That's 3 times cause we've come back 3 time over the last 4 years and have experienced different parts of the island all three times In 2009, we stayed a LaCabana and fell in love with the Island. Eagle Beach was just what the Dr. ordered for rest and relaxation. 2011 (missed 2010 cause we went to St. Marteen that year, but to no surprise, decided to come back to Aruba ever since). We stayed in the Marriott Ocean Club. Loved Palm Beach for everything it offered, beach, sunsets, nightlife and long walks after the sunset along the beach or seeing all the shops. No other Island allows you to wonder like Aruba. 2012: Renaissance Ocean Suite (July 4th week).. Again, loved it, though much different than any other part of the island we've stayed. Private Island was a plus and Resort was nice, but I much rather roll out of bed and walk down to the beach... I thought we pretty much had the island covered, but even this year, we found new and exciting things to do... The best: Jean at LaCabana (concierge) gave us so much needed info the first time we visited. Bully our taxi driver every year - another plus to have a local who shares any and all his wisdom with us about Aruba, just a great man who also offers private tours. No need to rent a car with him around. Meets us at airport and handles our every driving need. ElGauho - My brother has been a chef in NYC for over 30 years and he would be shocked by how good the food is here. Have gone here every year. Jolly Pirates - did that for a second time this year with a crew we meet at the Renaissance. A blast each time, but much more fun if you go with a group.. Driftwood - another great restaurant. Cooked the fish we caught that day and served every way for a small fee per person J-String - a charter boat at Renaissance Marina we took deep sea fishing. Landing a 275-pound Marlin and a few Wahoo.. Captain Ed and his crew are the best.. Be careful, the seas are rough off the coast.. Sunsets - AWESOME (In 2011, the sun set into the water all 7 nights we were there)!!!! They are just a few of my observations: Already making plans for next summer for trip No. 4. Definitely liked the high rise area the best cause there is some much to do well into the night, but each part of the island we've experienced has had their own appeal... ANd don't forget, the locals have a special place in my heart - we even got lost in a neighborhood while walking to a restaurant at night this year - and a local teenager helped us find our way.. Don't know if we could feel as safe anywhere else as we do in Aruba - One Happy Island!!!
Since 1980, and throughout the many changes, we still love going downtown in Oranjestad.
Great trip report. Glad you shared your thoughts with us.
Don't be surprised though about the great food in Aruba. The range of choice (both as to type of cuisine and price) is better there than just about anywhere else in the Caribbean. The whole lively restaurant/ bar/nightclub/casino scene is one of Aruba's major drawing cards for many people.
Glad you mentioned El Gaucho specifically. I've said it a thousand times; their 16oz gaucho steak is the best tasting source of protein on the planet.
Last thing. The whole feeling of personal comfort and safety is something that people talk about again and again. That's what makes an Aruba vacation so relaxing.