Aruba - what to do; where to eat
July 21, 2015 3:11 PM   Subscribe

Going to Aruba with the spouse and two teenage boys (13 and 16) next week. I am a sit on the beach kind of guy, but they like activities. Two questions:

1 - What are the "must-do" things to do on the island? I don't want to regret missing anything cool, but I don't want to spend the whole week running from one mediocre attraction to another.
2 - What are the "don't-miss" restaurants? It's our anniversary, so I'm thinking one really nice place would be good, but I mostly like good, well-made food at a reasonable price. Difficulty level on this is that none of us eat fish.

Thanks in advance
posted by qldaddy to Travel & Transportation around Aruba (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My wife and I celebrated our anniversary in Aruba last year and ate at Madame Janette's. It's a little off the beaten path, but any cabbie will know how to get there, as it's not like a well-kept secret or anything. Just delicious food, and if you like craft beer, one of the only places to find it on the Island (the other being Taste of Belgium, which I also recommend, but not quite as highly.)

I really don't have as much to offer on "what to do", because we mostly just sat on the beach and in the pool when we were there, and that's pretty much my ideal vacation.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:19 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mrs. cnc and I thought Passions on the Beach was a very, very cool experience. We enjoyed the food, but that was kind of beside the point. Really nice service and an unbeatable view. You're literally ON the beach!

We tend to be activities people, and there wasn't a ton that stood out to us on Aruba other than snorkeling and sitting on the beach. We mostly did those two things, and I don't feel like I missed anything. Aruba is flat and dry, so there isn't that much geography to explore.
posted by cnc at 4:56 PM on July 21, 2015

We enjoyed Papiamento. It's in an old mansion and the tables are around the pool. You feel like you're at an old Hollywood dinner party.

Also second Passions on the Beach. You're sitting with your feet in the sand!

I didn't find that there was a ton to do, but we rented a jeep and went to Baby Beach at the southeastern end of the island. It's a little lagoon with a refreshment stand where we bought beers that we drank, dripping wet from the ocean on the sandy beach - that was pretty excellent. Lots of snorkelers there and a nearby spot to rent gear.

My parents have gone quite a bit and go to the casino a lot, if that's your thing. We did a lot of sitting on the beach and eating at restaurants.
posted by jdl at 7:17 PM on July 21, 2015

Seconding Papiamento. It's fantastic, and the setting is great, especially if you can sit outside.

Honestly, there's not much to miss. You can go into Oranjestadt for a few hours, but it's mostly shopping and touristy restaurants. We tried to get off the beaten path a little bit and didn't really find much. I know some people really enjoy the snorkeling and diving if that's your thing.
posted by slogger at 10:02 AM on July 22, 2015

My adult siblings and I loved The Natural Pool. We really had no idea where it was so we packed a lunch and meandered our way there in our jeep. You cannot take a regular car. There are escorted tours that take you there by open air jeep or horses.

We made my brother drive down the steep and scary road, at one point screaming our heads off with fear and joy and hopping off when my sister and I deemed it too scary. Once you arrive, there is a steep walk with many steps. It was worth the hike. Spent the afternoon there with very few people. We loved jumping off the boulders, snorkeling and leaning against rock walls while waves crashed over us...
posted by IndigoOnTheGo at 2:50 PM on July 22, 2015

Response by poster: Just to follow up on this in case other go searching the green for "Aruba":

In the "things to do" category, we went to Baby Beach and were underwhelmed. The National Park, however, was super. We had a great tour guide who took us in one of the caves and fed us sea grapes and almonds off the tree. We also did a 3-hour snorkeling boat, which I'm glad we did so the kids could snorkel, but feel no need to do again. For the most part, I think it's a go to the pool or sit on the beach kind of place.

In the "where to eat" category, we did not go out as much as planned, but Bingo was very good and Yemanja was truly excellent. Some of the best food I've had anywhere.
posted by qldaddy at 1:10 PM on August 7, 2015

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