How to Have a 3-Day Weekend Getaway in Aruba

  • Things to do in Aruba: Eagle Beach
    Aruba's iconic Fofoti treeZach Stovall
  • The ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao) are known for being outside the hurricane belt; coincidentally, arriving in Aruba is as easy as ABC. Direct flights depart from 14 North American cities, and automated kiosks for U.S., Canadian and European travelers make clearing customs a breeze. Here's how to maximize a long weekend getaway.

  • Things to Do in Aruba on Vacations: Aruba Hotels
    A room with a view at Hyatt Regency Aruba ResortCourtesy Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort
  • Day 1

  • Island Time: The first order of business: Kick back like you're in a Corona commercial. The island's soothing trade winds help set the mood: Feel the breeze from the open-air lobby of Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino, fronting Palm Beach. Immediately after check-in, don a swimsuit and find a spot on the sand. The palapas that line the shore are a hot commodity — use the resort's online service to book yours the night prior. Sip a Chill (a local brew) and, well, chill.

  • Things to Do in Aruba on Vacations: Romantic Dinner on the Beach
    Footprints Beach GrillCourtesy Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort
  • Just the Two Of Us: To score major brownie points with your dushi (sweetheart), reserve one of the six tables at Footprints Beach Grill. A shoes-optional romantic beach dinner is a surefire way to kick off your vacay. Remember those trade winds? Keep them in mind for your dinner attire: Hats will be blown away, hairdos will be windswept, and short dresses will recall Marilyn Monroe.

  • Things to Do in Aruba on Vacations: Ayo Rock Formations
    Ayo Rock FormationsZach Stovall
  • Day 2

  • Hit The Road: Aruba is more than just pretty beaches and turquoise water: It's one of the few Caribbean islands with an arid, dry landscape. To see this other side, go off road with De Palm Tours. Its canary-yellow Land Rovers venture daily through rugged desert terrain unfit for the average rental car. Half- and full-day tours visit attractions like the Ayo Rock Formations. These ancient monolithic boulders provided shelter for the Arawak Indians (evidenced by their rock drawings); today, pathways through the stones make it an easy hike for all ages.

  • Things to Do in Aruba on Vacations: Donkey Sanctuary
    The Aruba Donkey SanctuaryZach Stovall
  • Four-legged Friends: Nearby, stop to feed friendly burros at the Donkey Sanctuary. This nonprofit protects the animals that were once the preferred method of transportation but were threatened when the car was introduced.

  • Things to Do in Aruba on Vacations: Caves at Arikok National Park
    A limestone cave at Arikok National ParkZach Stovall
  • Cave In: Post-petting, head to Arikok National Park: Channel Indiana Jones and explore the park's limestone caves, Fontein and Guadirikiri. (Warning: You will see bats.) If weather conditions allow, a swim in the natural pool (Conchi) is the ideal way to cool off.

  • Things to Do in Aruba on Vacations: Charlie's Bar
    Charlie's BarZach Stovall
  • Booze and Browse: After a full morning, it's time to refuel. The famous Charlie's Bar in San Nicholas offers cold beer and fresh seafood with a side of character. Since it opened in 1941, the bar's walls and ceilings have been covered with bric-a-brac: dolls, license plates, mariachi hats, boxing gloves. Ready for some retail therapy? Back at Palm Beach, walk to Arawak Gardens to shop storefronts and vendor stalls selling everything from high-end jewelry to souvenir tchotchkes.

  • Things to Do in Aruba on Vacations: Nightlife at Moomba Beach Bar
    Moomba Beach BarZach Stovall
  • Paint the Town: Moomba Beach Bar and Restaurant brings the classic beach-bar vibe. The spot is happening every night of the week, but visit on a Friday or Sunday for a barbecue buffet and live music. Order a few watermelon mojitos and dance the night away on the sand. If you're still wired, Sinatra singalongs continue past midnight at The Soprano's Piano Bar. Or try your luck at a casino — many are open 24 hours.

  • Things to Do in Aruba on Vacations: Breakfast Restaurants
    The Dutch Pancake House RestaurantCourtesy The Dutch Pancake House Restaurant
  • Day 3

  • Breakfast of Champions: Start your day by going Dutch — for flapjacks, that is. The Dutch Pancake House Restaurant in downtown Oranjestad serves up sweet and savory delicacies all day, plus poffertjes (silver-dollar style) and uitsmijters, a typical Dutch breakfast of bread topped with ham, cheese and fried eggs.

  • Things to Do in Aruba on Vacations: Snorkeling and Diving
    A snorkeling tour with Red Sail SportsCourtesy Red Sail Sports
  • Fish Tales: Catalina Bay is the first stop on Red Sail Sports' Antilla Snorkel Sail, where the calm water is suitable for all levels. The three-hour catamaran tour (including snacks and an open bar) also anchors at the Antilla wreck. The sea is rougher, but the 400-foot sunken freighter, teeming with marine life, is worth braving the waves.

  • Things to Do in Aruba on Vacations: Romantic Restaurants
    Madame JanetteCourtesy Madame Janette
  • French Connection: Reserve a bon voyage dinner at Madame Janette, an institution since 1999. Expect French cuisine with a Caribbean twist in signature dishes like almond-crusted grouper and hollandaise-topped filet mignon. Pair your meal with a French wine, or pick a Belgian ale from the extensive craft-beer list.

  • Read more about Aruba: