Andy Allen finds out why so many people describe Aruba as the happiest island in the world…
Aruba is part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands and is placed in the Southern Caribbean, just off the coast of Venezuala. It’s ideally placed outside of the hurricane belt, so they never experience tropical storms and get to enjoy sunshine almost every day – more so than any other Caribbean island. These unique conditions make it different to other islands you might have visited and are part of the geological make up that makes it so special.
The main languages spoken here are Dutch and a creole language called Papiamento. English is also widely spoken though.
A recent five-year Happiness Index study has Aruba come out on top with 78% of the population stating that they are happy. It’s really easy to see why.
Here I want to give you a taste of the island and give you some inspiration showcasing some of the delights on offer, whether it’s as a destination wedding or as part of your honeymoon.
Exploring the island and its terrain
The island is just under 20 miles long and 6 miles across, so getting around is easy. The constantly dry climate on Aruba means the landscape is peppered with Cactuses. There are large volcanic rocks strewn around from the island’s birth and some of the prettiest coves and beaches in the world. Its weather is consistent with a late twenties centigrade temperature all year round.
I took an island jeep tour with De Palm Tours, exploring much of the terrain enjoying the rugged coastline and stopping at many interesting places. One of the places we called at was Bushiribana Gold Mine. It was fascinating to hear the story of how
gold was discovered here 150 years ago by a young, local boy who found a nugget whilst walking on the beach. This sparked a gold rush in Aruba. Production has since ceased but the abandoned ruined Mill makes a stunning backdrop. We also visited the natural bridge – a unique bridge of stone carved by the sea that has forced its way underneath.
The North of the island’s skyline is dominated by the beautiful California Lighthouse. The structure was named after a steamship called California, which tragically ran aground on
the rocky coastline some years before.
Dining in Aruba
You will be spoilt for choice here. You can find flavours and foods from all over the world. Whether it be traditional Dutch, African, Spanish or Italian. There are a wide range of restaurants to suit every mood.
For a great relaxed bar serving burgers, wings, shrimps and fries head to Local Store. Soak up the friendly atmosphere with the locals and enjoy one of the local beers; Either Bashari or Chill are the most popular brands.
For a more romantic setting, try Pure Ocean Restaurant. Delicious food served on the beach, facing the sea, and an ideal spot to watch the sun go down. Whilst there I actually witnessed a proposal! She said yes!
The Screaming Eagle restaurant offers something totally different. Chic, gorgeous French fusion
food is served to you on trays in your own private lounge bed setting! A discreet
curtain separates you from other guests and allows a totally unique, romantic experience.
For a incredible Aruban/Dutch experience, I would highly recommend visiting Papiamento Restaurant. You will definitely be impressed. It’s a beautiful old colonial house set in tropical gardens serving high quality delicious food. At night time it looks particularly gorgeous.
When it gets dark, tiki torches illuminate the night at Passion’s on the Beach restaurant. Found on Eagle Beach, delicious, fresh cuisine is offered, making the perfect setting for lovers to watch
Beaches and beyond
Aruba is the setting for some seriously wonderful beaches. The sand is pure white, and made from really fine, ground coral. Because the sand is made of rock it means the sand remains cool to walk across even at the hottest part of the day. This is something I hadn’t experienced before. There is a constant breeze blowing through the air, this tends to refresh and cool you, but don’t get fooled, the sun is intense, remember to apply plenty of sunblock.
There are so many beautiful coves and beaches, there is something for all tastes here. There are pretty coves such as Baby Beach. This gives you a true sense of Caribbean paradise, the half moon shaped bay has a calm, crystal clear lagoon that laps the shoreline. Further along the coast is Eagle Beach. This stunning stretch of white sand has been voted 3rd best beach in the world on Trip Advisor. It’s easy to see why, it also makes the perfect spot to watch the sun go down.
If you fancy a break from the heat, a spectacular natural attraction is the Caves Fontain. These underground caverns make for an incredible tour. In places they are illuminated by daylight streaming in from above. It was amazing to see so many bats flying around so close!
Sail and snorkle tour
The Monforte is a gorgeous 115ft wooden schooner. We sailed along the coast to the Spanish Lagoon where we anchored and had fun snorkelling and exploring the coral reef. It was brilliant to be guided by the staff and be shown all the amazing sea life living in the area. The journey back had a superb party atmosphere with plenty of drinking and dancing on board.
Where to stay
I stayed at the lovely Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa. The hotel is on the famous Eagle Beach and is perfectly set to enjoy the beach views. It has 4 restaurants and serves delicious cuisine. I particularly enjoyed an early morning yoga session in the most spectacular setting. If you enjoy a spa treatment, its beach fronted private huts make for the perfect Caribbean pamper session.
Another strongly recommended hotel is Divi Aruba All Inclusive. This hotel as the name suggests, it gives you access to a full range of activities, from all you can eat dining to live music and access to a variety of water sports. I enjoyed the late night wood fired pizzas.The staff were friendly, as were the guests. The perfect spot to be entertained or just relax and enjoy.
Getting married in aruba
Both proposals and weddings are popular for travellers and there are a wide variety of options. The hotels mentioned in where to stay both offer beautiful wedding packages. Please check their websites for more details. An independent wedding planner like Lissy Lampe can offer unique beach side proposals experiences as well as working with Aruba’s top hotels. Please see quick fact box above for details.
There is a direct flight with TUI between May-Oct .The Dutch airline KLM flies direct from Amsterdam to Aruba. Flight time is around 10 hours.
Timezone 4 hours behind the UK
Languages Dutch and Papiamento and English is widely spoken
Currency Aruban Florin and US Dollars
Aruba Tourism and Marketing
Ceremonies & Celebrations in Aruba [email protected]
Averages of 27C-29C