Ahhh, the Caribbean. There are so many reasons to go. Endless white beaches, blue ocean, bright skies, and the list goes on. But it’s also this: big crowded resorts, high rise hotels, organized excursions offering the ‘island’ experience, and touristy restaurants and souvenir shops. For some, those huge all-inclusive hotels can be a wonderful thing. How can you say no to endless menu options and flowing drinks? There’s something to be said for knowing what to expect. And total relaxation. A vacation where your biggest decision is what time your nap should be is high on our list, that’s for sure. The problem is, other than some differences in language and vegetation, you could be just about anywhere in the world.

What if you could have all the perks of the big resort, while still being able to experience the colour and character of the island? Well, you can. Because all over the Caribbean, there is so much more than meets the eye. We’re talking hidden treasures here. And Aruba is rife with them.

Just 20 miles long and 7 miles across, this tiny gem 15 miles south of Venezuela offers so much more than guaranteed weather, gorgeous beaches and the smiles promised by The Friendly Island license plates. It’s got colour, charm, and the Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba. On a recent Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba - Hammockstrip to the smallest of the ABC islands (Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire), we dove right in and took our adventurous spirits a bit off the grid. We chose the path less travelled and came up enraptured with boutique hotel living. If you’re looking to pocket your tourist card and live the island life, you’ve found it. Grab a Balashi Beer and settle right in. We’re about to turn you into a local before you can finish your Ban Bollo (that’s Aruban Bread Pudding and you need to try it).

Where to stay in Aruba

Ditch the big impersonal hotel and stay at the Boardwalk. This stunning boutique hotel, which is literally steps from the beach, is immaculately maintained and boasts some of the comfiest beds we’ve ever slept in. Owned by Kimberly and Stephanie Rooijakkers, twin sisters from Finland who are passionate about their island and their guests, the Boardwalk is all about the true Aruban spirit. Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba - the Casitas

Restful Rooms

Each little casita is decorated in vibrant island accents, and features artwork from local artists. The rooms are created for complete independence and relaxation, complete with a kitchenette (fridge, stove, coffee maker, and microwave), semi-private patio with a charcoal BBQ, and best of all, a hammock.

Island Food

Expect to enjoy the most amazing fresh Aruban breakfasts. Delivered by friendly maids right to your room, these trays are just as delicious to look at as they are to eat. We enjoyed the Local Breakfast: aromatic coffees, scrambled eggs, local Arepa (corn bread) and the smoothie-of the-day (we woke up to watermelon!). Boardwalk Hotel Aruba - Treasure Box Close Up

What’s Unique

Besides the personal touches and warm, welcoming vibe, there are special Treasure Boxes to help visitors design their own vacations. Using their own insights combined with info from previous guests and locals, the sisters created delightful collections of

What to do in Aruba is all based on your vacation goals, whether that’s Family, Romance, Adventure, and more.

The Extras

Spend some time at the pool, enjoy the lush gardens or lounge in one of the many gazebos. Amazing beaches and activities are right across the street, the grocery store is just minutes away, and the high rise hotel area is close enough—for when you need a hit of Senor Frog’s wifi and cocktails.

Personal Touches

Since travelling is thirsty business, all guests are welcomed with a carafe of iced tea and fresh water in the fridge. Plus, the front desk staff is eager to help out with anything from detailed directions to local spots, restaurant recommendations and activity arrangements. Nobody knows the island better than they do. Except for you—soon enough.

About the author

Mara Shapiro

Mara Shapiro is Co-Editor, Community of BrazenWoman. She is proof that it's never too late to reinvent yourself, and also that you cannot have too many pairs of shoes and lipglosses. A Social Media addict, Community Manager, and insatiable lover of movie popcorn, Mara is always on the hunt for the next best thing. You'll often find her laughing and dancing, phone in one hand, and a glass of red in the other. The only time she's not talking is when she's sleeping.

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