Aruba Resort Area
Overall, Aruba was a fantastic trip we’d recommend to anyone. There was a great variety of activities for people of all ages and the weather, resorts, and beaches were amazing.
Aruba is a fairly small island, about 20 miles from the northern to southern tip and approximately 6 miles wide. The majority of the resorts on the island is located on the west/northwest shore of the island (within a 5 mile stretch); divided into the ‘low rise’ and ‘high rise’ hotel areas. This makes most of resort activities (beaches, restaurants, water sports) very easy to get to. Most of the resorts are confined to one area due to the fact that the west side of the island has very calm water and beautiful beaches, while the east side is rocky with rough waters. It should also be noted that you are by no means confined to your resort/hotel for the whole trip. Aruba is considered one of the safer Caribbean islands with all beaches being public, and depending on your location, there are strips of restaurants within walking distance.
One of the reasons Aruba is such a desirable place to vacation is because of the weather and lack of rain. Every day of our trip was mid-high 80's during the day and mid-high 70's at night—which is actually what the weather is for most of the year. Contrary to most tropical islands that have a rain forest climate, Aruba has a dessert-like climate. This is great if you’re a vacationer because some of the few negatives of Caribbean islands are avoided: no pop-up thunderstorms, lack of humidity which makes the hot temperature very comfortable, and also results in few mosquitoes and pesky bugs.
However, being nearly right on the equator, you and your skin will definitely feel the effects of the sun. When you’re out on the beach we’d definitely recommend bringing high SPF sunscreen, a sun hat with a chin-string (key for the breeze), long sleeve light weight shirt, and more water than you think you need.
An interesting aspect of Aruba is the wind. There is always a constant breeze in the air and it almost always blows from the east. This worried us a bit when we were first booking the trip because if you check weather.com or some of the other internet weather sites you’ll see the Aruba wind speed is around 20 mph. This may seem extremely windy for a beach day in the United States. However, we found this to be a little misleading. Because the wind in the resort area will always be at your back and is blocked by the hotel buildings, it was more commensurate of a 7-10 mph wind. The constant light wind actually felt great in the hot sun.
Resorts and Beaches – Low Rise Area
For our trip we stayed at the Divi Resorts in the low-rise area. Our unit was located in between Druif and Divi Beach; a great location that was only steps away from the beach. The upside to the low rise area is that the resorts have more of a private feel to them in a beautiful location. While every beach in Aruba is public regardless of location, it seemed like the Divi beach crowd were mostly folks from the resort and it never got too crowded. There were also minimal beach vendors and water sports going on, making it very relaxing.
The downside to this area was the lack of restaurants and bars within walking distance of the area. Most of the restaurants on the resort required purchasing an all-inclusive day pass. It also seemed like there were a lack of resort organized activities.
Resorts and Beaches – High Rise Area
Head a few miles up the road from the low rise area and you’ll hit the strip of high rise hotels. In between the high rise and low rise area is Eagle Beach. If you do some internet searching of Aruba beaches, you’ll likely come across Eagle Beach as the top rated beach in Aruba and one of the best beaches in the world. It’s definitely worth checking out and taking a few pictures to say you saw it, but in reality, it’s the same stretch of sand and water as the beaches surrounding it. When we were there it seemed to be the go-to spot for the locals as many of them bring tents and camp out under the trees by the sand—it was a really cool site.
The high rise area definitely has a more commercial feel to it vs. the low-rise area. The main beach is called Palm Beach. A downside to this area can be that the beaches will likely be more crowded. There are also many more beach vendors and water sports going on. This can also be an upside if you’re into water sports/activities.
One of the pros to the high rise area was the proximity of night life options. On the opposite side of the road with all the resorts was a great variety of restaurants and bars all within a short walk of the hotels. There were also a few beach restaurant options. Because of the amount of dining options available we found that most restaurants were rarely crowded and did not require a reservation.
Renting a Car/Jeep
One topic that we researched a lot prior to our trip was renting a car/jeep. Is it worth it/necessary? How early do you need to reserve?
We’d recommend to anyone who likes adventure to rent a Jeep and go off-roading down the east coast of the island and Arikok National Park. This whole side of the island can only be accessed by an off-road vehicle and it was an amazing experience. For more detailed information, we have a separate article dedicated to the experience. We rented for a total of $140, which was on the high side for price, but well worth it. If you decide you want to rent a Jeep, book it ASAP. We booked a week before and had to call a few places before finding availability. Get a soft-top, take the top off, and let it rip.
For renting a car- is it worth it or not, it all depends on where you’re staying. If you’re in the low rise area and not in an all-inclusive resort, we’d definitely recommend renting one for a day or two. The hotel car rental affiliate prices are very inflated compared to the local rental companies. We rented a car our last day there from Amigo car rental and had a good experience. Most of the local places will drop the car off at your hotel. For a car it seemed like there was much more availability. We rented the day-of and were able to get a small car for $55. The nice thing about renting car on your last day there is that you can drive it to the airport the next day and drop it off there. If you’re staying in the high rise area, a car is less necessary, unless you’d like to do some exploring—which we recommend!