Aruba -Why My Happy Place?

Aruba’s license plates have the motto, “One happy island”. In our experience, I would say, 100% accurate. We arrived in Aruba in the early afternoon. The sun was shining, it was 84 degrees, just a few clouds in the sky and a cool (Jamie says warm) breeze blowing. Exit off the airplane, customs/passport control was quick and we got our rental car in no time. English is the commonly spoken language and US currency is accepted everywhere. We arrived at our hotel (Divi Golf and Beach Resort) and were upgraded to a King suite! It was a great start to our long weekend! One happy couple!

Aruba One Happy Island license plate

Day 1

Day 1 was all about just getting acclimated. Go to the pool, meet some fun people and decide where to go for dinner. We went downtown to the Paseo Herencia Mall in Palm Beach and sat on a second floor balcony of the Sweet Peppers Restaurant and Bar, overlooking the main drag. There was a large palm tree next to the balcony and little black birds chirping and holding a concert for us before dinner. It was magical.

Day 1 was all about just getting acclimated. Go to the pool, meet some fun people and decide where to go for dinner. We went downtown to the Paseo Herencia Mall in Palm Beach and sat on a second floor balcony of the Sweet Peppers Restaurant and Bar, overlooking the main drag. There was a large palm tree next to the balcony and little black birds chirping and holding a concert for us before dinner. It was magical.

Our hotel room had some Aruba magazines which I usually ignore because they’re all advertising but this one was different. They offered a 5 stop itinerary of what to see on Aruba at your own leisure. See our version below.

Day 2

We started off a leisurely day with a run along the beach. Aruba seems to have their infrastructure in place. You have a fully paved road for the cars, then a pedestrian pathway and also a smaller paved road for the golf carts, hotel carts, etc. And, not just along a small stretch. We ran up to 3 miles on these paved pathways!

Aruba running on the boardwalk

After the run, remember it’s 84 degrees pretty much all day long… we went for a dip in one of the many pools on the resort grounds. Then… what to do?

  1. Bright Bakery
  2. Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins
  3. The “New” Natural Pool
  4. Ayo rock formation
  5. Andicuri beach
  6. Natural bridge

First, stop at a quaint little bakery before our trek. It’s called Bright Bakery in Paradera, Aruba. Maybe ask them to make a sandwich for you for along the way or … try their sweet pastries… so much to choose from! Oh, why choose, try one of everything! Beware… they are very sweet! I tried the drigidek, a local dense spice cake but Jamie had the cannoli filled with sweet whipped cream… definitely better. 

So, back into the car and to the “new” natural pool. Drive to Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins and check those out. In 1824, gold was discovered in Aruba, and eventually, the industry produced more than 3 million pounds of gold. Nothing left there now but the ruins. 

Then, walk away from the ruins and towards the crashing waves. Look carefully and you’ll see the rungs of a ladder sticking up at the edge. Don’t be afraid to climb down, it’s very safe. And, what’s so incredible is that you don’t actually see anything until you’ve descended. The pool is completely hidden from view. Once you’ve climbed down the ladder, pick your way carefully over the craggy limestone and get into the water. Enjoy the waves crashing into the nearby cliffs and know that you’re safe in your quiet little pool. There is another natural pool in Arikok National Park which we didn’t get to… you need an ATV to get there and we were satisfied with our private little pool. 🙂 

The third stop is Andicuri Beach. On your drive, you’ll pass the Ayo rock formation. This is a very bizarre set of rocks, I’ve never seen anything like it… 

Aruba AYO Rock Formation

Along the way to Andicuri beach, stop and take pictures of all the cactus along the way. Jamie thought this one looked like Christ on the cross. 

Aruba cactus Jesus on the cross

The road eventually gets too uneven for a car to pass but if you have a 4 wheeler, ATV, or jeep, you can carry on! We started hiking and made it to Andicuri beach where the local body boarders go, but it’s great just for a swim to cool off.

Blackstone Beach is still a few miles away and we were pretty tired, so we decided to skip it. If you decide to go, it is the only beach in Aruba with black sand and smooth black volcanic stones and  there are also three natural arches on the beach. Check them out!  We decided to head towards the Natural Arch before heading back to the hotel. 

Advice for the next visit to Aruba? If you’re going to rent a car anyways, rent a jeep so that you can get to those out-of-the ordinary places. The rental won’t be much more than a regular car and then you can see all of these fantastic places! 

Day 3

Yesterday was a lot of fun so we decided to do an itinerary for today as well.

  1. Arikok National Park
  2. Boca Prins
  3. Sand dunes of Boca Prins
  4. Quadirikiri cave
  5. Boca Grandi kite surfing
  6. Drinks at Rum Reef and swim in the infinity pool
  7. Baby beach

Today is the day to go to the Arikok National Park. Entrance fee is $11 per person but well worth it. The roads through the park are actually paved and easy to drive. The landscape here is so startlingly untouched and beautiful! You’ll see wild goats and yes, wild donkeys! 

Drive through to Boca Prins, a narrow bay amidst ancient lava rock carved over time by the crashing waves. Again, you can climb down to the white sand by using the man-made stairs. Don’t go in the water, though, as the undercurrents will pull you in! Then, walk over to the sand dunes of Boca Prins and pretend you’re a kid again.

Hop back in your car and drive on the gravel road to Quadirikiri cave. This is a limestone cave and the name is an original native Indian name. When you first enter (wear sneakers), it’s pretty dark and you’ll think, what’s the big deal. But, you’ll see light in the near distance. Walk towards the light which is actually daylight coming in through two large chambers in the cave through a hole in the ceiling. Don’t use your flashlight as there are bats in the cave and you don’t want to disturb them…

Get back in your car and exit the park. Notice the wind turbines. They supply 20% of Aruba’s power! As you travel out of the park, you’ll see signs for many of the beautiful beaches: Grapefield beach, Boca Grandi, Rogers beach. Stop and watch the great kite surfing at Boca Grandi.

Make your way to Baby beach. We stopped at the bar, Rum Reef, just on the other side of Rogers beach. They have great drinks in the bar and if you are a customer, you can use their infinity pool just on the other side of the bar. It was well worth it.

Then walk down to Baby beach, so named because it’s completely sheltered from the pounding waves and has plenty of sandbars so you can walk a long way in the water.

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