With so many travel plans off the table this year due to the you-know-what, we decided to take a much-deserved December escape to Aruba. We were searching for a country that required pre-COVID testing, one with low case counts and a warm, sunny place where we could spend most of our time outdoors.

Quadirikiri Cave, Arikok National Park
[Quadirikiri Cave, Arikok National Park]

Aruba wound up being just the ticket (they re-opened for tourism on July 1). We spent our days snorkeling, discovering Arikok National Park’s scenic beauty, dining al fresco and savouring some delicious Caribbean specialties, but most of all, taking the time to UNPLUG.

Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort-15

When your biggest decisions of the day involve what beach to head to and where to dine, you know you’ve found paradise.

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We split our time between a gorgeous beachfront hotel (Bucuti & Tara) and a sweet Airbnb just 10 minutes from that beautiful, postcard-perfect Caribbean Sea.

Alto Vista Chapel
[Alto Vista Chapel]

TJ & Joelly own four Airbnb villas in Alto Vista in the Noord (North) part of Aruba. The location is perfect for beach outings, dining, a visit to the landmark Alto Vista Chapel (the first on the island), supermarkets, shops and sightseeing. Before booking, we were in touch with our hosts, who answered all our questions before we confirmed our dates.

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[The larger villa in back sports a beautiful mural inspired by those in San Nicholaas]

Check-in was swift (and contactless) via instructions provided ahead of our departure from home. An onsite lockbox stows the house keys; there’s a driveway right by the entrance.

Aruba Airbnb

Once you lift up the latch on the white gate, a little piece of paradise awaits with a private plunge pool, loungers, the sweet smell of jasmine (planted around the property), an expanse of saguaro cacti across the road, and an outdoor seating area with party lights, perfect for taking in those balmy evening breezes and starry skies.

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Just inside are a couple of bottles of hand sanitizer as well as a “Committed to Clean” statement that outlines the steps taken to assure our home away from home includes enhanced cleaning protocols. All high-touch surfaces have been sanitized, and PPE worn when doing so between stays. In addition, the owners stock extra cleaning supplies as needed during your time here.

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There’s a fully-stocked kitchen with dining table, couch and coffee table, separate bedroom (closed off by a large sliding wooden door), tons of closet space and a bathroom with walk-in shower and two types of shower heads.

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The wifi is strong and accessible both inside and out on the patio. Airco runs quietly at night as we tuck into one of the most comfortable king-sized beds we’ve slept in to date! And unlike the big hotel district, it’s super quiet at night.

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The plunge pool has a jacuzzi function that comes on for several hours in the late afternoon and into early evening. A maintenance man comes by in the morning to clean both pool and garden. Everything is well organized, from the kitchen drawers and cupboards to a refreshed bath towel supply mid-stay — they’ve even included a jar of locally-made Aloe Aruba scrub cubes to enjoy in the shower!

West Deck lunch
[Lunch at one of our fave spots, West Deck]

We were happy to bring home fresh seafood to grill on the gas BBQ and make our own meals from time to time, interspersing them with dining out.

Grilled dinner at "home"
[Grilled BBQ Grouper, shrimp and zucchini at “home” with Pan Bati from West Deck!]

There’s a wide range of restaurants here; TJ & Joelly were happy to recommend some of their fave spots as well as some of the best dishes to order.

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[Dusk skies with illuminated Hotel Riu Palace at Palm Beach]

In fact, the Aruban couple bent over backwards to make sure that we had everything we needed during our stay, from purchasing a few much-appreciated basics for the house to helping sync their smart TV system to our Netflix account. Any issues were just a WhatsApp text away.

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We’re already thinking about our next stay here, and while we’re the type of travellers that like to discover new places, we’d return here in a heartbeat to enjoy the hospitality and welcoming home they’ve provided.

[Downtown Oranjestad complete with colourful Dutch architecture]

You can check out their listing here. And if you’re new to Airbnb, feel free to click here to receive up to $75 on your first booking!

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