If happiness were a place, I suspect it would look something like Aruba. With brightly coloured buildings, warm and inviting local people and astonishingly beautiful beaches, my smile never left my face while I lapped it all up on a recent girl’s trip. From the earliest colours of dazzling sunrises to the joyful beats of the late-night bars, Aruba was pure joy.
How to get to Aruba
To get to Aruba, I flew with my fellow blogger friend Suze from Luxury Columnist with KLM from London to Amsterdam (a mere 45 minutes) before boarding a 10-hour plane ride from Amsterdam to the island. While it was a long journey, I took the time to catch up on some reading and watching – and it passed pretty quickly.
Stepping off the plane, we had our first taste of warm Aruban hospitality with the gracious welcome from the Aruba Tourism Board. Unfortunately, we soon learned my luggage had not arrived from Amsterdam – but even this couldn’t dampen my spirits as I stared out at the beautiful houses.
After a quick stop to pick up some new clothes, we made our way to the Hilton hotel and checked in. It was then time for dinner at the Sunset Grill, which overlooked the beach. It was my first glimpse of an Aruban sunset, and I was amazed by the kaleidoscope of colours.
My food soon arrived – I chose snapper accompanied by tomatoes, herbs, peppers, creole source and fried plantains (a Caribbean staple). It was utterly delicious, although, by the end of the meal, I was well and truly ready to sleep off my jetlag and get ready for day two.
On the second day, I awoke after a relaxing night’s sleep, and after a delicious breakfast at the hotel, it was time for a jeep tour of the island with De Palm Tours.
This was such a fun way to see Aruba, and I loved charging around the island in the jeep. We also managed to fit a lot into our day and saw the following attractions.
Aruba’s Natural Pool
Sparkling Aruba’s Natural Pool may be something you’ve admired on Instagram – and it’s even better in real life. There are a few long flights of stairs to get you to the pool, but it’s well worth it to enjoy the glistening water.
Baby Natural Bridge
Our next stop was at the Baby Natural Bridge, a natural rock formation created from thousands of years of movement of the sea. It is a fantastic photo spot, and we also enjoyed a local Aruban snack called Pastechi while we were there.
For a different attraction in Aruba, our next quick stop was at Bushiribana. The historic gold mines are evidence of a time in Aruba (around the 15th century) where people from all over the world flocked to the island to try to strike it rich with gold.
Alto Vista Chapel
This picturesque little Church was my favourite stop on our whirlwind tour. The Chapel was so pretty and cute, while it was also fascinating to hear the history of how Christianity arrived in Aruba.
My first glance of the beautiful lighthouse was as we drove past. However, I was thrilled to return later and take some pictures. It was built more than a century ago in the aftermath of a tragic shipwreck and is today one of Aruba’s most beautiful attractions.
After the tour, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Garden Fresh, a scrumptious café with lots of healthy options that I enjoyed. After we recharged with some delicious healthy food, it was off to try to Stand Up Paddleboarding yoga with Vela.
Honestly, at first, I was intrigued but a tad apprehensive – however, it ended up being great fun. Our instructor, was incredibly patient and made it very enjoyable. Just one tip: I recommend doing the SUP yoga in the morning before the sun gets too hot.
After such a big day, I was glad to have a bit of a sleep-in on the third day. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we relaxed for a while before heading over for a scrumptious brunch at Tierra Del Sol. This incredible restaurant boasts an amazing view over the golf course, as well as a sumptuous 5-course brunch menu. It was undoubtedly one of the best brunches I’ve ever had!
Continuing our relaxing theme, the next activity on our list was an indulgent spa treatment at the hotel. We were treated to an incredibly relaxing massage treatment at the Hilton’s Eforea Spa, and I could feel all of the tension and knots leaving my body.
Following the fantastic massage, we had some more time for relaxing before heading to the MooMba Beach Bar for dinner. The atmosphere was terrific, with tables laid out on the sand and a DJ that played some fabulous tunes. Add in an amazing sunset and a delicious chicken pincho (chicken with onion, bell peppers, mushrooms and homemade BBQ sauce), and it was pretty much heaven.
Day four presented another opportunity to sample some of the delicious healthy options available on Aruba. This time we enjoyed a fabulous breakfast at Craft, where I had a scrumptious smoothie bowl.
After the smoothie, it was time to head on to another day of exploring, which began in downtown Oranjestad with a streetcar ride of the town. I was so excited to take a closer look at the beautiful coloured houses I’d seen on the drive to the resort, as well as drop by the Renaissance Mall. The old fashioned streetcar was a charming way to see the sights.
Following our tour, we headed onto Bucuti and Tara resort – the perfect next stop for our luxurious girlie getaway. With yet another warm welcome, we found ourselves checked into the glamorous resort.
We both stayed in Garden Bungalows, which were modern and spacious with neutral décor throughout. I loved the luxurious king-sized bed, as well as the cosy patio, which was the perfect place to sip a coffee and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere.
For lunch, we enjoyed a delicious light lunch at Pelican Nest, a well-loved restaurant in Aruba with great views. Its reputation is well deserved – I had the shrimp, and it was gorgeous.
After lunch, we were lucky enough to be whisked off by Pelican Adventures to enjoy an amazing snorkelling trip complete with an open bar and snacks. Although I was a bit hesitant about deep water snorkelling at first, under the watchful eye of the crew, I soon found myself loving the adventure. We visited a shipwreck and a reef, both of which were teeming with fantastic sea life.
The perfect end to the amazing day was a meal at the Screaming Eagle. This beautiful restaurant has been voted #1 in the Caribbean, and the amazing ambience and food certainly did not disappoint. It was an excellent way to finish our day.
Our fifth day in Aruba began in style, with a delicious beachfront breakfast to start our morning. From there, we headed to San Nicolas to take in the beautiful Art Fair Murals.
For our tour, we had a fantastic older guide who was brimming with local stories and secrets. He made our trip so enjoyable, and I was amazed to hear more about how the local community had regenerated the area through commissioning the artworks. Plus, they were so beautiful and very photogenic!
For lunch, we stopped in at Zeerovers, a charming little local favourite nestled up by the water. It’s always packed with locals and visitors, and it’s no surprise – the fresh shrimp was absolutely heavenly.
In the afternoon, we visited the Aruba Aloe Museum Factory to learn more about the products and industry. It was a fascinating tour, and I especially loved my aloe vera goodie bag which featured several gorgeous aloe vera gel products.
To see off yet another day in paradise, we dined at Passions on the Beach, in full view of the dazzling water and – of course – the stunning sunset. The fun music and amazing seafood, including grouper and lobster, as well as local favourite mahi mahi, made the experience even more incredible.
Before I knew it, our girls’ trip to Aruba was drawing to a close. Although I wasn’t quite ready to leave the dazzling beaches and epic sunsets, I’d made the most incredible memories. I reflected on these as we enjoyed a relaxed morning and then a final delicious meal at the West Deck, which served up an amazing selection of seafood on their breezy beachfront deck.
Finally, it was off to the airport to return to London.
It was indeed an incredible trip from the first warm welcome we received until we left Aruba’s beautiful shores. Not only was it an incredibly beautiful island, but the joyful atmosphere and friendly local people made it even more special. As I watched the island become a speck out of the plane window, I knew I’d be back one day.