Aruba has gotten a bad rap in the press in recent years, but during our family vacation visit, we were greeted by a warm and welcoming people, marveled at the gorgeous Caribbean scenery, ate incredible food and explored nature trails and expansive white sand beaches.
During our visit as guest of the Aruba tourism office, we found an inviting island destination that was just a short 4-hour flight from New York.
What to do in Aruba
Aruba is windy. The wind speeds vary, but it is always there. The sooner you accept that reality, the more time you can spend enjoying the island on your family vacation.
Once you stop wondering when the wind will go away, you can focus on making the most of it. That means windsurfing. Aruba is the perfect place to learn to windsurf. Everyone except SandHater (husband) tried it and everyone surfed! We all crashed a few times but we got the hang of it. I would do that again.
Golfing in Aruba
Windy Aruba is not the ideal spot for golf, but that doesn’t matter to my husband and 15-year-old son, both avid golfers. They reported that Tierra Del Sol Golf Resort, which is open to the public, would be challenging without the wind. With the wind, well, let’s just say, it changed their game.
When you want to get away from the tourists and back to nature, hike the trail at the National Park or have breakfast at the base with one of the park rangers. Then drive out or take a jeep tour to the Guadirikiri Cave where you will find nocturnal bats and ancient drawings of tools and animals made by the Arawak Indians.
Anyone can have breakfast or lunch at the park with an advance reservation (send an email to [email protected]). It’s ideal because you get a park ranger all to yourself who will tell you about the park they cherish.
Where to Eat in Aruba
Like most Caribbean islands, Aruba imports much of its food. Unlike most Caribbean Islands, Aruba has an incredibly high standard for the foods it offers its island people and guests.
During my family vacation in Aruba, we had some of the best food we’ve ever eaten on vacation. And one of the meals was made even better because of the location of the restaurant.
Pincho’s Grill & Bar is a family owned and operated restaurant that is not only on the beach, it’s over the water. The restaurant sits on a pier that juts out from the shore so diners are surrounded by clear water. The owners have traveled the world and brought back an incredible array of menu selections. My 11 year old carnivore still says this is where he had the best steak of his life and I loved the Pan Seared Caribbean Grouper served with an Apricot & Ginger Sauce. My 15 year old filled up on a special smoothie concoction and my husband was surprised with a chocolate dessert for his birthday. This restaurant is a big recommend for any one who wants a tasty meal with the most gorgeous ambience.
Where to Stay in Aruba
Our rooms at the Westin Resort in Aruba were adjoined by a living room overlooking the water and the pool – a perfect set up for my family of 5. Everyone had space, a fridge, and a TV, but we were all together.
The location of the Westin is ideal because it is on a gorgeous stretch of sand and boardwalk, close to shopping, with plenty to do on property. There are kids’ activities like tie-dye, a huge pool and hot tub, game room, and best of all, spa. My daughter and I created our own special time by getting a massage together in the outdoor cabana. We floated back to our rooms a little closer and definitely more relaxed.
We held our family meeting (a ritual where we figure out what everyone’s vacation expectations are) in the expansive art gallery that is home to local artists. The kids could not resist checking out every piece on display.