A nation of only 69 square miles and barely 110,000 residents, Aruba nonetheless has a little bit of everything. People of more than 90 nationalities live on the island. Pristine turquoise waters abut desertlike terrain in this land of contradictions that pleases everyone from adrenaline seekers to beach bums. If you go to Aruba, you’ll want to return; it’s the most revisited destination in the Caribbean.
The island’s first luxury resort certainly set a high bar. Originally designed by Morris Lapidus—the architect of the famed Fontainebleau Miami Beach—the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino is located on 15 acres of beach and tropical gardens. Each of the 357 rooms has a private patio or balcony, and, in addition to two pools there is a freshwater lagoon. Your fellow residents include 11 exotic birds, among them Rita, a blue and gold macaw who has her own Instagram feed, @arubarita. (+297-586-6555, rooms from $229)
Hilton Aruba is very kid-friendly—they have s’mores nights—but the hotel secured a place in the pantheon of adult beverages. The Aruba Ariba was invented there back in 1963. The key ingredient is coecoei, a liqueur made from the sap of an agave plant. Get your fill while you can, though: You can only buy coecoei in Aruba.
Chef Matt Boland’s Sunset Grille, located at the Hilton, is technically a steakhouse, but the seafood and pasta—especially the shortrib gnocchi—ensure that no matter your tastes, you’ll leave happy (and full).
Fans of the outdoors will love the rugged terrain of Arikok National Park, which covers 18% of the island. Fans of the indoors will love exploring its caves, especially Quadirikiri. Don’t worry about a flashlight. The roof opening lets the sunshine pour in.
Hair by John Ruggiero at The Wall Group using abHair. Makeup by Tracy Murphy at STATEMENT Artists.