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  • Janis Nunez


Spring Break 2019 our family headed to Aruba. This was our first time, and we were looking forward to relaxing on the beach. The island is south of the hurricane belt, so there isn't really a bad time to travel to the island. There is also a constant breeze that makes the sun bearable throughout the day. When we landed we were excited to get to our house that we rented, and get to the beach!

We booked our house through Airbnb. With some research you can get a great deal right where you want to be (see my Planning Your Vacation blog post for more details). We stayed in the middle of the island to have good access in every direction. I like to get a place that has its own washer and dryer since we only take carry-on bags. Our host provided beach chairs, beach towels, cooler, and reusable grocery bags (they don't do plastic bags, so you need to bring a bag to the store with you).

The house had a nice back patio with a hammock. We each had a queen size bed to sleep in, and one room to spare! Two bathrooms is also nice when traveling with a family of four. These are things you don't usually get at a hotel without forking out some major cash. Here's a few shots of the house we stayed in that was located in Tanki Leendart. Our host Jacqueline was very responsive and even stopped by to help me figure out the air conditioners. It's nice to be able to reach out to your host at any time and get a response via text through the app.

Car rental is another important thing to research. I read online that it is much cheaper to rent through local companies with a weekly rate. We rented a car for a full week for $170 ($199 with tax). This was almost half the price some of the companies were charging. We used YES Rental Car and were very pleased with their service. A couple other options are Tropic Car Rental and Wheels 2 Go. Check them out before buying through the usual rental company. It may save you a ton of money. Here is the link for the company we used. We worked with Alvaro, and he was a pleasure to work with: YES RENTAL CAR LINK.

Groceries and Pharmacies are not combined like they are in the US. There are a lot of small grocers all over the island. They have some of what you need, but not all. We found the best store to go to that gave the most options was Super Food. There is also a pharmacy right around the corner if you need something. Not all pharmacies are open every day, so if you think you may need something I would suggest to just bring it and save yourself the hassle. Also keep in mind when flying that prescription medications need to be labeled by the pharmacy and filled in smaller containers if liquid. Your pharmacy will do this for you no problem, then keep it in your carry-on bag. Feminine products can be found in a separate section in the Super Food store.

Let's Get to the Fun Stuff!

Eagle Beach is listed as one of the best beaches in the world! This beach was only about a 6-minute drive from our place. The white sands are so soft, and the palapas are free to lay under all day if you get there early and snag one.

Day 1: We stayed at the south end of the beach, away from the hotels and resorts. We are not resort people. I don't find it relaxing to lay two feet away from a stranger on a crowded beach. The south end seemed like we had the beach to ourselves (even with a few other families under the other palapas).

Eagle Beach

Don't know what a palapa is? It's basically your shade umbrella. They are on all of the public beaches and are FREE! Also, there is free parking all along the beach, so if you don't stay at a hotel right on the beach don't worry, you have lots of parking spots to choose from.

We alternated beach days and sightseeing days to deal with getting too much sun.

Day 2: We started at the California Lighthouse. It's at the north end of the island, and just $5 per person to walk up to the top. It is very windy up there, so be prepared, but the view is amazing. There is also a restaurant at the bottom of the lighthouse.

We stopped at the bottom of the hill to take a quick photo at Arashi Beach and decided that we'd make a day of it at this beach the following day.

Arashi Beach (north end)

Next, we headed to Zeerovers for lunch. This was or FAVORITE place to eat. You basically get whatever kind of fish they catch that day. It's super casual and you can sit out on the pier or dock and eat while you watch the waves. We had Wahoo, a pound of shrimp, fries, plantains, fried bread, guava and papaya juice for the kids, and a couple beers for my husband and me. Our bill was about $40 for fresh fish and shrimp caught that day made to order. That's amazing! The people who work there are great too. We loved chatting with them and never felt rushed to eat and get out of there, which was nice.

Let's talk about the beer in Aruba for a minute. Wow! So good. My favorite was the HopiStout and my husband enjoyed the Balashi. Make sure and try all of them. They have quite a few to try. My husband went to the craft brewery they have on the island and got to talk to the brew master about the beer there. Great info. Even if you aren't a beer drinker, give it a try. You might be surprised.

After our bellies were full, we headed to San Nicholas to look at the street art. Once you get to the area you can just drive up and down the streets (or walk) and take some photos. This is something fun and FREE to do around the island. The artwork is just stunning.

Our next stop was over to Arikok National Park to see Guadirikiri Cave and Fontein Cave. The park is $11 per adult. Kids 17 and under are free. We only went to these two caves because it was all we could really access by car. If you have a 4x4 you should really make a whole day of the park as there is so much to see. The roads are bumpy and all dirt, so this was it for us, but we really enjoyed what we saw.

Guadirikiri Cave

All around the park and on the island, there are tons of cacti. Right outside of this cave and down a path we saw a ton of wild goats. There were also iguanas and a little fishpond.

Fontein Cave: limestone cave with stalactites and stalagmites. There was a guide at this cave who took us in and showed us the carvings on the cave walls and gave us a history lesson on the land. He also took us to get a look at some of the bats flying in the back end of the cave. This cave gets locked up, so be sure to go when it's open. It was our favorite. If we ever go back we will definitely rent a 4x4 even if only for a day.

Where the cruise ships come in there are a few opportunities to get some great shots by the Aruba signs. Just pull over, snap a pic and continue on your way. Great keepsakes.

Every night we watched the sun set on the beach. This is Druif beach. It's a smaller beach south of some condos that we pretty much had to ourselves. Instead of going out to a fancy dinner each night, we went to Super Food and got a baguette, meat, cheese and drinks to eat with the kids on the beach. It was really nice to relax and just enjoy each other's company. My husband and son enjoyed swimming at sunset too.

Day 3: We spent the day at Arashi Beach. If you go to the north end you are pretty secluded from all of the people. Down the beach a ways (walking distance) there is a beach shack with drinks, food, restrooms (you have to pay $1 to use the bathroom), and chairs/umbrellas to rent. There is also a lot more people, but it's not as crowded as it is over by the big hotels. This beach sand isn't as soft as Eagle but being secluded and shaded made up for it.

Also, you can snorkel right offshore and see a good number of fish. We saw several bright colored fish, coral, and a puffer fish to name a few. The water is refreshing after being in the sun all day. There is always a breeze blowing on the island, but it's not a strong blow you over breeze. It helps keep you cool with the hot sun blazing every day.

Our view from the palapas.

Eagle Beach Sunset

Day 4: We headed up to Alto Vista Chapel. You reach the chapel by taking a winding road that has white crosses on the sides of the road all the way up the hill. It's built on the site of the first church in Aruba. My family also enjoyed the Peace Labyrinth out back. If you have a 4x4 you can take some trails down to the water and see some off road sites from there.

Next stop was the Ayo Rock Formations. It's a pretty easy hike up through the rock formations. Definitely worth a stop.

Casibari Rock Formations are pretty close to the Ayo Rock Formations. You can see Hooliberg Mountain from the top. It's a nice view of the island from the top of the rocks, and not a difficult climb unless you have medical issues.

Yes, we went back to Zeerovers for lunch. Honestly, for the price and view you can't beat it!

The Balashi Gold Mill Ruins are another stop you can make if you have your own car, but I'd advise taking a tour if you want to know what you are looking at. It was cool, but not a "must do" in Aruba.

We made a stop a the Donkey Sanctuary and really enjoyed it. You let yourself in at the gate and head over to the barn. It's FREE to get in, but you can purchase a pail or two of snacks to feed the donkeys from the patio area. They come to you when they see the food. The peacock will also come to pickup anything you drop, and its not shy! It was fun.

Sunset swim and dinner on the beach. It never gets old.

Day 5: We were closer to beach shack on Arashi Beach today since we got a late start and there was only one palapa open. We all swam, and my husband went snorkeling again. We rented the boys beach recliners this time since they were only $7 for the whole day. You can get a bite to eat at the beach shack or bring something. We had tuna sandwiches and drinks. It wasn't crazy expensive, but it wasn't anything fabulous either. And remember if you need to use the restroom you pay $1.