5 Best Things to Do in Aruba

What to Pack, See, Do in Aruba

When traveling to the One Happy Island there are a few things you need to know.

  1. On your Departing Flight you will want to arrive at the airport 3-4 hours early. You will go through local AND U.S. customs in Aruba before boarding your flight home.
  2. While Aruba is very developed and you can use your credit/debit card in lots of places, dealing in cash is quicker and much more convenient. Yes, they take U.S dollars.
  3. Aruba is actually one of the safest Caribbean islands in more than one way. It is rated as a Level 1 on the Travel Advisory. This just means to use normal precautions while traveling. Also, it is located south of the hurricane belt which means, no hurricanes! Well, very rarely anyways. The last one was a Level 2 in 2007 that caused minor damage.

Just like every travel destination, there are several MUST DO experiences in Aruba! We have set out to give you a guide to help you plan your own trip to the Happy Island!

5 Things You MUST See and Do in Aruba

1. Hit Up the Beaches!

              The beaches in Aruba are bar none better than any beach we have ever been to. In our last post we talked a little about Eagle Beach and Baby Beach, but we really wanted to make a special note that you should definitely carve out time during your stay to lie on any beach and soak in the sun.

  We recommend Eagle Beach for soft sifted sand and beautifully clear water. Some days, the waves were pretty exciting. There were only very strong swimmers out at these times when the waves began to pick up. This is the beach where our room was located. If it hadn’t been for our exploring minds, we could have easily lounged on this beach the entire week not seeking for anything else. It has everything a perfect beach day could offer. While the beach is hot, of course, Aruba’s wind makes being outside all day very comfortable.

  Baby Beach, located on the southern end of the island in San Nicolas, AKA Chocolate City, is a beautiful lagoon for shallow snorkeling and easy swimming.This is a perfect place for children, hence the name Baby Beach. Big Mama Grill is located on the end where you can purchase food or rent chairs and snorkel equipment. We decided to simply lay out towels under a mangrove of trees and spend most of our time in the water. There is a spot farther out away from the lagoon that has a warning sign for strong swimmers only. Of course, Hilary had to check it out with her snorkel gear. There were tons of tropical fish so close she could reach out and touch them.

2. Take an ATV Tour Through the Desert

               We booked an ATV tour with KiniKini Tours that allowed us to see several signature spots in Aruba. We loaded up on the ATV’s, which you can ride single rider or double, and we recommend that you ride single. We started riding through the town on paved roads admiring the homes and everyday life. However, once you get into the desert, the ride is rough and dusty. This only added to the thrill for us, but with two riders it can become uncomfortable after a while. You will also want a bandana or a cloth face shield of some sort to keep the dust out of all your lovely orifices. We purchased ours for 15 bucks a piece! Save yourself some money and bring one from home! Also, make sure you wear something you don’t mind getting dirty.

 On our tour we got to visit a Catholic chapel on the hill still in use, an old Gold Mill ruin, a natural land bridge, and a natural pool! All of the spots were interesting and beautiful in their own way. Unexpectedly, the views between the rides were just as pleasing. To the right, desert landscape full of cacti. To the left, cliffs with waves crashing. It was simply stunning. The highlight of the tour was absolutely the Natural Pool. After walking down what seemed like 300 steps, you come to a clearing. Just behind slippery rocks that you have to climb over and slide yourself into the pool. The current was strong here, as well. The pool is surrounded by huge bouldering rocks that are blocking huge crashing waves. This was worth the work to get here.

 We decide to swim over to the very distant edge to get an Insta worthy pic. About that time, the biggest wave of the day crashes over the rocks and onto our heads submerging us underwater. Off we go! The current takes us on a wild ride, when the second biggest wave of the day hits us. It certainly gave us quite the thrill and certainly no Instagram worthy picture for us. Back up the 300 steps we go!

3. Tour Oranjestad

Oranjestad is this lovely island’s capital city, and it is where you will fly in and out of Aruba. We spent one morning walking around the city. We found it to be unique because of the mix of cultures which include the indigenous people of the island, Spanish, Africans, and Dutch, just to name a few. The architecture is all different, as well, with touches of Dutch flavor since they are a country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. There are tons of places to stop and eat. We saw food trucks, restaurants on the water,  and elegant fine dining. We could do an entire post about food. As a matter of fact, we will. Also, a variety of shopping is everywhere. We stopped at the local markets and browsed the high end retailers. Our favorite store: the local grocery store.

Transportation to explore consist of rental cars, cabs, and the trolley. We decided to walk, but the trolley would have been a nice option. It is free, after all, and begins at the cruise ship terminal at 10:00 AM. It runs downtown, and the doubledecker offers great views.

4. Explore Chocolate City

 As we have mentioned above, San Nicolas is on the southeastern portion of the island. The locals of the city have nicknamed it Chocolate City because they are proud of who they are and where they come from, and rightfully so. This city will fill your artistic and eclectic soul with culture and appreciation of the roots in Aruba. This is where our friend, Jermaine, is from. Had it not been for him, we would have had no idea what San Nicolas is all about. With that said, if you visit here, we ask to please be respectful and courteous as this is not a very touristy location. This is where people live and celebrate their everyday life. It’s a colorful, vibrant place with restaurants and art galleries to wander into.

Strolling around downtown, the first thing that stood out to us were the murals. OH MY GOODNESS, THE MURALS! The buildings are covered with the most beautiful realistic paintings. They are all spray painted by the locals. Truly, jaw dropping skills here.

We can’t forget to mention San Nicolas is also home to one of the best Carnival celebrations in the world! This takes place around the time of Ash Wednesday usually in February or March. But, if you can’t make it at that time, they also have festivals every Thursday night in the months June through December. This consist of everything from food to crafts to performers to just plain culture.

We would like to state, we headed home before dark, ‘nuff said. That was just our judgement call.

5. Nightlife

After spending the day on the beach, or exploring nature, or wandering through an artsy city you might want to get cleaned up and go out on the town. We try to try out the night life everywhere we go, like we have mentioned before, we have exploring minds and just had to find out what was out there! There is a section called the High Rise area. There are restaurants, places to hang out, and laid back bars located here. We began walking the J.E. Irausquin Boulevard in Palm Beach where we found this lovely food boutique named, Picnic. This place was gorgeous. We quickly became friends with the bartenders there. They were so friendly and answered any questions we had about their life in Aruba and then some. After some time there, we were ready for some dancing. Our new friends sent us over to Gusto Night Club Aruba.

We passed a lot of interesting places you could dip into if you wanted, but our dancing shoes were on. We pushed forward to Gusto’s. This was our place. They had an inside bar with air conditioning that played Caribbean Dance music mixed with American rap. The room opened to the front area that was covered but felt like you were more outside. We danced, we laughed, we experienced.

Aruba was a place of fun and friends for us two cousins. It hit all of our travel senses: relaxation, adventure, culture, art, excitement, and food. Stay tuned for our next post: The Tastes of Aruba!

Compatible Carry-Ons

“First things first [y’all] the realest!” – Iggy Azalae.

We set a goal for 100 views on our blog in a week! Y’all managed to give us that in just two hours of our website going live! We want to say thank you so much!

Now, onto what this blog is about! A wise woman once told us “If you think you love someone, carry them on vacation with you!” It is so easy to think you would get along with someone for extended amounts of time if you see them on a regular basis. However, this just is not the case. By the end of the week, you are ready to ship your bestie, boyfriend, coworker, or whoever you brought with you back to where the hell they came from. It is so important to find someone you are compatible with! This does not mean someone who is just like you. Compatibility means despite your differences you still get along and work well under stressful situations together. Traveling is so fun and often times very relaxing, but it can be hectic at times when flights get delayed or the hotel room will not be ready for another three hours. One thing that is great about us is that we are VERY different and also VERY compatible. We are the CRAZY to the other one’s SANE! We have found that we are complementary in all kinds of situations. We often joke that we have the best of both worlds. Rachel a brunette. Hilary a blonde. Rachel an old soul. Hilary a free spirit. The list goes on and on.

Now being the “Carry On Cousins” that we are, we wanted to give you a little insight as to how we are SO different. When it comes to traveling there are only two things you need to make your trip happen: a carry-on, of course, and MUSIC! Whether you are traveling by bus, plane, train, or car, music is the key to those long stretches of time between you and your destination.

The packing strategies we use differ entirely! Hilary is a fly by the seat of her yoga pants kind of girl. She firmly believes in the idea that plans are meant to be broken. Approaching the night before a travel day, you can find her elbow deep in the closet pulling from her extensive collection of girly blouses, colorful camis, and extensive array of flirty dresses. She shamelessly throws options in that are bold and stylish. She ain’t scared to mix patterns or textures. She is a last minute packer who can stay calm while the clock ticks away. Rachel, on the other hand, is always on the go with her carry on packed and loaded in the car ready when the horn sounds. She lives her life as an organized mess. You may not can find her favorite sneakers but she knows without looking one of them is under her passenger seat and the other is at the bottom of her carry on. Her time spent as a girl scout has taught her to always be prepared. When the time comes to pack she was ready to leave ten minutes ago. Not to mention, she is shaking and trembling scared to death she is going to be late while Hilary is casually looking for her `purse` chapstick.

So without further adieu, here are the top five things we MUST have in our carry on for a successful trip!  

5 things Hilary Has to Have in Her Carry On

  1. Travel Size (we like to call it “baby”) Vaseline – I have to have this with me because I need to keep my feet baby soft with absolutely NO blisters. Honestly, I get sore bruised heels from being on my feet all day at my job. Healthcare ain’t for the faint of heart… or feet.
  2. Chapstick(s) at least two – Moisturization is KEY!
  3. Tweezers – The closer you get to thirty the fewer candles you are blowing and the more chin hairs you are plucking! Protip: pluck in the sunlight for optimal plucking pleasure.
  4. Headphones – I ALWAYS have to have my music playing. I love setting up a playlist for travel days. DJ HILLY in the house!  
  5. Yoga Pants – The most versatile clothing item ever! You can dress them down with a sports bra or dress them up with a blazer.

5 Things Rachel Has to Have in Her Carry On

  1. Snacks – Snacks are life. IDK why this ain’t on Hilary’s list
  2. Something to read – I am tired of reading about the new airline credit card pamphlet tucked in the back of the airplane seats… When I get bored, the world is in imminent danger so I need some form of entertainment with me.  
  3. Tide2Go Pen – Snacks can get messy… Also, see post “Best Idea Ever” I might fall down in the mud.
  4. Bluetooth Speaker – While Hilary has her headphones for the plane, once we get in the room we need some jams to pump our tires up while getting ready for the night out on the town! This is where my UE Roll comes in handy!
  5. Scrunchy- My hair is everywhere! (My favorite are the Dewedit Scrunchies which you can get here )

Now as previously mentioned, music is so important when you travel. It is the soundtrack to your life. You want to have the best background music at all times. Admittedly, this is probably where we disagree the most. Hilary has the best eclectic taste. She is almost always the DJ on the road trips with a playlist for every occasion. Rachel, on the other hand, often just clicks on the radio and lets the station control what is going to be played. Which means if she turns on the radio in Alabama, it is going to be country music. Hilary HATES country music. (Besides like 90’s country, which we can all agree is a genre all its own)

SO…. We have completed a list of songs for you all that we both love, and songs that we hate.

Songs we both like

Hilary’s songs that she loves, but that Rachel hates

Rachel’s Songs that she loves, but that Hilary hates

Finding your compatible traveling partner is so important. Honestly, it does not matter where you go, it is who you are with that makes the trip a memory that lasts a lifetime. There are weekends that we have spent lying around on the couch not doing a single thing but breathing, and it was the best rejuvenating weekend ever. We both encourage you to find your person and make the most out of your everyday lives. Life is about experiences, adventures, and most of all memories. Around these parts, we like to say “Make memories, not plans”. Don’t sit around waiting for life to come to you, go chase after all the things that make you happy!