The school year has started for a lot of families and we’re all getting into the routine of things. But before you put away those bathing suits, don’t forget about the long list of holidays to come before the year comes to an end, which makes for a great excuse to plan at least one last family vacation.
If you are like me and prefer to escape the cold then run head-on into it, then Aruba is the perfect family escape.
It’s a short and direct 4.5 hour plane ride from the main NYC/NJ airports and what I love the most about it is how easy it is to explore the island. You definitely want to rent a car to get around to the awesome spots I will highlight below. It’s also important to keep in mind that the roads can be a bit rugged in some parts of the island and slippery when wet, so your best bet is to rent a jeep or 4-wheel drive vehicle for better navigation.
Baby Beach is as family friendly as it sounds. A little off the beaten path and away from the large hotel and touristy attractions, Baby Beach’s half-moon cove is nestled within the walls of a coral reef. Its shallow waters make for a carefree play area for little ones.
There is always something going on in Aruba, whether they are celebrating the music, sports, or people. But one way to immerse yourself in the culture no matter what time of year you go, is by taking part in the Carubbian Festival which takes place every Thursday evening. Here local artisans display their costumes while parading down the street in a musical parade filled with laughter, color, and dance. Everyone is welcomed to join in, as well as shop, drink, and eat.
Don’t be fooled by Aruba’s size. This small island packs in a lot of fun. One of the best ways to see it all with your crew in tow is on an ATV tour. It’s the best way to get access to secluded areas such as Conchi, a natural pool surrounded by volcanic stones and rocks separating it from the powerful sea waves right next to it. It’s also the easiest way to get to the caves in Arikok National Park.
This is a tough one, because there is so much good food in Aruba but a good place to start is at Queens Restaurant for a serving of true Caribbean flavors. This is the place to be if you want to try things like chicken keshi yena, goat stew, pan bati, and funchi!
Food-lovers will also not want to miss Aruba’s Restaurant Week which takes place end of September and beginning of October. Here you will have a chance to discover eateries and the flavors of the island, all for a very reasonable price.
There are several hotels to choose from, but one of my favorites is the Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino. It’s adjacent beach, called Palm Beach is delightful with its serene, turquoise-blue waters. There are several water activities to choose from and when the parents need a date night, the hotel can help to arrange babysitting services, so that the adults can go play or take advantage of the in-house spa or casino.
Whether you go for a long weekend, or a longer week, a visit to the Happy Island of Aruba is sure to give your family that extra pep in your step to get through the year and cold weather with a smile.
In partnership with Alamo Car Rental.