Set your summer vacation sites on Aruba.  The island of Aruba lies outside of the hurricane belt; it has low rainfall; it is 82 degrees nearly all year long and windy because the trade winds; and unlike other Caribbean islands it is dry as opposed to humid.  With such temperate and pristine weather conditions, what more could you ask for?  But there’s more, this is “One Happy Island”, as it is often called, has something for everyone, many some great hidden gems. 

Here are 8 reasons to visit One Happy Island now

#1 – The Ritz-Carlton – Pristine beaches, beautiful pools and lush landscaping are what you would expect at any luxury island resort, and this hotel more than meets that high bar. Each of the 320 rooms has a private balcony, and boats spacious bathrooms with deep, full-size baths and separate showers.  Sleep like a baby in the Ritz-Carlton signature feather beds, and rise to a luxurious buffet breakfast in Solanio with everything from pancakes, waffles to fresh breads and jams.

#2 Rancho Daimari – Take a Sunrise horseback ride to the natural pool, Conchi, right off the ocean and only accessible by off-road vehicle, horse or by foot.  This hidden gem off of the rugged Northern shore is a picture perfect spot that you will not soon forget. Wear your swimsuit and climb through the lava rocks to the pool, waist deep, for the most delicious and refreshing dip ocean side.   Tip: Don’t forget your towel!

#3 – Arikok Natural Park – locally known as Hofi Shon Shoco, covers nearly 20% of the island and is a wonderful afternoon or day outing.  There are three zones to the park, the Northern Conservation Zone (where Conchi is located), the Central Activity Zone, and the South Conservation Zone.  Each zone has unique historical, cultural, and geological sites, which you can explore on your own or with a guide.  If you love nature, the flora and fauna in each zone tells Aruba’s geological history.  The park is open from 11 AM – 4 PM daily, entrance fee is $11.

#4 – Donkey Sanctuary – You will enter the “too cute” zone here and never want to leave. This is an entirely volunteer run, non-profit, where you can go and pet and feed the Donkey’s up close and personal.  There is no admission fee, but they do appreciate donations.  Go early and help with the daily chores of feeding and caring for the donkeys — kids love this experience! You can also sit on the covered porch with a cold beverage or coffee, snack and watch these lovely babies enjoy life from being rescued.

#5 – Terrafuse – A fun outing for couples or with kids is to take in a glass bead making workshop at Terrafuse.  The 3 hour workshop for beginners is $85 pp, and includes you making your own glass beads and taking them home with you (such as on a bracelet or necklace).  They also offer kiln casting and pottery workshops.

#6 – Elements restaurant – The most coveted view to dine for is here at Elements restaurant.  Choose the oceanfront deck or the inside air-conditioned with the same view of the beach and sparkling sea.  Romantic dining is best had here in a beachfront palapa (open sided with dining area for two, with a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves) with a special 6-course meal during sunset or moonlight.

#7 – Aruba Ostrich Farm – Here you can visit beautiful ostriches and their flightless Australian relatives, the emus. As you tour the property you will learn about the natural behaviors and survival instincts of these amazing creatures and even have up close and personal encounters with them.

#8Pedernales Wreck – Get your scuba gear on and visit some wrecks, at the top of this, the Pedernales.  A World War IIA World War II oil tanker was sunk here by a German submarine. The onsite wreckage is only the center section of the vessel – the portion damaged by the German torpedo. The United States Navy salvaged the bow and the stern and reassembled them into a smaller ship, later using the vessel to storm the beach at Normandy.  The wreckage is only 25 feet down, a great visit for first-time divers.