Fly Nonstop from Boston to Aruba
JetBlue to Oranjestad, Aruba (Nonstop Daily)
What to Bring:
A waterproof cell-phone case (so your iPhone can go snorkeling with you)
It’s a lot of pressure to be immortalized in one of the catchiest Beach Boys tunes of all time. But Aruba, the southern Caribbean island just off the coast of Venezuela, more than lives up to the hype. Home to nearly 20 miles of soft sand, gravity-defying fofoti trees, and some of the friendliest locals you’ll ever meet, the Dutch constituent country draws more than one million visitors each year. It’s no secret that the island’s impossibly blue, delightfully warm Caribbean waters are the biggest attraction, especially in the winter months. But there’s so much more to this tropical hideaway, with its rugged, arid desert landscape made up of towering rock formations, free-roaming iguanas, and native aloe plants—not to mention a burgeoning arts and culture scene.
For those looking to explore by foot, start by grabbing a chilled treat from Savaneta’s Mauchi Smoothies, a small roadside stand that relies on fresh, locally sourced ingredients to craft sizable fruit drinks and herbal teas. You’ll appreciate the extra hydration as you embark on a walking tour of San Nicolas, Aruba’s arts district. Strolling through the streets, you’ll come across dozens of oversize murals and found-art sculptures created by local artists.
For a more adventurous jaunt, book an off-roading excursion through Oranjestad-based ABC Tours. Guides drive custom Land Rovers through all sorts of cacti-dotted (read: bumpy) terrain, stopping in front of island wonders such as the natural bridge, a massive hunk of limestone shaped by waves and wind, and the 19th-century Bushiribana Gold Mill ruins. Be sure to bring your bathing suit for the natural pool—a breathtakingly beautiful swimming-and-snorkeling haven formed by volcanic rock. After all, you’re on “island time” now.
The beachfront West Deck is worth visiting for the ocean views alone, to say nothing of the open-air restaurant’s top-notch tapas-style Caribbean cuisine. The savory keshi yena, an Aruban specialty featuring Dutch Gouda–wrapped shredded chicken with cashews and tomato-basil sauce, is a must-try.
One of three Divi properties on the island, the Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort (starting at $424 per night) boasts roomy suites with balconies, a bevy of on-site dining options, and a rental service offering bikes, kayaks, and snorkeling gear. Oh, and did we mention the freshwater pool with the new swim-up bar? *Hotel prices are for the January through March range.
Test your endurance—and balance—as you battle the wind during a group or private standup paddleboarding lesson at Aruba Surf & Paddle School, located near the Marriott on Palm Beach. It’s just a short walk to MoomBa Beach Bar & Restaurant—the perfect place to refuel (and dry off) after an hour on the water.