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Thread: AUDIAS4 Visits Aruba for the first land vacation: Review and pictures day by day

  1. #1
    Senior Member AudiaS4's Avatar
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    Post AUDIAS4 Visits Aruba for the first land vacation: Review and pictures day by day

    Just a small (somewhat small for me I guess) review of our 10 day stay in Aruba.

    We are a family of 3 (traveling) this time around. This consist of me, the hubby and our 9-year-old daughter. I’m a mother of 4 (kids ages 31, 29, 22 and 9). I have several grandchildren the same age as my youngest daughter (yes, we were all pregnant at the same time…I’m just young at heart, right?) and several younger ones as well. We normally cruise 3-4 times a year and this will be our first land vacation in the Caribbean. We came to Aruba in April, during a cruise, and fell in love with it. I couldn’t find a cruise that 1) took me where I wanted to go 2) cost the amount I wanted to pay 3) had available hotels/places to stay before and after that I really wanted to go back to (Puerto Rico). I finally gave up and decided…”WE’RE GOING TO ARUBA!”

    We are limited to where we can go for a land vacation because we fly with Southwest. They have been slowly but surely expanding the places they go and Aruba happened to be one of them so we are in luck. (Before anyone suggest another airline, we won’t fly another airline because we fly for free so we have to stick to SW).

    I’m going to give everyone day by day small reports and links to pictures. Hopefully everyone enjoys. I have already reviewed all of the major places (like the beaches and tourist places) with plenty of pictures and links.

    DAY 1 MONDAY: Flying from Ohio to Aruba. Ohio doesn’t offer many choices to get to Aruba…as a matter of fact, only 2. We must either fly to Baltimore then Aruba or Orlando then Aruba. By the time I decided, Baltimore was the only option. So…Baltimore it is. Another non-option (lol) is that they both leave E-A-R-L-Y in the morning…as in 5am -ish. I’m NOT a morning person (spent many years being on 2nd and 3rd shift at the hospital and I don’t think I’ll ever get off this shift sleeping pattern). We had an uneventful LONG flight to Aruba and I was so excited to land! We arrived around 2pm (or a little before). Little did I know that actually getting OUT of the airport would take Forever with a capital F! The lines were so long…I think I went to the restroom twice while waiting in line. But, our great US-turned-Aruban friend let me know that I could go online and fill out our ED card prior to arrival (and it’s also used for departure) and it would speed up the process…well, once you actually got up to see them that is. He did make the comment that he wished everyone would fill these out before coming to Aruba and things would go so much quicker.

    We rented a car with Wheels 2 Go (review HERE) and they were waiting at the airport just as they said…holding a sign for us. We zoomed off to their off-site location, filled out the paperwork, looked over the car and off we went…to find something to eat. We stopped at Wendy’s (because it was along the way and familiar), ate in the car and then off to find the resort (Tropicana). I’ll post a review on it later (most have seen the issues we had there, but that’s not really a review…just what was going on that we were struggling with). Hey, we’re in Aruba, how bad can it be right?

    We checked in, went to our room, immediately put everything away in its proper place and headed straight to the pool. My daughter is a mermaid…a real mermaid if you ask her. She had been practicing swimming like a mermaid for many years before she got her first mermaid tail and she’s a pro at it (I tried it once and so did my older daughter…it’s not as easy as I looks!). She has quite the collection going on…6 to be exact. She morphed into a mermaid and she didn’t turn back into a human until hours later. She did manage to get her first boo-boo this vacation…rubbed her knee on the concrete bottom of the pool. Ouch! She was a bloody mess for awhile and it took a nice chunk of skin out.

    Once swimming was over, we headed to Superfoods Grocery to load up on breakfast and lunch for the week…and some snacks. We were true tourist, who only speaks English, in a store with multiple languages printed on the food packaging. It was quite hilarious. I ended up with “snacks” in every ham flavor there was. I didn’t really realize they WERE ham flavored. I don’t like ham (I’m weird) and that first bite…ooohhhh weeeee. Nope! Not for me. Do Arubans love ham…like a lot?

    I felt like being domesticated when we returned to the room and I had bought noodles, bread & butter, and pasta sauce as well. I made us dinner, which took 1 hour and 10 minutes for the water to boil, but we ate. We ate good. Our bellies were full and I hate to sit still…so…”I” decided “we” were going for a walk around the resort/street area. HA! Good thing my hubby loves me so much. We walked all around the resort to see what it offered, over to the casino, over to the hotel behind us and casino, down the street and back. Ok, maybe that wasn’t the best idea. We had a long day of traveling and our bellies were in overload so maybe it was just time to hang out on the back patio and then head to bed. We would be refreshed for the morning. Only wait…we were supposed to have a king-sized bed in our 1 bedroom and we had 2 small, separated beds. Oops. We were so tired that we blew kisses from across the room to each other and said our goodni…..ZzzzZ We were already asleep.

    HERE'S A LINK TO PICTURES FOR DAY 1
    Last edited by AudiaS4; 08-19-2017 at 07:57 PM.

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    Senior Member AudiaS4's Avatar
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    DAY 2: Tuesday

    After waking up to the sound of both the room phones ringing, I decided to stay up. I headed outside to the patio to see how the weather was. It’s Aruba! It’s hot! That’s the forecast for the day…super, duper hot and humid! Whew. I didn’t stay out long and decided to head in and make breakfast and have it ready for the family when they woke up. My daughter woke up and immediately put her bathing suit on (I don’t know what makes her think she’s doing something involved with water…oh that’s right, we do that every day lol) and went out to “play with the iguana’s” They were just everywhere in our “backyard”. She has her own Olympus Tough camera and she is getting really good at taking pictures. She’s not only a mermaid, but an animal whisperer…as you’ll see just how close she got to some of the lizards and iguanas as the week goes on. If I even glance toward a lizard it runs.

    After breakfast, we packed our beach bags, coolers, and headed off to a day of beach hopping down the southwest coast.

    First we went to our home beach: Eagle Beach for a while. HERE is the review on it. Next up was a quick stop at Fishermans Hut (REVIEW), then another quick stop at Malmok (REVIEW) and then stopped for a pretty long visit at Boca Catalina (REVIEW). I knew I wanted to see Arashi again and headed over there for a little more time before the sun went down (REVIEW).

    When beach time was up, we headed toward the Lighthouse only to be distracted by signs saying Dunes Beach (REVIEW) and then we finally made it to the Lighthouse (REVIEW).

    We watched the sun go down and decided we were all hungry and needed dinner. Back to our room to change and get ready.

    Since we had passed (several times today) the Palm Beach area and Paseo Herencia, we at least knew how to get someplace familiar and would head back that way for the evening.

    We ended up parking in the garage. This has got to be the smallest, dangerous turns, oncoming traffic beware, garage I have ever seen. Traffic was held up quite a bit once we made it in because it’s basically a one-way only with traffic going both ways. Whoa! Parking is only $1/hr, so not bad…unless you are actually using the first hour just trying to make it up to the top of the garage to actually FIND parking. Lol

    Once parked we stopped briefly to watch the water show. It was awesome! Then headed out onto the street to search for a place that was recommended to us (Salt & Pepper). My daughter immediately spotted the horse and carriages. At that point I wished I had blinders for her so that we could keep going toward food. We had to stop so that she could see them, pet the ponies, and of course inquire about the pricing. We told them we’d be back after dinner because that was the only priority I had at that moment. We were told S&P was about 5 blocks down and my nose caught a whiff on something divine. Picture a cartoon character, floating in the air, using only his nose, following this “smell” of heaven. I’m pretty sure that’s what I looked like going down the street. We came to Smokey Joes. I knew we had to eat here.

    It was a LONG LONG LONG wait. It was at least an hour. This place was packed with a lot of people waiting to get in. Either this place was as good as it smelled, or all the places were packed like this. I wasn’t sure.

    After being seated, we waited for a long time before anyone ever came to take our drink order. Someone finally stopped and asked if we had been helped and after saying “no”, they walked away only for us to wait even longer. By the time they came for a drink order, we also told them we wanted to put our food order in as well. Our drinks arrived fairly quickly but the food did not.

    However, the food was AMAZING! Like the best bbq I think I have ever had. We ordered ribs, rotisserie chicken, pulled pork, corn on the cob(s), salad and fries. The only thing that was not good was the corn on the cob…it was very dry and should have been ready to turn into popcorn. Everything else was so good. They did mess up our order and forgot to bring us 1 of the corn on the cobs and brought me the wrong salad dressing. We ate ourselves into a food coma and packed up the rest to go. It’s a little pricey, but there was so much food and enough food left over for later that it was well worth it.

    Almost no one was left in the restaurant by the time we were done (maybe 10 couples), it still took us even longer to get our bill and I had to stop one of the other waiters to ask for it. Our waiter was sitting directly in front of us and few tables over and just sitting and talking to other co-workers. Ugh.

    We paid our bill and headed back to the horses for a ride…only when we arrived, they had taken their last customer. My daughter was a little disappointed, but I assured her we would be back another night to ride.

    We headed for the car, squeezed out of the parking garage and was on our way back to the resort. Time for a little hanging out on the patio, listening to the frogs sing, checking in with those back home and then off we went…our separate ways, to sleep.

    PICTURES FROM THIS DAY HERE

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    Senior Member AudiaS4's Avatar
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    Day 3 WEDNESDAY:

    Rise and shine early again today. Why? Because the phones are ringing again…trying to talk me into coming over for a free breakfast and buying a time share. This is getting old and I’m getting old and cranky with this type of solicitation.

    I made breakfast while everyone was sleeping and before long, I was waking them up. If I’m not sleeping they shouldn’t be either right? Well breakfast was done so…I didn’t want it to get cold and we needed to pack and head out for the day.

    On the agenda today was visiting some of the animal farms. I knew it was “north” and that’s the way we would be heading. Since all 3 of our “maps” (term used lightly) didn’t really tell you the way to get there, we used the “mountains” as a point of reference. Just go toward the mountains and you’re bound to run into something. I had actually planned on trying to make it toward the Donkey Sanctuary. I don’t know how we did it, but some how we ended up at Philips Animal Garden (which if you look at a map, it’s totally the other direction of the Donkey Sanctuary).

    I was pretty excited about finding something and that was on my list of to-do’s. So, that’s what we were doing. I gave a nod and said something along the lines of “I planned that”. HERE is my review on the Animal Garden. I knew that the Alto Vista Chapel was near this attraction and I had seen a sign. Only thing is, they give you a sign somewhere in the beginning, you turn that way, then you never see another sign (even when there’s multiple turn offs along the way and dead ends). Eventually we arrived (and knew we were heading in the right direction when we started to see crosses along the road on the way) and you’ll find my review HERE.

    I still wanted to head to the Donkey Sanctuary, so we knew we head to go east and off we went. Well, somehow we ended up back in town and on the south end of the island instead of the north like we wanted. I am seriously terrible with directions, maps, and knowing my way around. I use my husband as my personal GPS even when we are confined to a ship.

    We are sitting in town and not knowing where to go. I didn’t want anyone getting hangry, so we pulled out the sandwiches and chips for lunch. I decided to keep heading east and try to look for San Nicolas. We wanted to surprise our artistic daughter with all the paintings located there. There was a lot of construction and detours. I had no idea if we were even still going in the right direction at any given point. Honestly, I wanted to make it there, but really didn’t care because we were seeing the sites and at least getting a feel for Aruba. I will tell you buy the end of this trip….I’m officially claiming the title of Roundabout Queen!

    I sighed with relief when the sign "San Nicolas" was planted next to the road. We had made it! Now if only I could find the police station to park at. Whoops! We just passed it. We circled around and pulled in. I’m a little leery about just parking anywhere and a police station to boot! We decided to head into the police station (ahhh, the a/c), and there was a local man waiting in the waiting room at the window but no officers anywhere to be found. We waited and waited…finally I decided to ask the gentleman if he knew where we go to see the paintings. Pshhh, we were basically already there. Just head back out of the police station and the first building was in front of us. Head down that side street and you’ll see them everywhere. It was super easy. I think I freak myself out about doing things for the first time and then after it’s done, I think “that was so easy”. The paintings were beautiful and my daughter loved them. The iguana sculpture was amazing as well. You’ll find my review HERE with all the pictures. I highly recommend checking this place out. It takes less than an hour to just stroll around the area. Well worth it…especially if you love art. When we were done walking around, we decided to stop at KFC, use the “free” restrooms and buy some ice cream cones. It felt good to cool off and then we were on our way.

    It was time to head back to the resort and we decided we’d go back and swim in the pool. I believe my daughter was having a bit of water withdrawal because mermaids can only stay out of the water for so long you know.

    Back to the hotel we went. Changed into our bathing suits and headed for one of the two pools they had there. I took a bag of Lays with me, that happened to be named “Hamka’s”, which I had no idea what that meant…until I bit into the first chip….HAM! It’s ham flavored again! Ewww. Just give me some normal chips please. We hung out there for the rest of the day, until about 6:30pm. It gets dark in Aruba around 7pm and I got the great idea to head back to Eagle Beach to watch the sunset go down on the beach. Off we went. It was a great time and we had a lot of fun watching the sun go down, swimming in the ocean, and just hanging out on a near empty beach.

    It was about dinner time and since we had so much food left over from Smokey Joe’s, I knew that we were going to have left overs tonight and I would just make a side dish of macaroni and cheese. It worked out perfect and there was enough food to divide between all 3 of us and I was, once again, in food heaven. That food was so good…even the second time around!

    Back to the pool we went to finish off the day and then we hung out on the patio getting in touch with family and friends back home. My daughter found the biggest snail ever and named him “tiger”. She would find tiger almost every night that we stayed in this room. It’s a good thing we don’t like escargot according to a friend back home. Lol We also had a frog come up to the patio area and he didn’t move. Even after my daughter touched it. He was acting like a statue.

    It was getting late and we watched a little t.v. and off to bed we went…throwing kisses in the air from across the room.

    Day 3 PICTURES HERE
    Last edited by AudiaS4; 08-19-2017 at 07:59 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member cpjones's Avatar
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    Appreciate all your posts and photos.... you really seem to have made a great vacation for your family in spite of a sub standard room....... love the mermaid.

  5. #5
    Senior Member AudiaS4's Avatar
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    DAY 4 THURSDAY:

    This was a day we had really been looking forward to. We were going scuba diving! My daughter is a PADI Seal certified diver and she dives here at home every month completing “Aquamissions” that are different each month. Once she gets all of her aquamissions completed (she only has 2 of them to go), she will become a Junior PADI Seal.

    So, since she loves to scuba dive (and does better than us…we are not certified), we now try to scuba dive at least once on vacation. Our first time was last November in St Thomas at Coki Beach. The second time was in Curacao back in April. She went down about 30 feet and hung out over the wall and just about gave me a heart attack. However, I was so proud of her and her skills. I was able to get some amazing photo’s of diving both times. In case anyone ever has the desire to go to either of these places and go diving, THIS link of St Thomas and THIS link of Curacao might interest you. There’s tons of pictures I took of the reef and our experience.

    So, this will be dive #3 for all of us in the ocean. The hubby and I do a Discover Scuba and the daughter does a Bubble Maker. In Curacao, they let her dive right along side of us. They would also do that here in Aruba!

    After contacting places suggested here on the boards, I liked the communication and information I received from a shop called AquaWindies. We were told that we would dive either Mangel Halto or Malmok. Before we left for vacation, they had changed it to Malmok because of my daughter only being 9 and said it would be an easier dive for her and calmer water. They were to pick us up at the resort and take us to their location for “class”, which is only a few blocks down and located beside the hospital.

    The day of the dive, I emailed them to see where we were supposed to meet them at and what time. The person I had been talking to online asked if we could catch a cab there and they would pay for the cab due to the dive instructor being out on a boat all morning with divers and he needed to get a bite to eat and this would allow him that time. I informed her that we had our own car and it wouldn’t be a problem to drive, just give me directions (ok, don’t laugh). But when she said the hospital…I knew it couldn’t be too hard to find.

    After eating breakfast and my daughter out photographing some pretty awesome up-close shots of the lizards while I cleaned up the dishes, it was time to go. We headed out with our gear and down the road. The directions said to come up the hospital road until it dead ends and they were on the right. Well, leave it to me…the dead end ended up going back onto the main street located in front of our resort. Oops. We U-turned and turned off another street that was beside the hospital (because there are streets on all 4 sides of the hospital) and there’s where we found them. Odd place to be since EVERYTHING around there is health realated (OBGYN, dentist, hospital, ortho, pharmacy and so on). But we had arrived!

    We went inside the building and told the lady at the front desk we were here for the DSD. A lady introduced herself and took us upstairs for “class”. There was only 1 other person in the class with us. We watched a video and that was it. Very odd. When we were done, the other guy went out to let her know and she came in with paperwork to fill out. I’m a very prepared person and I also pre-fill out the papers with the information on us and have all of my doctors paperwork signed off on as well. I presented them to her and she pretty much shoved them back and said “No, I need you to fill these out”…they were the SAME THING! I told her that and told her we also had doctor release forms with it. Once again, she said no and made me fill out the same paperwork, but what came out of the book. Sigh. She was sorta rude about it. Then once we were done and just sitting around, she comes back and tells me to fill out a different one for my daughter. Once I filled it out…she told me to hold on to it…and hold I did…and I’m STILL holding it. She never did collect it.

    We all went downstairs and just waited around for a while. They did go ahead and collect our money for the dive (first time this has happened prior to the dive instead of after). Then our instructor (or whatever he was…not sure the terminology) told us to come out and he’d get us wet suits to wear. They didn’t have a size to fit my husband so just the daughter and I had wet suits on. They had us wear the “boots”, which this will be the second and probably the last time I’ll ever wear these again. The first time, in Curacao, they were too small. I wear a size 8 ˝ and the choices are 8 or 9. They gave me 8 and my feet hurt so bad. This time they gave me a 9 and I ended up with a blister from the bottom part of the back of my foot all the way up past my ankle. I still have this blister and it looks terrible and it’s not healing very well. It hurts! I’m done wearing these things. I’ll just wear my scuba socks I have next time. I did ask for something to drink when we were waiting and they made some type of contraption from a bottle that you mix with water. It’s probably a good idea when you are out diving and keeping hydrated but she said she wasn’t sure how much to mix with it and it tasted like water with some flavor and wasn’t very good. We were supposed to have drinks and snacks with us for the dive…but we didn’t get that and he mentioned “oops I forgot” but we didn’t get anything when we returned either.

    So we geared up and piled in the truck he had and off to….Tres Trapi. Ok, well this was one of the places I had wanted to find to snorkel and I guess we are going to scuba here. Cool. In the beginning they did ask "what language does everyone speak?" We told them English only and the other guy (who was Asian) said he spoke "all languages". So knowing that we only spoke English and obviously the Asian guy spoke English, on the ride the instructor and Asian guy carried on conversations and laughs IN A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE! We had no idea what they were talking about. We tried a few times to engage in a conversation, but they would revert back to a different language. I thought this was very rude to leave us out or who knows...talk behind our backs?

    We get there and I get my stuff ready and we “gear up” at the truck. Wait, I have to carry this heavy tank to these steps and then down the steps? I don’t think I can do this. We got to the steps and I was SO scared to try to go down them. This is a lot of weight on top of my weight and trying to go down steps, my knees are going to give out! He said he would help, but he helped from above and was leaning me backwards (I was going down the steps backwards). I was so relieved when I made it to the small sandy area…or was I? The water was TERRIBLE! The waves were high and rough and they were crashing into the rocks and throwing us about. At various points, I was just waiting to hear him say “This is not safe. Beginners should not do this. We should not be in this water with a child. We should try a different day. Let’s get out.” But, those words never came. We kept being thrown toward the rocks and there were tons of people in the water. We kept trying to move out and away, but the ocean was upset. We proceeded to do our “skills” for him, while moving around like little rag dolls. They had to add more weights to me because I couldn’t stay down. After completing skills we headed off to the right. I was still unsure about this. I was nervous. I was scared. I tried everything I could to calm myself in my head. There was nothing but sand below…then I spotted a starfish. I was happy to see something. He all of a sudden turned around and told us to go back the way we started. Where we going to stop? Was this nightmare over? Nope, we passed up the entrance and went in the direction to the left.

    It was very cloudy with times the visibility being maybe less than 5-6 feet. He pointed one time for my husband and my daughter to team up (at least I think that’s what he was trying to say) and me and the other guy to team up. However, my husband is very slow and seems to fall way behind when diving. He also stays more up toward the surface compared to everyone else and my daughter stays at the very bottom most of the time. Then he told me and the hubby to go together and my daughter and the “stranger” to go together. Wait, what? No! This other guy was really all over the place and looked as if this might have been the first time he has ever done this. His form was a little crazy, he was up and down, and he’s one that you should probably look out for because you’re sure to be kicked in the face by his fins with those frantic kicks. No way!

    We made it to “The wall” and the water was still raging! The sand was stirred up and visibility still wasn’t the greatest. Better, but not good by any means. In order to see anything, you had to be right up on it. The sun wasn’t really shinning most of the time, but we did have a few bursts of light here and there and I managed to get a few decent pictures. We swam with a school of fish, which was neat and my daughter spotted a snowflake eel, which was the coolest thing we seen that day. The instructor did mention that they see sea horses and scorpion fish a lot there, but he was so far ahead of us most of the time that had he found one, I’m sure we would have missed it. I would say the most we seen that day was schools of fish and rocks with Christmas tree worms on it.

    We turned around and started heading back. I kept thinking “This is it?” This is the wall? It just wasn’t what I expected. On the way back, we did manage to see a yellow starfish that had 6 legs, but one was missing and was rejuvenating back. We didn’t really see anything else interesting. The instructor picked up an empty conch shell and gave to my daughter and she carried it around for a while. Then he picked up a very small dead sea urchin for her to hold and took the conch shell back. Then later picked up a dead crab to show everyone. I’m not here for dead animals. That's all he showed us. Really?

    I’m sure if the water wasn’t so stirred up and the sun was shining, it would have made for a “better” day. Not a great day because even with better conditions, I can’t imagine this particular area being what I was expecting or looking for in a dive. At one point when we went around the corner, I could no longer see anyone other than my husband beside me. I was scared. They had left us. Where was my 9 year old daughter?? I was giving hand signals like “where is everyone????” to my husband. He motioned for me to go up. We both went up and could see where we were exactly and where we needed to go to get back. We went back down and he grabbed my hand and lead me. It relaxed me. We finally made it back and found everyone in the water. He really had the nerve to ask “How did everyone like it?” I honestly did not expect that question nor did I answer it. Maybe if we hadn’t done this before in beautiful places with awesome fish, corals, sunken ships…I might have felt different…but I doubt it honestly. If that would have been my first experience, I probably wouldn’t ever want to do it again.

    Now it was time to go back up the stairs. There is absolutely NO way I could do that. No Way! My knees would never allow that and I told him so. He seemed frustrated but I tried a step and couldn’t even get up! He ended up getting behind me and pushing me up. He also pushed my husband up and he ended up cutting his hand. Even with the help of being pushed up, I was worn out from all the swimming against the current and being thrown around. There was no way I was making up to the truck. He finally told me to take the tank off and he’d get it. I understand his frustration but my goodness.

    We piled back in the truck and headed back with more conversations in a different language off and on. I waited around for him to unload the truck and the hubby had asked him to fill out our dive logs in our books. He responded by saying we could fill them out and he would sign them. Wait, what?? I went back over and sat at the table and waited. We can’t fill these out…we don’t know the information…only the instructor would know. The original lady came over (that wouldn’t take my forms or doctor statements) and asked what we needed. I told her we needed our dive logs filled out. I have never seen someone so confused about this. I showed her our other dive logs and how they filled it out and they just seemed dumbfounded. She told us the same as the instructor “You fill it out and we can stamp it”. Are you serious??? I don’t know how deep we were, how long we dove, how many weights and everything else it says on there. That’s something the INSTRUCTOR KNOWS. I seriously argued with them about this and said, “Have you never filled this out before?” The lady said normally people don’t ask for that to be filled out. Really? It’s in the book YOU gave to us. Why would we not want a record of it??? I also needed my daughters PADI book filled out with her dive as well for her records and for her instructor back home. This was just not going well at all. I showed them where they had been filled out previously by other places, I basically told her where to put what and she messed it up a few times confusing me and my husband in each others book. At first she said "Which is your book and which is your husbands book?" I told her it didn't matter since there's nothing wrote in either book yet and she could not grasp the concept of this and kept asking. So finally I just pointed at a book and said make this mine and that his. Finally, the instructor came over, snatched the pens, filled it out and signed his name and walked away saying that he needed to get everything cleaned because he had a date to get to. Well excuse me.

    This seriously was not a good experience at all…from start to finish. From the lady not wanting my paperwork and pushing it away from me until the very end of not wanting to fill out our paperwork. Quite honestly, I would never use this particular establishment again. Ever! I felt they were rude.

    HERE ARE THE PICTURES FROM OUR DIVE

    There is a restaurant there on the premises as well, called Pickles. We looked at the menu and were starving and thirsty. We decided to order. The workers (about 4 of them) were sitting at the picnic tables there with us, and said “we don’t have any cheese”…”we don’t have any hamburger”…”we don’t have any…” anything we named they seemed to not have. Then they finally said “oh, we are closed now”. Really? Ok, I have had enough of this place. We left!

    We went back to our place, ate a few turkey sandwiches from our fridge and decided to have a little pool time before we went out later in the evening for dinner. After swimming, we changed into dry clothes and headed back to the Palm Beach area to go to Salt & Peppers. The place was a really neat place with salt and pepper shakers from all over. I believe that people come here and bring them a set and they get a free drink. It was really neat to look at. I ordered a cheeseburger and fries (so did the hubby) and my daughter ordered a chicken nuggets kids meal. The food looked yummy, but the burgers were very dry. I remember at one point peeling up the bun to see if there was any cheese on it because usually if there’s no cheese it can taste this way (to me), but there was cheese. So how do you spruce up a dry burger? Add condiments! I put some mayo and mustard on it and it was fabulous. They did forget to give my daughter a spoon for her applesauce and quickly brought it over when asked for.

    After eating, we headed out to do some shopping at the local booths and noticed the most spectacular sunset. Geeze!! If only we were at the beach this night! We attempted to take pictures by zooming down the road, with our cameras, toward the beach. Then we did a little bit of shopping and headed back to the room where we would hang out on the patio, eating some chips and salsa for a while, and our daughter would find tiger her snail (and also a baby frog) and then we would all head off to our separate beds for the evening.

    HERE ARE THE PICTURES FROM THIS DAY

  6. #6
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    re: Aqua Windies
    Did you ever get a chance to speak with the owner and or manager?
    What you folks experienced is so far out of line it is mind boggling.
    Why was your dive not a boat dive? We have SCUBA'd lots in Aruba and always they have been boat dives.
    I do know that we have seen JADS doing shore dive at Mangel Halto when we were with Arubabob.
    (Our snorkel trips have always been shore entry)

    Do you ever use Trip Advisor for your reviews or to read reviews?
    Here is a link to some of the AquaWindies reviews.
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attracti...a.html#REVIEWS

  7. #7
    Senior Member AudiaS4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post
    re: Aqua Windies
    Did you ever get a chance to speak with the owner and or manager?
    What you folks experienced is so far out of line it is mind boggling.
    Why was your dive not a boat dive? We have SCUBA'd lots in Aruba and always they have been boat dives.
    I do know that we have seen JADS doing shore dive at Mangel Halto when we were with Arubabob.
    (Our snorkel trips have always been shore entry)

    Do you ever use Trip Advisor for your reviews or to read reviews?
    Here is a link to some of the AquaWindies reviews.
    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attracti...a.html#REVIEWS
    The only person I seen there when we returned was the lady that helped us out in the beginning, with the snotty attitude about the papers and she's also the same that didn't want to fill out the books and the diver we went with.

    I don't think I would ever want to dive from a boat and would have refused it if offered. We are not divers and only discover scuba and with a 9 year old...no, I wouldn't do that on a boat and she's limited to how deep she can go as well (well, supposed to be anyhow). Other divers have told me that she is supposed to have her own (is it???) dive master or instructor? I can't remember. But hers is supposed to be for her and we are supposed to have one for us. It takes me awhile to get used to the breathing under the water thing with the dry air/oxygen and going off a boat and not being able to stand up would completely freak me out.

    I wish I would have went with JADS. They even followed up with me asking if I needed anything else and if I was interested in booking with them. At that point, I had already booked with AW.

    Yes, I use TA and post on there and also read. I'm not sure I read anything on there this time around because when it comes to our situation, there's usually nothing to compare to (a family doing DSD and also having a PADI Seal 9 year old needing a program). I did read another (from 2015 I think it was) that had issues with the place we went to (Tres Trapi) as well and she quit the dive herself. But reading the reviews gives you some idea...but won't always be your experience and obviously ours was nothing like the others (most on there are rating an actual dive and have experience and are used to this).

    The other thing that I did not mention was that BEFORE we left home, I asked AW what day is best to book or least crowded. She said every day could be crowded and it didn't matter what day the cruise ships are in because they don't book with them. (But it did matter to ME because the people on the cruise ship might not book with this place, but they book with others, which means there potential to have a crowded area when diving.

    She said they had openings all week and I told her I would probably be interested in either Thursday or Friday and I would talk it over with my husband to see what he preferred. She emailed back saying she was booking me for Thursday at 1pm. Um....ok. She didn't even give me a chance to talk to my husband first. She made the decision for us. That should have been the first sign.

    Oh...and the person I was corresponding back and forth with by email says it was the manager. I looked her up just now...she is also the rude one. So there you have it.

  8. #8
    Senior Member AudiaS4's Avatar
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    DAY 5 FRIDAY

    My plans today was to head Southeast and go to Baby Beach and Rogers Beach.

    Ring, Ring…here goes that phone again. No more! I unplugged them both. They would not be waking me up again the rest of this stay. I’m the type of person that once I’m woke up, there’s no getting me back to sleep and obviously the phone woke my daughter up too because when I went out into the living room, she was getting dressed. She headed out to the patio to say hello to the iguana’s while I started breakfast.

    Then after packing, we headed out to Baby Beach. The furthest we had been so far was San Nicolas and I knew how to get there already, so we should be able to make it to Baby Beach with no issues.

    It was an uneventful trip and we stopped right before Baby Beach for a picture opportunity with the Seaman Anchor and ocean in the background and then continued to Baby Beach. Once again, free parking and plenty of it.

    As we walked out to the beach, we seen a place where another couple and child were standing and talking to a worker. I assumed this was about renting chairs. They paid him and the worker walked off to get their rental items. As we were standing there, I ask him how much for the chairs and the hut ($56) and we just started chit-chatting. Our hut was placed beside theirs and we hung out all day (they had a daughter and it gave our daughter someone to play with). Baby Beach is awesome and you’ll find my short review HERE.

    We hung out and snorkeled all day here and had a great time with our new friends. I even spotted a turtle in the water and swam along with it taking pictures until my camera goggles battery died and I had to return back to our hut. When I did, I informed the others that there’s a turtle out there. I grabbed my camera and my daughter came along and we went turtle hunting. It was still there and we swam with it for a while. It was awesome. We had lunch there and hung out until around 5:30pm and decided to head over to Rogers Beach for a little bit. Our friends decided to head back to their hotel. They were due to leave the following day, but we talked them into staying longer so we could all hang out some more and the girls could play. They headed back to see if they could find another place to stay and change their air flights.

    We headed over to Rogers Beach. It really wasn’t what I was expecting and you can find my review HERE. So, we decided not to stay here and just head back to the resort.

    Along the way, there were donkeys in the road and even a cute little baby donkey. When we got back to the resort, we showered and changed and decided to head off to diner while keeping in touch with our new friends on their progress on finding another place.

    We headed back to the Palm Beach area for dinner. I had smelled a lovely aroma the other night and remember seeing something that said pasta. We ended up at Amore Mio for dinner. Little did I know, this was not the pasta place I had seen and they were more of a pizza place. There was a small wait to be seated, but they did have a nice couch and area within the dining area to sit and wait and you could look over the menu. Once we were seated, we gave them our order. I ordered the lasagna and the hubby ordered a calzone due to the size the waiter showed us of the pizza, the calzone seemed to be bigger and we were hungry. We were going to share with our daughter, who said she wasn’t real hungry and for some reason I was thinking maybe they didn’t have a kids meal??? I did ask the waiter what you get with the lasagna and he said bread. No salad or anything? Aruba is so different than the US where you order a meal and get a “meal” with salad and sides. I’m not used to this. I was going to order an appetizer of Scampi Arrostiti and when I ask how many you get, the reply was 4 pieces of shrimp. Really? Only 4 shrimps…for $14.50!! I passed.

    It was a bit of a wait before our food came out and it was really busy there. I was really shocked to see the size of the slice of lasagna. Just one small piece of lasagna for $21.50. The bread they served was 2 very small slices. Oh my. I knew this was not about to fill me up and my daughter wanted half. The lasagna was good…but not $21.50 good. I’m not sure what it is with the diet coke drinks served at all the establishments…they don’t taste anything like diet coke and very watered down. It didn’t matter where we went it was like this. My husband said his calzone was good and he did share a piece with me and our daughter. My honest opinion is the food is good, just very expensive and not much of it. I would have to have some snacks after I got back to the resort that night to fill me up.

    We had promised our daughter that we would let her take the horse and carriage ride so off we went down the street to find it by the mall. She insisted that she wanted only the white horse, which was across the street. Her and daddy headed over there and I headed to the restroom within the mall (well, really in the parking garage). Once I headed back and seen they were already across the street, it was up to me to play frogger and try to make it over to them.

    We paid for our trip and off we went…holding traffic back. After a short while, he told our daughter to get up front to ride with him if she wanted. Oh, the excitement in her face. She climbed over and just kept looking back at me smiling. At one point, she took my camera and took a picture of the horse from her perspective. Then before long, he was handing her the reins and teaching her how to control the horse. He just totally made her night. We enjoyed the ride and it goes all the way to the windmill. I had been wanting to take pictures of the windmill and now was my chance. Another family came along behind us and passed us at one-point waving. That’s ok, we are enjoying our slow ride. Hehe. On the way back, we asked if it was possible to drop us off at our car so we wouldn’t have to walk back. When we pointed at our car, our daughter pulled the horse over and we piled out. Perfect ending to a near perfect day.

    We came back to so many bubbles in the tub and sink and I would proceed to clean things up for then next hour or so. Well, it was almost a perfect day. Then it was time to relax with a little chips and salsa and then we headed to bed for the night after checking in with those we love not on vacation.


    PICTURES FROM TODAY
    Last edited by AudiaS4; 08-20-2017 at 05:16 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member AudiaS4's Avatar
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    DAY 6

    We woke up to….no ring this morning. Woo hoo! Mission accomplished! I made breakfast and our munchkin headed outside to do her thing…say hello to the iguanas and lizards in our “yard”. She took some really good pictures too. I don’t know how she gets this close to them without scaring them off.

    The munchkin tried to get her bathing suit on to go swimming in the pool, but momma bear had other plans. We were going to attempt to find Mangel Halto for a little bit of snorkeling for the day. Sam concept (water), but she would just have to wait awhile.

    We packed our bag and cooler and off we went. We headed east and pretty much knew where we were going this time. Past town, turn right at the 4th roundabout and down the road, to the left, over the bridge and look on the right for something that resembled Mangel Halto. We found it!

    There’s plenty of free parking and we spent several hours here, hanging out with a local family and enjoying our day. You can find my review HERE.

    After talking to the locals and getting suggestions of places to go, we headed off to try and find something of interest.

    We ended up at Ayo Rock Formations by mistake, but it was on my list. Review HERE. I had seen a sign for the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins and knew that was next on the list. Review HERE. Then there was another sign along the way for the Natural Bridge, also on my list. Review HERE.

    After a long day at the beach and exploring, it was time to head back and change into dry clothes. After getting ready and throwing the hair up, I got the great idea to head to Oranjestad despite all the rumors that the entire town (mall) shuts down early. I had heard these rumors many times on the cruise forums, but guess what…when we came by cruise ship, they were still open when we returned late that evening, so they must have been just that…rumors. Nope, I was wrong. They were completely shut down. I could not believe the amount of traffic in that area and couldn’t help but think how much money they are missing out by closing so early.

    We walked around for a little bit and tried to find the location of a skate shop that used to be located there. Since my hubby owns a skate shop, we did a little research and found that there WAS a skate shop at Royal Plaza, named Salad Skate Shop. We looked around and didn’t see much, although we didn’t expect to because they closed a few years ago…but still. We asked several of the security guards and other locals and no one had ever heard of it. Hmmm, maybe that’s why they went out of business? No one had ever heard of them. We also knew that there was a “skate park” close by the bus terminal and decided to go walking in that direction just to see if we could find it. We did and it was quite easy considering there were some locals riding their bikes there. We went over and just had to take a picture of the 3 things they had to ride on. It was sad. Very sad. It was dangerous. We tried to talk to a few of the local kids riding, but there was a bit of communication issues. They spoke very little English, but for the most part, they somewhat understood some of the things. My husband showed them his website and they were astonished.

    After a while we decided to leave because we weren’t going to get anything accomplished staying in this area and headed back to the car. We headed back to the area we always go to…Palm Beach. Since we had ate at Salt & Pepper the other day, they gave us a 10% sticker on the receipt for another one of the restaurants in that area. We decided we wanted to eat at Fishes & More. They informed us that if we were to eat inside, there would be no wait. I was happy to eat inside because it was hot and humid and a/c sounded good. However, it didn’t work out that way. It was a bit hot inside as well and we sat under the a/c unit that was blowing out toward the middle of the dining room. Oh well. The service was fairly slow inside even though there were a lot of waiters in and out all the time for those seated outside. I have to remember the term “island time” when I’m on vacation and we need to stop waiting so long to eat. By the time we decided we are hungry, we are hangry. Lol

    I ordered the fettuccine with shrimp and the hubby ordered the Chicken Yakitory with rice and an egg roll. When it came out…it was YUMMY!!! They were actually huge portions! I couldn’t believe it. It was so good and so much food. My belly really expanded on this night and I was very satisfied.

    We ended the night (or so we thought) with a little shopping at the vendors along the street. We purchased some nice items for our home décor and then headed back to the resort for showers and bed. Only when we returned to the room…it wasn’t quite as we had left it. Bubbles EVERYWHERE and all over my things. See THIS THREAD (pictures at post #75 and on) for more of an explanation and I’ll do a full review on Tropicana at a later time with more details.

    Needless to say, we switched rooms and was up until 3:30am (ish) trying to move things and put things away…and finally getting a shower. We were so tired. ZzzzZzzzzzZzz…..

  10. #10
    Senior Member FBS199's Avatar
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    Thank you for your Detailed Aruba Ventures and Photos. Enjoyed them !!!

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