My wife and I arrived direct from Chicago via United. No issues. Customs was a breeze with no line. Used the machine to scan my passport and take a photo. I have never used these before. Easy and fast. I had rented a jeep from SmartRent for our 4 day trip. Roy was waiting for us outside. He drove us to the office for a signature and we were off with our jeep. We stopped at Super Food and grabbed a cooler, ice, water, beer and some snacks. Checked in at the Holiday Inn. Had the tower closest to Marriott. Not sure what many people complain about. This hotel is in good shape and the price point is on point. The beachfront is part of the best section on Palm Beach. I never use a palapa. I tend to be too active to sit in one place all day. I don't go on "vacation", I "travel".
The employee that checked us in couldn't be nicer. I tipped him $20 for his efforts and went up to the room. Had the top floor with a partial view of the ocean and Marriott with Moomba Beach Bar below. The music from Moomba had no effect on my sleep. Bags came up, tipped the bellman, and threw on our bathing suits.
We started off by taking a walk to Moomba for a drink. Had one at the bar and took the next to go. We walked all the way down to the Ritz along the beach. Stopped into the Ritz for a couple beers. Nice inside, but the beachfront seems unfinished. Walked out the front and walked back to the Holiday Inn.
We freshened up and decided to have dinner at Daniel's Steak & Chop. I had eaten there a couple years ago. Great food. I had the whole bronzini. Excellent fish entree. Can't remember what the wife had. The wine was flowing. We went for a walk and stopped for a drink at the HI bar near the lobby (I think). Time for bed.
Today was road trip day. I wanted to go to Arikok National Park. I use T-Mobile in the states. They have coverage in Aruba. I turned on the international calling and data roaming. Worked great. GPS worked flawlessly. Got dressed and punched Arikok National park into the GPS and were on our way. Funny thing is I didn't look at the route the GPS drew up and it took us through Jamanota rather than route 7, so we drove the Southern loop route. I kept laughing with my wife saying "where's the entrance? Don't we have to pay?" I'm guessing there's an official entrance on route 7. There was no one in sight. It was like driving through the Grand Canyon. There was no "road", but there were two strips of concrete you had to keep your tires on as you drove. Not bad, but can't be done without a jeep. Went to the Quadirikiri Cave, Boca Prins Beach, and a couple other beaches by the wind turbines. No one around. Beautiful beaches.
Drove to Bachelors Beach and took a dip to cool off. Headed to Zeerovers. The line was insane. It was a Sunday and fathers day. We decided not to wait as we had dinner reservations and it was 2 p.m. Went back to HI. Decided to get a light snack at Pelican Nest. Nice setting. Food was ok. We grabbed some chairs and enjoyed the beach for a while and then got ready for dinner. I went down to the casino for a while. Played some craps. Had some good luck and then some bad luck. My wife came down and so we headed to dinner at Barefoot. This was a great setting on the beach, feet in the sand, watching planes come in. The service was top notch. My wife mentioned it was our anniversary and they brought dessert with a lit sparkler. I thought the food was average though. Maybe it was my selection, but again, the service was great. Drove back to HI and went for a walk to work off our dinner. We ended up at Champions Sports bar in the Marriott watching game 7 of the NBA finals. The place was packed. We sat down and had a couple of drinks to watch the game. We got hungry smelling the food. I ordered a Philly cheesteak and my wife ordered sliders. We thought the food was average. Finished watching the game and called it a night.
Today we wanted to explore Eagle Beach. We had never been to it. We drove to the Divi resort area and parked. Walked through a tennis court area and onto the beach. There was a lot of smelly seaweed. I told my wife we were in the wrong place. No way this is Eagle Beach. We drove further down and turned into a lot near Chalet Suisse. This beach is huge. We enjoyed our walk. We ended up having breakfast at Water's Edge 12o. It was good. Walked back to the car and headed to Boca Catalina Beach. I remembered driving along on our last trip, with the kids, and randomly pulling off the road to take a dip. This was a great little beach. I wanted to make sure I returned on this trip. I brought my snorkel gear and swam around for a while. Great snorkeling area. The Jolly Pirates snorkeling cruise was there as well, so I'm guessing this is a great spot to go without paying for an excursion. I would definitely look at renting an apartment or house here in the future.
We were getting hungry and decided to try Zeerovers today. Long ride. It took about 45 minutes to get there .We walk up and are told they are closed on Mondays. Damn! We decide to head back to HI and relax. As we're driving I see a sign for West Deck and remember reading something positive about this place. We pull in to have lunch. The place was dead. Just us and another table. I like going on vacations during low season. I had the grouper which was great. My wife had crab legs that were good too. A couple entrees and some mud slides set us back about $105. Expensive lunch. Oh well, we continue on back to the HI where more mud slides and jack and cokes were consumed. We laid around on the beach waiting for the sunset, but it was too cloudy. Headed back to the room, freshened up and headed to dinner. We didn't have reservations for anything. We were walking around in Palm Beach Plaza and stumbled into Scala. Had a table overlooking the strip. Food was ok. Finished up and walked around grabbing cocktails from different bars as we walked. My wife did some shopping as we walked. Ended up at Gelatissimo. This place is great. Great gelato and atmosphere. Time for bed.
Today was Palm Beach roaming day. We had driven 100 miles in a couple days and were going to relax, except for one more thing. We were going to eat at Zeerovers no matter what! I got to the beach around 9 a.m. and pulled a couple chairs close to the water. We relaxed for a while then decided to walk to the Hyatt and grab a drink. I like the vibe and grounds here. Stayed here in 2000 for our honeymoon. Started to walk back to the HI and stopped the water sports counter in front of the Hyatt. We decided to take a ride on GreatBigMable. This is like a blow up king size bed they pull behind a speedboat. I paid the captain an extra $20 to not flip us over lol! My arms were numb from holding on so tight. It was bumpy and they take you out far. It is very cool to look back at the island and all the hotels as you're speeding around on the water. The guys that took us out were great and very thankful for the tip. Great experience. Walked back to HI and headed to Zeerovers.
This place is a locals favorite and gets busy. We got there around 1 p.m. and just made it before the line got deep. You order your fish at the window. They pull it out of ice buckets right in front of you, weigh it and send it to the kitchen for frying. We had shrimp. mahi mahi and the catch of the day ( I can't remember), with fries, their homemade tartar sauce, bread that looks and feels like a pancake and an onion vinegar topping. I have never had such fresh fish. It was excellent! Sitting on the pier, eating fresh fish in your swimsuit on vacation - nothing better. One drawback - you have to devein the shrimp yourself.
We decided to do some shopping downtown and parked in the lot across from Renaissance. We went to pay for parking. My wife and I are reading the instructions and there's a coin you need to make a payment. It didn't take credit cards. As we're standing there a couple people walked up and asked if we needed help. I told them we were visitors and couldn't figure this out and asked where could we get these coins. She put a coin in and asked me for my parking spot number and paid the fee for me. She introduced herself and the others. They were from the HI and the GM was with them. I said "I'm staying with you! What a coincidence!". What great folks. They even thanked me for staying with them. We said our goodbyes and placed the receipt under the windshield wiper and hoped it didn't get blown away while we shopped. We had a jeep and put the top up once during our 4 day stay, so the dashboard was not an option.
We walked into the Renaissance. I sort of like it. It's like management went to Vegas and tried replicating it here. There's only one Vegas, but it was cute. We walked around the shops and bought shirts and souvenirs. We also walked around the shops where the trolley runs on Main Street and took the trolley back to the Renaissance once we reached the end. These are not souvenir shops per se. They are stores with clothes, shoes and the like. We stopped in at the Pastechi House. We had some tasty dough filled snacks. Back to the car. Luckily the ticket was still under the windshield wiper. We headed back to HI to relax.
Dinner was at Salt and Pepper tonight. I had a pleasant experience last time and wanted to return. The tapas are great here. We also ordered Dutch apple pie for dessert. It was tasty except for the tiny pebble my wife bit into that almost chipped her tooth. They had already run my credit card through so they offered a free dessert. I declined and we went on our way. Mistakes happen. I just wanted to make sure they check the rest of the pie so no one else gets a pebble.
We headed back to HI. My wife went to bed and I went to the casino. I played video poker until 2:30 or 3:00. They close the casino around that time. Won a couple bucks, but nothing big. Bedtime.
I hate leaving when I'm on vacation, and especially from here. I woke up around 7 a.m. and went down for a nice long walk on the beach. We then had breakfast at Aromi d'Italia Cafe. Nice breakfast at a reasonable price. We finished up and went our separate ways for a while. My wife went shopping for gifts to bring back and wanted to try and hit it big on my video poker machine from the night before hoping to extend our trip! That didn't work out. Oh well. Headed back to the room to retrieve our luggage and headed to the car rental place to drop off the jeep. Roy drove us to the airport and we flew through customs. Leaving on a Wednesday seems the way to go if you want to avoid long lines.
This was our 3rd trip to Aruba. I still feel there is so much more to see and explore. The island is definitely changing. There is quite a bit of infrastructure construction happening. This island may not be the quaint place we know it to be today in 10 years. We'll see. In the meantime, get there and enjoy!
here on this forum there are good reviews of the HI.
I think many folks expect since it is in aruba it should be like the hyatt or the bucuti.....but it is a nice resort, it is clean and on a great section of beach in the heart of the ever popular hi rise area. i have always like the HI as have many folks on this forum.
the quaint quiet slow paced aruba that many of us fell in love with many years ago has transformed into something much more busy, bigger, louder and to some, more exciting.
that does not suit with some, or even many.
however, imo it is still incredibly marvelous in its evolving/changes.
Enjoyed your trip report! The landscape of Aruba has changed over the years with all the construction etc. the one thing that remains the same though are the people. It is such a welcoming island. Thanks for sharing your vacation!
Welcome and thanks for sharing your trip experience. I also agree that the HI is in a great spot and has terrific value and should not be overlooked. I stayed there for a on a previous trip and enjoyed myself very much. Zeerovers gets great reviews by those that go, we have never stopped, glad you enjoyed it. I agree it has changed alot over the years but I honestly dont think I have ever enjoyed going to Aruba more than I do currently, its just different. Different is not always bad IMO. We started going 20 years ago. Thanks again.
Last edited by Aruba4ever; 07-07-2016 at 10:50 PM.