Jayme917: We went to aruba last month. I didn’t love it, but that’s me.
The problem is that there’s really no culture and Aruba has an excellent marketing campaign. But off the resorts, it’s a fairly ugly island as it literally is a desert island. But there are some spots I liked. We rented a house across from the Spanish Lagoon, which was a great snorkeling spot with a secluded beach set in mangroves. It was quiet, so I was actually able to sunbathe topless without anyone bothering me (it’s “illegal” in Aruba, but because there are so many Europeans, it’s not thaaaat big a deal).
We rented a jeep and went off roading. Be careful where you rent from, though, bcs someplaces get mad if you take them in the desert. That was fun and an adventure. We saw wild goats. There’s also windsurfing, but it’s kind of dangerous.
AVOID FLYING FISHBONES or whatever. It’s only popular because of the ambiance, but it’s over-priced and the food was horrible. Funny story- we went for drinks and a bite our first night and food was bad- we sent it back. The GM was polite but he started to argue with me when I told him the dish didn’t taste as it should. The next day FI got a text from his boss. She set us up with reservations there, as she is friends with the same GM that argued with me, and we had to go back, as his boss went out of the way to get us the best table. That GM was eating crow all night.
Go to Zeerover instead. They serve fried fish (freshly caught), shrimp, fries, and plantains. Super simple but so good.
We cooked mostly at the rental, so we didn’t eat out much. Also, there is no where outside of the resort/downtown area where you can get coffee. We learned that the hard way.
Honestly, there wasn’t much to do but sit by the beach and drink beer all day. Balashi, the local beer, is delicious. We brought home a couple 6 packs and I wish it were more. Also, don’t waste $$ on bottled water. Aruba has one of the best desalination plants in the world. Their water is better and cleaner than bottled water, and so delicious. They actually have to add impurities to the water, because it’s so pure it doesn’t boil without whatever they add. It was easily the best tasting water I have ever had. If you are drinking booze in hotel room, buy stuff at duty free on your way in country. Everything is so much more expensive on island.
The island is “safe” in relative Caribbeam terms. I witnessed theft on the beach, locals will constantly ask if you want to buy drugs, and there are a lot of strays (thankfully the island doesn’t have rabies though). Be smart about going out at night. There is a lot of theft that isn’t reported.