Aruba is a member of the three ABC Islands that also include Bonaire and Curacao. They are the three western-most islands of the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea that lie north of Falcon State, Venezuela. At first glance, the rugged coastal reaches of the chiseled cliffs along the wild east coast will make you wonder if you are actually in the Caribbean. Still, there are five reasons seniors should plan a trip to Aruba for sun and sand lovers.
There are many Caribbean Islands, but many travelers will return again and again to Aruba. It has several features that make it a great destination to visit for a week or two.
There are plenty of hotels that have all-inclusive vacation offerings that are well worth the cost. Personally, I have been to Aruba on four occasions.
Here is a look at five of the main reasons seniors should put diminutive Aruba on their “must visit” list.
ARUBA IS NOT IN THE HURRICANE BELT
There are many Caribbean Islands that are under constant threat of hurricanes every year in the Fall hurricane season. Some of these islands include Cuba, Dominican Republic, Anguilla, Puerto Rico, St. Barts, St. Martin, and the Virgin Islands. The USA virgin islands include St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John, and Water Island. Some 50 or so smaller islands and cays are all part of the USA Virgin Islands.
I can attest to Cuba being in the hurricane belt as I was there when Cuba was bombasted by Hurricane Michelle. It was a pretty scary situation with water filling my ground level room, no power, no running water, and the wind howling for hours on end.
I was three hundred meters from the beach and the next morning there were fish just outside my room. I spent an hour trying to find a few seashells that were not broken for souvenirs. Lawn chairs and palm tree branches filled the pool and it was three days before we had running water restored.
One year I had just arrived in St. Thomas the first day it was re-opened after being hit by a hurricane. Big sailing yachts were thrown from the bay across four lanes of traffic up onto the side of a hill like they were toys.
was hardly a car on the island that didn’t have a broken windshield. My taxi driver told me that it was illegal to drive with a broken windshield in St. Thomas, but they relaxed the law because there were no windshields left on the island.
I was in Puerto Rico many times but missed the deadliest hurricane they have ever had. By 2019 the island was still not fully recovered from the 2017 hurricane. Hurricane Maria was a category four Hurricane that hit on September 20 with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour. Hurricane Michelle that hit Cuba when I was there was also a category four with winds of 140 miles per hour.
So it pays to do your homework if you are planning a Caribbean holiday. The three ABC islands are not in the hurricane belt and are a safe bet to visit any time of the year. Also, it pays to remember that September and October are the worst months for hurricanes. The best time to travel to the Caribbean if you want to avoid hurricanes completely is mid-November onward.
THE ARUBA BEACHES ARE AMAZING
No trip to Aruba is complete without spending a lot of time on two of the most amazing beaches in the Caribbean. Palm Beach and Eagle Beach are covered in powdery, toasty, soft, snow-white sand that will cover your ankles as you make your way to the shimmering blue-green waters of the Caribbean Sea.
There are many hotels on these beaches that would be ideal for your land stay. You will find that they cost a fair bit, but that’s because they are wildly popular. Chances are you will have to book your stay quite far in advance.
Most travelers who have stayed on these two beaches rave about the beautiful sand, memorable sunsets and tiki bars that seem to be everywhere.
Eagle Beach tends to have more sporting activities like Jet Skis and Wakeboarders, so if you want a bit more tranquility and just want to swim, make the short trip over to Palm Beach.
Eagle Beach is called the Low Rise area and Palm Beach the High Rise area. The big hotels are on Palm Beach and include the Aruba Marriott Resort, Hilton Aruba, and the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort.
The Hyatt Regency Casino comes complete with at least 13 gaming tables, over 200 slot machines, and 19 video poker machines.
The casinos are part of the hotel and are open to the public, so even if you’re not a guest you are welcome to go and win or lose some money.
If you’ve been to Las Vegas, you would find like I did when I walked into the Hyatt that the island casinos are quite small. Or, perhaps more to the point, the Las Vegas Casinos are huge and will make any other casinos look small. Regardless, an hour or two out of the hot sun and into the cool air-conditioned casino can be refreshing.
The casino hours are 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. The ideal time to visit is between Tuesday and Sunday evenings when the casino host “Carnival in Rio” nights featuring live music and dancing. Entertainment is free.
LOCAL ARUBA ATTRACTIONS
Arikok National Park
Check out the local wildlife that calls Aruba home. Aruban rattlesnakes, whip-tailed lizards, iguanas, parakeets, goats, donkeys, and migratory birds can all be found in the park.
Aruba’s southeastern quadrant is home to this ecological preserve and year-round is a popular tourist stop. An entire day can be spent observing the wildlife, limestone cliffs, exploring caves, and sand dunes. There is even a natural pool within the park for those who want to cool off.
Many people who have visited this park claim it’s a must-see attraction. There is so much to do that it would be best to allow a couple of days in order to enjoy the entire park. Also, some attractions can only be reached by four-wheel-drive and often tourists will rent one for a day or two.
Aruba Ostrich Farm
Yes, you read it right. There is actually an Ostrich farm on Aruba. The farm is located on the island’s eastern coast and is well worth the visit if you would like to find out more about this unique animal.
For instance, did you know that the ostriches lay the largest eggs of any bird species and only have two toes per foot? You can get up close and personal with the ostriches and the tour guides will fill you in on the survival instincts and mannerisms of the ostrich.
You can also feed the large birds and kids really enjoy the farm. It’s an excellent learning experience for many of them who may never get another chance of seeing an ostrich up close.
Normally the visit to the ostrich farm is fairly short. Be on the lookout for someone taking professional photographs as they are not free. If you want to save some money, just take your own pictures.
The cost for the tour is $14 per adult and $7 per child. The tours are available every half hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The US dollar is the main currency on the island.
Aruba Sunset Cruise and Seaside Dinner
There are many rave reviews about this sunset cruise and dinner. It offers picture-perfect views and is followed by a seafood dinner at a waterfront restaurant with one beverage included.
You will set sail on a catamaran for your cruise on the Caribbean Sea and get to enjoy the luminous tropical sunset. There will be snacks and an open bar on board, but be sure to leave room for the steak or fresh fish dinner served seaside with a glass of wine at the thatched roof Pelican Nest Seafood Grill.
You can enjoy waterfront views while dining on chicken, steak, or freshly caught fish such as grouper or snapper right off the open grill. The current cost of the cruise and dinner is about $120 Canadian.
(A customer review)
The Aruba Sunset Cruise & Dinner was a high light of our vacation. The tour left right on time. Crew members were informative regarding safety and what was included. The boat was very clean as was the restroom. We were provided with an open bar and snacks along with great music and the Aruban Sunset provided a beautiful backdrop for a truly wonderful evening. When the boat docked we had a wonderful dinner at the Pier restaurant. Enjoyed the best clam chowder
I’ve ever eaten. The portions were large and the food was very good. I wish I could’ve finished it. The service was also excellent. All in all, this was an amazing night with great food for a terrific value. Highly recommend.
Aruba has some excellent bars, but the most famous of all is Charlie’s Bar. Charlie’s has been an island tradition since 1941 and is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
The food is excellent and the atmosphere is unique, to say the least. The bar is located in San Nicolas and is about a twenty-minute drive from the town center.
Be sure to bring your camera as you will want to be taking pictures of this stop on your Aruba vacation. For over a quarter of a century, Charlie’s has welcomed visitors from all over the world.
They consistently serve beer and bites and are famous for their shrimp and scampi dishes. Some other menu choices include surf ‘n’ turf, churrasco, tenderloin, burgers, fresh Caribbean catch, soups, and appetizers. Be sure to ask the owner if you would prefer a vegetarian dish as he prepares them daily.
The coolest part about Charlie’s is that they ask people to leave behind a small piece of memorabilia from their home. There are literally thousands of interesting items adorning the walls and ceilings.
On the way back from Baby Beach I stopped by Charlie’s. I was on foot and thought I would stop by for a cold beer. When I stuck by a head in an open window to check it out someone standing by the bar talking with a waitress yelled out, “Hey! How are you?”
Maybe it was Charlie, I don’t really know.
Anyway, he said they didn’t open for a few hours, but at least I had a chance to look inside and see the incredible amount of memorabilia all over the place. Charlie’s is surely a place I will visit during open hours on my next trip to Aruba.
The guy came over to talk to me and helped me figure out how to catch a bus back into town. He was very friendly and I would recommend a trip to Charlie’s to anyone who happens to visit Aruba.
Here is a review from a traveler who happened to stop by Charlie’s.
So Freaking Good
Ok, I walked in and said “whoa”. There is stuff EVERYWHERE. But. The coolest stuff. I never got bored with
looking around and thinking about each person that came into this place and contributed to the decor. So much character and love.
The menu wasn’t what I was expecting but our waiter suggested a few items and I ordered the shrimp scampi. It was the best shrimp I’ve ever had. I very rarely finish a full meal and I devoured this dish. Unreal. Filling and delicious.
While finishing up our meals, our waiter gave us a little history of how he came to work there, and I loved listening to his stories. They treat that place like their home, and it shows.
We loved being there. They are sassy and hilarious. This place is a true hidden gem, and I only wish I heard about it sooner. I would recommend this place to anyone that loves to be a part of something awesome. Thanks to Charlie’s for such a great experience and meal.
If you enjoyed this post also read: FIVE CARIBBEAN ISLANDS TO AVOID RETIRING IN.
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