This was our 3rd trip to Aruba and they just keep getting better. We stayed at the Marriott Surf Club for the first time. Itís a great property - beautiful grounds, exceptionally clean resort and beach - all around great place. Itís big though, we walked A LOT, which is not a bad thing unless you arenít in good shape and are 2 weeks out of spraining your ankle like I was, but Aruba is an amazing healer! Our biggest problem on this trip was forgetting to bring a watch - so if thatís the biggest problem - you know it was a good week! We are so used to using our cell phones for the time, we just didnít think about it. And yes we were on vacation, but you still need to know what time it is for reservations and any excursions. We thought about buying a watch, but since neither one of us normally wear one we decided just to be those annoying people who are always asking what time it is.
Saturday we arrived at the airport pretty early for our 8:30am direct flight. Airport process went smoothly. I found some United Club passes on eBay for a bargain so we tried it out and I was impressed and would do it again. The club includes comfortable seating, snacks, drinks, and even a complimentary bar selection. It was a nice and quiet way to relax while waiting for our flight. We stopped by duty free and picked up 2 bottles for the trip. We actually brought one back home though, but not for lack of drinking. Our flight was smooth and on time. We breezed through immigration and waited for what seemed like an eternity for our checked bag. (It really wasnít that long, just felt like it). Leaving the airport we didnít realize that we should have went out the door all the way to the left so we had a little confusion on getting in the taxi line but we found it right away. I think this is a change from our last trip, but it was a minor detail so who knows. Anyway, we hoped into our taxi and vacation had begun! We made our way to the Marriott Surf Club where we had rented a garden view studio from an owner we found on redweek.com. It was around 1-2pm at this point, so we left our bags with the bellman and walked toward Moomba Beach bar. We settled in with Amstel Brights for me and Bud Light for Jon. We wanted to try something different so we had the Dutch snack platter Ė it was tasty. After a little while there, we decided to head down to Pelicanís Nest Pier Bar. The bartender Jonathan was great all week. He has lots of great ideas and advice about the island and is one of the nicest people we have met. On Jonathanís recommendation we tried the Garyís Delight appetizer which is little grouper bite size pan fried pieces Ė so delicious! I think we had this 3 or 4 times during the week. We decided not to rush back to check in to our room, so we hung out for a while. Drinking will be a recurring theme for this trip Ė we had a blast! We headed back to Marriott Surf with quite a buzz, but first stopped by the Holiday Inn Casino Ė and well lets just say drinking and gambling arenít a good mix. I was playing 3 card poker, unsuccessfully. After taking a hit there, we wised up and got out of there. We got our room and dropped off our bags in time to hit the lazy river for a few spins. At this point it was getting late considering our 4am wake up, so we walked to Champions. Overall I wasnít impressed. I guess we just prefer outside dining. The bartender was kind of stand-offish. We ate pretty quickly then headed back to our room Ė which we couldnít find! Marriott Surf Club is huge and it was dark and we had been drinking. We have been laughing about this ever since. We ended up having to ask a staff member to direct us to our building.
Sunday. We started off getting in the palapa line around 6am and ended up getting the last from row palapa. I wake up early anyway, and would rather wait in the line and relax outside than lay around in the room. I like the options at the Surf Club for reserving palapas Ė they have a system that allows you to choose if you want to wait in line in the morning, or the afternoon, or if you want to pay for 2 days at a time. It seems fair and gives plenty of options. Iím a morning person so that works for me. We had breakfast at the Captains galley restaurant Ė over priced and just so-so, but convenient nonetheless. After returning to the room to load up on sunblock, we headed out to the beach for the day. Jon did some wakeboarding with one of the beach vendors, we got some good video of Palm beach. Later that night we had reservations at Barefoot for dinner. (I will write a restaurant review that category at some point)
Monday. We went fishing with Hatts Off Charters from the Renaissance marina. The captain Glen and his mate Marvin were professional and friendly. I would recommend Hatts Off. We did a 6 hour trip and they tried everything to find us fish. We caught 2 very small tuna and a mahi that was big enough for our lunch. We had a yellow fin tuna take a bite, but didnít catch on. We also so I white marlin jump but never took a bite. Jon enjoyed watching the flying fish, I never managed to see them, but I didnít have my glasses so maybe thatís why. After the trip, Marvin cleaned our mahi, and Captain Glen walked our catch over for us to Hopi Bon where they cooked it up two different ways for us. The rest of the day consisted of a nap by the pool. We headed back over to Pelicanís Nest for happy hour, where we joined a couple of Boston guys in jumping off the pier. Good times, and flowing drinks! Dinner consisted of Garyís delight appetizers and many drinks. Pelicanís Nest Bar closes at 8 to keep the bar crowd from disturbing the dinner guests on the restaurant side. We hung out for a while talking to Jonathan and the owner who had come in. My Jon was talking with them about fishing and diving so he was in heaven. On our way back we stopped at Moomba and met someone from our hometown which was fun. We ordered chicken wings to go and enjoyed them on the loungers by the pool.
Tuesday was Jolly Pirates day for us. This is our 3rd trip. It was a little different this time. We had an older, mellower crowd than we have in the past. It was a lot of couples and one group that was there with an insurance company trip. One mom brought her son and daughter who appeared to be about 10 and 12. In the past I have questioned bringing kids on JP and I still think if the crowd is rowdy you have to watch out. But in this case, Javier was so great with the young son! The guys gave him extra attention and just made it more fun for him. I was impressed. This trip was on Queenís Day so the guys were working on a major holiday, especially considering the Queen was abdicating and the King was taking the thrown this year. For this reason, I will give them a pass on the music they chose for our trip. On our past trips they played the pop and dance hits that are popular in the states which get people up and dancing. This time it was more Caribbean music that the crew definitely enjoyed. On the sail back no one was really dancing. The crew was great, but the crowd was more in relaxation mode than party mode. We did the usual, jumped from the bow of the ship, better snorkeling than I can remember, and the rope swing for Jon. After our sail, we headed back to the room to get freshened up. We decided to take a taxi to the Radisson Casino. From the Surf Club in the hottest part of the day, this is quite a hike, so even thought it was a quick taxi ride, it was worth it to me. We had a little luck on slots at the Radisson and the Hyatt, nothing major, just pretty much breaking even from our first night losses. Next we had a drink at Senor Frogs, and then on to Papiamento for dinner - LOVED it! From dinner we went to Bugaloe on the pier and enjoyed some live music. This was a great day!
Wednesday Ė We wanted to the Sea Trek on DePalm Island so we decided what the heck, letís book the full day and make it another beach day. The Sea Trek was awesome! There are so many fish swimming right up to you and breathing underwater for my first time was fun. There is plenty of shade and the island wasnít too crowded so there was no problem finding a place for our stuff. We snorkeled some and saw lots of colorful fish. I didnít really care for DePalm Island. It reminds me of our Carnival Cruise being herded around and with the buffet lines. The good wasnít bad, but nothing special. One thing about doing the Sea Trek, you canít have any alcohol beforehand. We were in the first group so we were done by 12:30. We tried a couple frozen drinks, which were pretty good. After a little more snorkeling we decided we had had enough of the island and done all that we wanted to do. Instead of waiting for the bus and making all of the hotel stops, we asked the ferry boat driver to get us a taxi and we headed back to the Surf around 3pm. It was a $35 taxi ride, but to us it was worth it just to get back on our own time and take a nap. Unfortunately every time we tried to take an afternoon nap, we would get a phone call from the Marriott Vacation Club pushers. I understand they are just doing their job but I did have to ask that they not call in the afternoon because we like to nap. Wednesday evening started with delicious watermelon mojitos at Moomba, then on to dinner at one of our favorites - Iguana Cantina. We stopped by Holiday Inn Casino on our way home and made a donation L. Since we do early dinners, we had the lazy river to ourselves again this night. It was great. We made this an early night. I think we packed a little much into the first few days of this trip.
Thursday - I was up early and reserved our palapa in the front row. It was time to relax and enjoy the beach. We started the morning with walk. It was pretty hot. It felt like the breezes werenít really kicking in the mornings so the walks were hot. We finally made it down to see Scott and Leslie at Scottís Brats. They are great people and their breakfast burritos are the best breakfast deal on the island. The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the water and on the beachÖ.and drinking and drinking and drinking. We had a hard time finding bud lights at the convenience stores close by so we bought a few from the bar then switched to coors light from the Marketplace store at the Surf Club. Drinking American beer in Aruba can get expensive. We hear itís cheaper at the grocery stores, but by the time you add in the taxi ride, we just pay a little more at the resort and live with it. We never left the beach Thursday; we had hot dogs for lunch from the little Nathanís stand at the Surf Club near the adultsí only pool. I would have preferred Scottís Brats, but just didnít feel like walking down there in the hot afternoon sun. It was a beer drinking, lazy beach day for us and it was probably my favorite day of the entire trip. We ordered food from the server on the beach for dinner and didnít leave our palapa till after the most amazing sunset I have ever seen in my life. Words just canít do it justice.
Friday - Up early again and ended up with a 2nd row palapa. Friday was a little overcast, but the sun would still peek out here and there. It was our last day and we just wanted to soak it all in. Another morning walk to visit Scott and Leslie and enjoy the company, while we ate our breakfast burritos and Gatorade to get ready for a day on the beach. Lunch was an order of calamari from the beach servers. After finishing off one of our duty free bottles we decided to walk to freshen up and enjoy Palm Beach one last night. We headed over to Pelican Pier happy hour and caught Jonathan the bartender on his way out for the day but Iím glad we got to say goodbye. We enjoyed some Mango daiquiris and our last order of Garyís Delight grouper. After happy hour we went to the Hyatt where we had some luck at roulette playing our anniversary (4). After the Hyatt we headed over to the Holiday Inn and gave a little back. When we were ready to leave, Jon decided to place a large bet on black, something he likes to do occasionally when we are up or even. I canít watch so I usually walk away - I was in the hallway outside of the casino when I can see the expression on his face - we won! I think for the week we ended up about even in the casinos, or maybe up $100 at the most, either way we came home with cash without going to the atm so I can that a win. He cashed in and we headed over to Moomba with a smile. They had live music, I think the group was called Equator. They were a lot of fun played covers of music you would know if you heard it. Another great week came to a close.
Saturday we were hungry early, so we set out to find something open at 7, we ended up at the little restaurant in from of Playa Linda, Aromi díItalia Cafť. We walked through Playa Linda and did one last walk along the beach. We went back and spent a little time on our balcony then started the packing process. I would have liked to hop in the pool or stop by the beach but we didnít have a any way to dry our clothes and didnít have a lot of time so we decided just to take it easy. We headed to the airport giving ourselves about 4 hours, and needed 2 of them. I gave more details in the ďlines at the airportĒ post.
Overall this was a great trip! Six bottles of sunscreen later, we are home safe and sound with tan lines and smiles. I will write a few restaurant reviews and my thoughts on the Surf in the appropriate categories when I get. I canít wait to go back!
Pelican Pier at sunset with a bucket of Brights!
Sunsets at Bunker Bar
LG Smith Steakhouse, Windows on Aruba,
Sounds like a fun trip! Pelican Pier bar is one of our favorite spots during happy hour and sunset thanks for the great report and time to start planning the next trip to everyones favorite place, Aruba!!!!
Wonderful report.... all that relaxing on the beach just totally recharges my batteries.... Of course, the Amstel Brights help too! Thanks for the detail and I especially look forward to your dining reviews!
love your laid back approach to getting in line for a palapa.
what the heck, if you are up early anyway? right!!
We both have family history with skin cancer, so we don't mess around when in comes to sunscreen. I stock up from drugstore.com when I see it on sale so we have it on hand for vacations and summer.
One thing that struck me this trip more than our others was how so many people complain about everything, just for the sake of complaining. If you don't like waiting for a palapa, pay to reserve one or rent an umbrella from a vendor, or find a nice tree. If you don't want to pay convenience store prices in the hotel, plan ahead. If you don't like the way the airport is run, go somewhere else. It was unreal the amount of complaining we heard this trip. It was like people had been forced to take an amazing vacation with great weather.
If you don't like waiting for a palapa, pay to reserve one
You are absolutely right.
So many of the resorts offer this as an option now. If you don't want to get up early or want to stand in line, pay for the palapa and figure it into the cost of your vacation upfront. Years ago when we first started visiting Aruba, that was not even an option.