I spent the last 4 months back home in Aruba since my education was completely online this year. I absolutely love being back on the island, but after doing my university online these past few months I wanted have a weekend staycation before returning to the Netherlands. We decided to have a staycation at The Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba and explore my favorite spots on the island.
The first time we stayed at the Boardwalk Hotel was back in 2016 when there were only a few casitas. Back then I loved the homey feeling of the casitas and the tropical colors. They have since added 32 new casitas, another pool and plenty of cool amenities. What I absolutely love is Boardwalk hotel’s focus on sustainability and their mission to offer guests insights to the Aruban culture. Their casitas are eco-friendly with 100% LED lighting, powered by solar energy and have water saving-faucets. The hotel also strives to support the local economy & community while creating awareness to preserve the island’s natural resources and environment. Click here to read more about the Boardwalk Hotel sustainability efforts.
We arrived at the hotel on the first day and checked into the Deluxe Coco Casita. I love the two showers in this casita one of which was outdoors and had the prettiest views of the stars and moon at night. I also admire the kitchen which has everything you need to cook, there was beautiful wall art of local birds and we had a lovely view of the pool.
We spent our first day wondering around the hotel, relaxing with a coconut at the pool and exploring the beach area of the hotel. The beach area is right across the street and it includes the use of beach chairs, coolers, beach towels and toys.
The following morning we checked into a different casita, the Palapa Lodge 360. This casita does not have a kitchen, but it does have the most beautiful views, privacy and a gorgeous bathtub in the middle of your room. The casita is shaped as a tower with your room on top which makes it perfect for a 360 ° sunset view!
We decided to start our island tour at Mangel Halto in Savaneta, the Southeastern side of Aruba. The area of Mangel Halto is surrounded by mangroves that protect the environment and also happen to look beautiful. The lively coral and marine life of this area makes it one of my favorite snorkeling spots! There is even a sunken shipwreck here which lays on 12m depth where people often free dive.
It is important to mention that this snorkeling spot is not for everyone as you need to swim quite a bit to reach the coral reefs. On some days the current can also be strong. Furthermore, do not touch any marine life or stand/walk on the coral as this will damage the environment. Take care of Aruba.
San Nicolas street art
We always stop in the center of San Nicolas on our way to Rodgers beach to admire the mural art made by different artists. You can walk around and discover them all and there are even walking tours to learn more about the history and culture. My favorite pieces are the nature ones such as the turtle, owl and iguana.
Right in the middle of all the mural art is a museum called San Nicolas community museum. Due to Covid the actual museum is closed and they now sell food & drinks. We had lunch here and couldn’t help but admire the stunning views and historic elements in the restaurant. Definitely don’t miss this spot when you’re visiting San Nicolas, It’s great for when you’re taking a break from exploring the area.
Wild Donkeys & Coconut Stand
On your way to Baby beach or Rodgers beach you will come across diverse groups of wild donkeys. These donkeys live in the wild, but are quite tame as they are used to being fed by everyone. I always bring some apples or carrots to feed them.
Make sure you park your car next to the road so they don’t stand in the middle. Also be careful as they are still wild animals and could be unpredictable. Please don’t feed them anything outside of their diet such as bread or fries etc.
Close to the wild donkeys and the Red Anker is a coconut stand where you can get cold coconuts and snacks almost everyday of the week. The owner is a kind man from the Dominican Republic who makes a living from his stand.
Lastly, we reach the last spot of our day trip, Rodgers beach. This is a beach I grew up at. I would spend almost every day here with my family when I used to live in San Nicolas as a kid. The beach has beautiful blue waters, is very quiet during the week and has two piers you could relax or jump off!
On day 3 we stayed in the Plunge Pool Casita and started our morning with a lovely floating breakfast by Eduardo’s Beach Shack which has a location right in the Boardwalk Hotel. For more info on food and drinks, click here.
I can see why this casita is always fully booked, it was absolutely wonderful. We had a lot of space and a beautiful garden with patio, hammock and private pool. The interior was tropical with a kitchen, stunning shower and 4 poster king bed. This casita was super romantic and having breakfast in our own pool was an amazing experience.
After breakfast we headed to the beach for some relaxing and snorkeling. The waters of Boca Catalina are crystal clear and also contains lots of marine life such as turtles, sea stars and squids. If you come early you can get one of the beach palapas for free or walk a little further along the beach to find shade under the trees.
Important to remember to never touch any sea turtles or pick up sea stars for the environment but also as laws in Aruba.
After Boca Catalina we made a stop at the California Lighthouse which is located at the Northwest tip of the island. It is situated on a small hill which gives it the perfect views over the island. For $5 you can even enter the lighthouse and climb the steps to the top for a breathtaking 360 view.
Do note that the stairs are quite narrow to reach the top and there are around 160 steps. It also gets quite busy during the day with tours that stop here, If you want to beat the crowds get here early before 10 am or after 4 pm.
We ended the day with a lovely sunset dinner on the beach at Barefoot restaurant. The name speaks for itself, we got to have dinner with our feet in the white sand with the most beautiful views. The atmosphere was laid back and the waiters was super kind. Our highlight was watching the airplanes land above the water right in front of us, which was truly unique.
Make sure to make a reservation as it gets really busy and important to note that they don’t reserve the tables in the first row in front of the water as it is on a first come basis. We arrived around 6pm and almost all the tables were already taken. Barefoot also has vegan options and is family friendly.
We had had an amazing staycation and stoked that I got the chance to re-explore my favorite spots. Will definitely do this again when we return to Aruba next year. Thank you Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba for the unforgettable time.
Leave a comment down below if you have any questions! xx Jenna