With so many Caribbean destinations to choose from, it can be tough settling on an island that will provide your family with the right atmosphere. Pick the wrong beach resort and you could end up partying with spring breakers. On the other end of the spectrum, you could find yourself fruitlessly looking for some fun among a gaggle of retirees. One safe bet that keeps families coming back year after year? Aruba, One Happy Island.
Regardless of the type of travel style your family most ascribes to, Aruba offers plenty to do. It all starts with beach lounging and sun soaking; two of the most popular beaches on the island are Baby Beach and Eagle Beach. Depending on the hotel you choose (and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a luxury property), you may have private beach access with cabana reservations available, beach service for dining and drinks, rentals for things like jet skis and possibly even a sea turtle habitat.
However, while it’s tempting to spend all your vacation time with your toes in the sand and a cocktail in hand, and the kids may be just as happy splashing in the low-wave waters, you’d eventually regret leaving Aruba without seeing the rest of the island.
The best form of transportation for checking out the 20-mile-long, 6-mile-wide island? ATV. Whether you choose to explore within a tour group or head out into the desert on your own, you’ll have a great time. The desert side of the island is like another destination entirely, filled with craggy rocks, rough shoreline, cacti and dusty roads. Wear something you can get a little messy (the dust, sweat and sand will leave their mark) and make sure to pack plenty of water. Best stops on any ATV tour of the island include California Lighthouse, the Aruba Natural Bridge and Alto Vista Chapel.
If you’d prefer to see parts of the island on foot rather than speed across the dunes on a four-wheeler, Arikok National Park is a great spot to do so. Hike the volcanic rock formations and get a glimpse of ancient cave paintings. Keep your eyes peeled for the local wildlife. Aruba has plenty of lizards and other reptiles, as well as herds of wild goats and donkeys.
For more wildlife, purchase a one-day pass to the Renaissance Island (if you’re not already staying at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino), and spend the day hand-feeding flamingos as they flock about with unabated curiosity. The 40-acre private island is the perfect place to enjoy a little bit of paradise, tucked within an even bigger slice of paradise.
Not every great Aruban activity requires adventure, though. You can have your own fun shopping in Oranjestad, an easy walk or drive from nearly every resort. The colorful Dutch Colonial architecture welcomes you to the multitude of shops, from local purveyors of cheap souvenirs to luxury retailers.
While large areas of Colorado are experiencing exponential growth with far too many trees being clear-cut (it’s one of the fastest-growing states in the country), it’s still the home for great businesses striving to make the world a little greener. Those businesses include Sherpani, creators of women’s day bags, backpacks and travel bags, including a line of sophisticated, beautifully crafted items made from recycled plastic.
With technology advancing faster than ever, children globally are becoming attached to devices. Adults too. Our Netflix queue and ever-expanding inbox call our names even when we’re on vacation. We carry distractions with us everywhere, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with your loved ones.
My youngest daughter and I arrived from Barcelona on the high-speed AVE train (in less than three hours) and entered Westin Palace Madrid in time for the Sunday Opera Brunch — which takes place under the stained-glass cupola of La Rotonda, where daily breakfast and cocktails are served. I’d heard about this event on several occasions when I toured the hotel in 2015, and when my granddaughter and I stayed there in 2017.
The 1985 song “One Night in Bangkok” mentions many of the overindulgences of this city. One of them is massage parlors. Today, however, a Thai massage is considered an activity that improves one’s physical and mental well-being. The city has shed its former reputation as a place of wild nightlife and decadence, over the past few decades emerging as a major center for international commerce, wellness initiatives and tourism.