There are few things in the world better than warm ocean waves, a tropical drink, and hanging out beneath a beach umbrella with my toes in the sand. Aruba is a perfect destination for soaking up the sun. This “One Happy Island” (their tagline) is different from other Caribbean islands we’ve visited. Instead of lush rainforest landscapes, Aruba is arid with the interior packed with cacti.

One of our best decisions was staying at an AirBnB and renting a car. This gave us the freedom to explore the island, check out local haunts, and beach hop. Unlike most of the resorts on the island, which are clustered along the western beaches, our house was in the interior. Our trips are much more peaceful when the boys have their own room and separate beds. We had space to spread out, a great back porch, a private pool, and daily visits from wild herds of goats and sheep. Our host graciously included beach chairs and sand toys. We also spent a fraction of what the hotels cost, spending about $100 a night including taxes and fees, despite visiting over the Thanksgiving break.

You can’t go wrong visiting any of Aruba’s beaches, but there are a TON to choose from. A quick Google search will find dozens of articles extolling the “best beaches”. It’s all relative to what you’re looking for. We used the local tourist maps that we snagged at the airport and informative sites such as this. Our first days were spent relaxing at Eagle and Baby beaches. Eagle Beach is one of the main touristy beaches, and is on many of the aforementioned lists. It is located along the main resort drag and is accessible by foot from most of the major hotels. We were able to find parking easily in the free lot, and lucked into securing one of the public, grass-thatched beach umbrellas. These are located on many of the beaches on the populated side of the island and are first come, first served. There are also vendors renting chairs and umbrellas on the beaches, but it was quite expensive. We spent the day swimming, playing in the sand, eating and drinking our picnic supplies, and reading. Alcohol (in non-glass containers) is permitted on public beaches, so we enjoyed a few of the local specialities while the boys built a sand turtle and buried Cole up to his neck.

The next day the family wanted to seek out a beach off the beaten track, preferably with some great snorkeling. We did some research and drove to Baby Beach. While this location lacks tourist amenities, we were able to relax with few other people nearby. The views were incredible and we were able to stake out a great thatched gazebo for our own. The reef here serves as a wave break, so Jeff and I were able to sit and chat in the warm calm waters as the boys excitedly snorkeled nearby. Truly a little slice of paradise, and my favorite beach of the trip.

Many people come to Aruba to simply lay on a beach and relax. While you probably can’t go wrong with any of the beaches, we really enjoyed having a rental car to be able to visit several and see the diversity in vibe, beach amenities, snorkeling, and scenery. Visit as many as you can until you find your favorite and soak it all in with a local beer. Sun, Sand, and a Chill in your hand. Paradise.

Photo credit: Balashi Brewery

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