aruba natural pool swimming

Make a splash in a natural pool in Aruba. (Photo: Getty Images)

Weekend Getaways

Lounge Seaside or Have an Inland Adventure on an Aruba Weekend Getaway

Though there’s always the option in Aruba to completely check out upon check-in, this Dutch Caribbean island (part of the ABC Islands, along with Bonaire and Curacao) offers a multitude of activities that run the gamut from scuba diving and kitesurfing to horseback riding and dune buggying. Even rum-bar-hopping and beachfront fine dining are on offer.

Aruba is a destination as much about lounging Caribbean-seaside as it is adventuring the island terrain, especially on a weekend getaway.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.


aruba surf club
Pack plenty of sunblock in Aruba; you won’t want to leave the beach! (Photo: Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club)

Locals refer to their beaches as “sanctuaries” where they learn to walk, swim and become one with the island, so what better place to start your trip — and become one with the destination — than the powdery white sands?

The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba sprawls across a slice of the famed Palm Beach, providing guests access to private cabanas and loungers that permit an all-afternoon affair. Another option is Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club, tucked between Hadicurari and Palm Beach, with oceanfront rooms offering sweeping views of the turquoise Caribbean Sea.

Plan to spend your first afternoon and evening embracing the island lifestyle with sand between your toes, sipping a sunset cocktail. Stay on theme this evening and opt for beachside dining: BLT Steak features a steakhouse menu with fantastic seafood options, or head to Barefoot Aruba, known for its gourmet seafood dishes aptly enjoyed sans shoes.


aruba lighthouse
Visit the California Lighthouse for 360-degree views. (Photo: Getty Images)

Rent an open-air Jeep and lean into islandwide adventure today, beginning in the capital town of Oranjestad where the Dutch Colonial architecture frames charming boutiques and eateries. Grab a bite at The Dutch Pancakehouse for a namesake breakfast (savory morning fare is also available) or Bistro De Suikertuin for a mix of European classics, including some vegetarian dishes, and bottomless mimosas.

Walk off your meal by popping into local boutiques: The pastel-washed storefronts intertwine Aruban artisans and international brands. Don’t miss duty-free perfumes, local jewelry and Aruban aloe.

Hop back in the Jeep and maintain the adrenaline rush with a trip to Arikok National Park, accounting for a huge swath of Aruba’s protected flora and fauna and home to the Hooiberg lookout, a volcanic formation that offers hikers rewarding vistas.

You’ll also discover the Natural Pool, colloquially referred to as Conchi (bowl), where a circle of naturally formed stone creates a pool that is seemingly separated from the adjacent sea — an ideal spot to cool off when the ocean is calm. Should you seek a further thrill, trade the Jeep for a dune buggy and zip down the coast near Bushiribana Gold Mine Ruins.

Finish up the day at California Lighthouse for 360-degree island views; sunset is the most popular time for a visit, so expect good company, but turn your eyes to the sun melting into the sea and the crowds should fade away.

Stop at a local rum bar, like Bugaloe Beach Bar, on the way home for casual fare with Aruban flavors. Some popular dishes include keshi yena (cheese and spiced meat) as well as fried plantains and catch of the day prepared whole.


catamaran at sunset in aruba
Take a sunset sail in Aruba. (Photo: Getty Images)

Rise and shine with SUP Yoga, offered by Vela Sports, which also offers windsurfing and kitesurfing if that’s more your speed. And if you’re in the mood for land-based action, perhaps a horseback ride along the beach suits your style.

After relishing a morning surrounded by Aruba’s bountiful nature, it’s time to experience the island’s artistic side in San Nicolas. Renowned as the birthplace of Carnival on Aruba, this town is tucked along the island’s southern tip, where it boasts Caribbean street murals and mixed-arts boutiques dedicated to showcasing local crafts.

After a few days getting acquainted with Aruba, it’s time to board a catamaran and sail into the sunset for a new view of the island. Arrange a catamaran sailing excursion to enjoy a fuller afternoon, like a snorkeling venture, followed by rum punch and local music.

If you want to keep your land legs about you, try a round of golf at Tierra del Sol, the only 18-hole championship golf course on the island, before calling it a day.