FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Find Your Version of Paradise on the Idyllic Island of Aruba

May 23, 2024

PHOTO: © ARUBA TOURISM AUTHORITY

Leisure Lifestyle 2024

PHOTO: © ARUBA TOURISM AUTHORITY

Aruba is known as the “Happy Island,” and with its turquoise waters, balmy weather and friendly locals, it rightfully deserves that reputation. But there’s more to explore in Aruba beyond the popular 2-mile strip of Palm Beach, famous for its white-sand coastline, array of global hotel brands and lively nightlife.

On my most recent visit to Aruba, I ventured off the beaten path, immersing myself in the flourishing local art scene and adventuring into the wilds of Arikok National Park. Of course, embracing a life of leisure while on island time is of the utmost importance, but you’ll find many ways to kick back in this Dutch Caribbean oasis.

To experience the best of this idyllic island, set your sights on the following destinations and get ready to discover a different side of paradise:

ARIKOK NATIONAL PARK
Aruba’s beaches may take center stage, but the island’s expanse of untouched tropical desert also proves a thrill to explore. Located along the eastern coast, the rugged landscape of Arikok National Park accounts for 20 percent of the island’s total landmass. Set aside a full day to explore the moon-like terrain via open-top Jeep, on horseback or along the 20 miles of walking trails. Candelabra cacti, giant lizards, natural pools and Arawak drawings abound; and even the most well- versed explorers will surely be surprised by what they discover in this vast, arid wilderness.

SAN NICOLAS
Aruba is known as the street art capital of the Caribbean, and San Nicolas is the island’s cultural capital. Once home to booming oil refineries, the city became a ghost town and home to the island’s red-light district after industry disappeared. Today San Nicolas is undergoing a renaissance, thanks to local artists and patrons who adorn the streets with large-scale murals and support independent galleries. Check out the ArtisA Gallery and sign up for a mural tour to appreciate the work of artists from the Caribbean and beyond.

PHOTO: © ARUBA TOURISM AUTHORITY

MALMOK BEACH
Swim in the azure waters of Malmok Beach, a seaside region in northern Aruba featuring a rocky, limestone coastline and shallow, secluded bays perfect for swimming and snorkeling. This narrow stretch of shoreline houses an array of reefs and shipwrecks that entice scuba divers from around the world to explore Aruba’s crystal-clear waters. Though only 3 miles from the ever-popular Palm Beach, Malmok feels much more secluded and hidden from throngs of sunbathing tourists. Head to Boca Catalina for an even more private beach experience, with its thatched-roof cabanas lining the white-sand coast.

LODGING
Aruba Ocean Villas
Pretend you’re in the South Pacific at the island’s only overwater villas overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Enjoy the sweet serenity of this adults-only hideaway along Aruba’s sleepy southeastern coast.
Savaneta 356a, Savaneta, Aruba
$$$$$

Boardwalk Boutique Hotel
Just steps from the bustle of Palm Beach, this lush tropical oasis boasts cozy casitas, secluded gardens and saltwater pools, set in the middle of a former coconut plantation.
Bakval 20, Noord, Aruba
$$$$$

Bucati & Tara Beach Resort
This luxury Eagle Beach resort offers a personal concierge to fulfill your every need. Sip seaside cocktails at SandBar and enjoy a moonlit dinner for two in a private cabana.
L.G. Smith Blvd. 55B, Oranjestad, Aruba
$$$$$

DINING
Papiamento Restaurant
Dine beneath the twinkling lights of overhead palms at this historical cunucu house. Order keshi yena cheese pie, Aruba’s national dish, paired with an international vintage from the impressive wine cellar.
Washington 61, Noord, Aruba
$$$–$$$$

Taste My Aruba
The menu changes daily at this family-owned, sea-to- table restaurant in an open-air courtyard of a restored 100-year-old heritage house. The cuisine is entirely sourced locally with Aruban ingredients.
Wilhelminastraat 57, Oranjestad, Aruba
$$–$$$

Zeerovers
This laid-back establishment is a local favorite, serving seafood on picnic tables on a fishing pier. Guests enjoy views of the Caribbean while watching fishermen return with their daily haul.
Savaneta 270, Savaneta, Aruba
$$$–$$$$

INFO TO GO
Aruba has only one international airport, but, luckily, it’s one of the busiest in the Caribbean. Queen Beatrix International Airport offers flight services to the United States, Canada, other countries in the Caribbean, and parts of Europe and South America. The airport is centrally located in Oranjestad, and given the relatively small size of the island (21 miles long and 6 miles wide), it’s easily accessed by taxi from other parts of Aruba.

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