I Heart My Island: Aruba

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Tisa LaSorte has deep roots in Aruba. She was born and raised on the Dutch Caribbean island, where her father held positions as minister of tourism and lieutenant governor.

After attending college in the United States, Tisa returned to Aruba to be a television reporter. Her journalism career took her to Chicago, England, and Phoenix, but she could never stay away from her native island for too long.

Five years ago, Tisa came back to Aruba, crossed over to the hospitality industry, and is proud to be working at one of the island’s top-rated destinations, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts.

Here’s a look at the island through Tisa’s local lens.

Aruba Is My Island

The weather is consistently sunny on Aruba, so the best time to visit is up to you! Hotel rates tend to be lower between Easter and Christmas.

My island’s biggest attraction is its sweeping white beaches and crystal-clear aqua waters, but a visit isn’t complete without seeing the Alto Vista Chapel and swimming in the hard-to-reach Natural Pool (locally called “Conchi,” the indigenous Papiamento word for “bowl”) on the island’s north coast. Snorkeling between the mangroves in the clear waters at Mangel Halto followed by lunch at nearby Zeerovers, where you can watch the fishermen return with their catch of the day, is another must-do.

Locally produced aloe body lotion is the ultimate authentic souvenir. Find the best selection at the Aruba Aloe Museum.

My island really knows how to celebrate Carnival. Locals plan for it year-round. There are weeks of events and social gatherings leading up to the big parade, where everyone dances in the streets for hours in extravagant costumes.

The dish that represents my island best is pisca cora—pan-fried catch of the day with our creole sauce and sides of funchi (Aruban polenta) and pan bati (a tasty bread that resembles a pancake), and the Aruba Ariba is its signature drink. Sample them at the Old Cunucu House and any one of the island’s many beach bars, respectively.

If you want to experience a real island breakfast, try the Dutch pancakes at Linda’s Pancake House.

My favorite local expression isDushi yiu!” (an expression of enjoyment in Papiamento)

You can tell if someone is from my island if they use four languages in one sentence. Aruba natives speak Papiamento, Dutch, English, and Spanish, and have a habit of mixing them up in conversation.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, ask a hotel concierge.

My favorite “island secret” is that Aruba is home to many beautiful, small beaches. Everyone knows about the expansive Palm and Eagle beaches on the island’s west coast, but there are several intimate coves on its north coast and east end frequented by in-the-know locals.

The most peaceful experience on the island is watching the sunrise from a northeast-facing perch, such as the California Lighthouse, or hiking under a full moon in Arikok National Park.

Hike in Aruba’s national park early in the morning if you want to get up close and personal with island wildlife. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot my favorite bird, the Troupial, a local oriole that has the most beautiful song.

Interested in a guided tour? I recommend an island jeep tour, because it gets you closest to nature. It’s also the most comprehensive option, as it takes you through the most sites.

Giolina Henriquez is one of the best local artists on the island. Get a taste for her craft at one of Aruba’s art galleries.

If you’re up for an adventure, try a kite-surfing lesson at Fisherman’s Huts Beach.

To experience the island’s cultural side, visit the Bon Bini, a folk dancing festival held at Fort Zoutman every Tuesday.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), don’t miss petting and feeding the animals at the Donkey Sanctuary. 
Many volunteers have dedicated themselves to saving the donkeys, once the primary mode of transportation on the island.

The world should “heart” my island because Aruba offers pure beaches, very hospitable locals, and a variety of gourmet experiences, while at the same time being a safe place to explore and outside the hurricane belt.

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