Aruba is a funny little island. It’s a lot of desert and sand surrounded by the Sea. I have never seen so many cactus in one place. It’s also an island of friendly people, colorful houses, and a diverse culture. The island stays a constant 78-88 degrees year round, but doesn’t even feel that hot thanks to the constant trade winds (although your hair will look ridiculous in every single picture).
Today it is owned by the Netherlands and the primary language is Dutch. Although most locals also speak Spanish, English, and Papiamento (the local little-bit-of-everything language). We were there over King’s Day (4/27), which is the Netherlands’ King Willem-Alexander’s birthday. All the shops were shut down for the holiday.
I’m assuming this is the King and Queen since their picture was everywhere.
It’s slogan is “Aruba, one happy island.” It’s pretty easy to be happy there. A normal day was beach all morning, then some cultural/island sights in the afternoon. We rented a house through airbnb and it turned out great. The house was bigger than we thought, bedrooms with air conditioning, wifi, and a porch to eat our meals on overlooking a slice of the ocean.
We used our car A LOT since we were staying on the very southeastern tip of the island and most restaurants and hotels are located on the northeastern side. It was a 20-50 minute drive anywhere. I’m not one for crowds though, so I enjoyed staying in the less populated area. Baby Beach and Rogers Beach were both 2 minutes driving from our house. We were the only ones at time during the weekdays. On the weekend it was us and Arubans. Plus Rogers Beach has wonderful shaded cabanas we made great use of.
We cooked one meal and ate out the other meals. The food we ate was pretty fantastic the whole time, although it had better be for the prices. I know I’m a mid-western girl and it’s more expensive elsewhere in the world. I expect my meal to only cost $8-10. Meals in Aruba that were rated “cheap” online were $15-20 a plate. We did not go to any restaurants that were rated more expensive.
Some of the places we ate at were:
- Bavaria – delicious German food. I had fantastic chicken schnitzel, Donovan tried the special of stuff beef, and we shared a gooey cheese soup appetizer.
- Red Fish – I had great shrimp, Donovan had a delicious cheese stuff chicken dish, and we shared a fried rice covered in cheese appetizer
- B-55 – fun views of the center of the island, good food, bad service
- Ritz – sort of has an old fashioned diner feel, but local food. I had orlog fries. I had no idea what they were just picked something and ordered it. They were fries, covered in peanut sauce, mayonaise, and chopped up onions. Mayo and onions were a great idea. Peanut sauce… not so much.
- La Trattoria el Faro Blano – only disappointing place we ate at. They have pretty views at sunset, so everyone goes there around 7. Charge $18+ a plate and neither Donovan nor I liked our meals.
- Iguana Joes – touristy place in downtown Oranjestad, good food
Things we did in Aruba (broken up by my [soon to come] posts on them):
- California Lighthouse, Sand Dunes, Casibari Rock Formation, Mt. Hooiberg
- Jeep Tour of “The Wild Side”
- downtown Oranjestad, around Aruba
Bon nochi! (Good night!)