WHY GO IN NOVEMBER Plan an escape before the onslaught of honeymooners and spring breakers. It's also a simple, four-hour direct flight from Charlotte.
Aruba is just outside the hurricane belt, so the island is a safe bet, weatherwise.
Stay here: The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino (L. G. Smith Boulevard 101, 800-223-6388, www.arubamarriott.com ) is getting a $40 million face-lift, which means new guest rooms with contemporary décor, LCD TVs, chrome, granite, and porcelain bathroom finishes and überplush bedding. (Rooms start at $469.)
Island hop. Take a boat shuttle from the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino (L. G. Smith Boulevard 82, 297-583-6000, www.renaissancearuba.com ) to Renaissance Island, the hotel’s private forty-acre island. The shuttle departs from the lobby canal every twenty minutes—a short jaunt for sunbathing in solitude.
Get wet. A quick walk along Aruba’s stretch of hotels reveals plenty of reasons to splash around. For the adventurous: kite and wind surfing, parasailing, kayaking, and tubing. For the water pansies: banana boats.
Don’t order room service. There are too many other options. On the Marriott grounds, Simply Fish (297-520-6655) offers dining by moonlight on the beach, or try Papamiento (Washington 61, Noord, Aruba; 297-586-4544)—a family-owned and -operated eatery with the tables and chairs overlooking a glowing pool. Nearby is the romantic Pinchos Grill and Bar (L. G. Smith Boulevard 7, 297-583-2666), an all-seafood restaurant atop a pier, which seats couples on crisp white loveseats against low tables.
Be a tourist. Get a feel for what Aruba terrain is really like away from the resorts—desert sand dunes and rocky landscapes via De Palm Jeep tours (297-582-4400, www.depalm.com ). Not only does it afford you unparalleled vistas of the island, if you’re lucky you’ll get within feet of roaming donkey packs. (Note: ride can—and will—get bumpy!)