Is it just me, or does it feel like now that summer is over, it's time for another tropical vacation? If you're in the market for a getaway, I have a great suggestion: Aruba. While I love lounging on the beach as much as the next girl, there comes a point in my trip when I feel the urge to get up and go. So, if you're like me and need a healthy mix of active adventure sprinkled with total relaxation, then the One Happy Island is perfect for you to explore. Allow me to explain:
Beaches. Aruba's got 'em and they're beautiful. The crystal-clear water is extremely inviting, and the temperature is perfect for swimming, snorkeling or a good ole' splash fight with friends. The sand is pure white, and with more than 10 locations, there's plenty to choose from if one spot is a bit too crowded for your liking. One warning, though: It's windy in Aruba (making the high temps super comfortable). So if you're a girl who prefers sun-bathing to water-splashing, I'd recommend lounging by the pool.
Water sports. This is the place to try it all and really test your limits. If you're a beginner, try snorkeling or stand up paddleboarding. If you want to feel the wind in your hair, give wind- or kite-surfing a whirl. I hopped on a catamaran tour with friends, where we explored three different locations, including a ship wreck! And you have to be sure to try a unique water activity I had never heard of before: Snuba. A cross between snorkeling and scuba diving, this is for those who don't have their scuba certification but still want to explore the depths of the ocean. The difference: instead of strapping a tank to your back, it stays above water so you can swim freely. Perfect compromise, right?
Guy-friendly adventures. If you're bringing a special man along, most of the time they do a good job of relaxing on the beach beside you while sipping ice-cold beverages (I recommend tasting an Aruba Ariba, the island's famous tropical cocktail). But if they're being honest, most would rather explore in a more, er, rugged way. Enter ATV riding. The landscape in Aruba has turquoise waters colliding against desert-like terrain, giving you those Instagram-worthy views (#nofilterneeded) and him an adrenaline rush as you cruise over sand dunes, past cacti and through the rocky cliffs of Arikok National Park. And if that's not quite your speed, you can hike or hop on a horse - you'll still slowly walk along the beach for more of a romantic vibe, but there are plenty of trails that take you through the same rugged terrain as an ATV. Join a tour of more experienced riders and you won't soon forget the feeling of moving along at a full gallop with ocean views to your left and rocky mountains to your right.
Food. Oh, the food. From the weekly Carubbian Festival, where you'll dance along the streets of San Nicolas tasting Caribbean meals from various street vendors, to dining at The Old Man & The Sea, where the atmosphere is worthy of being on The Bachelor, you won't be disappointed in the array of options. My must-try dish: Quesillo, a traditional Aruban dessert. It tastes a bit like a caramel flan, and I'm telling you, it's worth every calorie.
There are plenty of other amazing things Aruba has to offer - beach tennis and the Natural Pool, to name a few - and we consider it to be the perfect place to stay fit while escaping reality. The best part? Price. Arubans welcome Americans, and with tourism an important part of their economy, you're likely to find planning a trip here to be one of the most affordable options around. And if that's not reason enough to get booking, I don't know what is.
Now you tell us: What do you look for in a vacation? Do you like to lounge on the beach all day, or prefer a sprinkle of active adventures?