Great story! My girlfriend has talked about wanting to try metal detecting for a while now and wanted to try it down there even. Then a couple of weeks ago I saw the thread asking about it, and she was even more excited. If I show her this story, then I'll have to get her a detecter for sure.
He's a dealer on the west coast for Whites detectors (and others I think) and can (and will) happily advise you on the best detector for the beaches. I suspect he'll tell you to get a Whites DFX. You can also get decent used machines, and yes, they do come apart and will fit in a suitcase. Not sure about carry on though, you'd probably get stick from the securiity folks.
I know that when (some day) I manage to get to Aruba, I will be bringing my machine. In the meantime, I have to settle for the finds I get here in the UK.
Hope to meet you all (eventually) on the beach there.
The metal detector easily disassembled into parts that were about 18 inches long. We had to remove the batteries for the U.S Customs inspection before entering the plane. I guess that is the standard operating procedure for terrorist bomb protection. The detector is almost child- proof to operate; it beeps a tone to your headphones and you brush the sand away to look see. My husband found a lot of coins between the beach bar and the cabanna-umbrella tables. I have put in a order with him; a diamond tennis bracelet would be nice......haha.