Divi Village, Druif Beach, Bunker Bar, Pelican Bar
Ken's long trip report
Ken’s long trip report 1/28/16-2/7/16
We’re relatively new to this forum but are long-time Aruba lovers. This year was my 7th trip to Aruba, and my wife Michelle’s 20th or so (she’s lost count). This year we spent 10 nights at the Divi Village timeshare, 3 nights on the 1st floor of building B (where the old reception desk used to be), and 7 nights on the 2nd floor of building C (main building behind Sea Breeze, our regular room for week 5).
In general, our usual day at Divi Village goes something like this: Around 7 am, turn on the coffee maker, and one of us goes down to claim a palapa with beach towels on either the Tamarjin side or Divi side of Druif beach. Go back to the room, have coffee and breakfast on the wonderfully windy balcony. Lather up the sunscreen and head down to the palapa to read, watch the ocean, and cheer on the pelicans. Around 11 am we head back to the room for lunch (usually sandwiches and cut pineapple from Ling and Sons groceries). After lunch, head back down to the beach for a little more reading-on-the-beach time. Around 1 or 2 pm we hit the Bunker Bar for Balashis (if we have a Tamarjin palapa) ot the Pelican Bar for Mai Tais or other cocktails (if we have a Divi palapa). After drinks (sometimes before, sometimes both), we hop in the ocean to play in the waves, before drying off under the palapa and reading some more. Around 4 pm we head back up to the room to clean up for dinner, sometimes stopping by the pool and hot tub by buildings D/E/F. Around 6 pm we head out to dinner, before closing up the evening with either reading or watching DVDs up in the room.
Throw in an excursion or two, a couple of morning walks along Druif, some craps and blackjack at one of the casinos, building some Star Trek sandcastles on Druif, one trip downtown to shop, and that’s our version of paradise.
Upon arrival, the new Immigration E-Gates have a lot of potential, in my opinion. Our particular line was “stuck” for some time due to user error, and I admit, I was frustrated because the Aruba airport folks didn’t seem to be particularly motivated to help fix the problem. However, over time as more travelers get used to the E-Gates, it should be much better and faster. The only downside is that the automated process means you won’t get a “stamp” in your passport.
Upon departure, the new customs kiosks seem to be good. Two thumbs up.
No TSA Pre-Check at Aruba (yet).
The new all-inclusive building is beautiful. Since they did not add any more palapas, however, we can’t but think that over time, the palapas on that side of Druif will become harder and harder to get. Pure Lime, the new Mexican place, is where Coco Grill used to be on the left hand side of the Divi All Inclusive lobby. Coco Grill has moved to the right hand side. They’ve removed one of the parrot cages to accommodate the changes.
In the Divi All Inclusive and Tamarjin lobbies, they have removed the ping pong tables, which I gotta tell you is a damned shame. There’s nothing more fun than downing a few Mai Tais at the Pelican Bar and then trying to play ping pong in Aruba tradewinds!!
There are fewer iguanas both on the all inclusive side as well as the Divi Village side, especially the big iguanas. Some of the locals tell us that the tourists were feeding the iguanas too much and that they (the iguanas, not the tourists) were getting over-friendly (i.e. falling into guest’s laps and freaking them out). We’re not sure if this is a true story or not! There were several friendly young cats around the Divi – we’re rooting for spay and neuter campaigns as these kitties seemed to need it!
The wind this trip was a little less than usual. Not sure if this was a contributing factor, but it may have contributed to mosquitoes sneaking under the door on the 1st floor of Building B. We were happy to go to the 2nd floor of building C, where this wasn’t an issue.
I’m not going to sugar coat it for you guys, there is currently some erosion on Druif Beach. The half-moon circle of beach between Tamarjin and Divi All Inclusive is much smaller in width, probably in places 30-40 feet shorter than I have seen it in years past. The Pelican pier in front of the rock-climbing wall is currently all water from the rocks to the pelicans. In years past, there has been a significant stretch of sand, which is no longer there. The wooden walkway next to the Tamarjin, now has a 12-18 inch dropoff from the walkway to the sand, so there has been an erosion of sand in height as well as width. We noticed some erosion up around the corner where Casa Del Mar is as well, so it’s not just the Tamarjin/Divi areas.
We asked many locals about the beach status, and it may be due to some recent storms producing 5-6 foot waves (in fact we witnessed some of these waves ourselves!) eroding the beach. While not an official answer, most of the locals we talked to thought that Nature would over time restore what she had taken away. We hope so. Regardless, Druif Beach remains our favorite, even over Palm and Eagle, due to being less crowded. It’s one of our favorite places in the world.
The one place we wanted to get into and couldn’t was Terrazza Italiana. Popular, we’ll make reservations from the mainland in advance next time.
Mulligans: We eat at Mulligan’s at least 3 times every trip down here. It’s right next to Divi Village, good casual food, efficient staff and they remember us, good pricing. Great view of the golf course (and therefore wildlife) and nice place to see the sunset.
Chalet Suisse: Very consistent, another of our favorites. Traditional décor, older clientele, good service, consistent and good food. Ironically, Michelle’s stroganoff was bland this time, but we will return.
Ricardo’s: Second visit here. Awesome place to watch the sunset. Good food, good service (a tad leisurely). Recommend.
Matthew’s: This was our first time to Matthew’s. Food prepared well and a nice location on the beach. Unfortunately service somewhat inattentive – we would have ordered a second glass of wine had it been offered to us. Also, the bottle wine prices were somewhat ridiculous - $65 for Kendall Jackson Chardonnay? I know everything has to be flown in, but even by Aruba standards this is highway robbery (which is why we opted for glasses of the house chardonnay).
Gostoso: First time here, recommend. The chef/owner Jose came out to tell us the specials at our table, charming. Ken had grouper corn chowder and goat stew. Michelle had beef vegetable soup and filet. The homemade hot sauce is totally awesome. Made from Madame Jeanette’s peppers – from the flavor profile I assumed it was made from habaneros but it turns out it is its own pepper (a.k.a. suriname yellow). Very fruity and tropical in flavor, and Gostoso makes sure to damp down the heat index. Delicious!
Wacky Wahoo: First time here, heartily recommend. Super fresh fish. A tad pricey but very worth it for the quality of the food. Michelle hates fish, and she said my grilled wahoo dish with smoked crabcake, plantains, and rice was delicious. We’ll be back for sure. Make reservations early – this place is small and very popular.
Taste of Flavors: This is in the Alhambra mall. Good service and fair prices. Ken’s burger and fries was good, but Michelle’s chicken parmesan was bland. Not bad, but we’ll try ToF again.
Fusion: Also in the Alhambra mall. We hemmed and hawed about eating here as there were several times we walked by and there was no one eating here, but decided to pull the trigger. Décor somewhat dark, but food very good, tapas menu especially fairly priced. Recommend.
abc-aruba natural pool safari: overall thumbs up for this tour. The Natural Pool itself was a disappointment as it was small and overcrowded with tourists (duh). Great scenery on the NE side of the island which we had never seen, and the best part quite honestly was driving through the neighborhoods and seeing the houses and stores of the locals. Our guide was friendly and entertaining. The ride was somewhat more rocky that we had anticipated (driving over big boulders).
Tranquilo sailing tours, south side lunch cruise: thumbs up, good snorkeling (for Aruba) at Spanish lagoon on SE side. Visibility very good, large schools of blue tang. Buster the dog is charming. Views of construction of south cargo center, Balashi factory, desalination plant, less so.
Enjoyed your report. Druif Beach is my favorite. We've stayed at the Divi many times. Last trip, (Nov/Dec) there was no drop off and the water was calm until the end of our stay. The last few days the waves were huge and the water was just about up to the Pelican Beach bar. We also saw a number of cats each evening. Maybe that's why there were fewer iguanas.
Loved your trip report! Particularly reading about the big iguanas who fell into tourist's lab! LOL I could image that someone freaks a bit out if they have never seen them close up and personal.
Thanks for supporting the spay/neuter champagne for dogs and cats.
It was also interesting to read your detailed observations about the beach erosion. Just recently, I saw an article in one of the local Aruban online newspapers that the government is planing to install some kind of "sand banks" in an effort to keep the sand on the beaches and that the strong waves could not wash them back into the ocean.
Divi Village, Druif Beach, Bunker Bar, Pelican Bar
So just to be clear, from what you saw in Nov/Dec Druif showed no erosion?
The cats we saw this trip were barely juveniles. In fact the really big iguanas that use to sun themselves on the rocks at Divi Village, I can't see how even the toughest and oldest cat could really pose a challenge to them!
Ken, at the beginning of the week, the beach was quite wide. At the end of the week there was over a foot drop. We go to the Divi in May and then again at the end of November. One year the beach seemed as it would all but disappear, six months later it's back to normal. Usually we can walk the beach over to Matthews. This last trip,we couldn't. It all depends in Mother Nature I guess. It's the same with the iguanas. We've been there when they have to chase them out of the Pelican buffet restaurant. Last trip we saw a few small ones. I suspect they round them up and move them elsewhere.