It’s endless summer in Aruba. Because it sits just outside the hurricane belt in the southern Caribbean, there is no rainy season. Its white sand is cool, humidity remains low all year and the turquoise waters surrounding the island nation are always warm. And it’s all just a four-hour flight from New York.
Because we’re about to spend three months cooped up indoors for the winter, we booked a flight from Newark to Aruba ($352 nonstop roundtrip on United) to enjoy the sunshine and get in some of the workouts we’re sure to miss once snow begins to fall.
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Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa (deluxe ocean view room, $261 a night) was home base. The rooms are ample; however, it’s about location. The low-key beach at Manchebo is the widest on the 19.6-mile island. Free yoga and pilates classes are held on the beach, and after some laps in the water, there are plenty of palapa huts to enjoy the resort’s serenity and seclusion.
When it’s time for adventure, at the top of your list should be a visit to Conchi, the island’s natural pool. In this age of immediacy, Conchi is a reminder that it’s worthwhile to expend a bit of effort — the pool is accessible only by foot or off-road vehicle. The terrain surrounding the pristine pool is rugged, so bring proper footwear. You can rent a Jeep, but it’s not recommended to drive yourself. You’ll want a tour guide with a driver’s license to get you there — we found ours through Tripadvisor for $107 per person.
Water sprays over rocks as the tide rushes to the shore, with unusual formations reminiscent of Big Sur. The water has worn away the volcanic stone, creating what is known as the natural pool. Climb down carefully along the slippery rocks, and you’ll find a calm and inviting pond to swim in as the ocean waves crash and ebb just feet away.
For a closer look at the Caribbean Sea’s wildlife, go snorkeling off the leeward coast of the island. A half-day Luncheon Snorkel Sail ($81.99 per person) includes a buffet with delicious local curries and stews. Or take it all the way with a dive to check out the Antilla, a German merchant ship that sank in 1940 after Germany invaded the Netherlands. The 400-foot cargo ship has been perfectly preserved.
Back on dry land, get in a round of beach tennis — it’s like a more intense badminton. The popular Aruban game requires a mini-racket, a tennis ball and a lower net, and is played on the sand. The Tropicana Aruba Resort & Casino boasts the largest beach tennis facility in the world, with courts available without a reservation ($30 per half-hour, $50 per hour).
And because a long day’s adventure should be rewarded with a great meal, make sure your dinner plans include The Old Man and the Sea. Yes, the papaya fish (red snapper with confetti polenta and their signature papaya sauce) is tangy and lives up to its hype. But what put the experience over the top was the drink, a fruity rum cocktail, in our hand while we dug our toes in the sand, as the gentle breeze made for another idyllic sunset.