Being home in the last few months due to the pandemic was challenging and not easy for anyone who loves to travel. Most of us are always ready for an adventure, to explore and have some fun in the sun. However, when someone steps in and tells you well you just can’t travel because everything is shutting down, this news can be quite devastating. After being patient and feeling like we had waited long enough, we started to seek out places that were slowly accepting travelers. Those locations that were safe, yet had fewer restrictions and rules. Once we researched Aruba, we jumped on it! It’s close by, easy entry process, and comes with some of the most beautiful landscapes encapsulated on a tiny island. For a travel hungry family, it seemed perfect!

The island has a lot to offer, a small place with so much diversity. You can drive from one end to the other end of the island under an hour, and come across breathtaking beaches, desert, with tropical greenery around the resorts. Cactus and aloe grow well throughout the Island that adds the wow effect. Some of our favorite places to discover were secluded beaches at Arikok National Park, along with the private island where you fed flamingos. Read on and watch the video for our Aruba Travel Guide, including our favorite places to visit, swimming spots, sandy dunes and so much more…

5+ days recommended

The best time to visit Aruba: January to August – January to March features pleasant weather, but the room prices can soar. The cheapest month to fly to Aruba is August. | (Our Trip took place in February)

Weather in Aruba: Consistent sun and cooling trade winds, making it a year-round destination. | (We had the most amazing weather)

Getting Around Aruba: Rent a car or Taxi | (We rented a Jeep Wrangler… a must to visit Arikok National Park)

Money & Currency: Aruba’s currency is the florin, but the US dollar is also widely accepted. Banks also exchange other foreign currency such as Euros. Traveler’s checks are widely accepted as well. | (We used credit cards for most purchases)

Languages: Dutch and the local language of Papiamento are the official languages of Aruba, but most Arubans speak English and Spanish. | (We spoke English with everyone)

Nearby Airport: AUA | Queen Beatrix International Airport, is an international airport located in Oranjestad, Aruba.

Where We Stayed:

You have a lot of options of hotels, resorts and airbnbs throughout the Island. When we were booking our stay we were looking at many different options, and at the end we decided to choose Renaissance Ocean Suites. The most important and biggest perk of the Renaissance hotel is included and guaranteed access to Renaissance Private Island, which is where the Aruba flamingos are located! A day pass to the island will cost you if you aren’t a hotel guest (day passes are $125 per person, and includes lunch and a drink). You can pre-book your passes on their website for day passes. You can do it only for the next day and registration starts at 7 AM. Keep in mind that Day passes are NEVER guaranteed, and if the occupancy of the hotel is higher than 80%, no day passes are available at all. If you don’t want to get disappointed not being able to see the flamingos we suggest to book the Renaissance Hotel. The resort is modern and fully-equipped, plus it’s located right in downtown Aruba.

What are other great locations to stay in Aruba?

Other best places to stay on Aruba are along the leeward (western) coast, where the waters are calm and warm. Most of the island’s hotels can be found on this stretch and there is a good range from luxury resorts which have everything onsite to chic boutiques, perfect for a  hideaway.

Top Sights in Aruba | Where To Go:

Renaissance Island – Personally we think that this is Aruba’s most stunning beach, a true tropical oasis. You can watch flamingos roaming around the stunning island, relax inside a private cabana or simply take in the warm sun while enjoying a drink or dinner at the restaurant.

You may also try one of many water activities that are included on the island like snorkeling, kayaking, or paddle boarding. This small island is available exclusively to guests of Renaissance Aruba. However, you may attempt to buy a day pass ($125 per person), a little steep but well worth it if you make a day of it. Buy tickets in person at Renaissance Hotel Aruba, and keep in mind there are limited quantities. Once you have your tickets you can go on a boat (they run every 15 minutes) or if you’re a hotel guest, you will hop on complimentary water taxis to escape to this small island.

 

Eagle Beach & Palm Beach – Fofoti Trees – The famous Fofoti (Watapana) tree (located on the public Eagle Beach) is Aruba’s natural compass, always pointing in a southwestern direction due to the trade winds that blow across the island from the north-east. AND while most Caribbean islands are known for their palm trees, Aruba is also known for the unique Fofoti Tree. We had a chance to experience the trees at sunset and sunrise and it was truly magical.

Which is better Eagle Beach or Palm Beach Aruba? Eagle Beach is more private, but the water is rough. Palm Beach has calmer water, but the beach is louder and more crowded because of the high rise resorts. On Palm Beach, there are more activities, such as water sports and exursions. Also, the Palm Beach strip has more restaurants and shops. One of our favorite restaurant on the palm beach strip was Lola Taqueria.

 

Arikok National Park – This beautiful National Park in Aruba takes up about 20% of the island. The most convenient way to visit the park is to rent your own 4X4 vehicle and enjoy gorgeous rugged terrain, desert-like hills filled with cactuses, a breathtaking coastline, sand dunes and caves. Exploring the park it’s a memorable journey offering many unique sites. All activities can be enjoyed and explored either on your own or through guided tours.

 

Mangel Halto – Mangel Halto Beach is a secluded beach that is located on the southeast coast of Aruba. But we did noticed that many locals used the beach for snorkeling and picnicking. The beach is also very different from many other beaches on the island, because of the forest surrounding it with cactuses! You will also find a beautiful rustic stairwell below that is located just off the road before Mangel Halto, here!

 

Explore the colorful downtown – a place for shopping, street walking and local town experience. Scout luxury brands, fun boutiques, souvenirs and much more in the downtown area when you need a break from the beach!

 

Top Sights in Aruba | What To Do:

Snorkeling – Snorkel waters close to shore that are home to shallow reefs!

Remote beaches – Rent a 4×4 & head for secluded coves surrounded by limestone cliffs carved into natural bridges. Just keep in mind that some waters are rough and dangerous to swim.

Feed the flamingos – as we mentioned above, Renaissance Island is the place to go if you want to check this off your bucket list. You can buy a day pass at the hotel or on their website here, but keep in mind tickets are limited and will sell out almost immediately. If you want a guarantee of seeing the island and the flamingos in person, book at least one night at the Renaissance resort! Once you arrive at the island, there is plenty to do and the whole day will fly by in no time and you will wish to come back again the next day. We promise!

 

Go paddle-boarding or kayaking – Aruba’s coastline offers a perfect standup paddle boarding (SUP) it’s an experience from a new perspective. Many resorts and water sports companies along Palm Beach, Fisherman’s Huts, and Eagle Beach offer paddle board rentals.

 

Visit Arikok National Park – we spent a few hours driving and exploring the park on foot, and with our Jeep Wrangler. We highly recommend renting a 4X4 SUV before heading to the park as some areas are very rough to drive and a regular car will not get you through it. Our favorite highlights at the park were Boca Prins and the Natural Pool with a great location for swimming. Quick note: park starts closing around 3pm so head over before noon to make sure you can see both sides of the park. Water and sunblock are essential during the day.

 

Watch Sunset at California Sand Dunes – welcome to the northern tip of Aruba… the wild side! Wind and waves pound the landscape which created endless sand dunes and enormous boulders. A network of trails crisscrosses the area, eventually arriving at the sea. This is a romantic sunset spot – but don’t linger, as darkness comes quickly. Quick note: Driving on the dunes is prohibited, so leave your car in one of the parking areas that are visible from the lighthouse road.

 

5 Quick Tips For Your First Trip To Aruba

  1. What to pack? Aruba is hot and humid, but in keep in mind that there is always a steady breeze in Aruba, making the warm weather bearable. When it comes to clothes we suggest sticking to clothes that breathe, and of course, don’t forget your swimwear!
  2. No need to buy water! The tap water in Aruba is of high quality and perfectly safe to drink.
  3. Wearing sunscreen is absolutely necessary, so come prepared.
  4. You don’t have to stay at a resort to have a good time.
  5. You’ll most likely want to rent a car.

 

 

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Oman is situated in the southeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. Surrounded by the sea on two sides, it jointly borders Saudi Arabia on the west, Yemen to the south, and the United Arab Emirates to the north. A 15 hour flight from New York City or a quick one hour flight will bring you right into Muscat where you will find yourself ready to kick off an unforgettable Arabian experience that will stay with you forever. Let me preface this : Oman is not Dubai. In fact, many of the locals we spoke to interestingly made note of how hard it is trying to not become the next UAE. Keeping the cultural distinction, nature intact along with mild crowds, it’s a gem hidden in the middle east that we were lucky enough to stumble on.

In Oman, you’ll find desert havens enveloped between mountains. Driving through the rocky countryside, it’s easy to stumble upon uncrowded spots dotted with luxurious resorts and hotels. A perfect recipe for anyone looking to relax and unwind between a little bit of adventure. So go on, take a dive! Find yourself in the midst of dazzling souks and superb seafood, white sand beaches and warm waters. All the while be blessed with a unique, natural and enviable beauty. Need we say more!?

And this is your ultimate 7-day Oman route guide. Enjoy!

Seven day road trip in Oman

Trip planning was probably one of the easiest encounters we had once we arrived. Since we intended to stay for a week, but we’re just not sure how we wanted to spend the middle few days, we left it open and thankfully, it was easy enough to finalize our itinerary once we arrived. The country is completely developed with fantastic roads/highways and infrastructure. Most people we asked for advice were able to chat in English and their helpful smiles made us feel warm and welcome. It’s also one of the cleanest countries we had visited, and certainly one of the safest!

This 7-day route will take you around the best highlights of Oman.  An Instagram must see:

Day 1: Arriving at Muscat

Be dazzled the minute you arrive in Muscat. The airport is brand new and the earthy interior design gives you a great prelude to what is waiting outside. Customs is a breeze and the officials are quick to welcome you with a smile. From the airport you can rent a car, that you can totally do it since Oman is one of the easiest places to drive yourself. If you are planning on visiting desert area on your own, we would strongly recommend getting a 4X4 SUV that will get you through the dunes (hopefully) in no time.

Oman Road Trip

On the first day we only recommend to relax at one of the many hotels available in Muscat. We stayed at the Hilton Al Khuwair and their rooftop pool is a great place to start after your flight. Enjoy gorgeous mountains looming in the background amid the sunset hues!

Best Oman Hotel Pool View

Day 2 – Muscat to Sur

After relaxing day by the pool a day before, drive down the route along the coastline. This will be an easy 120-minute drive, all highway. Feel free to pull over and take a break along the way. There are some other points to enjoy before you arrive in city of Sur. We recommend to visit:

  • Bimmah Sinkhole (Hawiyat Najm Park)

Just an hour and a half from the capital, the magnificent Bimmah sinkhole can be found filled with a mix of freshwater and sea water, giving it a stunning turquoise tint. A popular swimming spot, locals believe that the area was formed when a meteor crashed into the surface. Diving is prohibited, but don’t be surprised if you see a local attempting the 65 feet dive!

  • Wadi Shab

A popular outdoor attraction of which the main attraction is the waterfall. One tip we can give is to be there right the minute it opens to avoid crowds as it can be pretty busy. Getting to the waterfall is in itself a grand adventure. You have to embark on the first stage by taking a small rowboat to the opposite end of the small river. From here on, make sure you have hiking shoes on! The hike itself leads the way through mountains and valleys which will awe you in every way imaginable. Do you ever have the feeling of how miniscule we are in comparison to nature? Well, be prepared to have that feeling here.

The pathway is marked so you don’t lose the trail. Keep your eyes open for the arrows marked on stone boulders. Once you arrive to the final point, you will have to swim three freshwater pools to finally get to the waterfall. The gleaming turquoise water is a sight to behold. This one venture is every bit worth your time!

Bimmah Sinkhole Oman

Oman itinerary - 7 day guideWadi Shab Oman

Wadi Shab Oman Vacation

Once you arrive at Sur you must watch their sunset  – Absolutely breath taking. See panorama shot below!

City of Sur Oman

Day 3 – 4: Wahiba Sands, Desert Days

Today you will drive from Sur, and follow your way to the desert camp in the Wahiba Sands. Most of the camps can be reached by driving a 4×4 yourself but you may also ask your hotel to arrange a pick-up from Bidiyah. If you are planning to drive yourself, you must deflate your tires a bit at one of the local shops right before you enter the desert. Also, make sure you give yourself at least two nights stay in the desert to explore the area by car or camel, and to try dune bashing, campfire at night or just let yourself live between the dunes.

Fun fact:

The desert was our favorite part of Oman adventure. AND If you want to camp beneath the night sky go and stay at: 1000 Nights Camp

Day 5: Nizwa

From Bidiyah, drive to the historical town called Nizwa. It was named the ‘Capital of Islamic Culture’ in 2013, and it’s a popular tourist destination.

Once you come to Nizwa you must see one of Oman’s oldest forts, Nizwa Fort and wander around at Nizwa Souq located just outside of the fort. Nizwa fort is known for its cylindrical shape and is the biggest fort tower in Oman. Nizwa souq is one of the oldest souqs in the country known for its handicrafts, agricultural products and local craftsmanship.

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Nizwa Fort OmanNizwa Fort OmanNizwa Fort OmanNizwa Fort OmanNizwa Fort OmanNizwa Fort Oman

Day 6 – 7: Explore Muscat

Muscat is Oman’s capital city and home to many amazing experiences. It hosts the impressive Sultan Qaboos Mosque, Muttrah Souq, and the Royal Opera House.

Sultan Qaboos Mosque

The Sultan Qaboos Mosque opened in 2001 and is Oman’s main mosque lavishly decorated with elaborate carvings, one of the world’s largest Persian carpets and colorful hibiscus flowers. Explore the mosque’s courtyards dotted with flowers and fountains and see the holy verses inscribed in the sandstone walls. Non-muslims are welcome to visit the Grand Mosque any day except on Friday mornings during prayer. There is no fee to enter. As this is a place of worship, visitors are asked to remain respectful and wear modest clothing. Men must wear long pants and women are required to wear a headscarf.

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Muttrah Souq

Mutrah Souk is one of the oldest marketplaces in the Arab world. This ancient marketplace today features winding alleys of stalls selling antiques, traditional fabrics, aromatic spices and fresh produce.

Tip:

The Mutrah Souk is located by the harbor in the heart of Old Muscat. It’s free to enter the souk. Haggling is expected here, but don’t expect huge discounts on the goods.

The market is open twice a day: first from early morning until midday and then from late afternoon until late evening. On Fridays, the market only operates in the afternoons. It can be difficult to find a parking spot around the busy marketplace, so come by taxi instead.

Relax by the beach

On the last day take some time for yourself and enjoy the beach, or the pool. Al Bustan Beach is part of Al Bustan Palace, which is one of the most famous and luxurious hotels in Muscat. It also has the best and longest private beach in the country. Between its green gardens and high-quality service, you can enjoy a wide range of activities. For this reason we decided to stay at the Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel before catching our flight back.

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Final tips:

Best time to visit Oman

The ideal time to visit Oman is between October and May, with temperatures averaging between 70-85 fahrenheit during the day and 65-75 fahrenheit during the evening. Summer is between June and September featuring warmer and more humid weather conditions. There is little chance of rain in Muscat, though we did experience it on the first day of arrival in November.

Food in Oman

From dates and coffee to rice and grilled meat, these are the top Omani dishes that every visitor must try during their visit to the country.

Getting around in Oman

There’s very little public transport in Oman. Buses will can get you between the main towns and cities, but to really see anything of the country you’ll need your own transport, either by signing up for a tour, hiring a guide-driver, or getting behind the wheel yourself. To follow this 7-day Oman route guide you will need your own car and a 4×4 in the desert. Renting a 4×4 costs around $700 for 7 days.

Oman Visa

Getting a visa in Oman is super easy. You can apply for a visa here. It will costs you around $13 per visa (from USA). AND It takes anywhere from 1 day to 1 week to receive your visa via email.

Don’t miss another post … Oman Instagram Story Posts: Follow Us

Instagram Story Posts of Oman

 

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Ever reminisce about the summer road trips you took as a kid? The ones with the terrible car singing, bagged lunches, moderate ac and fighting for space for hours on end? For some reason at the end of those trips, the final sights always faded into the background and what was left were the memories of those not-so-terrible car rides. That nostalgia led us to Niagara Falls. We’ve been there – multiple times as kids and new adults, but this time we wanted to create some of those same memories for our little girl Sofia (minus the bagged lunches) and to actually see the Falls.

This time around we went together with another ground of family friends. Probably one of the best decisions was to travel as a group. The hours driving melted away between the entertainment and chatter. Plus, being together brought more options for activities and experiences that we normally wouldn’t have considered alone. That being said, just make sure your friends share the same interest, and match your personalities or you will end up making some not so great memories 😉

Just at an eye level, the Falls are awe-inspiring enough. But, taking them in a thousand feet from above is something else. A lot of nice hotels offer the ‘falls view’ and we say take the plunge and get those rooms. We stayed at the Embassy Suites by Hilton and it offered breathtaking views of the Falls. At the end of the night, nothing compared to coming back to the room and just standing by the floor to ceiling windows gazing out. Or at sunrise watching the horizon come to life. Jaw-droppingly beautiful!

If the hotel view is not a priority, another way to experience the looking down option is to go for dinner at Skylon Tower. Arrive for sunset and stay to watch the fireworks. Situated along the lines of a fine dining experience there are many cool elements to the place such as the rotating dining room, the endless windows looking down at the beautiful imagery and the fact you have to take an elevator to get to the restaurant tower itself. Still, be aware the dinner itself can be mediocre so know in advance you are paying mostly for the view and experience.

One other thing that we did for the first time thanks to our friends suggestion was the boat ride into the falls. By far, the most fun part of the trip! If you feel that looking down at the falls is something extraordinary, wait until you are almost at the mouth of them and look up. Towering over you, the falls are enormous and can incite a good amount of exhilaration / fear. This experience really was something out of this world!

And of course if you have an extra day or two, head over to Toronto. About two hours away, explore the culture in this quaint city. A ton of dining, shopping, and exploring options set within a tight city radius. We had amazing lunch at this cute restaurant called Cibo a friendly local recommended. But with so many bars and restaurants, it looked like you could hardly go wrong picking a place.

So who’s ready to head north? Happy exploring friends!

Some IPhone Love:

Niagra Falls

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