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NxTSTOP: AUA

The Inside Look At One Happy Island

· Travel Insider

BK's Overview

Aruba is without a doubt one of my favorite places in the world. Arguably the world's best windsurfing, beautiful beaches, delicious food and fun lifestyle are here, all about 3 hours from the U.S.  I've been coming here for 15 years, and it only gets better each time. Interestingly, electronic music has started to become part of the island...Aruba now hosts two festival (Love Fest and Electric Fest) each year, which have some excellent DJs and chill vibe.  

Looking towards the high rise hotel zone

A word to the wise: use the Duty Free and buy your alcohol when you land (you'll see it's not cheap). Next get a car. The island is small but it's key to getting around easily, such as cool spots around the hotel zone area as well as a few interesting side trips around the island. The road 1A (LG Smith Blvd) is the main street running past the hotels from southeast to northwest, and 2B is the parallel backroad you can take to hit some other cool spots.

14 Ideas For AUA (Activities / Drinks / Food)

1. Windsurfing/Kitesurfing at Vela (next to the Marriott) - This is the primary reason I go to Aruba. Top equipment for all different levels and conditions, as well as a super friendly staff.

Another look at the windsurfing area

2. Tierra Del Sol - on the northwest side of the island, this is a world-class golf course with breathtaking views around the California Lighthouse and towards the water on the point of the island. Outstanding restaurant at the clubhouse.

Tierra del sol (view from my house)

3. Local Store - a great off-the-beaten-path sports bar with a unique burger menu. Also a happy hour spot, as the name indicates mostly locals hang here. Take the road where the Wendy's and Domino's are off of LG Smith.

Great burgers, chill vibe at Local Store

4. Yemanja - my favorite restaurant on the island, which has a seafood slant and wood-fired ovens and indoor/outdoor seating. It's on the backroad in Oranjestad.

5. Craft - a relatively new bar with great beer selection and good cocktails. This spot is a mellow lounge in the middle of the hotel zone craziness right around the corner from Gusto.

6. Gusto - this is a hopping bar/dance club mix that is on the fringe of the hotel area, next to the (now defunct) Sr. Frog's. Early in the evening this would be the place to get turnt.

Ready for spicy time at Gusto...

7. The Mill - the late night spot (after 1 am) situated right underneath the windmill that rises next to LG Smith Blvd at the juncture of the high-rise and low-rise hotels.

8. Club 080 - a unique Friday happy hour spot on road 2B with a local feel. On Tuesdays it also turns into an after hours Dutch spot for those in the know. Definitely worth checking out.

9. Moomba Beach - this is a beachside bar on the edge of the Marriott complex that is fun to hit for happy hour or on Sunday's (it's big night with live music). Locals and tourists alike mix here.

10. Madame Janette's - A unique seafood spot that offer's amazing seafood options and a truly impressive craft beer selection (albeit very pricey). The Almond-crusted Grouper is a must.

11. Papiamento - Named for the native language of the island, this is a cool restuarant with great local seafood options. Located on the backroad connecting 1A and 2B.  

12. California Lighthouse / Faro Blanco - situated on the top of a hill with great sunset views, the lighthouse is worth a visit, and the adjoining Italian restaurant Faro Blanco is decent for italian food while enjoying the scenery. Head there around 6pm to take advantage.

13. Baby Beach - if you're up for an adventure, head to the very southeast end of the island by San Nicolas to get to this enclosed little cove. Great snorkeling in shallow water.

14. Arashi Beach - want to escape the crowds of the hotel zone? Arashi is the main local beach nearby up by the Lighthouse.

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