On Aruba's serene southeastern coast, about nine miles from the hustle and bustle of downtown Oranjestad and six miles from Queen Beatrix International Airport, sits the small village of Savaneta.
Once Aruba's capital, Savaneta is the oldest town on the island — and it also features the only overwater villas. Driving through town, it's easy to pass by what looks like nothing more than a dirt parking lot, but if you're lucky enough to stumble upon the hidden gem that is Aruba Ocean Villas, you'll find yourself in a colorful slice of paradise filled with lush greenery, brightly painted furniture, and tropical thatched-roof tiki huts waiting to host you for sunset cocktails.
Past the hammocks draping the breezy indoor-outdoor lobby and the inviting beachfront bar are six villas — three over water and three perched directly in the sand. Inside the villas guests will find mahogany furniture, plush beds, crystal chandeliers, and deep soaking tubs, all with direct ocean views. Each room has a Bose sound system, Aruba-made bath products, and will soon have hand-painted silk robes.
Private dinners can be arranged via the on-site restaurant, Old Man and the Sea.
Curtains sway in the breeze and invite you out to the deck, where bright Adirondack chairs look out over the Caribbean Sea. The scene is so idyllic that the Sports Illustrated team decided to shoot the 2018 Swimsuit Issue there, bringing model Raven Lyn to pose beside its peaceful pier without fanfare.
The villas, much quieter than the high-rise hotels to their north, are popular among honeymooners and can also be rented out for destination weddings. Guests can use paddle boards, kayaks, and snorkeling gear to explore the surrounding turquoise waters, and owner Osyth Henriquez told Travel + Leisure a wine room and spa are coming soon.
Since there are only six villas, booking as far in advance as possible is recommended. The average price of a villa is $699. Visit arubaoceanvillas.com to inquire about a stay.