Just got back from my first trip to Aruba and have a wonderful tan to show off at work and so many memories to share. This board was extremely valuable in planning our trip. We did practically everything we wanted to do on the island (wanted to pack in maximum fun) but still found time to relax and enjoy our vacation. I'll try to post as much as I can now about all our adventures:
We got to Aruba around 1:30. No problems with baggage, stepped outside and was so excited to finally be in a warm climate. Felt the breeze immediately and admired the famous divi trees I'd been reading all about. We checked into the Aruban Resort and Casino at Eagle Beach and found it to be very enjoyable. We were only staying there for one night and it was the cheapest accomodation my boyfriend could find so I was a little worried about the place, but we LOVED the pool. Fabulous water slide and a bar you can swim right up to. Actually, there are two pools, the other one ("the adult one" so we were told but there were kids there of course) has a pretty cool waterfall. Our room was spacious - separate kitchen/living room and huge tub in the bathroom. Every room has a little patio outside of it - ours right near the waterslide pool which we spent most of the first afternoon/the next morning at.
Walked across the street the "casino" and had a nice dinner. Too tired to do much else. Food was suprisingly good despite the looks of the place. Boyfriend wanted to gamble so we did that for a while in the small casino in the back of the restaurant. I've never been in the part of the casino where the card tables are so I was impressed by the seriousness of the whole experience but we met some nice people and won a little $.
Got back to the hotel and found a lonely waitress at the poolside bar so we sat there and chatted her up for some time, sipping fruity drinks until late in the night, so happy to be on vacation.
Woke up early, eager to go down the waterslide again. It's been 15 years or so since I've been down a waterslide but this one was fun. Swam around in the pool until it was time to check out (noon).
Drove to the Aruba Beach Club even though we knew check-in time wasn't until 4. Our room was ready - yay! The room was really nice (we had a one bedroom). We were on the third floor in the middle with a beautiful ocean view from our deck. Everything was clean, spacious, and well decorated. Two t.v.s that never got watched of course and our wifi connection was quick and easy to set up.
Ran down to the beach - beautiful white sand, big (but not scary) waves.
Went down to the poolside bar at Happy Hour and had more fruity drinks before heading out to the Kukoo Kunuku at 6:30 p.m. I had been looking forward to this for a while since I heard from a friend about the fun, rowdy time they had. It didn't dissapoint. One of my favorite things we did on the island. I'm not sure it's for everyone but we're in our late 20's and we love to party. They gave us maracas and we sang and drove up to California Lighthouse for a champagne toast at sunset. The driver drives real fast so hold onto your seat (or your date!). Dinner was so/so but it was a nice icebreaker to meet the other people on the bus. Went to three bars though I only seem to remember two. It was that kind of a night. Met fun people, danced on a bar, etc.
The perils of 6 hours of drinking hit. Had to convince ourself that we should get out of bed and not skip our 11 a.m. brunch reservation at Le Dome and I'm so glad we did. Probably one of the best meals I ever had! I'm still dreaming of the food - I had duck, ostrich, and two desserts! It's a la carte and you can order anything from the menu you want as many times as you want. Portions are small and we definitely indulged ourselves.
Sunday was our food day because that night we had dinner at the Aqua Grill as well. Food was great. Ambience a little lacking. The restaurant was so nice when we got in that we probably should have stayed inside but we saw most people sitting on the outside deck and decided to go out there. It was nice being outside of course, but the deck is pretty much on the street and it was noisy. The food, however, was amazing. I got the snapper I believe.
Today was our Jeep Adventure Day. My boyfriend convinced me we had to rent a jeep to go out to the Natural Bridge and the Natural Pool. So I packed up some snacks and off we went. We took the long way (I learned later) to the Natural Bridge, it took about an hour and a half through a bumpy but very scenic ride. Stopped at the ruins and a couple other picturesque spots. Then I see a nice little paved road and regular cars going to the Natural Bridge. He lied. There is a regular road that goes there. Oh well, that part was still fun. Saw the remains of the bridge as well as the smaller one. Had an empanada in the little bar there, yummy. Saw the ATV tours - that looked like fun, maybe next time.
The next leg of the journey was to drive to the Natural Pool. That you definitely need a Jeep for and it's not for the feint of heart. There are tour operators that can take you, but of course, my boyfriend felt he was too good for that. Yikes. It was SO scary. We drove through such rocky terrain. You couldn't even call it a road. Maybe a path. My knuckles were white. The pool was worth it though and since we weren't on a tour we were under no pressure to leave at any time. Excellent for snorkeling. Jumped off a cliff. Fun.
Boyfriend went scuba diving today with Clive of Dive Aruba (partially based on threads on this forum). I don't know much about scuba but he was grateful for the reccomendation and said they had a great time. I think he said they did the Antilla wreck that day.
I used my solo time to relax at the Aruba Beach Club. I got up around 8:30 to get a palapa. Found one with no problem, laid down some stuff and went back up to sleep (yes I'm one of those people!). Spent a nice day reading on the beach with hourly swim breaks.
Went out to the pier to go on the Tattoo party cruise only to find out it had been cancelled. Sad but they helped us get booked on the Depalm sunset cruise instead. Lovely sail around the island. Open bar, lots of fun. While we waited we sat at the bar on the pier - fun place, would have liked to spend the day on Eagle Beach while I was there because the people watching was excellent. Might be a little crowded for some but I like to see all the banana boats go out, etc.
Boyfriend went scuba diving again and I enjoyed the beach. Had a few drinks at the poolside bar and then headed out on the town.
Went to the Pirate's Nest next door to ABC at the Bucuti Beach Resort. My first impression walking over there was "wow this is a nice resort." I had seen the pirate ship from the cruise we had taken the night before and I thought it would be a more casual place. Luckily we were a little dressed up because it was NICE. Very romantic dinner right on the edge of the beach. There were a few private tables set up with torches and their own little tents that they offered to us but we opted for the slightly less expensive option and it was just as romantic IMO. Food was amazing - think I had the snapper.
After dinner, we headed out to Oranjestad in a taxi and told him to take us to a fun bar. Ended up at Senor Frogs and had a blast. Sat on swings at the bar and indulged in yard glasses, was ushered up on stage to do a tequilla shot. Watched people go down the water slide (yes a water slide that takes you outside the bar). Then headed to one of the casinos - not sure which one, which was much bigger than the first one we went to. Stumbled into a local bar where they were having kareoke night. Loved the party atmosphere in town.
Drove out to San Nichols for lunch at Charlie's Bar on the way to Baby Beach. My boyfriend's family has been going there since he was a kid and I couldn't wait to see it. It was very unique - so many antiques and knick knacks on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. Lunch was good if a little overpriced. I loved walking around San Nichols later - it feels like a different world compared to the resort areas. Halfway to San Nichols we realized we were close to the Flying Fishbone were we having dinner so we decided to forgo driving back and forth and just buy some better clothes in a couple of the shops there. Found a nice place for him that reminded me of The Gap where we purchased affordable shorts and a polo and then went to a little boutique where I got a nice dress.
Baby Beach was really beautiful even though we only stayed a short time. If we were there longer I would have rented one of those little beach umbrellas as the sun was very hot. Managed to park in a shaded area and camped out around there. It was crowded at the beach so we had to take turns swimming or risk leaving our stuff unprotected.
Ended up going to Rodgers Beach right next door after a while and it was a whole different experience. A couple of free huts and some shade plus an almost empty beach made for a fun quick swim. I'd spend a day here next time. Sure you have a view of the refinery but it was like having a beach all to ourselves. Showered there and got ready for dinner.
On the way out, we stopped by JADS Dive Shop in the parking lot of Baby Beach where my boyfriend ended up speaking to J.P. the owner there and bought some used scuba equipment for a nice discount. He had a really good time talking to him about scuba and hopes he can do a trip with him next time we're there.
Finally, we had dinner at Flying Fishbone at sunset and it was so amazing. Sat right out on the sand in front of the most amazing view. Had one of the fish specials, wahoo I think and it was great. Took some awesome pictures I'm sure we'll treasure forever. Definitely would reccomend it to anyone going to Aruba.
Checked out of ABC and flew to Curacao for leg two of our carribean adventure. All in all, a wonderful trip.
I'll try to post a link to pictures when I get them up.
Thanks to all for providing insight into planning and if anyone wants to know more please let me know!
Last edited by Albany2Aruba; 04-09-2008 at 10:32 AM.
I just edited my earlier post because I totally forgot about one of our restaurants - man we ate good!
Also thoughs on Curacao - wow, what a completely different experience. Can't hold a candle to Aruba's beaches but found the culture there very interesting. We stayed at the Curacao Hilton and it had amazing pools with invisible edges looking right over the ocean. Unlike Aruba, Curacao is very hilly with a few small mountains so the landscape is much different. Most people staying at the Hilton and that we met in Curacao were Dutch. Dutch is spoken primarily but the wait staff and others also speak fluent English. Some of the tourists we met enjoyed speaking English to us.
Unlike my planning for Aruba (where I planned several activities a day) we didn't have much planned at all except for my boyfriend's scuba dive. When we got there we and drove around and saw things we immediately wished we had another day or two. Willemstad, the major city, is so cool with the brightly colored buildings. Unfortunately we didn't make it out to any of the museums that our guide book advised we a "must see" so I can't offer any insight on them. BUT seeing the floating bridge (it is a pedestrian bridge and has to move any time a boat comes through by floating to the side) was really neat and we went to a flea market and bought some pretty cool souveniers.
On our last day we had planned to take a boat trip that ended up getting cancelled but Guest Services convinced us to try a day trip to Klein Curacao, an uninhabited island about two hours by boat from the mainland. It was really amazing! I also called it Sun Burn Island because there's no shade only little huts set up but we got to explore the island and see some cool shipwrecks. We also enjoyed meeting some excellent snorkeling and fun with Dutch tourists.
Scuba diving in Curacao was apparently pretty great. Unfortunately the Hilton had told us my boyfriend was booked on a trip for our second day there (the only day he could scuba because we had to fly) and then was only able to offer him a one tank dive. Dissapointed we walked right next door to the Dive Shop at the Hyatt and they hooked him up with a dive. My guide book had informed me that the Hilton had "the best equipped dive shop" in Curacao but we found that not to be the case at all.
Another tip for anyone wanting to add a side journey - Do not fly on DAE!!! Without telling us, they cancelled our 9:30 a.m. flight back to Aruba and instead put us on the 7:30. We show up at 8 and there is no flight. Further than that, they at first, seemed to have no record of us in their system. It wasn't until we fished the confirmation email out of my carryon that they were able to tell us what had gone on (and this all involved trips back and forth from the baggage place where I was watching our stuff to the other building where the reservation desk is.) My poor boyfriend was sweating up a storm! They had no flight to Aruba until the next day and weren't even able to tell us which other airline did. We walked over the baggage desk of KLM airlines and they put us on a 12:30 flight which luckily took off 15 minutes early so we JUST made our connection in Aruba - yikes!.