Follow the tradewinds southwest and you'll get blown to a tiny desert island on the fringes of the Caribbean. Its dusty palette contrasts against some of the bluest water you can find on this Earth. It's that unique relationship between the blisteringly dry land that can sizzle your skin and the sparkling, rejuvenating sea that makes Aruba quite special. I ventured down here last weekend with the Ritz Carlton Aruba for a weekend of wellness. What I love about the Ritz Carlton is their commitment and sensitivity to honoring the local heritage in each location they inhabit. I'm always on the search for finding how that local heritage intersects with wellness, beauty and ancient rituals. There might be the assumption that the desert is too barren to support anything that could be useful to our lives, either in a physical or spiritual way. That's far from the truth. It's always fascinating to discover that the desert happens to give us exactly what we need to help adapt. That climate always makes for some surreal landscapes as well so I was excited to see it all for myself! Here are some highlights from our trip and what to look forward to if you take a trip down to happy Aruba.
Take to the Sea
The ocean is way too tempting and one of the best ways to enjoy it here is to just get out on it on a fancy Brazilian walnut sailing ship. The snorkling is wonderful along a mangrove dotted coastline with private little islands that, from what I heard, are popular camping spots for locals. A nice breeze, some local beers and a rope ledge are all I needed to fit right into island life. The color of the water is enchanting and the breeze is laced with salty ocean. If you're into the windswept, curly salted beach hair look than you've come to the right place. I didn't even pack a hair brush and was pretty happy about it.
Discovering Aruba Aloe Magic & The Divi Divi
Let me tell you, the sun, in June, is intense. The tradewinds keep a gorgeous consistant breeze and the temperatures around a constant 82 so you can unknowingly be crisping up like a tomato and not realize it. The beautiful thing about Aruba's climate is that it supports one of the greatest medicinal plants of all time: ALOE. The Aruba Aloe company has continued to cultivate Aloe here since the 1800s. It was first used as a laxative! Now, we use it for its beautiful skin healing properties and they were one of the first to take aloe from farm to skin. After being on a boat and floating in the lagoon-like sea in front of the hotel, I can see just how necessary this plant is to our apres-sun comfort and healing. *Aloe also helps stimulate collagen, improves elasticity and helps with moisture levels of the skin so get on it! I love the simplicity of their products and also the simplicity of their packaging! It's gorgeous.
The Divi Divi Tree
The tradewinds are so powerful that they can physically warp the form of a living thing. The Divi Divi tree grows wildly distorted towards the southwest. Every tree does this and they are only found on this island. How extraordinary! Apparently, silk beach gowns also follow this rule as well. I didn't realize it at the time but when I looked at the pictures after I noticed that we all (myself and the trees) were prisoners of the wind.
The Ritz Carlton Aruba has found a way to incorporate this tree into their spa rituals by extracting an astringent oil from the tree to use for their Signature massage. I truly believe that if you want to sync up with the rhythm of a land then find a way to incorporate into your body & mind what nature gives you naturally. This is a prime example!
Speaking of Spas...
After all of this moving from sea to farm, it was time to experience the spa and unwind a bit. We experienced the Divi Divi Massage, which is unique to the resort. It was a mix of relaxing and deep tissue with these subtle wave like strokes. I melted onto the table! They also have a gorgeous water lounge with steam, sauna and outdoor whirlpool pavilion.
The Birthplace of SUP Yoga
Some say SUP Yoga originated on this island. How could I argue? Most myths are rooted in some sort of fantastic force of nature. That nature here is the nature of this zen-like sea that makes floating upside-down as easy breezy as the tradewinds. We had the lovely crew from Island Yoga come and give us a morning class and a beachside meditation. It's heavenly! This to me is utter bliss. If you want to learn how to do yoga on a board, this is the best place to practice!
Pro tip: Keep your eyes fixed on the horizon while inverted!
Thank you, Ritz Carlton, for another amazing experience! There's far more to explore on this tiny island. Next trip I hope to make it out to the National Park on the island and to some natural rock pools for a swim!