Aruba - One Happy Island

Updated: Sep 22, 2018

- What to expect in Aruba - Cody Rowlett - Travel Writer -

Coral cliffs on the western shore near "The Natural Pool".

Planning the Adventure

After several cruises around the Caribbean, this traveler wanted to spend some actual time at one of my favorite islands... Aruba.

What made this island different? - Well, there are too many answers.

-The crystal clear blue water, the constant breeze, the beautiful beaches, the constantly changing landscape, the people, the food. I could go on and on...


  • Accommodations

  • Rental Car

  • Airfare

  • Planning & Mapping

ACCOMMODATIONS: In searching for accommodations, we were offered some amazing deals at several well known resorts, however, in the end, we decided to go with a luxury villa with a private pool to call our home base. Although resorts and hotels can offer plenty of amenities, a prime location, and a relaxed atmosphere for vacationers, our main focus for this trip was to hike the areas not typically visited by the average visitor. For the price of a nice hotel, we were able to rent a 5 bedroom, 5 bath villa, giving us all privacy. Our recommended decision of the gated Merlot Villas comes highly recommended!

Centrally located in Noorb on the northern side of the island, every beach was basically within a convenient driving distance.

RENTAL CAR: In researching the terrain and hidden locations that we were researching (and planning on trying to locate) it was clear that an SUV was going to be necessary to not get stranded out in the middle of nowhere. Several parks and landmarks require some off-road coral/sand/rough commutes. We accidentally rented a 2WD RAV 4, but in the end, it got the job done. If I go back, it will definitely be a 4WD so that we can venture further and not worry about accidentally stopping in soft areas. If you plan on visiting the Natural Pool, the Natural Bridge, the caves, the gold mine ruins without a tour, this is good advice and will save you some anxiety.

This decision on rental car company was made fairly easily. We always go with a national chain and chose Budget rental car without hesitation. The price was right and you do not have to worry about insurance issues with unknown local companies (which we have experienced in other places). Plus, to be honest, this island is ROUGH on a vehicle. Do not be picky on the vehicle that they give you. By the end of the week, our SUV was coated in dirt/dust/salt. I was almost embarrassed at the condition of our vehicle when we dropped it off at the airport. I am surprised the wheels were still functioning after some of the terrain we crossed. :)

AIRFARE: As usual, we waited for fare alerts through "Scott's Cheap Flights". We then chose the best fare travel days using the "google flight's" calendar and matched them up with available dates at the villa. It sounds like a lot, but this was fairly simple and honestly was done within two months of travel at a great rate! I highly recommend booking a window seat. The view of the islands is breathtaking from the air and you can get some pretty amazing shots from the plane.

PLANNING & MAPPING: The soul purpose of this adventure was to seek out and find places that are not normally visited by the average Aruba tourist. We spent days scouring youtube, google, google maps, travel blogs, instagram hashtags, and even friending locals on dating apps! (not kidding) Our plan was to make the most of our seven days.

Arrival: Our flight arrived mid afternoon. We used this day to travel, pick up the car, check in to our villa, go grocery/supply shopping. We actually had some time leftover to relax at the pool, venture up to the California Light House, catch the sunset at Palm Beach, walk through the shopping area, stop in a casino, and eat at a restaurant. We chose a tourist favorite "Smokey Joe's Island Grill". It lived up to its fantastic reviews!



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