When we finally reached the resort, we knew immediately upon pulling that we had picked the right spot and that we were in for something truly magical. We pulled up in the breezeway right in front of the open air lobby where we were greeted with refreshments and the most pleasant clerk.
It took us awhile to decide on a destination... we wanted to go somewhere neither of us had ever been, and also somewhere a little off the beaten path. With a little research, we found Curacao, part of the Netherlands Antilles and slightly less touristy than its neighbor Aruba, though slightly more expensive to get to.
With miles of white sand beaches, perfectly turquoise seas, and the most sunlight of any Caribbean island, it’s no wonder that Aruba has won the hearts of so many honeymooners. Famously representing the “A” in the traveler treasured “ABC Islands” (along with Bonaire and Curacao), Aruba – part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – sits just north of Venezuela, comfortably outside the Caribbean hurricane belt.
A pint-sized Dutch island nation seemingly built for romance and relaxation, Aruba is dotted with luxury resorts across world-famous beaches, and is blessed with incredibly friendly locals eager to share their sun-and-sea-induced way of life. Venture off the powdery sands, and you’ll find just the right amount of natural adventures to fill sunny days with exploration, guided by native Divi Divi trees, natural compasses which always faces southwest from steady trade winds. Add an inspired culinary scene along with a thriving capital city into the fabric of Aruba, and it becomes even easier to understand why the national license plate reads “One Happy Island.”
Palm Beach has long been the thriving pulse of Aruba’s tourism. Its two miles of sugar-white sandy beaches are located along the northwest coast of the island and lined with the island’s finest hotels, restaurants, and bars. The perfect place to pamper yourself, Palm Beach offers private beachside cabanas and serene spas, along with more lively offerings like swim-up pool bars, a casino, and hotel-hopping nightlife scene. Water sports operators along the shore ensure that you’re never too far from snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and other excursions. Nature lovers will relish in the wild iguana and bird species which roam the land, along with the nearby Butterfly Farm, where hundreds of butterflies roam free in a jungle enclosure.
Further south is Eagle Beach, which consistently ranks among the best beaches in the world. While comparatively lacking in amenities and accommodations to its northern neighbor, Eagle Beach shines for its vast sands and relaxed atmosphere. Come in the afternoon for a quiet swim, or catch the sunset further down the shore at Manchebo Beach – Aruba’s most westerly point.
Aruba’s capital city, Oranjestad, is centrally located and houses the island’s airport and cruise terminal. The bustling town is packed with authentic island charm on full display up and down its Main Street which is easily walkable and accessible via tram. Blending old with new, mom and pop shops and cultural monuments share the streets with luxury retail stores and fine dining restaurants. All unite every Tuesday night at the Bon Bini Festival, a folkloric celebration of Aruban culture.
Arikok National Park on the east is a massive protected park which accounts for nearly 20% of Aruba’s land. From rolling sand dunes to volcanic lava formations and deep caves, a variety of dramatic landscapes spread across the terrain. Flourishing wildlife and plant species along with cultural sites and geologic formations (like Aruba’s tallest point) make the park a joy to wander for an entire afternoon. Explore to all lengths in a vehicle or step out for a hike en route to the park’s natural swimming pool – the perfect reward for a day’s worth of adventure.
Aruba is a paradise any time of year, with reliably warm temperatures around 82⁰F and a steady breeze which keeps the air comfortably cool. An influx of visitors escaping their native winter climates will make their way to Aruba beginning in December and extending through April, which constitutes the island’s high season. Outside of this window, travelers are likely to encounter fewer crowds and more favorable rates. Most importantly, Aruba sits favorably outside of the Caribbean’s hurricane belt, which limits the threat of storms during the region’s active hurricane season.
All flights will land at Aruba’s main airport, Reina Beatrix International (AUA). Once on the island, exploring the entirety of its terrain – just 20 miles wide by 6 miles across – is a treat by renting your own car or utility vehicle. Taxis are readily available and can be hired by the hour for extended explorations, while a reliable bus service connects all corners of the island at efficient cost.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino – The Marriott provides the quintessential Caribbean getaway experience on the most prime stretch of beautiful Palm Beach. Everything from the deluxe oceanfront accommodations with balconies to the adults only swim-up pool bar seems perfectly tailored to highlight the very best of a honeymoon in Aruba.
Wind down together in a private beachside cabana, or at the resort’s full-service Balinese-inspired spa. When you’re ready to kick back into gear, head out to sea for a colorful snorkeling experience, or grab some rackets and practice your tennis swing back on land.
A handful of full-service restaurants and bars are at the helm to satisfy your food and beverage fantasies, whether that’s fresh gelato when retreating back inside for the afternoon, or a candlelit seafood dinner on the sand. After a perfect day of fun in the sun, test your newlywed luck at the resort’s dazzling casino.
Spa – The best way to refresh mind, body, and spirit on your honeymoon is with a relaxing spa visit. Combining the best of Balinese tradition, European methods, and local influence, the Mandara Spa at the Marriott is the most equipped facility on the entire island. Indulge in a side by side full body couple’s massage, enjoy a hot stone treatment, or luxuriate in a signature Mandara bathing ritual; all treatments at this spa circle back to the brand’s quest for eternal youth and holistic revitalization.
Catamaran Snorkeling Tour – Lay out and soak in the best of Aruba aboard a luxury catamaran for an afternoon’s worth of swimming and snorkeling, eating and drinking, and quality sunbathing. DePalm Tours has consistently operated the best excursion for years. You’ll be picked up from your hotel, whisked aboard their massive Palm Pleasure catamaran, and treated to an open bar and great lunch. The day is dotted with multiple stops for swimming and snorkeling, with sites like famous shipwrecks and colorful reef in clear view.
Rent a UTV – Enjoy the freedom to move at your own pace by renting a four-wheel-drive utility vehicle (UTV). While much of Aruba is flat, accessing some of its off-road destinations (like a perfect, secluded beach or cactus-filled desert) can be bumpy, and you’ll be thankful for a bit of extra power. Take your wheels to Arikok National Park, Aruba’s protected national treasure which comprises nearly 20% of the island’s land. The park is home to various indigenous plants and animals, and is the perfect place to rev your engine en route to its natural swimming pool, as well as multiple spots for cliff jumping, and even ancient caves.
Sunset Sailing Excursion – Whether you spent the day lounging on the sands or exploring Aruba’s downtown and urban markets, hopping on a sailboat to watch the sunset is always a good idea. Put on your best garb and get ready to snap some gorgeous photographs of that dazzling Caribbean sunset while enjoying cocktails, local hors-d’oeuvres, and music aboard a luxury sailboat with Red Sail Aruba.
Adventure Sports – Add some thrills in between days of beach lounging by embracing Aruba’s inner-playground. Scope its underwater scene by scuba diving or snorkeling – Aruba is the shipwreck dive capital of the Caribbean. Soak in the surface-level views at a serene pace aboard a kayak, stand-up-paddleboard, or pedal-boat, or rip through the waters by way of jet ski or banana boat. Back on land, make the most of your vehicle’s all-all-terrain declaration by navigating this diverse desert island’s backcountry trails. Whatever approach, there’s an adventure for everybody.
Atardi – This beachfront restaurant of the Aruba Marriott Resort takes its name from the native Papiamento language meaning “late afternoon,” which is precisely when you’ll see this pop-up restaurant set up for dinner service. Plunged right on the sand with a front row seat to the fabulous sunset, its ambiance is as much a star as the fresh seafood menu, with favorites such as lobster tail, salmon, sea bass and more. After your meal is cleared and the sun has bid farewell for the evening, stick around to enjoy the romantic atmosphere under the starry night’s sky – Palm Beach’s best kept secret.
Waves Bar & Grill – Spread between the open sea and pool of the Aruba Marriott Resort, this bar and grill is the biggest of its kind on the entire island. Good vibes and great food set the scene on a daily basis for diners to enjoy long afternoons with light food and drinks in between dips. Fantastic beachside food and drink, stellar service, and multiple happy hours make Waves more than fit the bill.
La Vista – Beach elegance is on full display in this open-air restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner both buffet-style and a la carte. The grand buffet changes themes nightly, with standouts like “seafood sensation” and “international cuisine” showcasing the kitchen’s versatility, while Thursday night’s “Carnival” show has become an island staple event. We especially love breakfast and brunch, where brioche french toast with caramelized banana or classic eggs benedict pair perfectly with bottomless mimosas to kickstart any day the right way.
The Flying Fishbone – Open daily for dinner, this restaurant is the self-proclaimed first to popularize waterfront dining in Aruba. With a menu that marries European creations and Caribbean flair, the food is fresh and consistently delicious, as it has been for over 20 years. Artful plate presentation is appreciated, as is a wide selection of land meats which compliment the seafood. Aside from the gorgeous backdrop of the setting sun and calm sea, the real star here is the restaurant’s “Savaneta Seafood History” dish, which is a seemingly endless bounty of fresh seafood brought straight from the local fish market.
Zeerovers – Serving only the freshest catch of the day, this local boat-to-table beach shack in Savaneta has become as popular with visitors as it has been with locals. The limited menu is based on availability, but seafood classics like snapper, barracuda, kingfish, and big shrimps are typical, served alongside fries, plantains, and Aruban cornbread. Budget prices, a great view, and authentic local vibes make this a perfect stop for lunch or extremely casual dinner.