We also discovered another cuisine hot spot, The West Deck, located in Aruba’s newest Linear Park. This beach deck restaurant overlooks the water and is a seafood-lover’s dream. You can truly feel the spirit of the island as you feast on tapas-style dishes among the locals while gazing at the breathtaking sunset.
While it’s one thing to taste the delicious Aruban cuisine, getting to cook your own island specialty is another experience in itself. The hotel offers cooking lessons with the head chef, so we signed up for a lesson on how to make Keshi Yena, another signature Dutch dish consisting of sliced gouda, chicken, peppers and a spicy tomato-based sauce that eventually gets melted to perfection.
This cooking lesson was an ideal activity for kids as well as adults. The kids get a special chef hat and apron, and the chef guides them through the recipe with individualized attention. As with most activities at the resort, events are planned with families in mind, and the hotel truly provides a kid-friendly atmosphere.
We could have spent every day simply walking outside the hotel doors and onto the gorgeous beach, and that would have been satisfying enough. But, there are so many other family-friendly island outings and activities worth checking out that are only a short ride away.
The hotel recommended we check out the iconic Baby Beach, and I am still in awe. Imagine the most crystal blue, pristine, tropical island beach, and that’s Baby Beach. As an added bonus, the water is extremely shallow, calm and clear, so parents don’t have to worry about a strong current or unforeseen deep water levels. It’s absolutely perfect for families!
For a fun afternoon activity, we took a Beach Tennis (the official sport of Aruba) lesson with a wonderful professional instructor who taught the coordinated (and not so coordinated!) of us the basics of the sport. It was a fun, entertaining way to get some exercise after a lazy morning on the beach. Other local activities include surfing, sailing, yoga paddle boarding, pool aerobics, wind surfing and more! And you can rent all sorts of rafts and other floating gear – anything beach-related you can think of, they have it.
While typical beach relaxing and water activities are what you expect to do on a tropical vacation, we also experienced another side of Aruba life – the adventurous one. The hotel set us up with De Palm Tours for a wild, off-roading experience. Our group piled into a Jeep and spent the next four hours roaming across Aruba checking out various scenic locations and “adventure” spots.
Our first stop along the rocky terrain was Donkey Sanctuary, a non-profit donkey farm. You can pet and feed the friendly donkeys (a major plus for the kids) and they even indulge you in “donkey selfies!”
The next stop on our tour was The Natural Pool, a small pool-sized oasis near a stretch of the coastline perfect for snorkeling — full of the most beautiful, tropical and vividly colorful fish. And for the truly adventurous, adrenaline-seeking adults, it’s a perfect spot for cliff diving.
The Jeep excursion alone, without the pit stops, is an adventure in itself. When they say “off-roading,” they really mean it. The tour takes you along uninhabited island areas, from extremely bumpy and rocky terrain, to deserted landscapes and crystal shorelines. The experience is truly unforgettable.
So if you’re looking to take a step away from your usual OBX, Florida or California family spring break or summer beach vacation and take a chance on something new, a trip to Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino will not disappoint. It has the best of both worlds – the simplicity and serenity of beach life like you’ve never experienced, mixed with fun, exotic, once-in-a-lifetime adventures.
And now, when I think of Aruba, my first thought is, when can I go back?