We all love to travel! When it comes to taking a tropical vacation, we want the planning of that adventure to be as laid back and stress-free as possible. When your focus is better placed on packing and getting that bod beach ready, it helps to have a go-to list of must-do-try-experience activities that you can simply check off after enjoying each one. So, print out this list and hit the gym!

Jolly Pirate: Alright, so this may sound like – hands down -the most touristy type of thing to do on vacation ever, and it pretty much is. But it is also one hell of a fun time. Casting off into the beautiful aqua blue ocean from the Jolly Pirate ship’s rope swing was something I will never forget. The boat was a paradise party, with booze, music, and 360 degrees of gorgeous views. Who would have imagined that scuba diving and drinking could mix so well?

Da Vinci’s Desserts (Specifically the Chocolate Mousse): A big part of going on vacation is looking forward to all those delectable moments when you can go out to eat, cheat a little, and truly indulge in your favorite foods. In many ways, it’s the most important part of the day when on vacation! Sure, it can be fun to gather research from Google or #ArubaFoodies on Instagram for the trendiest, most highly rated restaurants. But sometimes, after a long hot day in the sun, staying in to eat at the hotel is totally the play. Da Vinci’s at the Holiday Inn was the perfect place to spend a night enjoying some amazing Italian cuisine. Everything was delicious, the noodles, the bread, the Chicken Parmigiana … amazing. But we definitely saved the best for last – for dessert, that is. Da Vinci’s Chocolate Mousse was chocolate heaven. The flavor of deep dark cocoa that rippled through the entire dish totally won me over and earned a spot for Da Vinci’s and their yummy Chocolate Mousse at the top of my Aruba’s Must Do list.

Eduardo’s: As I previously mentioned, Instagram has increasingly grown as a useful vacation research tool. So I am forever grateful to Instagram for leading me. To Eduardo’s! Fresh, friendly, and fricken’ delicious is the only way to describe this place. In addition to being incredibly aesthetically pleasing (great for the selfie or your Insta. feed), it was the perfect spot to enjoy a mid-day, three mudslides deep, snack, or place to grab a morning pick me up. We loved it so much that we went twice during our trip and even made a quick stop there before heading to the airport on our way home. We definitely wanted Eduardo’s fresh açaí bowl and body glow smoothie to be the last thing we experienced before leaving sunny Aruba.

Barney’s Grouper: Want a fun environment, with INCREDIBLE food? Barney’s is your place. The manager Ron is an incredibly chill guy that brings a fun, welcoming vibe to his venue, and their cocktails are to die for, but it was the “French Grouper” that truly won my heart. The fish was topped with onions, bacon, mushrooms, and herb butter … need I say more? This grouper is an Aruba MUST MUST* do.

Biking to the Natural Pool: After spending three straight days laying poolside it can be nice to get active and explore the island. We were lucky enough that our hotel rented bikes for free and we were able to go adventuring. I saw the natural Aruba pool in my google maps and figured, why not?! It was hot as hell but so fun and insanely beautiful. The water is incredibly fresh as it has not been affected by the tourist activities such as jet skiing and boating, and totally serene. I got stung by some sort of something, and burned the heck out of my arms and back, but the beauty of the natural pool was totally worth it.

Mudslide at Marriott: Vacation “best”, it is something that I love to do when going somewhere different. This trip’s mission? Find the best mudslide. We tried many, many, Kahlua/Bailey’s/Vodka combinations and the Aruba Marriott had, by far, the BEST mudslide on the island. Served in big cups with plenty of chocolate and booze, this mudslide is a forever favorite.

Holiday Inn Resort Aruba: – Beach Resort & Casino: Making a final choice on what hotel to stay at is hard. You have to consider the cost, the amenities, dining, decor, everything. Where you stay on vacation becomes your home away from home. As fairly successful spring breaking college students, we certainly did not want to stay in some seedy hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But Aruba can be somewhat expensive, so finding a reasonably priced hotel that also offers an amazing stay is not as easy as it sounds. But we did so when we booked our stay at Holiday Inn Resort Aruba! We chose the Holiday Inn because of its incredible outdoor spaces and prime location in close proximity to other island hot spots. The Holiday Inn offers multiple hot tubs, pools and spots to chill outside making it fun just to be outside enjoying the Aruba sun. The hotel balcony in our room that overlooked the pools was a nice touch that quickly became the perfect spot for our morning coffee.

Puro Coffee: Speaking of coffee, if you are a coffee bean aficionado, you have to pop into Puro Coffee inside the lobby at Holiday Inn Resort Aruba. We stopped here every single morning a cuppa Joe and were always satisfied. Friendly, fast service and fresh brewed Aruba coffee makes this place the perfect way to start the day.

Chill Beer:  By now, it’s not secret that we’re mudslide fanatics. BUt sometimes an ice cold beer to refresh you during a hot day on the beach just hits the spot! When it was time to enjoy just that, we always grabbed a Chill. Brewed in Aruba with an island attitude, Chill is a Pale Lager Beer. Chill’s smooth, light taste and subtle aroma is deliciously refreshing on its own or can be complemented by adding a fresh lime wedge.  It bears a resemblance to a mini Coroao but tastes more authentic and pure.

Shout out to the amazing staff at Chalet Suisse! They were so welcoming, friendly and warm. They even made sure we got back to our hotel safely!

The Aruba People: Without a doubt, Aruba has some of the best people in the world. Natives to the island are warm, welcoming and always willing to help. Tourism is the primary industry on Aruba and the residents welcome out-of-towners with open arms giving every one great reason to come back … again and again. We even loved meeting and talking with the other vacationers we met along the way. Many people were also from Boston and all of them just had an awesome vibe about them. The people we met in Aruba will always hold a special place in my heart.