Among the big Caribbean island players, Aruba remains a top vacation spot for many reasons. True to its reputation as “one happy island,” Aruba is a year-round destination averaging 82 degrees, located outside the hurricane zone. And, for a small area that’s only 19 miles long and 6 miles wide at its widest point, Aruba is packed with more natural attractions and offbeat adventures than one could imagine.
Still, the magic lies in its beaches. On the far northwestern end of Aruba is perhaps the prettiest section of all, called Palm Beach. This area epitomizes the Caribbean allure—white satin shores and swaying palm trees—and it is where the magnificent Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino is located.
At the resort, visitors can take in the fresh sea air as they languish in luxury on the beach or alongside the main free-form pool that features several cascading waterfalls that make the perfect sound backdrop. Not to be missed, the adults-only H2Oasis pool is where to go to relax or read while sipping a freshly made cocktail in your (very comfy for napping) private cabana.
Taking relaxation to the max, the resort’s Mandara Spa may be the largest on the island, but it is still warmly intimate and nurturing. The Bali-inspired spa practices healing arts that have been passed down from generation to generation, and guests can be put into zen-land with any of their signature treatments, oils and teas.
For actives, the Vela Aruba shack on property is the place to sign up for just about any water sport ever invented, even a newer iteration: yoga on a stand up paddleboard (SUP). The paddleboards venture just a bit off shore in hip-deep water, so clear it’s almost invisible, ensuring a soft landing for any downward-facing dogs that might lose their balance. Instructors do their best to keep you focused, and the experience can be incredibly serene.
Also, a few steps down the beach at MooMba, guests can indulge in the fast-growing Aruban sport of beach tennis. Played like court tennis, but on a volleyball-size plot of sand, the ball must not hit the ground, naturally. It is a workout, and the perfect exercise to justify the giant scoop of coconut frozen yogurt topped with acai and pitaya to help cool you down at Eduardo’s Beach Shack.
You never have to leave the property to dine, as the resort offers a variety of options. From Macadamia-crusted Grouper with Bok Choy and Black Quinoa Chaufa (fried rice) at toes-in-the-sand Atardi, to a 22-ounce Ribeye at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, there’s a feast just steps away from your room. La Vista serves a bountiful breakfast buffet that can be enjoyed on the oceanfront terrace, and Ketsu Sushi Bar, located in the main lobby, is open from noon until almost midnight. The many bars—beach, pool and lobby—specialize in hand-crafted aloe cocktails that are healthy and delicious. There is even a full-service Starbucks on-site.
The multi-cultural character of the island, thanks to its history of occupancy by the Spanish, the British and the Dutch, cultivates a warm, accepting people who take pride in Aruba’s rich history and traditions. Indeed, one happy island.