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Aruba offers much more than the glamorous hotel area at Palm Beach, so get off the beaten path and discover the southern side of the One Happy Island.
Aruba offers much more than the glamorous hotel area at Palm Beach, so get off the beaten path and discover the southern side of the One Happy Island. Rent a jeep, van, bus, ATV, UTV, or hop on a horse and enjoy the local delights of Aruba such as the National Park Arikok, which also features the famous Natural Pool.
The island is fairly easy to navigate but if you prefer to explore in a group, rest assured, there are plenty of organized group tours. Whether you are here on your honeymoon or want to enjoy a fun family vacation, this itinerary lets you enjoy various highlights of this dynamic destination.
Continuing past the Queen Beatrix International Airport our first highlight is Spaans Lagoen. Also known as Spanish Lagoon, the area is a protected wetland. Developing marine species live safely among the stilt roots of mangrove trees lining the lagoon until they are big enough to venture into the open sea. Inland the surrounding vegetation is inhabited by a variety of bird species, including bananaquits, Aruban parakeets, herons, troupials, and common ground doves.
The lagoon is an excellent area to go paddleboarding or kayaking. On the southern coast, you will find a small fishermen’s dock called Rancho Clemente, where the freshest fish can be bought directly from local fishermen.
Just after Spaans Lagoen is a beach called Mangel Halto. Mangel Halto gets its name from its welcoming mass of mangrove trees that provide shade for the perfect afternoon picnic or slumber. A narrow clearing of mangroves leads to inviting, shallow inlets of calm and refreshing turquoise waters. Swimmers can wade out to explore the protected barrier reef. This is an excellent snorkel, - and diving spot and many Arubans had their first swimming lessons here.
Continuing along the coastal route, we will pass through the quaint town of Savaneta. Savaneta is Aruba's earliest town, serving as the first capital until 1797. Located in this picturesque fishing town is Zeerovers, a fisherman's wharf-cum-roadhouse promising a heavy dose of local flavor. A counter near the entrance sells fresh-caught fish to go at local prices. Patrons can also have the fish prepared on the premises and then enjoy it on the waterside deck among the seasoned locals discussing the latest town news over a few ice-cold Balashi beers.
Head further south out of San Nicolas and towards the refinery into Seroe Colorado, the site of the former Lago colony where American refinery workers and their families once lived. A few residents still live in the bungalows overlooking Rodger's Beach and Baby Beach. Both of these beaches are tranquil spots to kick back and relax while soaking in the warm sun tempered with cooling trade winds. Baby Beach’s shallow waters are ideal for snorkeling (snorkel equipment rentals can be found at JADS Dive Center at Baby Beach).
Exiting the Seroe Colorado area, a beautiful photo op can be had at the mammoth red Seamen’s Anchor overlooking Boca Grandi Beach (a kitesurfing mecca). The anchor is a monument dedicated to all seamen. Charlie Brouns Jr., of Charlie’s Bar in San Nicolas, initiated the placement of a mammoth anchor, acquired from the Lago Oil & Transport Company, at the point of Seroe Colorado in 1985.
Finally relax at Flying Fishbone, enjoy an amazing Aruban sunset whilst dining with your toes in the sand.
Suggested places while on the southern side:
Zeerovers/Savaneta: serving deep-fried fresh seafood
AG Rincon Criollo/Savaneta: serving authentic Cuban dishes and local side dishes
Flying Fishbone/Savaneta: Famous on-the-beach dining area
Gallo Rojo/San Nicolas: fresh baked goods and sandwiches
Pueblito Paisa/San Nicolas: serving authentic Colombian dishes
Rum Reef at JADS Dive Center/Seroe Colorado: serving burgers, wraps, grouper sandwiches, and chicken sate.
Carubbian Festival: A local festival showcasing Aruba’s carnival, artists and local cuisine every Thursday night.