Matt and I spent last week in Aruba and it was so. much. fun! Aside from the long ass travel time (a solid 10 hours of flying from Seattle), Aruba is such an easy vacation: you can drink the water (they desalinate the ocean water and it tastes so good!), they take US dollars everywhere, they have US electrical plugs, they speak English, and the island is small and easy to get around. I took a million and one photos so I'm splitting this into two posts: where to stay and eat this week, and activities to do next week.
Aruba is considered part of the Caribbean but it is only 18 miles North of Venezuela and outside the hurricane territory. The citizens are considered Dutch nationals and you can see the Dutch influence throughout the downtown architecture.
We booked everything through Costco Travel (our third vacation using them, I would highly recommend it!!) and stayed at the Renaissance right downtown. If I'm honest, the entire reason we went to Aruba was for the hotel's private island that is home to 6 flamingos. You get to feed them, [try to] pet them, swim near them... basically heaven.
The island's beach was pretty crowded but my husband did some exploring and found a tiny beach at the far end of the island that was completely private, so we rounded up some drinks and spent a solid day there. No flamingos but I had been stalking them long enough, they needed a break from me :)
P.S. the flamingo drink floaties are courtesy of the bar, just ask for the flamingo drink :)
Although we went to Aruba for the flamingos, I would go back for the food. Despite being a bit pricey, the food was seriously amazing throughout the island and worth every penny. Our absolute favorites were Que Pasa, Madame Janette, Yemanja Woodfire Grill, El Gaucho, and De Suikertuin. With the exception of El Gaucho which is a Brazilian steakhouse, all of the restaurants have everything from schnitzel, to pasta, to seafood, to soups and sandwiches, so you can find something for everyone. Some of the hotels offer all-inclusive but I would highly recommend against it, the food is way too good at the local restaurants, you don't want to miss out!
Basically, I am a huge fan of Aruba and would highly highly recommend that everyone go at some point in their lives :) There are a surprisingly large number of fun activities to do on the small island so stay tuned for more details next week!