ARUBA: The Beach and Beyond
An island getaway, Aruba-style By Parmjit Parmar
When you think of Aruba, you think of beaches, weddings, honeymoons, water activities, and shopping. You might be surprised to learn the Island has all of the above, plus a vibrant culinary offering.
Aruba’s booming food scene is an epicurean melting pot influenced by the 90 different nationalities on the island. Immigrants hail from South America (primarily Colombia, Venezuela and Peru), other Caribbean islands, and as far away as China, the Philippines, and 17 African nations. Despite this multi-cultural background, Arubans share a strong national identity. Sandbar Dining
The Flying Fishbone was one of the first toes-in-the sand restaurants in Aruba. At night, it’s romantically lit, creating an intimate atmosphere where you can relax, yes, with your toes in the sand, while enjoying oysters on the half shell. Other seafood dishes are cooked to perfection, from scallops to yellowtail snapper and mahi mahi. It’s a beautiful setting.
One of my favourites among the abundant dining options along the coastline is the Screaming Eagle. It has a casual looking exterior but inside a complete Miami-inspired blue-lit interior. Billowing curtains surround canopied beds where guests are served an intimate meal “in bed.” It’s an interesting date-night experience. The food is enticing, from ceviche to salads with grilled Brie. Steak sauces with black pepper corn are made tableside.
The Bugaloe Beach Bar & Grill is great for pre-dinner drinks or late night Caribbean atmosphere. Located on the water, this is a popular gathering place for tourists and locals alike, where you can view incredible sunsets from the patio while listening to a live band. After the Beach Arikok Forest,
Aruba’s national treasure—beautiful and arid, it is made up of 8,000 acres of parkland with some paved roads, allowing visitors to explore (by car, horseback or ATVS). Here you’ll find desert landscapes with clusters of cacti, hidden coves and caves that house bats and ancient drawings left by the Arawak people, herds of donkeys and goats and reptiles soaking up the sun. There are a couple of beaches to explore, but the currents are too strong for swimming. A cool dip can be had in the Natural Pool (Conchi). The pool has been formed by massive rocks that offer protection from the rough sea. It’s a little dicey getting in, as splashing waves make the rocks slippery, but once in, you have the most idyllic spot to swim or snorkel.
Not all of Aruba’s beautiful shoreline is tranquil, due to heavy seas and undertows. I found the best beaches for swimming complete with turquoise waters and white sand are Eagle Beach and Palm Beach, both absolutely beautiful.
There’s a Carubbian Festival every Thursday evening from 6pm - 10pm on Main Street in San Nicolas. You can enjoy the warmth and charm of a cultural celebration with international music, colourful costumes and dancing. Eat jerk chicken and slaw along with ethnic food specialties as you stroll the street. Tip: Packages can be purchased through your hotel and include round-trip transportation.
Where to Stay Ritz Carlton, Aruba
Luxury located on the powdery white sands of Aruba’s famed Palm Beach. L.G. Smith Blvd., # 107 Palm Beach; T: + (297) 527-2222 www.ritzcarlton.com/en/ Properties/aruba/ Boardwalk Hotel, Aruba This boutique property of just 14 rooms are clustered around a lush garden and pool with hammocks on the terraces. Owners, twin sisters Kimberly and Stephanie Rooijakkers, offer personalized services to guests. Bakval 20, North Palm Beach, Oranjestad; T: +297-586-6654 www. boardwalkaruba.com/ www.aruba.com/