By Kendall Kostelic
It’s been named the happiest island in the world. And after a recent visit to the tiny Caribbean island of Aruba, we can understand why.
How did it make us happy? Let us count the ways: a constant, perfect ocean breeze; pristine beaches; flamingos to flirt with; Pilates in the ocean; a UTV tour.
The 19.6-mile-long island has been making a name for itself as a wellness-minded destination for decades, and it’s one of the Caribbean’s most visited spots, with more than half of the over one million visitors making return trips.
Wellness the easy way? Yes. One beach visit a day keeps the doctor away.
Eat healthy, island-style
Start your day with an acai bowl at Eduardo’s Beach Shack. The surfside hut offers a variety of fruity bowls and smoothies, as well as veggie juices. For lunch, eat clean without sacrificing great flavor at Pura Vita Kitchen. Think portion-controlled turkey burgers, burritos, coconut curry bowls, and knockout salads. (If you’re into post-dining workouts, the gym is right next door.)
At night, there are several options: Passions on the Beach and Elements Restaurant at Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort; at the latter, make a reservation for two in a private beach palapa for a special six-course meal or head to the large patio—and splurge on the Ferrero chocolate dessert risotto.
Get your adrenaline pumping
Race a UTV along desert paths, over rocks, and right up to unforgettable cliffside ocean views. On our three-hour ride, run by ABC Tours, we saw Aruba’s Breathing Rocks, Black Stone Beach, Andicuri Beach, the Natural Bridge and more. (Just make sure to wear goggles and a bandanna to combat dust.) Or set sail with The Tranquilo charters, which will take you to a private snorkeling spot, topped off with glasses of boozy punch.
Cocktails! Dancing! Karaoke! That’s what you get at Bugaloe Beach Bar and Grill, where you’ll find families and locals having a good time. If you’re brave enough, take center stage for one of your favorite tunes— or start singing on the sidelines and let one of the MCs pull you into the spotlight.
Get a shot of Vitamin D
The island has at least 20 beaches: Have dinner in the sand at Passions on the Beach or set up a private breakfast spot by the water. The Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort and Casino has beachside access; wade in the calm, waist-deep water (just the right temp) or head back to the Hilton’s lobby, which opens out to the island’s wonderful weather.
The Hilton’s Eforea Spa is an indoor oasis. We enjoyed a skin-revitalizing Aruba Aloe massage, with local aloe vera products made by the world’s oldest aloe company, then stayed for the tranquil fountain seating and steam room. (Be sure to ask for an ear massage during your treatment.) Or go for a bit of me time at an Art for the Soul workshop at Cosecha Aruba, where instructor Vanessa Paulina blends meditation and yoga with paint brushes and blank canvases.
Work out in the waves
A great way to work up a sweat in Aruba: stand-up paddleboard Pilates with Vela Aruba. Anchored on a wide paddleboard just off the shore, you’ll do ab work, squats, and, yes, burpees. (Here, there’s no losing your balance, only “cooling off in the water.”) For something more tranquil, head to Renaissance Island for a seaside yoga class. Run by Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, the island contains Aruba’s only private beaches, one for families and one for adults, and you can get up close to flamingos and iguanas. The island is available to Renaissance resort guests, with a few extra day passes given out.—
Plan Your Adventure
Eduardo’s Beach Shack Palm/Eagle Beach
Passions on the Beach
Elements Restaurant Eagle Beach
ABC Tours Aruba
Bugaloe Beach Bar and Grill De Palm Pier
Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort and Casino Palm Beach
Eforea Spa at Hilton Aruba