Aruba: A Travel Guide


Recently, we decided to head to Aruba. We wanted to see what it was like to travel to find out if the “one happy island,” as the locals call it, was still a happy place. Read on to find out, and check out our video below as well.

Aruba: The One Happy Island Awaits – An Unforgettable Escape

Dreaming of a tropical escape bathed in sunshine? Look no further than Aruba, the Caribbean paradise known as "One Happy Island." This vibrant destination offers stunning beaches, a relaxed atmosphere, and endless opportunities for adventure, all while keeping safety a top priority. We recently took a trip to Aruba, and here's why you may want it to be your next getaway.

Welcome to Paradise: A Seamless Arrival and Stellar Service

Our flight to Aruba was a breeze, whisking us away to sunny skies. The airport bustled with welcoming energy, and the staff ensured a smooth arrival process. We opted for the luxurious all-inclusive Hotel Riu Palace, a beachfront property that instantly impressed us. Check-in was effortless, and the staff's warm hospitality made us feel at home. Every room boasts a breathtaking ocean view, setting the stage for an unforgettable stay.

Hotel Riu Palace Aruba

Riu Palace: Beach Bliss with a Tranquil Twist

Beyond the beautiful white-sand beach that had us transfixed from the moment we arrived, the Riu Palace envelops you in all-inclusive luxury, which we appreciated during our stay. The dining experience is a journey through various cultures and styles, with each restaurant offering its unique flair—from the vibrant Fusion dishes that tantalized our taste buds to the authentic Italian cuisine that reminded us of a quaint bistro in Rome and the expertly prepared sushi that rivaled our favorite spots back home. Not to be overlooked, the poolside steakhouse served up some of the most succulent steaks we’ve enjoyed, perfectly seared and flavorful. The hotel’s bars offered a relaxing retreat with creative cocktails and a welcoming atmosphere.

Day and night, the entertainment program kept us engaged with a variety of activities, including thrilling shows and soothing live music that set the tone for enchanting evenings. The group beach activities led by the staff were a delight, offering volleyball, lively games, and friendly contests that brought everyone together. For moments of solitude, the Renova Spa was our haven, where the whirlpool bath and a range of spa treatments provided a serene escape from the bustling world outside, making it easy to relax and rejuvenate. Every day at the Riu Palace promised new discoveries and lasting memories.

Exploring Aruba: A Treasure Trove at Your Fingertips

Riu Palace Beachfront

The beach was our first stop, and seeing it so peaceful was surreal. This tranquility allowed us to enjoy the natural beauty of Aruba without interruption. The white sand stretched out endlessly, and the turquoise water shimmered under the Caribbean sun. The hotel, not missing a beat, served delicious drinks (try the "dirty bananas") and local Balashi beer, enhancing the poolside relaxation.

The Riu Palace perfectly complements the beachfront experience. The massive pool provided endless entertainment, while water sports like snorkeling and paddleboarding offered a chance to explore the vibrant underwater world. The accommodation was perfect, and the open-air atmosphere felt naturally refreshing.

Aruba Beach

Arikok National Park

Exploring the island seemed much easier and less expensive than we expected. In one day, we were able to tour the entire island – it is only 20 miles long from one end to the other. We started at the national park and checked out Conchi, the famous natural pool built in a volcanic rock formation which creates a tranquil pool to relax in. It’s remote, but worth the trip – just make sure you rent a four-wheel drive vehicle. The national park is a beautiful drive, and you can stop at one of the several caves to check out stalagmites, ancient Indian rock drawings, and even some bats. And you can wrap up with a visit to an abandoned gold mine to see some of the island’s history.

Aruba Conchi

Baby Beach

Perfect for families with young children or snorkeling enthusiasts, Baby Beach boasts a calm lagoon teeming with colorful fish, making it an ideal spot for a leisurely day by the sea. The shallow, clear waters provide a safe environment for kids to splash around and build sandcastles. The protective cove of the beach also creates an excellent condition for snorkeling; even beginners can enjoy gliding over coral reefs bustling with marine life, spotting everything from vibrant parrotfish to elusive sea turtles. Along the shores, several amenities enhance the beach day experience, including rentable sun loungers, umbrellas, and a quaint beach bar where one can indulge in tropical drinks and local snacks.

The Old Cunucu House

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by a local restaurant called The Old Cunucu House. This charming local restaurant serves Keshi Yena, Aruba's unofficial national dish, with a rich and intriguing history. Originally created by enslaved people during the colonial era, Keshi Yena is a creative adaptation using leftover scraps of meats and vegetables filled into the rind of a Dutch cheese wheel, which would otherwise have been thrown away. Today, it's transformed into a culinary delicacy: imagine a baked cheese shell overflowing with a delicious mix of raisins, olives, curry, tomatoes, and chicken – a true explosion of taste and texture. This dish offers a delectable eating experience and tells a story of innovation and survival, making it a must-try for anyone visiting Aruba.

Aruba Keshi Yena

Serenity and Safety in Paradise

Throughout our visit, we felt a genuine focus on safety measures. Aruba prides itself on keeping visitors safe, comfortable, and healthy. The Riu Palace upheld impeccable hygiene standards, and the friendly locals embodied the island's "One Happy Island" spirit.

Would We Do It Again? Absolutely!

Reflecting on our week in Aruba, the answer is a resounding yes. From the moment we arrived, feeling the warm embrace of the sun and the people, to our departure, we knew this trip was one for the books. Aruba not only met our expectations but exceeded them, providing a beautiful backdrop to create new memories. We highly recommend the Hotel Riu Palace for its all-inclusive luxury, impeccable service, and prime beachfront location. The food, the drinks, the entertainment—it all adds up to an unparalleled vacation experience.

For those considering a trip, watch our accompanying video below to glimpse the beauty and calm Aruba offers. Until then, we'll hold onto the sunsets, the flavors, and the joyous spirit of Aruba, eagerly awaiting our return to the island that truly lives up to its nickname.

About The Author
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Ray is the founder of Stray Monkey, and as a shameless plug he wants to remind you to check out the Research the News podcast.

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