For a special night out, head to Driftwood. Fish served here is caught daily by the owner. Through Dec. 19, a three-course dinner is $24 each and are served with pan bati, Aruban corn bread; www.driftwoodaruba.com, Klipstraat 12, Oranjestad, 297-583-2515.
Join one of the Caribbean’s biggest parties: Carnival. The largest event of the extravaganza starts at 4 a.m. Feb. 13 in downtown San Nicolas. From 6:30-8:30 p.m. every Tuesday (all year), catch the Bon Bini Festival, a local musical celebration with costumed Antillean dancers and local foods and crafts; $3-$10; at Fort Zoutman and the Aruba Historical Museum, Oranjestad.
AirTran begins nonstop Saturday service Dec. 19 (Sundays only from Feb. 21). One-way sale rates from $129; buy by Nov. 10. Other airlines match.
The Radisson Aruba Resort and Casino Palm Beach is lush with gardens, lagoons, waterfalls and two pools that never close. On site are a dive facility and a casino. Guest rooms, from $275, have teak wood furnishings, marble bathrooms and spacious balconies. Every third night is free on stays through Dec. 17 or Jan. 3 to April 10. Book by Nov. 30; www.radisson.com/aruba, Palm Beach (six miles from the airport), 297-586-6555.
Pinchos (‘skewers’ in Spanish) Grill and Bar sits picture perfect on a marina pier for romantic candlelight dining (ABC’s setting for 2005’s “The Bachelor”). If you can’t get in for dinner, come for the ocean breeze, a cocktail and live weekend entertainment. Entrees $21-$30; L.G. Smith Blvd. 7, Oranjestad, 287-583-2666.
Ride with the cool trade wind on horseback through Arikok National Park and the serene outback. The guided tour also visits the famous Natural Pool. Take a refreshing plunge in this volcanic rock depression formed by the surf. Refreshments and transportation included; $75 each; Rancho Daimari; www.visit arubaplus.com/ranchodaimari, 1-646-502-8444.
Nonstop Delta flights from $412 round-trip, mid-week departures through Dec. 10; no advance purchase required. American, USAirways match.
Visit romantic Bucuti Beach Resort, set along one of the Caribbean’s top beaches. Chill at the freshwater pool or work out at the open-air fitness center. Adjacent are a casino, shops and restaurants. Rates range from $250 superior to $416 for an oceanfront penthouse and include breakfast buffet (valid on stays through Dec. 22); www.bucuti.com, Eagle Beach (three miles from Oranjestad), 297-583-1100. An optional $38 per person, per day lets guests enjoy a three-course dinner at a choice of 18 island restaurants; www.arubadining.com.
Call ahead for an ocean-view table to take in an extraordinary Aruba sunset at Chalet Suisse, one of the island’s finest restaurants. European master chefs prepare the freshest locally caught fish. Don’t miss a dessert of Viennese Apple Strudel. Entrees $15-$42; www.chaletsuisse-aruba.com, J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 246, Eagle Beach, 297-587-5054.
Spend a day exploring the countryside on a guided Jeep Safari tour, including refreshments, a restaurant lunch and snorkel gear for swimming at Baby Beach; $85 per person; www.eltoursaruba.com, 297-585-6730.
Maerz is a retired travel consultant. Look for her daily deals on ajc.com/travel.