Finding vegan heaven at Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort
Ahh, Aruba. The picturesque sunsets over the ocean, the blindingly white sand beaches, the aqua green waters, the friendly vibe–they don’t call it “One Happy Island” for nothing! A little bit off the beaten path from the usual spring break hotspots, Aruba remains one of the hidden finds of the Dutch Caribbean. Seventeen miles off the coast of Venezuela, this precious little island may be just a little dot on a map, but those who have been there know the secret: Aruba is a true paradise.
I’m lucky enough to have traveled to Aruba a handful of times with my mom Sue Campbell (being a travel-writer herself, Aruba is her favorite spot on Earth!) and each time I’ve had to reluctantly drag my feet back onto the plane to head back home. After hitting up countless awesome local restaurants and resorts over the last five years there, let me tell you about the absolute best vegetarian food I’ve eaten on that island, and trust me, my standards are sky high.
Elements is the exclusive main restaurant of Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts located on the awe-inspiring Eagle Beach, one of the top rated beaches on the planet. I visited Elements for lunch earlier this year. It has an indoor/outdoor setting but I chose to sit outdoors and, as opposed to opting for the usual wrap, veggie burger or salad (all of which looked alluring) I decided to be adventurous and order the more creative vegan options. I asked for the chilled roasted melon soup and the “Mi Jibarito” sandwich. The soup was delightful–chilled roasted cantaloupe with ginger sherbet and pomegranate swirl–refreshing and light. It was the perfect combo for basking in the sun while sipping on an iced latté.
Then came the sandwich. And I’ve never seen this before or since, but instead of bread, the grilled veggies were stuffed in between fried plantains, which were juicy and tender! The zucchini, eggplant, portobello mushrooms, lettuce, and tomato were beautifully paired with the sweet passion fruit vegan tartar sauce. I believe I muttered something about it being the “Best sandwich I’d ever had,” in between scarfing down bites.
As an added bonus, most of their food is farm-to-table, organic, and locally sourced whenever possible. They also have an excellent appetizer/salad bar, extensive gluten free/vegetarian/vegan options, and non-rushed table service. Element’s philosophy is to let people enjoy their meals at a relaxed pace, aiming for the delicate balance of comfortable island life and creative upscale dining and they totally nail it. They are also one of the only adult-only resorts on the island, so noisy children will never disturb your meal.
To top it all off, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts also boasts the title of being a pioneer resort in running an eco-friendly business and have recently acquired the rare Silver LEED certificate (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), and are the first resort in the Caribbean to do so. And, last but not least, if during your vacation you find a stray dog you’d love to take home with you, Bucuti will pay for their vaccinations and shipping back to your home! Now that’s a real dedication to animals!
As a resort on a socially-conscious mission, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts have won numerous awards for their environmental programs, and their new vegan offerings at Elements should put them high on the bucket list for those seeking first-rate cruelty-free gourmet options when traveling to Aruba.
Reservations mandatory. Breakfast/lunch/dinner. Credit cards only.
For more on Aruba, visit the official Aruba Tourism Authority website.