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Beyond The Beach: Exploring The Food, Art, And Adventure Of Aruba

By Travel Noire

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Written by: Patrice J. Williams

Aruba. You probably have visions of white sand beaches and pink flamingos, but the island that’s located in the southern Caribbean Sea and less than 20 miles from Venezuela has so much more.

Dutch is the official language, Papiamento is the native language and the island has more than 90 different nationalities. As varied as the people are, so is the terrain, which makes it perfect for the adventure lover or any art seeker.

For Adventurers

Of course, you’ll probably make a visit or two to Arashi, Eagle or Palm beach but you’d be silly not to partake in a bit of adventure. 

A popular and fun option is heading to Arikok National Park, which occupies 20 percent of the island. Anyone will tell you to head there early and that’s not just to beat the crowds but because the Aruban sun is no joke. Take a guided tour to learn all about the island’s beauty. The location is the perfect example of Aruba’s varying terrain. One minute you’re trekking through the bush and an hour or so later the tour ends at Dos Playa beach. 

Photo courtesy of Patrice J. Williams

If you want to ditch the walking and sit back, a jeep tour with ABC Tours Aruba is a must.

Even if you’re not highly prone to motion sickness, you might want to pop a Dramamine in advance. The ride is rugged and you’ll feel every bump, turn and curve. But the beauty you’ll experience is well worth it. You can choose which tour you’d like, but most guides all make a stop at a natural pool or “conchi” so you can take a dip where the waters are serene and relaxing. This is perfect for a group outing.  

For Art Lovers

The art in Aruba is another aspect that can’t be missed. If there’s one area of the island to check out, it has to be San Nicolas. Just south of the capital, Oranjestad, the area used to be known as Chocolate City due to African inhabitants.

Photo courtesy of Patrice J. Williams

Today, it’s the destination for art everywhere you turn. Literally down any corner, you’ll see an interesting mural and it’s also home to the annual Aruba Art Fair. Also, while most hotels aren’t destinations for art, House of Mosaic is probably like no other hotel you’ve stayed at. If you love all things glam, texture, and awe-worthy, then the hotel meets art gallery space is worth checking out. 

For The Foodies

Finally, you need some great eats. All the adventure might mean you want to take it light, and Garden Fresh is a natural option. You can’t go wrong with any of the green smoothies, salads, or bowls packed with chicken and shrimp. It’s healthy food that will actually leave you satisfied. 

Photo courtesy of Patrice J. Williams

On the flip side, when you want something a bit more downhome and a favorite with locals and tourists, Zeerovers is a must. Some destinations are undeservedly overhyped, but this seafood spot is on point. The no-frills restaurant is right on the water and serves up the daily catch that’s always fried but never greasy. Order a basket or two of fish, shrimp, fries and plantains for the entire table. It’s seasoned to perfection, but don’t forget the papaya hot sauce. This place gets packed, especially on a Sunday, so get there by noon. 

Patrice J. Williams is a travel and lifestyle writer who has contributed to Fodor’s, USA Today, Travel+Leisure and more. She also appears as an on-air expert for the Today Show, Nate Berkus Show and WEtv. Patrice can be found sharing style advice on her blog, Looking Fly on a Dime, or dishing on travel and lifestyle hacks on Instagram (@PatriceJWill).

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