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Aruba Mini Guide: What to Do and Where to Stay

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

The sunniest island in the Caribbean, Aruba, makes for an excellent vacation anytime throughout the year! Here's a few things to know before planning your trip.

This post is sponsored by Boardwalk Hotel Aruba, but all opinions and thoughts are my own


For those of you that are new.. welcome to my blog! My name is Savanna Crowell and I'm a wanderer who loves to share travel tips and insights on my favorite destinations. If you are interested in knowing more about my background, travels, (or anything!) check out the 'About Me' section of my website. And don't forget to follow me on Instagram @slc_travels to join me on my journeys!

 

About Aruba

Aruba is a Dutch-Caribbean island located 654 km off the coast of Venezuela. They speak 4 languages on the island, their native language Papiamento, Spanish, Dutch, and English. If you are an English speaker, you will have no problems getting around. It is one of the ABC islands in the southern Caribbean (along with Bonaire and Curaçao).


Aruba has its own currency called the Aruban florin, but dollars are also widely accepted on the island. The exchange rate for the US dollar range from Awg 1.75 to Awg 1.80 for one US dollar. Tipping is not obligatory, but is at the discretion of the visitor. However, some restaurant and bars add a service charge to your bill. When included, the service charge on food and beverage is normally around 10 to 15 percent. At one's own discretion an extra amount can be added for good service.


Aruba is considered one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean and in general is very safe at any time of the day or night. However incidents may happen and it is recommended to use common sense and not provide any temptation by leaving valuables unattended or clearly visible on the beach or in your rental car.


Aruba's low season is between April-mid December. I recommend visiting during this time, because high season can become very crowded and much more expensive. Aruba has an average annual temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius). Constant trade winds make it more comfortable during the day. However these trade winds tend to diminish slightly during the months September through December. In terms of rainfall, October through January tend to be the wettest months.


 

11 Must See Places

Here's a few must see places around the island (broken up into parts of the island).


Northern
1. Westpunt Beach

A hidden gem beach near the California Lighthouse. Westpunt Beach is on the furthest northern tip of Aruba and it is a great location to photograph. To reach it, you will drive north on L.G. Smith Blvd. until just before it makes a hard right towards the California Lighthouse. You will see a stone wall to your left leading towards a dirt road. take the left immediately AFTER the stonewall. The road is bumpy and full of potholes but any rental car here will be fine, just take it easy. The road wraps around next to the coast and the first of the two main features is Westpunt Boca.


2. California Lighthouse

Located near the California Sand Dunes, it's hard to miss this attraction! One of Aruba's most famous landmarks, the California lighthouse is known for its spectacular views of the island. It's now open to the public to climb up to the highest look out point and enjoy panoramic 360 views of Aruba's most northern point.


3. California Sand Dunes

Just inland from the dirt road around the northern tip of Aruba near the Westpunt dirt road are the Arashi Dunes. You can explore them from the dirt road, or you may park up near the California Lighthouse which dead ends at the end of L.G. Smith Blvd.



Eastern
1. Natural Bridge

One of the most iconic landmarks in Aruba. Pounding waves and strong winds have slowly chiseled away the limestone cliffs here. It's free to visit and there are many tours that go here, but it's also super easy to visit via rental car!


2. Conchi Natural Pool

The location of the Pool is surrounded by some of Aruba's most rugged terrain, so a visitor truly gets the feeling of having "discovered" something when they reach the site, by either foot, horseback or 4x4 vehicle. Because of the nature of the environment in this secluded area, the site is inaccessible by a regular car. Inexperienced drivers are encouraged to visit the pool on a Jeep Safari.



Southern
1. Baby Beach

Famous beach in Aruba, close to San Nicolas, this gorgeous half-moon sandy expanse in a calm lagoon is ideal for families with small kids. This beach is perfect for snorkelers and divers also! Sea turtles are often found in this area, but be careful to not go too far out because the currents can get strong.



Western
1. Mangel Halto

This secluded, local spot is located about 10 minutes south of the Oranjestad airport. This is a perfect snorkeling spot in Aruba with calm, shallow waters rich in sea life supported by an intriguing network of mangroves. It's also a very quiet beach, and the public beach huts and shaded areas are also perfect for a beach picnic or to watch Aruba's sunset.


2. Palm Beach

Palm Beach is dotted by palm trees, hotels, casinos, water sports concessions, piers, beach bars, restaurants and shops. Calm waters make this beach a comfortable haven for swimmers and snorkelers. This is a very popular resort spot with a lot of the resorts and hotels lining the beach here.


3. Tres Trapi Steps

Once you find the tres trapi steps just east of Boca Catalina beach you will happy you did! The water here is so beautiful and is a perfect snorkelling spot. Turtles are straight a head and you can find starfish to the left. Water is a bit deeper once you get out from the little entry beach at the steps, but can walk beside the iron shore before you swim out so don’t have to swim far out really, just float around.


4. Boca Catalina Beach

The crystal clear and calm waters make this local gem the perfect location for a private swim and snorkeling in Aruba. Boca Catalina in Aruba is a small, secluded bay in the Malmok Beach area right next to the Tres Trapi Steps. The white sandy beach is accessible by steps from a spacious parking area alongside the road.


5. Eagle Beach/ Divi Tree

Boasting the widest beach in Aruba and famous for its pristine and soft white sands, Eagle Beach offers beautiful Caribbean ocean views, ample parking, shaded areas, some beach huts, and a variety of water sports. According to Aruba Tourism, it was ranked as the #3 beach in the Caribbean!




 

Where to Stay

Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba

This is the ultimate stay in Aruba! We spent only one night here, but wished it would've been more! It's so secluded and peaceful, but still in the heart of all the action and next to Palm Beach (but being on the property you would never know).


Boardwalk is a family-run boutique hotel in the middle of a former coconut plantation. Each room is it's own private casita surrounded by a lush tropical oasis. As if this wasn't enough to convince you to stay... it's listed as one of the top 25 hotels in the Caribbean!


There are 2 pools, and is only steps away from Palm Beach where they have their own section of beach just for guests with hammocks and palapas. On property there is also a delicious vegan and plant-focused restaurant (which is honestly hard to find in Aruba, coming from myself who is a vegetarian).


We loved our time here, and if we ever come back to Aruba we will definitely be staying at Boardwalk!!


Below I've attached some photos of the property, beach, pools, and our casita.


BOOK YOUR STAY HERE: https://www.boardwalkaruba.com/en

This is sponsored by Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba, but all opinions and thoughts are my own.


 

In Conclusion,

These are just a few amazing destinations to visit in Aruba! We loved our time on this island, and I will definitely be back one day! It makes for a perfect vacation at any time of the year. Thank you for reading, and keep exploring xoxo