Aruba Beach
Page 3 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast
Results 21 to 30 of 38
Like Tree25Likes

Thread: Marcio and Cristina's honeymoon in Aruba - May 10th to 19th

  1. #21
    Aruba since 1979
    Moderator
    Andrea J.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    29,925
    I am in awe of you and cristina.
    you went to MASS on your honeymoon.
    your parents did a good job!

    i do have to say i am proud of you.
    amazing, with your very busy schedule you still found time for Mass.

    and i am ashamed of myself 'nuf said.

  2. #22
    Senior Member MarcioCampos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Mangel Halto for snorkeling, Palm and Arashi for beach time.
    Posts
    119
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post
    amazing, with your very busy schedule you still found time for Mass.


    Fortunately the aruba.com website has all the mass times so we could plan ahead.

    And our schedule wasn't thaaaaaat busy -- we had plenty of time to enjoy the beach and... the Radisson!

    Lonely Planet Caribbean Islands has just one sentence to describe the Radisson: "the pick of the litter". I had to Google the expression but, if the true meaning is the one I found, well, the guide is right. Cristina and I couldn't be more satisfied and are already recommending it to everyone we talk to about Aruba.

    I booked the hotel well in advance, back in August, so we got a very good deal, 45% off and lots of additional credits (spa, beverage, casino) . In the months before the travel, Raquel Lesire got lots of messages from me asking every kind of thing, and she answered everything promptly.

    When we arrived, we were given a room in the Bonaire tower. I can't confirm for sure, but looks like we were upgraded -- I had booked a "gardenview room" but from ours I could see the pool and a little bit of the ocean. As part of the One Cool Honeymoon package, we got a bottle of champagne and a pair of t-shirts . And I had requested the Romance package too (rose petals spread all over the room and... another bottle of champagne), which was prepared exactly as I had asked: not before our arrival, but while we were out having dinner . But it took some time for Cristina to realize that there was something different about the room!

    Our rate didn't include breakfast, so we requested an empty fridge, which we filled with supermarket items (and the champagne bottles, because it took the whole honeymoon for us to drink 1.5 liter).

    Staff was always friendly, funny and patient, but I would suggest that, besides the "don't disturb" signs, they could add a "free for cleaning" (or something like it) sign so we could signal to maids that we aren't supposed to be back in the next hour or so -- it happened once that we were returning from the beach (it was around noon, or 2 PM IIRC) and the maid was still cleaning our room, so we had to wait for 5 minutes or so. It didn't bother us at all, but I believe that resort maids can have a hell of a time figuring out whether guests are returning soon or not.

    We are not early birds but I guess we benefited from being in Aruba in May, where the island is less crowded according to what you've told me once. Every time we went to the beach around 10 AM, we found empty palapas -- and, once, front row ones ! So we didn't have to face the 4 PM towel hut lines... same with the pool, which we usually enjoyed in the afternoon: always some shade available.

    Something I have mixed feelings about are the birds in cages. Yes, they are stunningly beautiful, fun to watch and interact with (and I did enjoy having one of these on my shoulders), I have no doubt that they are very well trated by resort staff, but at the same time there was this inner voice saying they shouldn't be there, they should be in a forest or whatever their natural habitat is. But, as I said, mixed feelings. I can't support or condemn it wholeheartedly.

    As I told you, we got lots of credits -- but we are not heavy drinkers so most of our beverage credit was used to kill part of the hotel bill. But Cristina loved the strawberry frozen margaritas she had (and I had a raspberry one that was pretty good too, although, as a coffee/chocolate lover, I spent my credits with Brown Ladies). Other than that, just some Coca-Cola or fruit juice. Our spa credit went unused -- we just didn't find time for that.

    And then there's the casino, and you're about to get your daily dose of laughter .

    Well, when we read "$100 casino credits", we just thought we would get $100 in chips and start playing, right? Wrong! And, having never been in a casino before (they're illegal in Brazil), it took 45 minutes and asking 3 different people for us to understand the concept of "match play" (and we still have doubts about it, haha). The bad part is that we had 7 coupons (three $20 ones and four $10 ones) and were allowed to redeem only one coupon per evening (although I don't know how they control that), and we had left the casino for our last evening... in the end, I just bought $40 in chips and lost them all, mostly in blackjack (although I did win a few times), and not without doing some silly things in the roulette, like trying to bet only $1 in the "red" or "black" fields . Maybe I should have taken that last $1 chip with me (is it allowed?) as a souvenir instead of betting it in the 5 (we got married on May 5th).

    But I don't blame the hotel staff for our casino mistakes -- I didn't ask anything during check-in, so I suppose they thought I knew how to use the credits. But now I know better, so we'll be ready to bankrupt the hotel in our next Aruba trip .

    Cheers

    Marcio

    PS: Two things I didn't mention in my post about the snorkeling trips. Jolly Pirates included a very nice lunch with salad, ribs and chicken. And, when snorkeling with Stuart (Aruba Bob), there was a friend of his, Frank from California, with us. We did feel that he, too, was watching over the newbies, and this is something we really appreciated.

  3. #23
    Senior Member MarcioCampos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Mangel Halto for snorkeling, Palm and Arashi for beach time.
    Posts
    119

    Day trip to Curaçao

    Kent had asked about the day trip to Curaçao, so let me tell you how it was.

    Curaçao and Punta Cana were the two other options for our honeymoon. We ended choosing Aruba after reading an article on one of the best travel websites in Brazil; it was about how to choose the "right" Caribbean island, depending on your interests, travel companions, budget etc. We ruled out Curaçao after reading that it would be better to stay in Willemstad and rent a car to be able to go to the beaches. But I love history and culture, so, after choosing Aruba for our honeymoon, we decided to spend a day in Curaçao so we could go to the Dolphin Academy and I could visit Willemstad old town.

    We got a decent fare with Insel Air, and my only worry was guaranteeing we would fly the bigger MD-83 jets instead of the (Brazilian-made btw) much smaller Bandeirante airplanes.

    We arrived at Reina Beatrix around 6.15 AM for check-in, which IMHO was lacking organization. No airline employee there to tell us which line to enter, or if we could just use the self-service machines since we didn't have luggage. We had to discover everything by ourselves. There were two lines, one for check-in and another one for paying the departure fee (I wasn't expecting that, since the Insel Air fare already included "fees", but maybe I should have read more about it), almost US$ 35 per person.

    The flight itself was ok, right on time (takeoff 8.10 AM, landing 8.40 AM), immigration in Curaçao was quick, and we left the airport and took the taxi to the Dolphin Academy. Talking about taxis, it may happen that, when asked the price to go to a certain place, the driver answers just a number. Be sure to ask if the price is in dollars or guilders!

    Lonely Planet calls the Dolphin Academy "controversial", and I can understand why. If you read what I wrote about the birds in cages at the Radisson, well, the same thought applies. Anyway, we went there to meet the second most intelligent creatures on Earth, but before that we managed to see a nice show, but Cristina and I were unable to understand what the dolphins were trying to warn us of (kudos to anyone who catches the reference).

    We had booked the "Dolphin Encounter", in which groups of 6 people standing on an underwater platform (water at waist level) can meet a dolphin up close, touch him (ours was a male, Copan), kiss and get "kissed" by him while being photographed, and so on, while the trainer tells us a lot about dolphins and their behaviour. It takes a bit less than half an hour, and we did love it, it's something we may never have the chance of doing again and the dolphin is really cute and funny. The Academy has other programs that allow you more interaction with the animals, but these are way more expensive than the Encounter.

    The Curaçao Sea Aquarium, where the Academy is located, is a very nice and entertaining place, but it looks like it's under development. Almost all information signs about the fish displayed were missing. They have sea turtles, sharks, lobsters, lionfish (the only ones we saw during our trip, fortunately) and many other different and beautiful fish, besides a place where you can feed turtles, a pelican and flamingoes, who look like they're always fighting each other.

    After the Aquarium we went to downtown Willemstad, and the old city is really, really beautiful. Much more beautiful than Oranjestad, if you allow me to compare towns. We visited the synagogue with sand floor, the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Americas. There I discovered a lot about the "Brazilian connection" -- many of the first Jewish families that arrived in Curaçao had come from Brazil; they fled the country after the arrival of the Portuguese Inquisition, or after the Portuguese took back parts of Northeastern Brazil that had been invaded by the Dutch in the early 1600s. The synagogue also has a beautiful museum.

    After visiting it we walked along the Sint Annabaai promenade on Punda side, did some shopping (Cristina found Armani sunglasses for half the price charged in Aruba or Brazilian duty free shops), crossed the Queen Emma Bridge to Otrobanda (not without seeing it open -- I wanted to remain on the bridge while it was opening, but I was persuaded not to). Unfortunately I couldn't see the Kura Hulanda museum (said to be one of the best of the Caribbean), because we arrived there 5 minutes prior to its closing (at 5 PM). Without much else to do other than sit close to the channel and admire the skyline of Dutch colonial architecture, which we did for a while, we decided to take a bus to the airport, where once again we had to pay almost US$ 35/person of departure fee (at least they accept cards in Curação; in Aruba it was cash only), and the flight (scheduled for 7.30 PM) had a 30, 40 minute delay, apparently because of a passenger who had checked in but somehow failed to find the correct boarding gate.

    Did we like it? Definitely yes. The Dolphin Academy is very interesting, despite the controversy. And Willemstad is a very lovely, beautiful town that may deserve even an extra day of sightseeing. But at the same time the day trip showed us that we had made the right choice by going to Aruba, where beaches are easy to reach, even by public transportation, and the tourism infrastructure is way better. People who have spent more time in Curaçao say beaches there are very beautiful, and I don't doubt them, but at this time I wasn't willing to pay the price to get there. Maybe in the future.

    Anyway, if you are considering a day trip to Curaçao, just think of what you're planning to see and do, and check if the extra US$ 70 per person in departure fees are worth it. Cristina and I weren't happy to pay the fees (which we considered absurd given it was just island hopping) but were aware that we may not have a similar opportunity in the near future.

    Cheers

    Marcio

  4. #24
    Aruba since 1979
    Moderator
    Andrea J.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    29,925
    i am continuing loving reading your report.

    the dolphin encounter (in curacao and around the world) continually is questioned, criticized, and or praised. we have done to the one in the orlando area (discovery cove sea world)

    i am continually amazed at the high airport taxes/fees in aruba, curacao and other places throughout the caribbean. if the departure fee was already included did they explain why it had to be paid again?

  5. #25
    Senior Member MarcioCampos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Mangel Halto for snorkeling, Palm and Arashi for beach time.
    Posts
    119
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post
    the dolphin encounter (in curacao and around the world) continually is questioned, criticized, and or praised. we have done to the one in the orlando area (discovery cove sea world)
    I remember an earlier version of the Lonely Planet guide saying something like "no one knows what the dolphins think of this"... maybe it leads us to some philosophical debate about the nature of men and other species. I really don't know how cruel it is for a dolphin to be kept in a big lagoon, I mean, I don't know how much space a dolphin needs to feel comfortable. It's easier when you look at a bird in a cage and think "this bird has too little free space". But this is one of many criteria to evaluate attractions like the Dolphin Academy. Another one would be whether we somehow "violate" the nature of dolphins when training them. I don't have the answer to any of these questions.

    Something I forgot to say -- for people with very young kids (1, 2 y.o.), taking them to dolphin encounters may sound like a cute idea but sometimes it's not. We saw one or two kids who were scared and crying (dolphins may be cute, but they are huge animals too, and we never know how a kid will react in such situations).

    i am continually amazed at the high airport taxes/fees in aruba, curacao and other places throughout the caribbean. if the departure fee was already included did they explain why it had to be paid again?
    My guess is that the "fees" already included in the Insel Air fare are other kind of thing, maybe government taxes, I really don't know.

    But the departure fee was already included in our return tickets Aruba-Sao Paulo, so we didn't have to pay it when we came back to Brazil.

    Cheers

    Marcio

  6. #26
    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Any Aruba beach...
    Posts
    13,177
    I did not see this and responded at www.aruba.com/forum/f33/side-trip-curacao-54253/#post225738

    I will bring to this thread...
    The more I think about it, it is pretty difficult to get the real feel for Curaçao if you are only there for the day. It is a LARGE island when compared to Aruba.

    Curaçao
    Area 444 sq km
    Size: 38 miles (61 kilometers) long and 3-5 miles (5-14 kilometers) across
    Aruba
    Area 193 sq km
    Size: 19.6 miles (30 kilometers) long and 6 miles (9 kilometers) across

    In my mind, a day to explore Willemstad and an additional day to explore the island of Willemstad.
    Especially if you want to make the departure taxes worth your while. I understand why they charge them, but imo, why not just add it to the airfare.
    As to the dolphin issue, I can say that dh and I have dove with dolphins and though a memorable experience , given the chance to do over, not sure I would do it. Then again, we have all been to a zoo or an aquarium. Zoos and aquariums contribute to conservation, protection of endangered species, biology, and veterinary science.

  7. #27
    Senior Member MarcioCampos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Mangel Halto for snorkeling, Palm and Arashi for beach time.
    Posts
    119

    It's beach time!

    Oops, sorry for the intermission! The in-laws were visiting last weekend and brought the rest of our gifts (the wedding happened in Cristina's town, 230 km far from where we live now), and we spent the latest days opening and organizing lots of packages. Besides, I've been uploading pics to Facebook (some will be here too, just be patient ).

    Time to talk about the beaches

    Although we did book lots of activities, our schedule also had lots of free time that we used to spend between the beach and the Radisson swimming pools. Since pools can be found elsewhere and these amazing shades of green of the Caribbean Sea can't, our priority was the beach, and Palm was the easiest choice.

    I already mentioned that we didn't use to go to the beach very early in the morning (we would hit the sand around 10 AM), but every day we had no problem in finding empty palapas. On our first day in Aruba we even got a "first row" one! We noticed the Radisson staff watching over everything and felt safe in leaving our stuff in the palapa while both of us were in the water. The Vacation Vault couldn't be tied to the palapa, but I attached it to a chair. Anyway, Cristina didn't spend as much time in the water as I did: she would prefer sunbathing, while my motto is that warm weather is good only when you're surrounded by water.

    We loved Palm Beach, the color of the sea, the way things are organized to make sure people are kept away from the boats/jet skis (here in Brazil, from time to time, someone is hit by a jet ski that was too close to the shore), and how easy it was for us to order a drink without having to leave the sand . And it wasn't crowded at all, which is a plus for me.

    Arashi Beach was almost empty when we went there, on a Monday -- there were us, a few families, and a big lizard. We just took the bus from the Radisson and arrived in 15 minutes or so. Found an empty palapa (at 11 AM, and there are just a few of them!), rented one chair and I went to the water. But entering the sea in Arashi is way easier if you are wearing Crocs -- too many stones and small shells in the first meters; after that, it's all sand again. Because of that, we avoided entering/leaving the water too much, I would stay in the sea for long periods before getting back to the palapa.

    The funniest thing of Arashi (for me) is being among the seagulls and pelicans. Some of them would dive just a few meters away from us, looking for fish! But we noticed that maybe only three or four seagulls were actually diving; the others were waiting to see if the bird would catch something, and then chase the successful seagull until it swallowed or dropped the fish. Another difference between Arashi and Palm is that Arashi has lots of algae floating -- when we got back to the hotel, my clothes were full of them .

    We decided not to lunch at Arashi (to be honest, we didn't even know if there were lunch options close to the beach); instead, we chose to have Italian ice cream close to Paseo Herencia on that day I did like Arashi, it's a very beautiful place (even more beautiful than Palm), but there are other nice beaches in Aruba that we didn't visit, so in a second trip we would probably choose to spend a day in Eagle or Baby Beach instead of Arashi.

    All the best from Brazil

    Marcio

  8. #28
    Senior Member MarcioCampos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Mangel Halto for snorkeling, Palm and Arashi for beach time.
    Posts
    119

    Shopping list

    I guess I'm almost finishing my Aruba story. We've talked about the hotel, the beaches, Curaçao, windsurfing, landsailing and snorkeling, going to Mass, arriving in and departing from Aruba... time to tell about our shopping. You know, Brazilians love shopping when abroad because almost everything is cheaper than in Brazil -- high taxes on imported goods and the Brazilian habit or preferring margin to scale push prices up here. Two examples: when a friend went to the USA in 2009 she brought me my Sony H50 -- the Brazilian price was four times higher than the American one. In 2010 I bought a Playstation 3 in the USA, and paid 33% of the price you would find in Brazil.

    That said, we weren't looking for international brands in the Caribbean. I mean, I was (still am) looking for an unlocked iPhone but the Aruba iStore didn't reply to my e-mails asking for prices, so I didn't bother going there. Except for new Armani Exchange sunglasses for Cristina, which we found in Curaçao for half the price we had seen in Aruba, we went for local products and souvenirs for us and friends.

    I used to be a compulsive souvenir buyer. You know, I could return from a trip to Europe with enough dust-gatherers to fill two or three shelves. But since, hm, maybe the 2006 Winter Olympics I realized that I should be more selective. Less items, smaller things, carefully selected. Cristina did buy a new (and beautiful) hat, and bracelets, both at the hotel store and from vendors in Oranjestad or across the street from the Radisson. In the end, we returned home with

    * Aruba Aloe items: lots of them. First we bought two gels, the Burn Aid and the Alcoholada, to deal with our sunburns. Both worked miracles for us (true, we would return from red to white in two days!), so we got more of these -- by the way, the Burn Aid gel proved useful a few days ago when Cristina burnt a finger while washing dishes with hot water. Some friends of ours will also get lotions and gels as gifts. Really, really good stuff.

    * House decorating items: no dust gatherers -- at least not for our house Close to the Paseo Herencia, we found the stall of an artist called Maria Onni, who uses driftwood and paints some small pieces with Aruban motifs (beach, divi divi trees and so on). We got two of these and are deciding where to hang them now. Some friends will get small vases.

    * Delft pottery: not much of it. I brought three of these small Dutch milk ladies, one is staring at me right now at work, and two will go to friends. We also got a small candleholder (not a tall candlesticks, an almost flat one), also as a gift to friends.

    * Larimar jewellery: just earrings for mom.

    * Aruhiba cigars for a friend who loves cigars. But I didn't imagine how hard it would be to find them. The first four or five cigar shops we found, both downtown and in the high rise area, didn't have Aruhiba (some had only Cuban cigars). We found them in Moomba beach, after our Jolly Pirates tour. Of course, after we finally got the cigars, every cigar shop we bumped into in Aruba would have Aruhiba...

    * Other items: a t-shirt and Christmas decoration for Cristina's mother, a small after-beach dress for my niece (due in July), some stuff from Curaçao (I confess, a miniature house for me; t-shirts, caps and balls for my nephews etc.)

    So, now I congratulate myself for being a way more moderate souvenir buyer

    Cheers

    Marcio

  9. #29
    Senior Member MarcioCampos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Mangel Halto for snorkeling, Palm and Arashi for beach time.
    Posts
    119
    Oops, sorry again! This time, it's work that has kept me away from writing...

    Re-reading the thread, I realized that the only thing I hadn't commented yet is the Sunset Sail. We booked the sail for our third day in Aruba. It was the rainy Saturday, May 12th. Our snorkeling trip with Stuart had been postponed, then we spent the morning in Oranjestad, returned to the hotel after lunch and fortunately the weather was a bit better. Still cloudy but not raining anymore.

    We checked in at the De Palm pier and waited till we were allowed to board. It was a nice, romantic trip. Lots of couples, including some honeymooners like us. The bartender was very friendly, we talked a lot after he discovered we were Brazilians (I was wearing a Brazil soccer team polo but nowadays it doesn't guarantee anyone's nationality , so he asked us to make sure).

    The afternoon was a bit cloudy so we didn't have the perfectly clear sunset we had seen on the previous day at the torchlight dinner. But it made for very beautiful pictures due to the reflection of sunlight in the clouds, with turned the sky into a multicolored range from orange to purple.

    So, this is, in a nutshell, our first trip to Aruba. We still owe you the restaurant reviews, which will appear, sooner or later, at the proper thread.

    What would we do again?
    * Snorkeling with Stuart (or Kent), for sure. Maybe more than once. I'm not 100% sure about snorkeling trips like Jolly Pirates or De Palm. I know Cristina would like to do the rope swing thing (she didn't do it this time because her ears were aching a bit), so maybe we would give Jolly Pirates another try. But it's a maybe. Depending on the circumstances, we could even take a day trip to Bonaire for more snorkeling.
    * Windsurfing with Aruba Active Vacations. It was fun, cheap and the instructors were very nice and patient.
    * Stay at the Radisson. We loved the hotel and the way we were treated.
    * The romantic stuff. The Sunset Sail was beautiful.
    * I could spend a day at Arashi again, but I'm not that sure Cristina would agree.

    What wouldn't we do again?
    The Atlantis Submarine and landsailing, I guess. Not because we didn't enjoy the activities. We did like both. But at the same time we feel that once is enough. Besides, if we want to have time for new adventures, we can't just repeat the honeymoon schedule.

    What would we like to do for the first time in a second Aruba trip?
    * Going to Baby Beach
    * visiting Arikok National Park
    * seeing the Butterfly Farm
    * meeting forum members
    * maybe going to the Aruba Aloe factory
    I know there's more to do and see in Aruba, but these five are the first things that come to my mind.

    Many of you know I'm a journalist, so I'm usually the one who asks questions, but this time I would like you to ask anything you want to know about our experience so we can make it a more complete report.

    All the best from Brazil

    Marcio

  10. #30
    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Any Aruba beach...
    Posts
    13,177
    Was there a specific reason why you did not visit Arikok on this trip or just not enough time. Were you able to see the "other" wild coast at all?

Page 3 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO