My family and I had a great two weeks in Aruba (2nd trip). We were there from May 27th until June 10th. It seemed the winds were really strong compared to last year during the same time period. Some of the locals verified that the winds were much stronger than normal.
We stayed at La Cabana. While La Cabana is still doing outside renovations, it was not too inconvenient, in my opinion. The workers didn’t start up until about 9:00am. Since I was up early each morning (6ish), I would have coffee on the balcony and watch the early birds claim their spots around the pool. Both the pool and the beach were not crowded, so getting a shaded area was not really an issue.
I used Avis (airport) to rent a Suzuki minivan for the 2 weeks for under $600 total. I have used Avis both times that I have been to Aruba and have been completely satisfied with their service and vehicles. I rented a Jeep from More 4 Less for one day for $125 total. I was pleased with their customer service and their Jeep.
As far as activities, we did a lot of snorkeling. The snorkeling was better on the south end (Mangel Halto, Baby Beach) of the island compared to the north. The north end seemed to have a lot of algae in the water. I didn’t see the algae as much last year, is there a reason why it seemed worse? Because of the overcast and strong winds, visibility at times was not the best. As I mentioned above, I rented a Jeep for a day to go to the Natural Pool. We had the pool to ourselves for about an hour or so until the tour groups started coming. FYI – We did the Jeep tour last year and realized you only needed the Jeep for the Natural Pool. Since there were 5 of us, we saved about $350 doing it ourselves. We did the Jolly Pirates morning snorkel that included lunch. For me, it was ok. I am not a fan of tours since I do not like being on a time table that I can’t change. For the rest of the family, they all had a good time. The rope swing was a big hit and the food was good. The snorkeling at the shipwreck was pretty rough. We did the museums and the Aruba Aloe “factory tour.” We tried to do the Balashi factory tour but since we didn’t pack any closed toe shoes, we were not allowed. I still had a Balashi or two anyway. We went to a small water park near Hooiberg Mountain. It was $12 adult, $6 child. It currently has 4 large slides and a “beach” area. They are working on a very large kid’s area which will have climbing areas and 5 slides.
When it came to food, we cooked most of our meals at the resort. The resort has grills and we would buy fresh meat and seafood to cook. We did The Paddock’s “rib night” and the ribs were as they should be – tender & tasty. My wife and I had a date night at Gianni’s. We sat outside and watched the people walk by. It was a very relaxing and peaceful dinner. My wife had a seafood medley over rice that she enjoyed. It had clams, mussels, calamari, and shrimp in it. I had a shrimp and pasta dish with a tomato cream sauce that was delicious. I would definitely go here again. We ate at the Amazonia one night. The meats were good but you may have to ask to get steak rare. The grilled pineapple with cinnamon and brown sugar was unbelievable. It is something that I will be trying on my own grill at home. Their salad bar was not quite up to what I had experienced at the Texas de Brazil (not the Aruban location). I probably would go to the Texas de Brazil before going back to the Amazonia. We did do Pizza Hut and Taco Bell near La Cabana a couple of nights. It is to be expected when you have a 21, a 20 and a 7 year old traveling with you. Food was as expected but do not be in a hurry. The cheapest meal we had and we did it twice was eating at the Carrubian Festival in San Nicolas on Thursdays. For $5, you could 2 pieces of chicken, rice, plantain, and cucumber “salad.” All of the food was prepared by the local people. There were street vendors selling baked goods and souvenirs. While the street fair was not as big as I expected, it was fun. That had live music and guys dressed in costume on stilts. It took us about 30 minutes to get there from La Cabana. I went through Santa Cruz instead of going through Oranjestad.
The bottom line is we had a great time while we were in Aruba and will be making plans to go back again.