Exactly one week before I was asked to go on a press trip to Aruba, I was going through a bit of a rough patch in my personal life and literally said to myself, “I need to go on a trip — like, an out-of-the-country trip.” AND VOILA, I got the invite! I felt very #blessed and #highlyfavored to say the least, and was beyond excited to trek to this exotic land I only knew from a Beach Boys song and stay at the Aruba Marriott & Stellaris Casino because Marriott properties are always on point (remember this and also this?).
I flew Jet Blue out of JFK and despite my anxiety about traveling sans Delta status, all went well (or at least I assume so) as I slept (hopefully close-mouthed) the entire 4.5 hours. I took an easy 20ish-minute ride to the hotel and was on the beach with a marg and gluttonous plate of tacos within the hour.
The beach was beautiful, and in true Marriott hospitality fashion, someone set up a waterfront lounge chair for me with two towels that I would immediately spill guacamole on, but YOLO. I spent a lovely, relaxing afternoon on the beach, reading Hillary Clinton’s book and pretending that when I returned to America she would be president and the last 10 months had just been one big nightmare/joke/simulation, but I digress.
Fast forward to dinner that night, which was truly one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had. The Aruba Marriott has a restaurant on the beach, Atardi, where you feast on excellent seafood with your toes in the sand and the sound of the waves lightly crashing in the background (should I write poetry or what?).
The rest of the group was in attendance for dinner and we had a blast eating, drinking, and discussing Instagram algorithms (because #influencers). After this romantic dinner for six, we headed back to the hotel bar for a nightcap and some girl talk before hitting the sack for an early morning of fun in the Aruba sun. (Btw, for any couples considering visiting Aruba, there was an extra special waterfront “loveseat” at Atardi you can reserve.)
The next morning, we set out with DePalm Tours for a snorkeling trip on a catamaran, which I hadn’t done since Spring Break ‘03 in Key West, but this time was a little different because I wasn’t focused on drinking the bar out of complimentary hunch punch nor was I hooking with one of the locals who worked on the boat (but that’s a story for another time). My favorite things about the snorkeling excursion were:
The Instagram opportunities, sorry I mean beautiful waters.
My new Bumble profile pic.
The fact that most of the other people on the boat were TURNT 1.5 hours into the trip…..which was 10:30 a.m.
And above all, there was a moment when we were cruising through the ocean, sun on our face and water at our butts, with a Beyoncé XO reggae remix playing (SO YEAH, THAT EXISTS), and I thought to myself, I am so grateful for this life I get to live, and everything is going to be alright. It’s those small, at-peace moments on vacations that I never forget. (See, I have emotional depth, you guys!)
When we returned to the hotel, we were in for a (literal) treat with a cooking class to make the island’s signature dish, keshi yena, which is a large round ball of cheese stuffed with spiced meat and other deliciousness. I had been anticipating this moment since I tasted this magical dish at an Aruba Marriott media dinner back in March and hadn’t stopped having food fantasies about it ever since. Working with the talented Marriott chefs, we did modified mini versions of the dish, and I even got to stir some stuff!
LOOK WHAT THEY MADE ME DO!
After our cooking/feasting, we headed over to one of the more Insta-worthy spots on the property and spent the next 30 minutes taking pictures of each other, and that’s when I knew I was with my people.
And because I’m always werking for @BrosBeingBasic on these trips (ie. mildly exploiting men for my own benefit), I found some guys at the pool and coaxed these strangers into the same Insta-worthy spot for a photo opp. People seemed to like it on the ‘gram.
By this point it was sunset so I headed to the bar for a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc so I could enjoy a romantic, scenic moment by myself on the beach. But luckily, I was joined by some of my new friends which was good because I was a little too fragile to be watching sunsets alone with alcohol tbh.
As if I need to even say this, the sunsets in Aruba are incredible.
That night, we dined at a rad local spot, The West Deck, which has a laid-back vibe and mouthwatering hodgepodge of a menu that’s still small enough you can nearly order every single item if you’re in a group. So we did that.
Everything was so delicious and even though I was morbidly full by the end of the meal, I activated my dessert stomach for the Tres Leches, and it was worth every calorie and the lamaze breathing I had to do afterward. I highly recommend this casual joint if you’re in Aruba, and definitely order a beerita which is approximately 293492347 ounces of alcohol and comes in a vase you have to pick up with both hands (strength training FTW!).
The next day was absolutely jam-packed with cool shit and I loved every second. Here’s a quick and dirty highlight reel because if you’re still reading this exhilarating blog at this point (THANK YOU!) you’re probably ready for me to wrap it the h*ck up.
The day began with breakfast in the presidential suite at the Marriott. There are few things I love more than breakfast burritos with a view.
Then we trekked to the other side of the island for a local experience “foraging” with a local named Frank Kelly, who was one of the most interesting and awesomely eccentric people I’ve ever drank with at 10am.
He shared hilarious stories and local history with us while cooking up an incredible meal from fish and octopus he caught himself, garnished with edible flowers, and washed down with rum of course.
On the way to our next meal, we stopped by Aruba’s Donkey Sanctuary and I had to get out and “explore” (read: do it for the gram).
Dat ass doe.
Next up was lunch at Zeerovers, which was another super dope dining experience. You watch them bring in the fish from the ocean and literally chop it up right in front of you, then feast right on the water.
The menu is limited, so again, we ordered every single thing on it and drank Chill beers (at this point, the Instagram opps were just too easy).
Photo courtesy of @OneHungryJew
When someone says you have no chill.
When we got back to the resort, I soaked up my last afternoon on the beach and one more stunning sunset. Then it was time for DINNER IN BED (and no, I don’t mean room service or cunnilingus). We left the Marriott and dined at the Screaming Eagle, which may sound like a Trump supporter’s Twitter handle, but is actually a super swanky restaurant where you can reserve fancy beds with billowy white curtains for your dining pleasure.
The food was phenomenal (as were the martinis), and I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone had ever done the dirty right where I was eating (what?). For anyone visiting Aruba, definitely pay this place a visit if you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience.
After one more group breakfast the following morning (and some delish waffles which appear in this @BrunchBoys video), it was off to the airport. The trip was over, and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. Turns out Aruba is much more than just a line in a Beach Boys song.