I fell in love with Aruba the first time I visited and vowed that I would return. And just like that, 17 years passed before I would visit this beautiful island again. Of course, a lot of things have changed in nearly two decades, but at least one thing has remained the same – the vibe. Out of all the places I’ve visited, this is still one of the few that makes me feel most at home.
One of the things I love most about Aruba is the climate. It’s absolutely perfect. It is considered a Caribbean island, though being further South, it exists outside of the tropical storm region. That makes it ideal for travelers all year long because there is no hurricane season. Also, it stays hot, but the tradewinds make the heat bearable. Like I said, perfect.
I didn’t know it at the time, but when my family and I visited in 2004, it was the last family vacation we would take before my father passed away. That made our return to the island for my mom’s birthday bittersweet. While we remembered the warm memories, we reveled in the opportunity to create new ones.
We chose the Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort, one of the three Divi Resorts properties in Aruba. One of the considerations for our selection was that we wanted to have accommodations that would allow my mom, brother, and I to have our own bedrooms (and bathrooms), while also having the opportunity to come together in a communal space. The three-bedroom penthouse suite was just what we desired. (Though it was a two-level suite, so going up and down the narrow, winding staircase took some getting used to.)
This resort differs from the other two Divi properties in that it is their timeshare property. While we did not have the ability to partake in the all-inclusive plans that the Divi Dutch Village Beach and the Village Golf & Beach offer, our suites had a full kitchen and multiple bedroom suite options that the other properties don’t offer. All three properties share amenities such as restaurants, spa, and pools, so it really comes down to what your priorities are for your accommodations.
Here are some other notable things to share about the property:
- There are two restaurants on the property, which are both amazing – Pure Ocean and Pure Beach Bar & Restaurant. Both are right on the water, so you have fantastic views to complement the delectable delights. Definitely dine at Pure Ocean for an early dinner at least one night. You will have a front-row seat to the most glorious sunsets. What I loved about both restaurants was the service and the variety of dishes for different palates and diets. The resort also has a deli for quick bites on the go and an ice cream shop for those with a sweet tooth.
- While the spa is small, it is quite lovely and the service is excellent. I was not expecting the foot-bath in rose petals while we awaited our massage therapists. They also give you the option of indoor or outdoor treatments.
- One of the things that I didn’t enjoy so much is having to get out early to grab beach chairs. The eager early risers get out as early as 6:30 am to grab (and save) the chairs closest to the ocean. By noon, most of the chairs are gone. So if you’re not an early riser, it’s best to wait until the late afternoon to get a beach chair or lounge by the pool.
I’ll end by sharing recommendations and things to know before traveling to Aruba.
- One of the reasons my family loved Aruba so much was because of our experience at a restaurant called Cuba’s Cookin’. I know what you’re thinking…a Cuban restaurant in Aruba? Yes, to this day, this restaurant has the best Cuban food I’ve had in my life, including my dining experiences in Cuba. We loved it so much we went twice our first time there and vowed to visit again when we returned to Aruba. And it wasn’t just the food, it was the live music as well. It’s a whole experience. When you go, definitely get the empanadas, camarones al ajillo if you’re a seafood lover, and the bistec palomilla if you’re a beef eater. You’re welcome.
- Aruba is known for its beautiful white and pink sand beaches and nearly clear, greenish-blue waters. Baby Beach is ideal for snorkeling, as the tropical fish are abundant there and the water is shallow. It is a 45-minute ride from the main strip of hotels in Oranjestad, so make arrangements to visit in advance. On this visit, we opted for a beach closer to our hotel, Eagle Beach. It has been rated one of the best beaches in the world. Just be sure to bring your beach towels from your resort and cash to rent a beach hut and chairs. (They take US dollars.)
- Because of its dry climate, aloe is a staple in Aruba. Aloe has many health benefits, including having antioxidant and antibacterial properties, which make it useful for sunburn and dry skin. Definitely pick some up while you’re there.
- Aruba is serious about its covid policies. Be sure to visit aruba.com before your visit and follow all of the guidelines closely. Most importantly, you must complete an Aruba ED-Card (Embarkation-Disembarkation Card) prior to your arrival. It is a mandatory step for every visitor including kids and babies. Also, make sure that you make your covid test appointment upon your arrival because slots fill up fast and they require you to have your results back at least a day before your departure. While Aruba has worked to simplify the entry requirements, any of the headaches you experience is worth your entry to paradise.