweet introduction a few weeks ago, this is the second post in a four-part series about the ABC islands. Today we’ll explore the Aruba’s curvy beaches and towering resorts, next week Bonaire’s sporty and petite demure and the following week, Curacao’s lush countryside and historic city centre.}

“Aruba, Jamaica, oooo I wanna take yah” - The Beach Boys

Even since Kokomo raced up the charts in 1988, I knew I had to visit Aruba. The Beach Boys said it was the epitome of tropical, right?

Aruba is a good intro to the tropics. White sand beaches, check; water sports, check; sand-in-your-toes dining, check; over-water bars; check. Checklist aside, it’s safe, you can drink the water and USD are accepted everywhere. Easy-breezy.

Think of it as a larger-scale and more commercialized Ka’anapali beckoning boat loads of cruise ship passengers and a heaping sand-full of Eastern Americans and Venezuelans resortists.

It’s not an odd occurrence to spot locals breaking out into song and dance for no apparent reason, or quoting the island’s tag line “One Happy Island” at every opportunity. It really is a happy place filled with 100,000+ residents who maintain the island's mojo with their spirit and heart. You can’t help but smile in response.

Stay First decide if you want high-rise or low-rise, high energy or anonymity. Palm Beach hosts multiplex resorts, US chain restaurants, hip beach bars and pier-side dining. Eagle Beach is less crowded with fewer mainland outposts. I stayed at two hotels on the bookends of Palm Beach, the multi-wing Marriott and the 70's-contemporary-casual Westin {see my review here}.

  • On a Pier: The Pelican Nest's service and cuisine are approchable with vintage scuba helmets and fishing nets hanging from the rafters above. Drink at Bugaloe Pier where surprisingly stiff mojitos are served at happy hour from 5-6pm.
  • On the Beach: Moomba Beach Bar & Restaurant is one of the best beach bars in the world according to CNN, or try Flying Fishbone just outside of town.
  • With Locals: The Aruban Chef serves up island fare like calco stoba {conch stew} and fresh fish!
  • Behind Palm Beach: The Italian-owned Amore Mio {no website} kneads, spins and bakes melt-in-your-mouth, thin-crust pizzas in a modern, lively setting.

Do Walk along the non-resort stretch of Palm Beach beside fishing huts, surfers and a shipwreck, learn to kiteboard at the Aruba Kitesurfing School or take in a game of beach tennis---one of the country’s most popular sports---behind Moomba bar!

Getting There Direct service from Toronto, Miami, NY and Boston will whisk you away. From Vancouver, get yourself to one of these depature points to start humming Kokomo.

Related Roam+Board :: Sorobon Beach Resort {Bonaire} Roam+Board :: Kura Hulanda {Curacao} ABCs {An Intro} Jetset Jingles :: The Caribbean

[photos by @tripstyler, taken in Aruba last week!]