We recently stumbled across an unbeatable fare to Aruba and instantly fell in love with this happy island. Our flight got us into the Queen Beatrix Airport around noon on Thursday and departed Sunday. We rented a compact car so that we had a lot more freedom to explore. We highly recommend this as Uber isn’t on the island and taxis can be pricey. Below is an itinerary of things to do in Aruba so you can maximize your time on this beautiful island.
Landing around noon, you’ll more than likely be hungry. After you’ve picked up your baggage, head to the West Deck for lunch. Savor traditional Curaçaoan foods like Keshi Yena and Tamarind Curry Conch, all while gazing at the bright turquoise seas.
After lunch, head to your hotel where you can unwind and have a drink by the pool. While there, enjoy a good novel, take a nap in the shade, or cool off in the water.
To wrap up your first day on the island, head over to the Flying Fishbone for dinner. Make sure you book a reservation well in advance as this popular place fills up fast! Request a table on the beach and from here you’ll be able to watch the sunset with your toes in the sand. We dined on Red Snapper and Unicorn Fish all while enjoying a spectacular sunset.
The servers are very friendly and will light up explaining their local dishes and family recipes. They will also happily take your photo with the beach as your backdrop.
To start your day, head over to Palm Beach. There you will take part in the SailAway Morning Adventure Tour. Spend the first half of your day sailing and snorkeling. Enjoy unlimited drinks while you snorkel three different dive sites. You can also enjoy the sunshine in an over water hammock. Before sailing back, you’ll be treated to a fresh and delicious lunch of chicken and locally caught fish.
After disembarking, take some time to stroll the shops off the beach. Locals are very friendly, so take a minute to chat with the shop keepers. We had a lovely conversation with the owner of a small cigar shop. He told us about trips he used to make to Venezuela for fresh fruits and lobsters. He also gave us some great recommendations for food and activities away from the tourist areas.
Once you’ve returned from your morning excursion, take an opportunity to enjoy an ice cream cone on the beach. Follow this with a nap in the shade of a thatched beach palapa. The trade winds will help keep you cool, but definitely make sure you reapply sunscreen!
For dinner, head to the Screaming Eagle for some Blackened King Clip or Pan Seared Corvina. The Screaming Eagle is home to one of the Carribean’s best chefs and they’ve won numerous culinary awards. If you book ahead, you can also enjoy your dinner in a bed!
After returning from dinner, enjoy a final nightcap by the pool or stoll along the moonlit beach. The mild evenings are wonderful.
Start your final, full day on the island with traditional Dutch pancakes. We loved ours from the Dutch Pancake House in downtown Oranjestad. After breakfast, we did some shopping. This is a very touristy area that is supported largely by cruise ships. Here you will find a mixture of high end retailers and cheap souvenir shops. This is a good place to pick up a magnet or shot glass if you collect these.
Once you’ve finished your shopping, head out of town to the aloe fields. At the Aruba Aloe company, you’ll find a small museum and shop. Here you will learn the history of aloe as well as it’s many uses. We were even lucky enough to get a one-on-one harvesting and extracting demonstration. We stocked up on plenty of lotions and hand soaps to take home with us.
For lunch, head where the locals go – the Pastechi House. A Pastechi is an Aruban empanada and a very popular local lunch dish. Dine on beef, chicken, or keri keri pastechis for only a few dollars.
After lunch, take a leisurely drive out to the California Lighthouse. This lighthouse was named in honor of the steamship California that wrecked near Aruba in 1891. The California Lighthouse is a perfect location for a scenic view over Aruba’s coastline!
Enjoy some Tamarind Shaved Ice before heading back to town for dinner and a final evening of drinks by the pool. Pinchos Grill & Bar makes a perfect spot for one final dinner overlooking the water.
On your final morning on island, take this day to enjoy one last walk on the beach. The island’s motto is One Happy Island, and that spirit is infectious! As you board your flight home, you’ll be planning your next trip – we definitely were!