Courtney Chaffin considers herself a ‘yiu di tera’ or a child of the island of Aruba, as she has been visiting Aruba every year, since the day she was born. Over the years Courtney’s love for the island translated into life-long friendships with islanders and some she considers extended family. Like the staff of Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba, where she has been staying for 24 consecutive years and learned to walk, talk AND kite surf there. In this blog she shares her favorites on the island: the best beaches, the nicest surf and the coolest bar tenders. You’ll soon know why she calls Aruba her second home.
4-year old Courtney on the beach in front of the Vela Windsurf Hut in 1996
Aruba is much more than my favorite vacation destination; it's truly my second home. I have come to Aruba every year of my life, making this year 24 for me! Obviously, the crystal clear water is unbeatable. I also love kiteboarding, which I learned here in Aruba and look forward to doing every summer. However, most importantly, coming to Aruba year after year has allowed me to become close friends with many of the people who live here. Aruban locals have constantly shown me friendliness and hospitality. The friends I've made here in Aruba have truly become family to me and I look forward to reconnecting with them each year. My parents have actually been coming for 28 consecutive years! Originally, traveling to Aruba interested my parents because the trade winds make it such an amazing place for water sports, more specifically windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Courtney kitesurfing Vela Aruba
I recently traveled to Turks and Caicos, which was gorgeous! It is very similar to Aruba in terms of it's crystal water and amazing weather. It also has great wind conditions for kitesurfing. However, I feel like it is a much quieter island than Aruba. There aren't many nightlife options to enjoy. In general, I feel that there is a much larger sense of community in Aruba. I find meeting locals and making friends in Aruba to be much easier. Of course, Aruba is still, and will always be, my #1 choice!
Courtney diving into water at Malmok Beach
My Favorite Hotel: The Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
The Boardwalk is definitely a hidden gem when it comes to hotels on the island. My family and I have stayed here every year for 24 years now, and we simply won't stay anywhere else. I find the "small hotel" atmosphere is much more relaxed compared to staying at the crowded High Rise hotels. I love having our very own cozy casita to stay in, which comes equiped with a living room, kitchen, dining area and separate bedrooms. The Boardwalk owners, Kimberly and Stephanie, are so sweet. They take such great care of us and are always so accommodating. The Boardwalk is definitely our home away from home!
Courtney Chaffin rope swinging at Jolly Pirates Aruba
My True Aruba
Aruba is so special to me for so many reasons, ranging from the places to to people. I love that there are so many unique places to explore that go far beyond the basic "hotel beaches". There are many local spots that are have gorgeous conditions, picture perfect scenery, and are far less crowded. Mangel Halto is one of my favorite hidden gems. I love relaxing on the deck that sits directly over the water, surrounded by gorgeous mangroves.
Courtney sunbathing at Tres Trapi Beach
I also love the nightlife! There is never a dull night in Aruba; which has the most amazing bartenders I've ever met! Moomba is by far my favorite. The bartenders make me feel so welcome, they remember my drinks, and always make sure you're having the best time. Everyone on the island is incredibly friendly and happy; the locals truly live up to the motto, "One Happy Island".
I could go on forever about why Aruba is my favorite place in the world. My family and I have made so many special memories here that we will never forget. The water sports, the restaurants, and the gorgeous beaches are unbeatable. However, in my opinion, what makes Aruba so different than anywhere else is the amazing sense of community you feel on the island. The locals are so hospitable, friendly, and all around happy. Aruba has introduced me to some of my very best friends, who I have remained close with over the years. I am so fortunate to be able to come back to the island each year; and every time I have to return home to California, it gets even harder to leave. Aruba has played such a significant role in my life and will always hold a special place in my heart.
My Favorite Beaches, Restaurants, and Things to Do in Aruba:
Favorite Beach Spots
- Mangel Halto
- Moomba Beach
- Natural Pool
- Jolly Pirates
- Vela - Kitesurf, Windsurf, Paddleboard
- Natural Pool- Arikok National Park
- Barefoot (gorgeous sunset views on the beach)
- Carte Blanche (the most amazing food I've had in my life! requires reservation 6 months in advance)
- Madame Janette's (beautiful garden scenery, delicious food!)
- Moomba (best bartenders!)
- Gusto (best dancing!)
- Upstairs (awesome drinks!)