Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba

Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba, an Aruba boutique hotel

Cover: Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


We love boutique hotels done well. The seclusion, the personality, the charm – a great boutique hotel turns a hotel stay into a unique experience.

But, it’s funny, we haven’t found many good boutique hotels in the islands. We’ve found them in the French countryside, in small towns in Belgium, in ocean side getaways in California – but not in the Caribbean.

Boardwalk Hotel Aruba
Boardwalk Hotel Aruba, Palm Beach, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

That changed recently when we arrived at the Boardwalk Small Hotel in Aruba – a boutique hotel that gets it so right. We’ve been to Aruba countless times and have stayed in most of the high-rises along Palm Beach. They are very nice, and Palm Beach in Aruba is one of the prettiest beaches on the planet, but it can be so touristy and busy.

The last time we came to Aruba we rented a private house. With a pool, palapas, and tons of room – it was pleasant but very isolated. This time we were looking for something secluded and relaxing – but still close to the beach, the restaurants, and the casinos. So, when Boardwalk Aruba asked us to stay with them, we decided it sounded just like what we were looking for and – it exceeded our expectations. Here’s why…

Poolside at Boardwalk Aruba
Poolside at Boardwalk Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A boutique hotel with a fabulous location in Aruba

Located across the street from the Ritz Carlton, the Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba is tucked away on a former coconut plantation that is lush, quiet and casual and only a three-minute walk to the beach.

Common areas, Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Common areas, Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

An oasis in the midst of the most desirable area of Aruba, we were instantly in love with the little jewel. As the wind rustled through the trees, the bright play of tropical colors served as a cheerful invitation to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings at the Boardwalk.

Quiet pool at Boardwalk Hotel Aruba
Quiet pool at Boardwalk Hotel Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With 14 studio, one or two bedroom casitas, or apartments, the hotel is small enough to be charming but large enough to support hotel features – like maid service, breakfast delivered to your room, and a pool.

Boardwalk Aruba
Boardwalk Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Our tropical casita

One bedroom casita at Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
One bedroom casita at Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Upon entering our one bedroom casita, we both said the same thing – “It’s immaculate!” As 100+ nighters per year in hotels, we’ve seen the gamut of cleanliness from good to, well not so much, and the Boardwalk was the most pristine of them all.

Living area in one bedroom casita, Boardwalk Aruba
Living area in one bedroom casita, Boardwalk Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A beautiful combination of bright whites and warm colors, the decor is the definition of a tropical oasis. From the comfy, rattan couches to the plush, white bed linens on the cushy bed, every inch of the casita was well-thought out. The fully equipped kitchen included a microwave oven, blender, toaster, coffeemaker, and, inside the fridge was the most amazing iced tea.

Bedroom in one bedroom casita, Boardwalk Aruba
Bedroom in one bedroom casita, Boardwalk Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The bath was quite large with a walk-in rain shower, vessel sink, Aruba Aloe toiletries, and tons of storage.

Bathroom, Boardwalk Hotel Aruba
Bathroom, Boardwalk Hotel Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

It’s in the details

A peaceful retreat at Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba, Palm Beach, Aruba
A peaceful retreat at Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba, Palm Beach, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As we continued to explore and discover, we found a cooler to take to the beach – and if we wanted, the hotel had snorkeling gear and beach chairs we could borrow. Additionally, fresh beach towels are delivered daily to your casita.

Fresh beach towels delivered daily at Boardwalk Aruba
Fresh beach towels delivered daily at Boardwalk Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

If heading to Palm Beach, Boardwalk Aruba hotel guests have free access to Moomba Beach Club, which includes the use of lounge chairs and discounts on the restaurant’s food offerings.

Then there’s the Treasure Box.

The Boardwalk Treasure Box
The Boardwalk Treasure Box
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Filled with suggestions for the best things to do in Aruba, the Treasure Box highlights activities and dining recommendations on the island. Each tip described in detail on laminated cards ranging from restaurants to yoga to beach tips.

Hammock on casita patio, Boardwalk Hotel Aruba, Palm Beach, Aruba
Hammock on casita patio, Boardwalk Hotel Aruba, Palm Beach, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With a bottle of wine in hand and a couple of glasses from the kitchen, we next headed outside to our private patio with a hammock and teak patio furniture.

Patio time at Boardwalk Aruba, Palm Beach, Aruba
Patio time at Boardwalk Aruba, Palm Beach, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

One of the Boardwalk’s cats came by to say hello and, as we enjoyed the setting sun, the smoky fragrance of our neighbor’s barbecue was quite enticing. In addition to the full kitchen, each casita is equipped with a charcoal BBQ but we decided to just head across the street and enjoy a dinner at the Marriott, located next to the Ritz.

Arriving back at the hotel, we took a last stroll by the pool before turning in for the night.

Boardwalk Aruba, Palm Beach, Aruba
Boardwalk Aruba, Palm Beach, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The best breakfast in Aruba

Breakfast delivered to your casita, Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Breakfast delivered to your casita, Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After a fabulous night’s rest, we awoke to enjoy breakfast delivered to our patio. From the multiple selections offered, we chose the local breakfast, which included a cappuccino, fruit smoothie of the day, pastries, home-made arepa (corn-based bread) with cheese, jam, butter and, since we don’t eat eggs, they substituted fruit and yogurt with granola. The entire breakfast was fresh and delicious – the yogurt was divine.

A quiet morning by the pool

Flowers, Boardwalk Aruba
Flowers, Boardwalk Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After breakfast, we spent some time wandering around the hotel grounds. Nestled amongst the tropical gardens are a quiet swimming pool and Jacuzzi with lounge chairs for those seeking a quiet spot to relax.

Common area seating, Boardwalk Hotel Aruba
Common area seating, Boardwalk Hotel Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Near the pool is a common area with couches and a hammock – it would be a great place for larger groups to gather and share the events of the day or just to spend some quiet time reading.

Stopping by the lobby, which is open daily from 9am to 5pm, except on Sundays, we found Kimberly and Stephanie, the Aruban-born sisters who discovered the property in 2008. Following a major renovation that transformed the hotel into the tropical oasis it now is, Kimberly, Stephanie, and their staff now manage the property and are on hand to dispense advice and suggestions on how to get the most out of a visit to the island.

Boardwalk Hotel Aruba lobby entrance
Boardwalk Hotel Aruba lobby entrance
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The two have truly created an exceptional boutique hotel. It’s no surprise they’ve been recognized by the New York Times and have also received TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Award as a 2015 Top 25 hotels in the Caribbean for service as well as the Certificate of Excellence from 2011-2015.

Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba

An exceptional boutique hotel in Aruba
An exceptional boutique hotel in Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Reservations & more information: Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba website

Location: Bakval 20, North, Palm Beach, Oranjestad, Aruba

Design: Tropical

Rooms: 14 guest rooms and casitas

Facilities: Pool, jacuzzi, complimentary Moomba Beach Club access, free use of snorkeling gear, coolers and beach chairs, Nespresso coffee and library in the lobby, pet-friendly

Casita amenities: Barbecue grill, hammock, daily beach towel refresh, breakfast service, daily housekeeping except on Sundays, daily newspaper,

WiFi and parking: Free


Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Boardwalk Aruba for hosting us as their guest. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba entrance
Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba entrance
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Aruba

Aruba – The most revisited island in the Caribbean

Cover: Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull

We’ve visited Aruba dozens of times over the years. Located 15 miles north of Venezuela, the little Dutch island that is part of the “ABC islands” of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, is known for constant sunshine, strong east trade winds, and rugged island terrain.

What’s brought us back to Aruba so many times?

Aruba: One Happy Island

Eagle Beach, Aruba
Eagle Beach, Aruba
Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

According to the Aruba tourism authority, Aruba is the most re-visited destination in the Caribbean, with more than half of all visitors returning for another visit.

Strike up a conversation with most anyone along Palm or Eagle Beach and most will tell you how many times they have returned to the island – some of them visiting annually for decades. So, what brings them (and us) coming back?

Palm Beach, Aruba
Palm Beach, Aruba
Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Aruba has beautiful beaches, lots of things to do, casinos and great food, but, in all honesty, so do many islands. What’s the draw?

Aruba has some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. 108,000 people from over 90 nationalities call Aruba home and they always seem to have smiles on their faces and are ready to assist if possible. The island has had the motto “One Happy Island” as far as I can remember, and, while I am generally not a fan of slogans, it is a spot-on description of the culture.

Aruba
Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Aruba’s beautiful beaches

Palm Beach, Aruba
Palm Beach, Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We’ve dipped our toes into the sand on more than a few beaches around the world, but some of the prettiest can be found on Aruba. With 18 beaches to choose from, a week on the island could be spent just visiting different beaches, but if you are going to narrow it down to three, here are our picks: Consistently named to numerous “top 10 beaches of the world lists,” Palm Beach is 2 miles of gorgeous white sand and the location of many of the large chain-brand, high-rise resorts.

Palm Beach. Consistently named to numerous “top 10 beaches of the world lists,” Palm Beach is 2 miles of gorgeous white sand and the location of many of the large chain-brand, high-rise resorts.

Palm Beach, Aruba
Palm Beach, Aruba
Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Eagle Beach is a delightfully wide expanse of soft, white sand, with a scattering of low-rise resorts lining the beach, plenty of parking, and some shaded picnic areas. Laid-back and with ample room to roam, Eagle Beach offers calm waters and a quieter, less crowded beach experience than its neighbor to the north, Palm Beach.

Eagle Beach, Aruba
Eagle Beach, Aruba
Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Known for its calm, clear water and vast reefs, Baby Beach is a preferred snorkeling spot on the island. A popular spot for families and locals, Baby Beach is located on the opposite side of the island from Palm Beach and has cabanas, picnic areas, and pristine, white sand.

Aruba hotels: Where to stay

Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We’ve stayed at many of the large hotels along Palm Beach in Aruba over the years. Large and glitzy, they are a hub of activity with casinos, restaurants and swim up bars. We have also rented a private house. Spacious, with a large private pool, the house was a nice but a bit too isolated.

For this trip, we sought accommodations somewhere in the middle of the two – peaceful, but close to the action, and we found a relaxing, tranquil environment, with spacious and inviting rooms in a tropical setting, that was close to a beach.

Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba, Palm Beach, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba

Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A hidden treasure steps away from Palm Beach, Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba has 14 casitas, or vacation houses, each with fully equipped kitchens, modern baths, private patios and a swimming pool. Owned and operated by locals, it has the Aruban influence that caused us to fall in love with the island so long ago, while also delivering the comforts of a trendy, boutique hotel.

Aruba: Things to do on the water

It doesn’t take too long gazing at the beautiful water from the beach before you want to get out there and play in the Caribbean.

Aruba
Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull , Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As the windsurfing capital of the world, the waters near the shoreline are dotted with brightly colored wind and kite surfers sailing along in the ever-present trade winds.

The clear, pleasant Aruban waters also provide for a perfect snorkeling environment and a chance to discover the underwater world of the Caribbean. Popular snorkeling spots include the fish-filled waters of Catalina Bay and the shipwreck of the Antilla, a 400’ sunken German freighter that rests 400 feet below the sea, just north of Palm Beach.

Red Sail Sports, Aruba
Red Sail Sports, Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

For those wanting to explore the depths of the sea, Aruba is a diving paradise with more than 20 dive spots around the island, including the Antilla and the SS Pedernales, a tanker that was sunk by a German U-boat torpedo during World War II and now lies 25 feet below sea level off the shore near Palm Beach.

Red Sail Sports, Aruba
Red Sail Sports, Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Looking for something a bit more casual on the water? Take a sail on a catamaran. Whether on a luncheon or dinner sail, a snorkel trip sail, or a sunset sail, gliding along the scenic Aruban coastline with a tropical drink in hand always makes for a memorable, relaxing experience.

Red Sail Sports Sunset Cruise, Aruba
Red Sail Sports, Aruba
Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While there are a multitude of water sports provider options in Aruba, we’ve always used Red Sail Sports for our fun on the water. Departing from a pier near the Hyatt on Palm Beach, Red Sail Sports offers diving excursions, diving courses for first-timers to advanced, deep-sea fishing tours, a variety of sailing options, and two of the newest watersports, hoverboard and JETLEV, which has you literally flying over the ocean, soaring up to 30 feet in the air.

Aruba: Things to do on land

Aruba
Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Aruba is just 19.6 miles long and 6 miles across at its widest point, but despite its small size, it has a wide assortment of activities and things to do on the island.

California Lighthouse, Aruba
California Lighthouse, Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

On the northwestern tip of the island, the California Lighthouse is located in an area known as Hudishibana. Named after the S.S. California, which sunk in 1910, the California Lighthouse was originally built to warn ships as they approached Aruba’s rocky, coastline. Now a popular tourist attraction, the lighthouse provides great views of the island and Palm Beach.

California Lighthouse, Aruba
California Lighthouse, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While exploring the island, be sure and stop to chat with locals and try some fresh coconut water.

Aruba
Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Aruba
Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Near the California Lighthouse is Tierra del Sol Resort and Country Club, home of the Robert Trent Jones II designed 18 hole course and a driving range, putting greens, chipping areas, and a golf shop.  The resort’s restaurant, Ventanas del Mar, is a beautiful location for dinner with both air-conditioned and outdoor dining options with panoramic views of the golf course and the ocean.

Tierra del Sol Resort and Country Club, Aruba
Tierra del Sol Resort and Country Club, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The island’s first Roman Catholic Church, Chapel of Alto Vista, is a charming, little yellow church, originally built in 1750 and reconstructed in 1953.

Chapel of Alto Vista, Aruba
Chapel of Alto Vista, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

White crosses line the road to the church, which sits on a hill above the northern shore, northeast of the town of Noord. Mass is held on Tuesdays at 5 pm but the chapel is open to visitors daily.

Chapel of Alto Vista, Aruba
Chapel of Alto Vista, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Philips’ Animal Garden is a sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals with over 50 species of exotic animals from around the world. A great place to bring children, educational tours are offered daily with up-close interactions throughout the shelter and rehabilitation center.

Philip's Animal Garde, Noord, Aruba
Philip’s Animal Garde, Noord, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Much of the east side of the island can only be reached off-road. One of the many ATV or jeep tours available is a great way to visit the attractions and have some fun exploring the rugged coastline.

Things to do in Aruba
Things to do in Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Things to do in Aruba
Things to do in Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Donkeys, iguanas, and goats roam freely on the island so stay alert when driving and keep your speed low.

Aruba
Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Sadly, what was once one of the most popular destinations on the island, the Natural Bridge, collapsed in 2005. Created by crashing waves battering the limestone cliffs over thousands of years, several natural bridges still exist on the windward side of the island, including Baby Bridge near the remains of the Natural Bridge.

Baby Bridge, Aruba
Baby Bridge, Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Aruban tradition says that stacking loose stones can make your wishes come true. While stacks of stones can be spotted all around the island, hundreds of stacks are located near Natural Bridge / Baby Bridge.

Baby Bridge, Aruba
Baby Bridge, Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Simply find a few stones and make a wish as you place each rock on the stack.

Aruba
Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In 1824, a 12-year-old boy named Willem Rasmijn found gold on the island while herding his father’s sheep near Rooi Fluit. The discovery launched gold fever. In 1874, Aruba Island Gold Mining Company of London built the Bushiribana Gold Mill, which operated until World War I. The ruins are now a popular stop on the jeep routes, near the Natural Bridge.

Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, Aruba
Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Nearly 90 donkeys have found a place to call home at the Aruba Donkey Sanctuary.

Aruba Donkey Sanctuary
Aruba Donkey Sanctuary
Santa Lucia, Sta Cruz, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Founded in 1997, the Aruba Donkey Sanctuary is a non-profit facility completely run by volunteers committed to saving the donkeys. Families are invited to bring their children to learn about and participate in the care and feeding of the donkeys.

Aruba Donkey Sanctuary
Aruba Donkey Sanctuary
Santa Lucia, Sta Cruz, Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Seemingly out of place against the flat desert, the Ayo Rock Formations are a group of boulders located near the village of Ayo. A sacred site by the island’s early inhabitants, the formation is the site of petroglyphs, or rock drawings, dating back thousands of years.

Ayo Rock Formations, Aruba
Ayo Rock Formations, Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Heading back to the opposite of the island, be sure to take time for a visit to the charming capital of Aruba, Oranjestad.

Oranjestad, Aruba
Oranjestad, Aruba
Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A colorful village built in the traditional style of Dutch colonial architecture, Oranjestad is home to numerous restaurants, bars, casinos and a vast array of shops with offerings ranging from designer clothing to jewelry to souvenirs.

Oranjestad, Aruba
Oranjestad, Aruba
Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
The Paddock, Oranjestad, Aruba
The Paddock, Oranjestad, Aruba
Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As evening rolls around, check out the Kukoo Kunuku – a bus offering several tours, including the popular Dinner & Nightlife Tour and the Caribbean Pub Crawl.

Kukoo Kunuku, Aruba
Kukoo Kunuku, Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Aruba: Know before you go

Language: The official language is Dutch, the local language is Papiamento, and most Arubans speak English and Spanish as well.

Climate: While the trade wind breezes and average daytime temperatures of 82 degrees keep even the sunniest of days pleasant, Aruba is located very close to the equator and the sun is very strong. A high SPF sunscreen is recommended and should be reapplied often.

Aruba
Aruba
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Driving: While driving is on the right side of the road, Aruban road signs are different than in U.S. Additionally, roads can be quite slick following the occasional rain shower, so use caution.

Car rental: Numerous car company choices are available at the Aruba airport and also at many hotels if you just want a car for the day. We used Budget at the airport – which I would not recommend. Upon arrival, the wait for a car was over an hour. We drove 10 miles to our hotel, parked the car overnight, and came out to two flat tires the next morning. We called Budget and they charged us $20 to have someone bring a new tire and change the spare.

Currency: The official currency is the Aruban Florin but the US Dollar is widely accepted in stores and resorts.

Drinking: The water in Aruba is produced by a desalination plant located in Balashi and meets the highest quality of the World Health Organization, so drink up and stay hydrated. As far as those tropical cocktails, the legal drinking age in Aruba is 18.

Casinos: Casinos are located at many resorts and throughout the island. The legal gambling age is 18.

Palm Beach, Aruba
Palm Beach, Aruba
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Red Sail Sports Sunset Cruise, Aruba
Red Sail Sports Sunset Cruise, Aruba
Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media