Before landing on the tiny Caribbean island of Aruba, I had no idea Papiamento was a language or that “dushi” could be used to describe anything other than the typical behavior of a frat boy. So, imagine my immature giggle when I saw the word on hats, bagel stores and heard it casually mentioned in the banter between locals. Curiosity got the best of me and after a few hours I googled the Papiamento word and learned it is used to describe someone as attractive, exalt food as delicious or explain a beautiful way of life!
No other word is more appropriate to describe this American-dominated vacation spot! Read on to see my dushi favorites!
I would fly to Aruba just to eat at this dockside restaurant! Loved by tourists and locals alike, Zeerovers is the BEST food on the entire island and well worth the drive and wait to order! I don’t usually advocate for establishments that only serve up fried food but this restaurant with a gorgeous view is an exception! After waiting in line for approximately 35 minutes, I took advantage of the limited menu and ordered the following for two: two snapper filets, two swordfish fillets, fries, plantains, cornbread (similar to an American pancake).
Loved by tourists and locals alike, Zeerovers is the BEST food on the entire island and well worth the drive and wait to order! I don’t usually advocate for establishments that only serve up fried food but this restaurant with a gorgeous view is an exception! After waiting in line for approximately 35 minutes, I took advantage of the limited menu and ordered the following for two: two snapper filets, two swordfish fillets, fries, plantains and cornbread.
After waiting in line for approximately 35 minutes, I took advantage of the limited menu and ordered the following for two: two snapper filets, two swordfish fillets, fries, plantains, four shrimp and cornbread. Total price paid? $23.00 USD!
Two chefs lightly batter your fish and flash fry them to a crunchy perfection! All items were tossed into a basket and served with a bottle of Aruban Hot Delight. Seriously, this was a meal that dreams are made of!
For an additional $6.00 you can wash down the locally made Hopi Bon Beer and end on a sweet note with coconut ice cream.
Aruba isn’t all pretty soft white sand beaches, it has a wild side where cacti and snakes replace palms and lizards. I drove to the East side of Aruba to explore Arikok National Park for an afternoon. It did not disappoint this nature lover!
The preserve covers 20% of the island and houses Aruba’s highest point, underground caves, coastal sand dunes, Boca Prins limestone cliffs, and a rough desert terrain that requires a 4×4 or some major hiking to navigate the roads. Another great feature is the abandoned gold mine, thousands of rock stacks and the landbridge.
The beaches aren’t meant for swimming – the current will sweep you away – but the Conchi natural pools are perfect for a cool dip after hiking the miles of toe paths. Another perk: lots of wildlife! Bats, iguanas, snakes, goats, donkeys and peacocks can be found inside Arikok.
This is a must visit and you should plan an entire day at the park. There is a visitors center for water but I recommend bringing your own food and lots of water. The other alternative is to book a jeep safari.
Hours: 8 – 4 pm
NOTE: The Park does not permit you to take anything from the park. You may only leave with what you bring with you.
As a fitness addict, I couldn’t help but smirk at the idea of being challenged by the short climb up the volcanic “haystack” looking hill but the idea of having 360 views of the entire island convinced me to make the ascent.
The 662 step trek to the summit was no joke! By the time I reached 541 feet my heart was racing and my eyes were pleased with the view. After navigating around a few cacti and radio antennas, I was able to see all corners of Aruba.
Also, at the summit of Hooiberg are some beautiful blue lizards and blossoming cacti.
Note: I climbed the volcano three times in average of 5 minutes per ascent.
Baby Beach is a true Caribbean beach paradise and I immediately fell in love with this bite of heaven!
This gorgeous half-moon lagoon has calm, shallow waters that allow swimmers to wade out for a long distance while still able to touch the bottom and it has beautiful coral! Snorkle on, I was comfortably able to enjoy the kaleidoscope of coral and tropical fish found at the opening of the bay into the Caribbean Sea.
Baby Beach is a 30 minute drive from Oranjestad but worth the trek! No need to plan for food either, there’s both a snack shop and restaurant on site!
Complimentary huts are dotted along the beach with beach beds, windscreen and snorkel gear available for rent.
There are strong currents outside the lagoon. You’ll find the safe zones buoyed with signs indicating where it is best for snorkelers to explore the underwater world.
Drinks & Munchies
After splashing around in the warm waters, I saddled up to the bar at Big Mama’s Grill for a bite and an indulgence of a blended drink! With a price to match the size, the Knock Out Seafood Taco was spicy and large enough to feed two but the Brown Lady was mine, all mine!
This location was a bit overpriced but conveniently located next to the beach and filled with friendly staff who are dressed in Flintstone uniforms.
I absolutely LOVE locally made products! I love learning about them, sampling or tasting them and definitely purchasing them as gifts for myself and loved ones.
Aside from hot sauce and alcohol, Aruba only exports a product deemed by Christopher Columbus as essential to life! This product is aloe vera! Aruba Aloe is a brief drive from the resort area and rather small but worth a visit. I spent an hour exploring the Aruba Aloe Museum, touring the field and factory and sampling their luxurious products! If you are a lover
I spent an hour exploring the Aruba Aloe Museum, touring the field and factory and sampling their luxurious products! During the complimentary, 15-minute tour I learned about the origins of aloe in the Americas (brought by the Spanish), how its uses have changed over time and how it has shaped the agriculture of the Caribbean.
My favorite part?
Touching the “fileted” aloe and trying the wide variety of organic aloe products in their shop!
Helpful Tip: Tour is FREE & you receive a free lip balm if you complete the contact form
Delicious and huge, the pancakes a the Dutch Pancake House in Oranjestad are worth the wait in line! I’m a sucker for the “the best” and gave into the battered temptationon my last morning in Aruba.
The love-child of a crepe and pancake, Dutch Pancakes are topped with either sweet or savory ingrediants! I couldn’t decide so I ordered both the Fruit Delight (covered in bananas, strawberries, and blueberries), the German (ham & eggs) with a side of Poffertjes (better known as silver dollars).
None of the items disappointed and were well worth the calories consumed!
Beat the Line: Arrive at 8 am
The Dutch way of eating a pancake is to create a roll & then attack with a fork.
Chinese Grocery Store
One of my favorite ways to explore local culture is to go grocery shopping! Not only does this show me what ingredients are most common locally but also is a reflection of the lifestyle of locals. When shopping, I usually pick up some healthy foods and goodies to make breakfast to keep my traveling costs low.
When I touched down in Aruba I googled “grocery store” and much to my surprise most of the names were Chinese. In all my pre-trip research, I read a lot about the variety of cultures that make up Aruba but did not see mention of any Asian influence. Imagine my surprise to see almost every grocery store with a Chinese or Phillipino name!
I inquired with a few locals and they said the small number of Asians living on the island have business savvy and found a way to maximize profits through grocery distribution! After climbing Ayo Formation, I went into Wai Fat and giggled at some of the items inside: Cock Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Chubby Soft Drink (with 25% less sugar).
Cynthia is a recovering Travel Director turned TV host, creator of Her Drive Podcast, and lover of all things adventure, unicorns, van life, and wellness-focused. She can be found dining wherever octopus is on the menu.