Updated: Oct 18, 2019
Aruba is the "A" in a very unique chain of islands nicknamed "ABC" that offers a mix of European and Caribbean cultures with plenty of great food and activities.
The famous I LOVE ARUBA sign close to the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
A Very Unique Dutch Caribbean Island
Aruba is small Dutch Caribbean Island, located just off the north coast of Venezuela in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea (Lesser Antilles). It's the "A" in the set of islands known as the, ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao). These are 5 reasons why Aruba's official motto is One Happy Island.
I highly recommend renting a 4x4 like this Jeep while in Aruba. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
1. Rent a 4x4 vehicle and visit Arikok National Park
I highly suggest that you rent a 4x4 vehicle when visiting Aruba. This allows you to explore it's rugged terrain, especially when you visit Arikok National Park. It's so much fun driving around the park in a 4x4 because you can drive just about anywhere! If can't rent a 4x4, you can always reserve a tour which has guided groups of small ATV's that ride around the park.
Without a 4x4 you won't be able to drive around the majority of Arikok National Park. (Video by Digital Nomad Foodie)
It's totally worth looking inside the Natural Pool. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)
2. Take a dip into the Natural Pool
There are many things to see inside Arikok National Park. One is taking a dip into the Natural Pool. This natural forming pool of water is constantly refreshed when the waves crash over into the pool. Bring your goggles or snorkel gear because there is plenty of things to see like fish and coral inside this unique pool.
3. See the collapsed Natural Bridge
The Natural Bridge which is now collapsed is made of limestone. As you know limestone is very soft because it's made up of the remains of various marine organisms. The bridge is still worth driving to and checking out. There is also a small gift shop and restaurant to explore.
Blowing away that divi divi tree with gusto. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
4. Enjoy the infamous divi divi trees
Due it's proximity, the island is not in the path of tropical storms, also the climate is very different than that of a tropical island you're accustomed to. When we visited in June 2017, the weather was barely humid and mostly dry heat. It was definitely breezy, which is why one of Aruba's famous symbols is the divi divi tree. These trees are slanted sideways due to the direction of the trade winds and it stays slanted with or without the wind.
Snorkel in and around the Antilla shipwreck. (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)
5. Snorkel around shipwrecks
If you enjoy snorkeling you will be happy in Aruba. It's not just only a beautiful island with lot's a blue water, but underneath the water there are many shipwrecks you can explore. My wife and I decided to check out the Antilla shipwreck, which is located off the northwest shore of the island and just south of the California Lighthouse. To get there you will need to find a company that offers a day tour.
These are some lucky sea birds. (Video by Digital Nomad Foodie)
6. Eat at Zeerovers and The Pelican's Nest
If you enjoy seafood, I am going to recommend two places that really stood out. The first place is called, Zeerovers, which is located in a small town called Savaneta. It's about a 25 minute drive from downtown Oranjestad. Parking can be tight, so look for spots along the street if the parking lot is full. Now close your eyes, imagine eating fresh deep-fried seafood right on crystal clear blue water, now open your eyes and watch what you just imagined below.
You can't get any lobster fresher than these. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
The second seafood place I recommend is called, The Pelican's Nest. Open since 1994 and located on beautiful Palm Beach you are also on the water on a pier. This is where I had the absolute best lobster in my life. There is a lobster cage filled with Caribbean lobsters, ready to hoist up to eat like what you see below.
Hands down the best lobster I've ever had. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
While you are waiting for your Caribbean lobster to be prepped and cooked, enjoy the great ambiance. If you are lucky, you can catch the sunset in the horizon.
The Pelican's Nest menu is has a lot of other choices besides Caribbean lobster, like clams, mussels, shrimp, grouper, Mahi Mahi, crab cakes, salads and cheeseburgers. My suggestion is to order the Caribbean lobster.
They don't call it Flamingo Island for nothing. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
7. Visit Flamingo (Renaissance) Island
If you are staying at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino then you automatically get free access to Flamingo (Renaissance) Island or pay $99 for a day pass as Kristin from Be My Travel Muse mentions in her blog review. If you decide to go, you will take a boat taxi, which takes about 20 minutes to get to the island. Now I will admit that when my wife and I went there we saw about 10 pink flamingos. We were a little disappointed, but you do get some great photo and video opportunities with them. In addition to the wildlife, you can rent a paddle board, order food and drinks and just relax or swim.
Make sure you ask the vendor to chop up the coconut meat for you to eat. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
8. Enjoy fresh coconut at the California Lighthouse
As a native California guy, you know I had to check out the California Lighthouse. It's located on the northwestern side of the island. It's a short drive just like anything on this small island. After you park, stop by the food truck that offers refreshing ice cold coconut, which they will chop up for you. Grab one of those while you admire the tall lighthouse.
My wife trying her luck at the Ritz Carlton Casino in Aruba. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
My wife and I love checking out casinos whenever we travel. The casinos on Aruba aren't very big, which is okay because we aren't high-rollers anyway. You do have plenty of options because most of the big resort hotels have their own casino. You'll find all the standard table games like poker and blackjack, plus slot machines. Good luck.
This yellow church is located on the island's highest elevation, hence the name. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
10. Make a prayer at Alto Vista Chapel
The Alto Vista Chapel is a very small, yellow-colored chapel located close to a town called Noord . It's worth visiting to say a short prayer and to admire the views and scenery around the first Roman Catholic church, which was built in 1750.
One of the top ranked beaches in the world is Eagle Beach in Aruba. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
11. Sunbathe on the white sand of Eagle Beach
Eagle Beach is usually named as one of the top beaches in the world due to it's pristine white sand. If you come at the right time of the year and day, you can almost have the entire beach to yourself. It's a fairly long beach with calm water. There is an enclosed swimming area that is safe to swim laps in. If you can only go to one beach on Aruba this is it.
Rock Wish Garden is okay to do or not okay depends on who you ask. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
12. Rock Wish Garden
I almost hesitate to add this to the list of things to do in Aruba because it's controversial depending on what you read who or you ask. On one side it's okay to stack rocks as a tourist addition, but on the official Aruba website they advise against it. Personally, I'm all about balance, so that's why I am writing about both views. My wife and I drove to the Rock Wish Garden and it was a cool part of the island (close to California Lighthouse) to be at especially seeing all of the stacked rocks. We didn't see any signs or officials warning on stacking rocks, so I'll admit we did make our own rock stack as you can see in the photo above.
Welcome to Super Food! (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
13. Stock up on groceries at Super Food
If you want to save some money on dining out or want some snacks, beer or drinks, you should stop by Super Food. This is a big grocery store has just about everything you need even Cuban cigars. The liquor area is also nice with plenty of options.
Although, I only mentioned 13 things that I did in Aruba, there were plenty of places I ate at, gambled at, swam at and drove around. This is a fantastic island to visit. I highly recommend it and if you had any questions please feel free to ask.
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