White sandy beaches are just the beginning. Resident expert Rona Coster shares 10 reasons why you’ll want to visit Aruba.
- The weather is always glorious, all beaches fantastic, the breeze is ever-present and, most importantly, Aruba is beautiful year-round, and people are very hospitable and gentle.
- The island is a melting pot of cultures and one-third of all Arubans—111,050 [total]—have one foreign-born parent, which imports a wealth of interesting influences, with the local language, Papiamento, as the common denominator. We speak four languages interchangeably. Our favorite foods have Dutch, Venezuelan, Columbian and Antillean roots
- The Aruba Ariba is a cocktail virtually every bartender on the island can make, but its origins are at the Aruba Caribbean Resort (now the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino), where it was first made on July 1, 1963 by legendary master mixer Jocky Tromp during a mixology contest. The original recipe includes vodka and white rum, laced with crème de banane, flavored with Grand Marnier, fruit punch, lemon, pineapple and orange juices and grenadine syrup, then topped with a maraschino cherry. The drink is both refreshing and delicious, but drinkers beware: it carries a punch!
- Magic Mango was created by brewmaster Marisol Heronimo for the Balashi Brewery, where she worked in the quality control lab as a biochemist. With a quick career shift she headed to brewmaster school in Berlin. She created Magic Mango for the brewery upon her return (pre-covid-19) and watched it become the fastest growing beer in Aruba in 2020, with an even bigger surge in sales in 2021. Try the pale ale with [its] distinct mango aroma at any bar on the island.
- Keshi Yena a stuffed cheese casserole, is sinfully delicious. The Papiamento restaurant serves an especially creamy version of the classic recipe, with chicken or beef, cashews, pearl onions, prunes or raisins, capers or green olives.
- As a Dutch island, Aruba turned to Dutch cuisine and imports for inspiration and adopted many continental favorites as its own. My all-time favorite is the Aruba butter cake, bolo di manteca, which is the basis to all party cakes, especially bolo di pruim (prune), bolo di cashupete (cashew)—the ultimate party cake—or the very decadent pistachio cake.
- The Sunset Concierge at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino offers guests a culinary adventure at any breathtaking location of their choice, against an unforgettable sunset. [They] will make all arrangements and personalize your five-course meal with wine or champagne.
- Fresh fish is always a winner on Aruba: red snapper, grouper, mahi mahi and tuna, freshly caught in our water are always a treat, especially when served with pan bati (the local corn meal pancakes) or funchi (corn meal mash) and banana hasa (sweet fried plantain). Seafood is your best bet in local restaurants, and the classic fish creole, sautéed and accompanied by freshly made creole sauce is a fantastic choice. Try Elements restaurant at the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort to get a taste of Caribbean soul food.
- Stay at The Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, on Palm Beach, the oldest large hotel on the island, with the largest exclusive beachfront property, [which] allows for a secluded feeling near all of the places you’ll want to explore. Also try Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort on Eagle Beach and the Boardwalk Boutique Hotel in Palm Beach.
- Visitors to Aruba should enjoy some unstructured time, without doing anything in particular, in the spirit of a true vacation. We have become too busy for our own good, and should take advantage of the Aruba care-free, laid-back vibe, to de-stress and relax. Adopt the Aruban lifestyle of Biba Dushi (Live the Sweet Life) and don’t do a thing!! Enjoy the beach, a book, a drink, a swim, repeat.
Rona Coster, a longtime resident of Aruba, is an online columnist, a radio personality, a PR executive and the co-publisher of WheninArubaTV. Her daily blog Bati Bleki Buzz, published on an app and online, is a popular source of news and commentary on the island.