There are certain destinations that truly “live up” to their hype and Aruba is definitely among them. I can’t begin to tell you how many people I met on the island who return year after year. A special place for so many people, it didn’t take long to understand the island’s mass appeal. During my four days on Aruba, I made the most of my time while not outdoing myself (it happens). I’ve found that balance is key, and I alternated between outdoor excursions and sand-in-my-toes fine-dining at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino.
Whatever brings you to Aruba, whether the warm weather or the turquoise ocean waves, here are 5 soft-adventure activities for the wellness-minded traveler.
1) Snorkel in Clear Blue Waters
Aruba is a snorkel and scuba destination so this is a “must” activity in my opinion. As stunning as the turquoise water is, the vibrant fish below the surface are even more colorful. During our four-hour cruise with De Palms Tours, we stopped at three different snorkel sites: Catalina Bay, Arashi Reef, and the site of the World War II wreck aka the Antilla. This wasn’t my first time snorkeling but I felt the same rush of excitement I always do whenever I’m about to dive into the ocean. I still think I’m part-mermaid! That, plus, this was my first time snorkeling with my very first GoPro. More coverage coming soon.
2) Find your Balance at SUP Yoga
While I was fairly good about sticking to my morning Kriya practice during our time in Hong Kong, I had become a sloth when it came to exercise. So, when we moved to San Francisco, I made it my mission to up my fitness game. For the past few months, I’ve been taking regular Pilates and Barre classes but nothing quite prepared me for SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board) Yoga. It’s something I’ve been eager to try for awhile now and the calm, clear waters of Aruba proved the perfect place.
Even more impressive than doing a sun salutation on a stand-up paddle-board, is making meaningful connections. After our class, I learned more about the woman behind the board. Rachel Brathen not only used her social influence to co-found Island SUP, but found a creative way to give back. She also co-founded 109 World, along with Olivia Rothschild. Through this initiative, they’re making a real difference in the lives of so many people, from organizing volunteer trips for children to helping with various charities. To me, that sums up the true benefits of practicing Yoga. It can lead to your becoming a more beautiful person, inside and out.
3) Learn Aruba’s Version of Tennis
You might be surprised (as I was), that Aruba has their own form of tennis. From a glance, it mostly looks the same. There are racquets and a net BUT beyond that, it’s a whole new ballgame (literally)! In a nutshell, Aruba’s signature sport of beach tennis is a mix of three worlds: tennis, volleyball, and badminton. Scoring is also similar to tennis, with milestones like 15 – 30 – 40 and no-ad at deuce.
During our class, I didn’t simply learn a new sport; I learned about myself, too. My mind flashed back to high school softball practices and all of a sudden, I was hitting the ball like nobody’s business. I realized how much I miss organized sports and the positive feelings I get from working with a team. I also remembered that I’m actually fairly athletic, or at the very least, competitive. That said, it took a bit of practice for me to ignore my tennis muscle-memory and practice shorter, swifter movements that are required for Aruba’s version.
If you happen to visit in November and love sports, you’re in luck. Aruba hosts multiple beach tennis tournaments and every year in November, the island host’s the Aruba Beach Tennis Open, which attracts professionals and amateurs from all over the world.
4) Splurge on a Spa Treatment
After a rigorous tennis lesson (I kid), I pampered myself with a massage at the Marriott’s Aruba Ocean Club’s Mandara Spa. If you recall how obsessed I was with my element-themed treatment in Macau, you’ll understand my enthusiasm here, too. As soon I entered the spa lounge, I felt at ease and kind of like I had been there before. I hadn’t, of course, but the interior design is decorated in Balinese style.
In fact, the Mandara experience is inspired by Bali and the island’s tradition of healing. The treatments offered today honor both those therapies that have been passed down from generation to generation, along with European methods and the natural elements. Even upon arrival, guests are invited to sample four different scents and choose one for their signature massage. If you’re indecisive like me, you can ask your massage therapist for a suggestion based on your skin type and muscle ailments.
One of the best things about my experience is that you can have it, too. While the Mandara Spa Aruba is their first location in the Caribbean, the management company operates more than 60 spas in other luxury properties.
5) Sip and Swim
Okay, I might be exaggerating on this one! There is no exercise involved in lounging poolside unless you count trips to the swim-up bar. That said, you’re on vacation and pampering is part of the deal. The Aruba Marriott is easily the best of both worlds: there are pools, restaurants and bars at arm’s length and then there is the ocean a mere few feet away. Even though I travel for a living, I don’t always get to answer emails poolside with a daiquiri in hand. I can’t express how much I appreciate that. Sure, multiple guests stared at me like I was crazy for bringing my laptop to Aruba, let alone to the pool, but I didn’t care. I was in freelancer paradise.
Cocktail sipping aside, you there are plenty of less-lazy activities. I highly recommend signing up for a SUP Yoga class (see above) or signing up for a tennis class (also see above). Both activities are a stone’s throw away from the main Marriott Resort. There are also third-party rentals available for an added charge. A floating trampoline caught my eye immediately although I didn’t rent it. Next time!
What’s your favorite soft adventure activity? Tell me in the comments below!
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