When it comes to an ideal romantic getaway destination, the traditional (read: commercial) favorites often come to mind: Paris, Tuscany, Hawaii. However, keeping your options narrow and few can mean missing out on a uniquely memorable — and equally romantic — experience. Take for instance the exotic island of Aruba, which is increasingly becoming the vacation du jour for adventurous couples looking for some outdoorsy fun and quality time to reconnect.
Yes, there’s a reason The Beach Boys called out the Caribbean locale as a spot to sweep away a lover in their romantic, crooning hit “Kokomo”. (“Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I want to take ya…” You know you know it!) And, as it happens, the boys are not alone in their sentiment. According to CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority, Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, some 50 percent of Aruba visitors are in fact couples. “In addition to its consistent weather, location outside of the hurricane belt and the ease of traveling to the island from the U.S., Aruba’s pristine beaches and turquoise waters to rugged terrain and spectacular geological formations offer a slice of paradise to visitors, whether they are beach lovers or adventure-seekers,” says Asjoe-Croes.
That said, outdoorsy couples with a shared love of nature and a nice adrenaline rush will find themselves right at home in Aruba, affectionately known as “One Happy Island” by the travel community and locals. “Couples can enjoy snorkeling adventures on the Baby Beach and get up close and personal with rare marine life underwater,” says Tom Spagnola, SVP of Supplier Relations at CheapOair. “The place is always buzzing with energy and you'll certainly have a great time. Another great destination in Aruba for snorkeling, swimming, or wind surfing is Bachelor's Beach — an ideal destination for the adventure enthusiasts.”
In fact, according to The Trendspotter, Aruba receives the most tourists in the Southern Caribbean, due in large part to its year-round warm and sunny temps. "Aruba boasts some of the best beaches in the world and because it sits outside the Hurricane belt, it makes for the perfect Caribbean getaway at any time of year," says Courtnie Nichols, founder and CEO of boutique travel company TravelBash. "Another appealing factor for those traveling to Aruba is there's a vast amount of direct flights from major cities."
While low-key couples looking for a more restful space to relax and reconnect can certainly find it here, Aruba is definitely best suited for duos with a taste for adventure and outdoor activities. Ahead, a quick crash course on this Caribbean hotspot.
Aruba Couples Vacation: What To Do
Fun fact: Aruba is super easy to navigate — it's 21 miles (33 km) long, 6 miles (9 km) wide, and has an area of about 75 square miles (193 square km), according to the island's official website. This makes getting from one activity or locale to the next a breeze, so you can pack in quite a bit in the span of a day.
"Aruba has year round sunshine and very little rainfall, so this small setting should be a hotspot for any couple looking to spend their days snorkeling, snooping around shipwrecks and nights indulging in local fusion food on a deck, or sipping on a fresh fruit rum cocktail during sunset," says Amy Hellman, Aruba Travel Expert for Black Tomato, a NYC-based travel company. "For a really special experience, pack a picnic, jump in a super jeep and head over to the other side of the island to Arikok National Park, take your 4×4 off-road vehicle over the lunar desert landscape then surf the dunes around the California lighthouse."
If you want to reaffirm your long-time love, Aruba happens to sport the Caribbean's largest vow renewal ceremony, says Collette Stohler, who runs travel website and social media experience, Roamaroo with her husband Scott. "Not only have we visited twice, but we renewed our vows at [...] Eagle Beach (the number three beach in the world). We created a YouTube video on the experience, which has helped inspire dozens of couples to visit Aruba." According to Asjoe-Croes, this year's ceremony (on Aug. 19) will mark its fourth year. "Last year's ceremony grew by 25 percent and more than 230 couples renewed their vows in a romantic Eagle Beach ceremony," she says.
Aruba Couples Vacation: Where To Stay
Because of Aruba's emphasis on tourism, there's no shortage of incredible hotels and resorts to choose from. "While many couples ask about all-inclusive resorts on Aruba, I usually don’t recommend choosing an all-inclusive there, as the European Plan hotels have better service and amenities, and the restaurant scene is fantastic around the island," says Karen Shelton, owner of travel planning company My Path Unwinding Travel. "My clients love the Ritz-Carlton Aruba which sits on a quiet stretch of Palm Beach or the more intimate, adults-only Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort on Eagle Beach."
Amy Stoltenberg, travel writer at Finder is a particular fan of the Bucuti & Tara for couple, claiming it ranks among the world's most romantic hotels. "I love that it’s been approved by an advocacy group called TAG, which vets LGBTQ-friendly accommodations," says Stoltenberg. "You can feel fabulous and free while flaunting your love, from a couples massage to a butler-serviced cabana beach dinner to an intimate sunset cruise. It’s got dedicated romance concierges that can help build the perfect daily itinerary around the island, and you can even order a chef-prepared picnic lunch to eat on the beach with your sweetie." If you're looking for a more secluded spot to reconnect with your S.O., the Boardwalk Boutique Hotel, which recently opened 32 new casitas, is ideal.
Aruba Couples Vacation: Where To Eat
For foodies, Aruba is ideal, as this is truly an island where you’re going to want to explore the restaurant scene, says Lesley Cohen, travel advisor for SmartFlyer, a luxury travel agency. "They even have a beachfront seafood spot, Flying Fishbone, where you can dine at a table set in the ocean."
And don't worry, there's plenty of romantic dining at your fingertips as well. To start, there's the Screaming Eagle Restaurant, a trendy romantic spot that offers diners the option to dine “in-bed” on private comfortable lounge beds. If you want a beach-side setting, there's Passions on The Beach, a unique experience directly on the beach illuminated by the light of tiki torches and the sound of waves crashing on the shoreline, and Pinchos Grill & Bar, where you can watch the sunset while dining over the water.