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Aruba

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Ever heard of Aruba, the aptly named “One Happy Island”? Our very own Editor-in-Chief, Laura Bartlett, is no stranger to the Caribbean. Family roots in St. Kitts and Nevis nurtured a love for the region and countless trips to Barbados solidified her island-loving spirit. Yet, Aruba remained a captivating mystery, a jewel in the Caribbean crown she hadn’t yet explored. Intrigued by its vibrant reputation and undeniable beauty, Laura embarked on a journey to unveil Aruba’s secrets.

Nestled just 15 miles north of South America, Aruba basks in year-round sunshine with average temperatures of 82°F (32°C) and cooling trade winds. This blissful island boasts a nine-mile stretch of pristine, award-winning beaches, where turquoise waters lap against the shore. Charming Dutch architecture adds a unique touch, while the island’s infectious Latin vibe keeps your toes tapping.

From world-class resorts to intimate boutique hotels, exciting nightlife to a plethora of water sports and activities, there’s something for everyone. The island even boasts a vibrant calendar filled with cultural and sporting events throughout the year.

Now, back from her sun-kissed adventure, Laura is here to share an insider’s guide crafted specifically for first-time Aruba explorers. From discovering hidden culinary gems to uncovering the island’s best-kept secrets, this guide will equip you to navigate Aruba with confidence and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Where to Stay in Aruba

Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba

Okay, Aruba newbies, gather ’round! Let’s talk about the hidden gem that stole my entire heart (and maybe a few hours of work time, but hey, #balance, right?): Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba.

This place wasn’t just a hotel, it was an experience. Imagine stepping into a lush, tropical oasis – a former coconut plantation, no less – dotted with charming casitas that felt more like your own private island bungalow than a hotel room. Seriously, mine was gorgeous. Think comfy king-sized bed, a breezy patio perfect for morning coffee (or sneaky afternoon cocktails, no judgment!), and all surrounded by swaying palm trees.

But the real star of the show (besides the resident iguanas, those guys were chill) was Coco Cafe. This open-air restaurant was basically an extension of the whole island vibes. Think colourful seating under a stunning seashell chandelier (seriously Instagrammable), friendly bartenders ready to whip up your favourite tropical drink and a menu that was, well, a total vibe. The protein smoothies became my go-to and the tacos were a no brainer. 

We’re talking local Aruban flavours mixed with Belgian goodness (the owners have some heritage there!), plus a sprinkle of Mediterranean inspiration they picked up on their travels. Basically, it was a party in your mouth, and everyone was invited (except maybe the iguanas, they seemed more into sunbathing).

Here’s the best part: Coco Cafe wasn’t just about amazing food (though the Breakfast Tower – delivered straight to your casita, hello lazy mornings! – was a true champion). It was the perfect spot to catch up on emails (free Wi-Fi, obvs) with the sound of the breeze rustling the palm trees as your soundtrack. Plus, happy hour from 3-5 pm? Sign. Me. Up.

So, if you’re looking for a place to unwind, recharge and maybe sneak in a little work without feeling like you’re in a boring old office, Boardwalk Boutique Hotel is your jam. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to unplug, sip a cocktail and just send “One Happy Email” to the world.

Coco Casita starts from $425 US dollars per night (low season), excluding the taxes. 

Where to eat 

Aruba isn’t just about stunning beaches and turquoise waters (although, let’s be honest, those are pretty darn amazing). To my surprise, it’s also a haven for foodies, with a vibrant culinary scene that reflects the island’s rich cultural heritage. From fresh seafood to international flavours and healthy options, there’s something to tantalise every taste bud. 

During our exploration of Aruba, we discovered a delightful mix of restaurants that perfectly complemented our island adventures. Whether you’re craving a casual lunch by the beach, a romantic beachfront dinner, or a delicious breakfast to fuel your day, we’ve got you covered. 

Honestly, the food on the island surpassed all of my expectations and whilst I was in Aruba, I was able to explore the world through my tastebuds. This list could have been endless so I’ve whittled it down to the top three must visit restaurants when you visit. 

Ever Restaurant 

Forget saving the best for last, Aruba’s culinary scene throws a knockout punch right from the start with Ever Restaurant. This isn’t your ordinary fine dining experience; it’s a freestyle symphony conducted by the maestro himself, Chef Ever de Peña. Picture this: you’re nestled in an intimate dining room with only 13 other lucky souls, the Oranjestad marina twinkling outside the window. Chef Ever and his team, visible through the open kitchen, orchestrating a culinary masterpiece – an eight-course journey through his artistic vision.

Let me tell you, the look of pure artistry and passion on Chef Ever’s face while he crafts each dish nearly rivalled the final presentation. It was enough to make this hopeless romantic sigh and declare, “Until I find a man who looks at me the way I’m looking at his food, I’m staying single!”

But seriously, the food at Ever Restaurant is a revelation. The focus is on fresh, seasonal ingredients, with a menu that changes every eight weeks or so. Expect a delightful dance of flavours, featuring the bounty of the sea, succulent meats and of course, a decadent finale. While dietary restrictions aren’t currently accommodated, trust me, this is an eight-course adventure your taste buds won’t soon forget (and neither will your Instagram followers – the plating is seriously photogenic!).

Just be sure to book well in advance, because with only 14 seats available, this hidden gem gets snatched up fast!

Caya  

Forget your standard restaurant fare; Caya is an electrifying adventure for your taste buds, a passport to a world of international flavours where palm trees whisper secrets in the breeze as you settle into a charming table, anticipation building with every rustle.

The name itself, “Caya” (Papiamento for “street”), hints at the restaurant’s inspiration. Founded by two friends united by a passion for globetrotting and good food, Caya pays homage to their summers spent savouring the hidden gems of Latin America and Europe.

Caya’s menu isn’t a static list of dishes; it’s a dynamic tapestry woven by the visionary Chef Jhon Gomez. Think bold Asian spices mingling with Latin American rhythms, all harmonised with fresh, seasonal Aruban ingredients. One minute you might be savouring a Japanese empanada with a kick, the next you’re diving into a succulent duck dish infused with the smoky magic of a Peruvian mole. Don’t be surprised if a taste of Europe peeks through in a reimagined pasta dish, or the vibrant flavours of the Caribbean take centre stage in a seafood creation. This is the beauty of Caya – a symphony of international influences where every bite is an exciting discovery.

Caya’s Pastry Chef William Herrera is the genius of sweet finales. Using a foundation of homemade bases and fermented sourdough, he crafts desserts that are as delightful as they are guilt-free. Imagine textures that melt in your mouth and flavour combinations that leave you wanting more. 

This, my friends, is Caya.

Olivia Restaurant 

Olivia Restaurant isn’t your typical Aruban dining spot. Launched in 2022 by the celebrated Chef Dennis van Daatselaar (famous for his restaurants Carte Blanche and Wilhelmina), Olivia whisks you away to the heart of the Mediterranean, all under the twinkling Aruban sky.

Imagine a romantic, trendy, yet undeniably cosy open-air setting. Picture yourself escaping the crowds and settling into a comfortable chair, the gentle murmur of conversation and the rustle of palm leaves creating a calming ambiance. This is the prelude to a food adventure that will tantalise your taste buds and transport you to sun-drenched piazzas and bustling souks.

While Olivia’s lighting might be a touch more intimate (perfect for a romantic date!), the true star of the show is the food. You might even be lucky enough to have Chef Dennis himself grace your table, just like we did! During our visit, Chef Dennis personally curated a feast featuring his all-time favourite dishes from the menu.

The result? A whirlwind tour of the Mediterranean, with each bite bursting with fresh, healthy flavours inspired by Greece, Italy, Morocco, Lebanon, Spain and southern France. Think mouthwatering meats, vibrant vegetables and an explosion of spices guaranteed to tantalise your taste buds. And don’t forget to save room for dessert! Olivia’s homemade creations are the perfect ending to this unforgettable food journey.

What to do 

Kayaking and Snorkelling with Aruba Outdoor Adventures

Aruba

One of the most unforgettable experiences on our Aruba trip was venturing out on the turquoise waters with Aruba Outdoor Adventures. Forget battling waves with traditional paddles – these guys do things in style with Hobie pedal kayaks! Let me tell you, after a few minutes of cruising along the stunning southern coast, my arms were thanking me (and secretly judging all those tourists struggling with paddles).

This effortless exploration allows you to truly focus on the breathtaking scenery, from secluded coves to vibrant coral reefs. But the adventure goes beyond the surface. Snorkelling with Aruba Outdoor Adventures lets you dive into a kaleidoscope of colourful fish, revealing the wonders of Aruba’s underwater world. And the best part? Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a complete novice, the stable and user-friendly Hobie kayaks ensure everyone can enjoy this unforgettable adventure.

Aruba Outdoor Adventures is more than just comfy kayaks. They’re all about creating life-enriching experiences that combine adventure with cultural immersion. Our knowledgeable and multilingual guide made us feel safe and secure and this will go down in the memory bank as one of the most enriching experiences of my life. 

Antigravity Aerial Yoga 

Ditch the downward dog and say hello to downward delight! Imagine yourself suspended in mid-air during Maria’s Antigravity Yoga class, held right in her charming backyard garden. The gentle Aruba breeze whispers secrets in your ear as you sway in your hammock, feeling weightless and free like a feather. 

This isn’t just yoga; it’s a full-on sensory experience that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and connected to your inner zen. The best part? Maria’s class is perfect for all levels, from complete beginners to seasoned yogis. Her welcoming personality and expert guidance will have you striking those tricky poses (or simply hanging upside down in blissful relaxation) in no time! 

North Shore Hike 

Ditch the tourist traps and awaken your inner explorer with a trek along Aruba’s dramatic north shore. This adventure is all about immersing yourself in the raw beauty of the island. Imagine rugged limestone cliffs meeting the turquoise embrace of the ocean, the sound of crashing waves filling the air. 

Your journey takes you to hidden coves like Andicuri Beach, a haven for surfers and kitesurfers, and Blackstone Beach, where volcanic pebbles paint a unique black canvas against the crystal-clear water. This north shore adventure is a feast for the senses, a chance to truly connect with Aruba’s wild soul.

Ayo Rock Formations 

Forget souvenir shops and crowded beaches – unleash your inner Indiana Jones with a visit to Ayo Rock Formations. This isn’t your typical tourist attraction; it’s a journey back in time. Scattered amidst the cacti-studded landscape, these giant volcanic boulders stand like ancient sentinels, whispering tales of Aruba’s geological past. 

Clamber through hidden caves, explore mysterious pathways, and imagine the Arawak people who once used these rocks as a lookout point. The Ayo Rock Formations are more than just rocks; they’re a portal to a bygone era, waiting to be explored and best of all, it’s completely free! 

So lace up your walking shoes, grab your sense of adventure, and prepare to be transported back in time – all without putting a dent in your wallet.

Conclusion 

Truthfully, when I touched down in Aruba, I wasn’t sure what the allure was. But with every bite at Ever Restaurant, every colourful fish encountered while snorkelling and every delicious surprise at Caya Restaurant, Aruba’s magic unfolded. The friendly faces, the vibrant culture and the sheer beauty of the island seeped into my soul. By the end of my trip, I wasn’t just leaving with a tan and a camera roll full of memories, I was leaving a piece of my heart on this “One Happy Island.”

Aruba isn’t just a place; it’s an experience. It’s a place where your taste buds take flight, where hidden gems unfold around every corner and where the rhythm of island life washes away your worries. So, pack your bags, grab your swimsuit and get ready to discover your own happy ending in Aruba. 

This island paradise awaits!

Here at House of Coco, travel is in our DNA, we do it on the daily and can often be found jetting from hot destination to another in a heart beat. As much as we try and remember the important things, like sun screen, we can somethings get waylaid with cocktails and parties to remember to look after our skin. Cue Sunsibility, the brand that has UV protection built in to it’s clothes to protect you even when you forget.

Founded by Angeli Jackson, her journey has been filled with rejection but it has spurred her on even more to make a success of her brand, and that she has. Here, she tells us more about the brand and her plans for the future…

Tell us about the journey that lead to you launching Sunsibility…

I was studying a BA(Hons) Product Development for the Fashion Industries at The London College of Fashion and wanted to create a functional and practical range for my final collection.The initial idea was a ladieswear collection for Lupus patients (65% of Lupus patients are sun sensitive ).This has now evolved into a one stop shop for UV protection including men’s and childrenswear but also sunsuits, sun creams and window films for general everyday protection.LCF wouldn’t support me as they didn’t think it was commercially viable which made me even more determined.I worked so hard and when I did graduate, the college were there supporting the project as it was a successful idea.The following year I gained a start up loan from The Princes Trust and began to turn the dream into a reality.

What is the importance of UV protection?

UV Protection is a MUST HAVE.A very large proportion of our customers are sensitive for various medical reasons so UV protection is essential and preparation is key, not getting caught out on those warmer days.Handy accessories can make all the difference.A wrap, sunglasses, hat and a compact umbrella are ideal products to keep to hand.All our clothing is made to order and provide a UPF50+ factor preventing 97.5% of UVA & UVB rays.With clothing, customers do not have to worry about any absorption of any ingredients into the skin but it is very important to apply sunscreen to those areas exposed regularly.

We have a range of timeless classics, gorgeous beach and resort wear ( many multifunctional ), that can take you day into night and keep you safe from the sun.Health is Wealth, so invest in yourself and in your skin whether it’s for protection, against skin cancer ( rates just continue to keep rising ), anti ageing or vanity don’t let it be too little too late. It’s good to be outdoors and needs to be encouraged, we all need vitamin D it’s essential for good bone health and just makes us FEEL GOOD it’s about getting a good balance.

How does the process work when making new designs?

New designs usually come from a purpose or a request it is vital we listen to our customers, their needs and desires.However, I always have a pen and paper handy as new ideas may come to me at any time, especially on holiday as you are watching people at leisure and hopefully protecting their skin or not, as is often the case.Our products are about making sun protection easy and hassle free but it is imperative to look and feel great.We only ever work with our specialist Italian fabric which is a stretch fabric but I don’t really use it in a fitted way, a lot of our designs are loosely cut unless stated otherwise.The fabric is just brilliant and I really did search worldwide for it.It’s cool to wear, breathable, machine washable and quick drying. These fabulous features contribute to any new ideas as its so travel friendly and virtually crease free.I will usually sketch something up and then send it to our pattern cutter.A sample is then made up on site and together the tailors and I will tweak how we’d like it.Once happy we will then put it into production and photograph it as soon as possible.

Looking back, is there anything you would do differently?

I don’t believe there was any other way.I’ve always given it my all but certainly for the first six years, I had 3 jobs whilst trying to build the company.You do what is necessary.I am a great believer in everything happens for a reason. Although one thing I would have liked along my journey and even now would be a mentor.

What is your mission?

To provide quality stylish sun protection and make it easy to wear for all whatever age, genre and wherever you are in the world.UV Protection is for everyone but can also be life changing for those who are sun sensitive.Being highly regarded in the industry is very important and we have some of the best medical and sun protection specialists in the world recommending our products.That to me already means we have done as we set out to do but need to let more people know we are around.

In five years time, where do you hope to see the brand?

Into the new decade with a great focus and plans.We sell direct to the consumer so just expanding our awareness internationally is a focus for the next five years.I have some interesting developments I’m working on but am keeping those close for the time being but do keep in touch with SunSibility so we can update you on new products and services.I am always aiming to bring the best & innovative concepts to our collections.

Talk us through an average day in your life…

I wake up and feel thankful for the health of myself and all those around me this isn’t a ritual but a thought at the beginning of the day along with my two must have milky coffees ( which my husband makes ) to kick start my morning.I also do try and be grateful for all I have & enjoy life !

I have two gorgeous girls, Atalya 9 & Elysia 2 so the school run is first thing and then either onto nursery or my parents who are brilliant and presently help me 3 x a week.They have always been a massive support & strength for me.My working hours are 10 – 5 so once in the office there is a never ending list.My office is attached to the house but completely separate so I go to work like anyone else and come home at the end of the day.Every day is different there is always so much to do.I do wish there were more hours in the day, more days in the month, and more months in the year – There never seems to be enough time !!

What quote do you like to read when you are lacking motivation…

“You can do anything you want to when you put your mind to it – and there is no such word as No !”This is up on my office wall and something I try and teach my children too.

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your Bucketlist?

Oooh what isn’t ?I love to travel.My promise is to show the children as much of the world as I possibly can.The world is such an amazing place and so inspiring.I used to do a lot of my design work on the plane prior to having kids – that’s virtually impossible to even think about now I don’t get a very time free flight these days !Every time I see / read about somewhere I’d like to visit I put it in my travel box and tick the places off as I go.Long flights presently aren’t ideal but Aruba Cuba and Mexico are on my list for about 10 years time. In the meantime I’d love to explore more of the Greek islands and Italy over the next decade but also more of England too.I live and breathe my holidays I could be in Barbados, I could be in Bognor it’s all about quality time with those you love & creating memories.

How much has social media played a part in your business?

Up to now to be honest very little but now we are present and consistent over several platforms the future is exciting.It is a very powerful tool.It’s a great and speedy way to communicate with our clients.

For anyone thinking about launching a brand, what advice would you give?

A belief in what you do has to be at the forefront of your business and the passion behind it because when things do get tough that is what will always keep you going.You have to enjoy what you do.Everything else is secondary.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

This sounds crazy but is the absolute truth.I read a book called Flossie Teacake when I was a kid and she puts on a fur coat and turns round three times in the mirror – she can be anything she wants to be !…and honestly, that’s all I ever needed to know and just to believe in myself and what we do!

Visit us at : sunsibility.co.uk

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Contact me direct at info@sunsibility.co.uk

Although family vacations may be fun, sometimes, there’s nothing quite like a break with the girls to make life even more fun. But where should you head with your girlfriends when the winter weather gets you down? Here are some great destinations which are perfect for a short break with your mates.

Charleston, South Carolina

Whether you want to explore Charleston’s fascinating history or just indulge in luxury at a spa resort, this Southern city is an ideal choice. There is so much to see and do here that you and your friends won’t have a dull moment. You can explore heritage and history at the Boone Hall Plantation and then explore downtown for an evening of drinks, dining and fun.

Aruba, The Caribbean

There’s nothing quite like the luxury of a Caribbean island, and what better time to explore this beautiful part of the world than in the winter? Aruba has an average year-round temperature of 82 degrees, so you can relax on a sandy beach, enjoy a cocktail and really enjoy the island vibe. You can enjoy massages at one of the island’s five star resorts, place a bet in a casino or just sip a few cocktails in the sunshine. Bliss!

San Diego, California

Are you and your girlfriends outdoorsy types? Then head to San Diego and enjoy all the leisure pursuits this city has to offer. There’s 70 miles of shoreline for you to jog or cycle along as well as plenty of parks for hiking. You can even take surfing lessons.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Even when it’s snowing in the North, in Florida, it’s always sunny! What could be more glamorous than Fort Lauderdale with its luxurious resorts, sandy beaches and wonderful Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District? You’ll have an amazing time with the girls in the sun before you head back home.

Cancun, Mexico

Cut loose and enjoy yourself with the girls in Mexico! Even if it isn’t spring break, there’s a lot to enjoy in Cancun. Not only is there a stunning beach with the beautiful Caribbean Sea just steps from your front door, there is plenty of history and culture too. Visit Tulum’s ruins and Chichen Itza’s Great Pyramid as well as Rio Secreto’s fascinating caves.

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans may be the number one bachelorette party hotspot of the USA, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait until one of your friends gets married to visit this beautiful city! You’ll love the party atmosphere, the atmospheric French Quarter and, of course, Bourbon Street. The Creole and Cajun food has to be sampled to be believed and there’s plenty of authentic bars where you can grab a drink and soak in the vibe.

Miami, Florida

If you want to go as far south as possible and still stay in the USA, Miami is the spot for you and your girlfriends to spend a long weekend. Since the temperature very rarely goes below 60 degrees, this is an ideal destination for a winter vacation. The beach is great for sunbathing all year round, and there’s lots of other wonderful things to do too, from shopping to visiting rooftop spas. There are also plenty of great dive spots here, so if you and your friends love exploring underwater there’s a world of opportunity open to you. Just don’t forget to take all the necessary dive equipment with you – all the information you need can be found on this website.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Vegas offers something for everyone. Do you love placing a wager and playing the slots? Then you’re in the right place. Want to see a show? No problem! Shopping, visiting museums, drinking and eating… all of these things are possible in Sin City. Want to go a little further afield? Then the Grand Canyon isn’t too far away and you can explore it on horseback, by hiking or even by helicopter. You’ll have a wealth of accommodation options to choose from at a wide range of budgets.

These are just some of the best spots to head to with your girlfriends. You’re sure to have an amazing time, even if it’s winter!

A getaway to the Caribbean can mean more than kicking back with a cool drink and sitting in the sand – it’s a great goal but there are also many water adventures to be had in Central America and the Caribbean. The region offers unique opportunities for unforgettable moments of fun and amazement, and especially to enlarge a child’s world – even more so if you’re raising water babies who’ve had swimming lessons since they were infants. Whichever your destination, be it Belize, Honduras, Aruba, Jamaica or any of the other countless islands and nations, here are some opportunities for family fun that engage with the natural world.

Swimming with Whale Sharks or Manatees

Swimming with these gentle giants is the opportunity of a lifetime. Your family can experience whale sharks off of Holbox Island, Mexico and Utila, Honduras. These are massive plankton feeding animals so it’s safe to take a tour and swim along beside of them. Their massive size and gentleness will impress you. While they seem to swim slowly, you’ll find yourself challenged to keep up with them. The manatee is another gentle giant and also a plant eater. Manatees can be found in the waters of Mexico, Belize and other portions of Central and South America. A guided tour will help ensure that you succeed in meeting this often shy creature.

Explore the Second Largest Reef System in the World

While the Great Barrier Reef of Australia is well known, the second largest reef system in the world is in the Caribbean and offers similar opportunities for sea exploration. Whether you and your family snorkel or scuba, you’ll enjoy the riches of marine life on the reef. The reef extends from Mexico down to Honduras, so you’ll have your choice of places to visit. When heading out with your family, a good tour guide will be able to explain the marine life and corals that you are viewing. You’ll see tropical fish and bright corals. You might even catch a glimpse of a timid moray eel, or dolphins frolicking in the afternoon sun. Every outing will bring a new discovery. Also, from several Caribbean islands, such as Ambergris Caye in Belize, you can see the extent of the reef from the shoreline.

To get started wakesurfing, you’ll need to have access to a boat with a wakeboard tower, a wakesurf board, a rope, and a patient driver who can gradually increase the boat speed as you get comfortable riding the wake.

Visit Shark Ray Alley and Hol Chan Marine Park

Many of us enjoy visiting national parks during our travels. Did you know that in the Caribbean, many places have national marine parks? These are designated places that seek to introduce visitors to the wonders of the reef system and marine life, as well as teaching how to help preserve these fragile ecosystems. Two of these are located off the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker in Belize. A tour guide will lead you around Hol Chan Marine Park pointing out the reef elements and talking about the fish and aquatic life that you encounter. Within the park, you’ll swim closely with brightly colored fish, as well as three different types of sea turtles. Here, children can learn that it’s important to watch but not to touch, even if the turtles or fish come very close.

Often coupled with the visit to Hol Chan is a visit to Shark Ray Alley. While swimming with sharks may seem very intimidating, it shouldn’t be. It’s an incredible opportunity to swim with nurse sharks. When your guide brings the boat into the park, he will pay the park warden then begin to chum the water. The sharks will clamor for the snacks while your guide urges you to dive in. Don’t worry, the nurse sharks are more interested in the snacks than you, so you have an up-close opportunity to share their watery environment with them. In the frenzy, they may bump into you but that is the biggest risk you and your family members face. While watching the sharks, you will also see a variety of rays gliding elegantly through the water. Turtles also enjoy the area. During one outing, a shark and a stingray were seen tussling over the rights to a conch. Ultimately, the ray won but these are just not the experiences one expects to see every day. Both Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley are adventure opportunities that are appropriate for all members of your family who can snorkel.

Cenotes

The Yucatan Peninsula offers the unique water adventure of cenotes. Essentially, these sites are sinkholes that connect with underground rivers and water sources. While the peninsula is primarily dry, the ancient Mayans relied on cenotes for reliable water sources. Whether you choose to vacation in the coastal Cancun or the inland cities of Merida or Valladolid, there are mystical cenotes to experience nearby. It is also possible to combine these water activities with a visit to an ancient Mayan site. During the journey to these locations, you’ll have the opportunity to see exotic birds and wildlife, such as parrots, toucans, pecorinos or jaguars.

Even though international travel is still changeable, the USA’s southern neighbors are close and easy to get to – plan to get your vaccinations and/or rapid test before you leave home – and these are just a few water sports adventures that you can experience when you vacation in the Caribbean or Central America. Additional water sports include stand up paddle boarding, sailing, kayaking and parasailing. While you want to take advantage of all of the available water sports in the location you choose it’s also an opportunity to explore some of the more unusual water adventures in the area, and gain mind-opening and unforgettable memories for all the family.

When you think of taking a casino holiday, what’s the first destination that springs to mind? We’re certain its Las Vegas; in fact, we’re so certain that we’d put a bet on it! Sin city is certainly famous for its bustling casino establishments, spinning slots reels and Roulette tables, glitz and relentless glamour. You’re guaranteed the time of your life in Las Vegas that’s for sure, but its dominance in the casino industry sometimes means that alternative destinations are overlooked, and some of these can be just as impressive and entertaining for an unforgettable casino holiday. Stick with us as we explore a few, and if you’re saving the pennies for a trip in the future, in the meantime you might want to play a few hot casino games at the next best place: leading online casino sites.

1. Bahamas, The Caribbean

If you have the money, The Bahamas is a destination that most certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. Home to an extensive range of luxury casino establishments and varied gambling options, it is the idyllic setting for gambling, fine dining and drinking cocktails. Enjoy the perfect weather and sensational views, while enjoying the delights of venues such as the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. Simply perfection.

2. Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo has a significant place in the history of gambling, with age-old casinos and one of the destinations where the original versions of Roulette began to gain popularity. The glamorous holiday spot is still home to the fascinating Monte Carlo Casino which is 157 years old (built 1863).

3. Macau, China

Macau is third on our list as a top gambling hotspot. Gambling is not legal in much of China, and so many flock to the Macau region where the casinos, nightlife, shops and restaurants never sleep. Not for the faint-hearted; prepare for excitement aplenty and very little sleep on a truly memorable trip to Macau.

4. Sun City, South Africa

Gambling has become legalised in some areas of South Africa, and Sun City resort has become a hotspot for keen casino players to flock to. Combine spotting South African wildlife while enjoying high class casino entertainment and dining at this beautiful destination.

5. Montego Bay, Jamaica

It was 2008 when Jamaica legalised gambling and the casino scene has been growing rapidly ever since. There are a number of luxury resorts offering casinos and gaming lounges, plus beautiful scenery at this stunning destination.

6. Aruba, The Caribbean

White sands, crystal clear ocean and an enjoyable casino game sounds like the perfect combo. doesn’t it? Well you can have all this in Aruba; the stunning Caribbean holiday destination. Relax in the sun during the day, enjoy a fine dinner and head to the brilliant casinos for a long evening of fun and entertainment.

Final Thoughts

Whether you prefer the dazzling bright lights of the city or the sandy white beaches of the Caribbean, there is the perfect gambling destination for you. Which casino vacation is next on your list?

Best known for its beautiful Caribbean beaches and all-year-round Summer, Aruba is a gem in the Caribbean islands, often forgotten when compared to the Bahamas and Bermuda. Affectionately dubbed the Island of Alternative Aruba, it offers a unique charm and allure that sets it apart from its more famous counterparts.

However, you only have to venture a short way from the beach to find many attractions and adventures to take part in. Whether it’s snorkelling, scuba, hiking, windsurfing, kitesurfing or paddleboarding, there is something for everyone on this action-packed and fun-filled island.

The Caribbean has for a long time been on my hit list of places to explore so when my boyfriend’s uncle and auntie moved out there a few years ago, I knew it was the perfect excuse to visit. Last summer I visited the island of Aruba with friends, for a week of fun-filled activities, food and new experiences.

the Island of Alternative Aruba

Aruba, which is famous for its white sandy beaches, all-year sunshine and interesting history is the alternative destination for a million tourists, each year. The island is only 19.6 miles long and 6 miles across, with a total area of 70 square miles.

Unlike many other Caribbean islands, Aruba is below the hurricane belt so does not suffer dreadful weather and instead has a dryer climate without much rain at all. In the interior of the island, you’ll find a desert-like terrain and in Arikok National Park, with a variety of wildlife, cacti and rock formations.

How to get to Aruba

I travelled with KLM from Heathrow via Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam for six nights in the luxurious Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. The flight took an hour to Amsterdam and then nine hours to Aruba, with a small stop at Bonaire, before landing at Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA).

Where to stay in Aruba

The hotel is situated in Oranjestad and is one of two hotels on the island under the same name, one which is a family hotel and one which is an adult-only hotel. I stayed within the adult-only hotel which boasts an array of amenities from the rooftop pool, restaurants, casino, spa, marina and much more.

As a guest of the hotel, you also have access to the beautiful Renaissance Aruba Private Island – a ten-minute speed boat ride from the hotel across the waters to a private island. This is where you can have your photo taken with the Instagram-famous family of flamingos. It’s a slice of Caribbean paradise.

Top Activities to do in Aruba

During the five-day stay, we indulged in great food and an array of activities. Some activities you can enjoy, include: Windsurfing The Windsurfing World Championships were happening during our stay, and it was wonderful to see both windsurfers and kite surfers whizzing across – and above – the water, like enormous seabirds.

Paddleboarding

My fellow travellers tried stand-up Paddle Boarding with Dennis Martinez of Aruba Surf and Paddle School and did very well, especially as a rainstorm hit just as they were getting into their stride!

Snorkelling

I’ve never seen so many colourful fish, except on the Great Barrier Reef, as we did on the reefs near Baby Beach, Aruba. It was astonishing to see so many beautiful fish, coloured in pink and purple hues with lime green and yellow stripes. There is also an opportunity to snorkel on the Jolly Pirates Boat Trip.

4×4 Safari

One of the most popular ways to see the island is on a 4×4 Safari Tour; we booked the half-day Natural Pool Land-Rover Adventure with De Palm Tours. Travelling in convoy, from the north to the south of the island, we experienced many of the island’s highlights, including California Lighthouse, Alto Vista Chapel, Wariruri Beach, Bushiribana Gold Mill and the ruins of Natural Bridge, before a breath-taking bumpy ride over the rocks and dunes of Arikok National Park to the Natural Pools.

Horseback Riding

Aruba’s geology means it is a great place for horseback riding. It offers a variety of exotic locations for adventurous visitors, from the challenging dunes to the desert-like plains that will make you feel like the star of your Western motion picture. Tours include The Gold Mine Ranch, RanchoDaimari, Rancho La Ponderosa and Rancho Loco.

I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this beautiful island. From snacks at traditional beach shacks and staring across the ocean from the lighthouse to snorkelling at Baby Beach, awe-struck by fish hiding in the coral reefs.

Looking for the ideal romantic getaway? Check out our guide on the “Top 6 Locations for a Perfect Romantic Tropical Vacation” on House of Coco for some dreamy destinations to escape with your loved one.

I will be back very soon and cannot wait to explore more of this incredibly vibrant and exciting country.

Tips from a Local

Amelie – local living in Aruba

“When visiting Aruba, go off the tourist trail and do as the locals do. At weekends we get our families together and often head to Zeerovers in the fishermen’s town of Savaneta, for some fresh fish dishes, delivered from sea to plate within a few hours.

The food is amazing here with fresh fried fish and shrimp with side orders of fried plantain and pan bati. Everything is served to you in a basket as you sit on the dock overlooking the water.

If you are with family, head inland and explore Arikok National Park or the Donkey Sanctuary. And if you are after a beach day with the locals, we all head to Baby Beach. Located in the southern part of Aruba, close to San Nicolas, it’s a true Caribbean beach paradise.

The shallow waters make it a prime beach destination for snorkelling. For a real Aruba, experience have a BBQ on the beach or visit the beachside café!”

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Reno, Nevada

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Aruba

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London, England

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