Welcome to Aruba. A short flight from Miami, this is the perfect little island for a romantic getaway or a family trip. I stayed at the beautiful Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, located on the perfect stretch of white sandy beach. It has a grand modern lobby, that includes a restaurant with a round bar, sofas, and plenty of seating. On the side is a Starbucks that is perfect for a quick coffee or snack to go. The check-in was a breeze with a friendly staff. The rooms are spacious and angled perfectly for an ocean view.
On the first evening of arrival, we got to enjoy the cocktail tasting at the Lobby Bar. One of the most memorable ones was delivered in a glass box, filled with visible smoke and aroma that filled the box. For the non-drinkers, mocktails were also available, and very tasty. Next, we headed out to West Deck for dinner. This felt like a local popular spot, located right on the water. The aged deck had plenty of tables set up, which were filled with groups enjoying their meals. It had a large menu, with plenty of seafood options, at very reasonable prices. We got there a little late so the horizon was already dark, but I would recommend coming here for lunch or an early dinner to enjoy the water view.
The next day, we woke up early and were excited about a little workout with Beach Tennis Lessons. To be honest, I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did. The lesson was intimate enough, that you truly saw your own progress and improvement in the short time span. And the slight soreness to the arms confirmed that indeed it was a great workout. I recommend bringing sanitizer or tennis gloves on rainy days as the racket handle did smell quite musty. But don’t let it stop you from enjoying the great experience.
If you’re into snorkeling or boat rides, I would recommend taking the Snorkel Cruise with De Palm Tours. The 70-foot-long catamaran has plenty of space, with lunch and an open bar included, and travels to 3 great spots with amazing views of the island and water. Lay out on the net and enjoy a tan, stay in the shade downstairs, or get into the water to see some beautiful fish or the large, submerged ship that had plenty of coral growing on it.
If you’re looking for an upscale, outdoor, urban-chic dining experience with great food I highly recommend Brutto. This restaurant felt more like we were in Miami. A DJ was positioned up high on one side, and there were plenty of plants around the restaurant giving it a tropical feel, while the tables were glass and very modern and stylish. The menu had a great selection of sushi and seafood, and everything was delicious. They also had a great selection of desserts to choose from.
Another popular excursion to try in Aruba is a UTV Tour with De Palm Tours. If you like off-roading, getting dirty, speed, and a fun rocky terrain this is the activity for you. On a dry day, you’ll likely get dusty, and after a rainy day, you’ll get some mud splashed on you. I was surprised by how fast the cars would go, and how tough those wheels were, and that we made it through the very rocky and bumpy terrain with no issues. The trail is surrounded by cacti everywhere and the beautiful ocean. There were a couple of times we drove right to the edge of the cliff by the ocean, which made for spectacular photos.
If you’re the type of person that just prefers to stay at the hotel, relax and enjoy the pool or beach, you will love how large the Marriott Resort in Aruba is. With plenty of beds set up for lounging around by the pool or ocean. I really enjoyed reserving one of the tiki huts on the sand, so that you can enjoy the shaded area with a breeze. You can also order food or drinks right to your lounge bed. The pool was very large with a conveniently located bar in the middle, so you can stay in the water while enjoying some beverages.
The landscaping and grass were perfectly manicured, with plenty of trees, flowers, shrubs, and waterfalls to admire while walking around the resort. The resort has several restaurants to choose from for dining: Ruth’s Chris Steak House, La Vista, Atardi, Waves Bar & Grill, The Lobby, and the H2Oasis Adult Pool Bar. I highly recommend dining on the beach at Atardi at Sunset. With your toes in the sand and the beautiful sunset views, this truly is a unique experience you likely won’t have back home. They also add some tiki torches and lighting for the water, to keep the amazing vibe and views late into the night after the sun sets.