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Thread: Tell us of your FIRST visit?

  1. #11
    Senior Member DiviDiviFan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Pelican Pier at sunset with a bucket of Brights! Sunsets at Bunker Bar LG Smith Steakhouse, Paddock
    Great topic, really enjoying reading everyone's first experiences in Aruba. After a couple cruises and a handful of different islands we decided on Aruba after hearing about it from a former co-worker. Our first trip was November of 2001. We stayed at Allegro AI resort and fell in love with Aruba. The resort itself was 50% occupied as it was only a couple of months after that terrible day of 9/11. I remember meeting so many NY police and firefighters who had stories of loved ones lost so it was an emotional trip as well hearing these stories and also flying so soon after. We really enjoyed the resort when it was Allegro I remember the cool swim-up bar and the filet mignon was out of this world. I remember thinking how can this filet be so good at an all inclusive. I do not believe we went off the resort our first year we just enjoyed the shows and people at the resort and the beach as well. I remember this lady I met in the hot tub and the "HUGE" tanzanite ring she purchased. I was determined from that day forward to someday own something tanzanite as well. My birthday is in December and we always go to Aruba in November so for a few years my DH would buy me something there, I have a few tanzanite rings which I love (of course nothing of the size of that lady's) but still very beautiful. I bought myself some tanzanite earrings this past year. I also remember begging my DH before we even left Aruba that first year to come back which we have been doing every since. No need to beg anymore we usually end up booking our next trip before we leave each year. The next year returned to Allegro and we were both shocked when the waitress remembered us! Of course now we know this is common to be welcomed home which is another reason to love the people of Aruba. After Allegro was closed for renovations we chose Divi AI which I love, love, love and we return to each November. I only wish we found this paradise many years earlier but at least we found it and pray we have many more vacations to come at our home away from home. We have met so many people who we are lucky enough to call friends there and look forward to reuniting with them each year as well. I also would like to add I am so happy I found this forum to share experiences with and learn tips from and consider a lot of the people our friends as well even though we have not met but hope someday to meet some of you!

  2. #12
    Super Moderator Jacki's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    We were married in October 1998. I really wanted a late spring/early summer outdoor wedding, but my cousin got engaged & announced a date before we did. We decided to delay the wedding a few months and go somewhere warm & beautiful for our honeymoon. We went to travel agents and each one suggested Aruba being outside of the hurricane belt during that risky time of year. My aunt owns timeshare in different areas of the US and gifted us a week that we could exchange thru RCI. We chose the Aruba Beach Club from the tiny picture in the big huge exchange book - way before the ease of really getting a feel for the property online. There was just a single page website for ABC back then. We booked early flights the day after our wedding (not the smartest idea) Had some insane issues that morning with our flight being cancelled due to engine issues and we had to go to another terminal to another carrier to get a flight to AUA. Got to the desk of the carrier to be told that they had no idea what we were talking about. Went back to Continental in the C terminal (still carting our luggage with us) and found that things had changed and a 3rd carrier was now in the picture. We now had a layover in Miami and the flight from MIA to AUA was the worst I have ever been on (I'm not a very good flyer to begin with). The turbulence was harsh! There were people screaming all over the plane. A woman directly behind us was crying and yelling in Spanish holding rosary beads in her hands above her head. SCARY stuff. We arrived safely in Aruba and were amazed by the clear blue sky, white puffy clouds & deplaning right on the tarmac! It felt so good to touch that ground! We did a sunset cruise and and underwater adventure thing - maybe even the Atlantis, I don't remember. We dined at El Gaucho one night and Ruins del Mar another. Loved them both. We rented a car for 2 days and drove all around the island. It was a wonderful time, but felt long. We missed our daughter who was back home with family. We planned to return for our 5 year anniversary and bring Brianna & hopefully other kids, but that didn't happen. After 9/11 there was no way I thought I'd ever be able to fly again. A few years after - I think it was 2005 or 2006 we returned to the island with our daughter & my parents & brother. We have returned almost every year for two weeks, always renting from TS owners and staying at different resorts. We have fallen in love with La Cabana and this year will return as owners
    Last edited by Jacki; 04-13-2015 at 03:00 PM.
    Jacki ~ loving Aruba from NJ

  3. #13
    Senior Member purpleangel's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
    My first trip was in 2006. I was turning 50 and wanted to go someplace special. In researching a location, I found a great deal for Aruba at the Holiday Inn through Our first full day in Aruba was actually my birthday. We took a private island tour with Madi and did snorkeling on the catamaran that goes out near the HI. The trip was for five days and four nights, and it flew by. I have been back only twice since then, and my last trip was a solo trip. I made the mistake of visiting another island in between my last two trips, and that was a huge mistake. Never again - Aruba is the only island in the Caribbean that I have a desire to return to! I hope to get back real soon, and really enjoy reading everyone's trip reports!

  4. #14
    Senior Member hockeymom's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    My first visit was in November of 2008. My boyfriend wanted to take me on a trip as I hadn't been anywhere in a long time. He traveled to the Caribbean every year, trying different islands and felt Aruba was the best place to take me. We arrived about 2:30 pm and had a wonderful afternoon and evening. I remember telling him at dinner that if I only had one day here it was perfect. The next morning at 6am I got a call that my son had been hospitalized and I needed to come home. We took a flight home exactly 22 hours after arriving. On the flight home my boyfriend promised me he'd bring me back some day. Long story short, everything turned our ok with my son and the following March we returned and had the second of 5 trips to Aruba. Ironically we had purchased trip insurance as his mother was not well and we didn't know if we'd be able to make the trip. They paid everything for the first trip so we were able to go back. We haven't been able to go for a few years now as my boyfriend's daughter came to live with him - another long story. This year she turned 16 and was able to get a passport with one parent's signature. Aruba here we, no. Because she's in school we now can only travel during school vacations and Aruba was too expensive - not the hotel but the flights. Twice what we had paid and now we had an additional airfare. So we are off to Punta Cana next week. I know it won't be our beloved Aruba, but we will be in sunshine and warmth after the winter of endless snow in New England. Hopefully we will be able to return to Aruba when she goes off to college?? PS - I will never forget the compassion of everyone at the Divi AI that first year. They bent over backwards to help us get home and when we returned, we were greeted with warm smiles, asking how everything turn out and a bottle of champagne in our room. We were so impressed that they remember us and were so kind - one reason we love going back year after year!

  5. #15
    Senior Member burghboy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Palm Beach, Arashi Beach and Manchebo Beach
    My first visit was back in 2005. I only remember the year because I had been saving my money to go see my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers in the Superbowl. Coming off a 15-1 season I felt we were locks. Halfway through the season we started to falter and I lost hope and figured since I had saved all this money lets go on a cruise. Of course towards the end of the season right after I made the promise and booked they got hot and barely qualified for the playoffs as a wild card where they would then become the first 6th seed to ever win a Superbowl . If that's not bittersweet I don't know what is.

    Aruba was the last port on a 7 day Carnival cruise. To be completely honest it didn't really stick out to me as being special but then again I didn't appreciate the same things then as I do now. Upon exiting the cruise terminal we asked a taxi driver which beach we should go to and he replied... baby. After he quoted us a price the skeptic in me said baby probably sucks but he wants to take us there because it will rack up the highest fare. As you can see I was looking at the world through my North American eyes. We decided to go someplace much closer so he dropped us off at the Radisson, still our favorite spot on Palm.

    The port was a long one we arrived at 10am and didn't depart until 1 or 2 am. Spent the day at the beach and then went into town for a late lunch. Picked Iguana Joe's where we had a couple of very potent cocktails and a rack of ribs. Sitting there looking out over Oranjestad with the trade winds cooling us off. Thinking back on it that was probably the first time Aruba seemed different. Watching the sunset gave me a feeling of extreme serenity something I didn't realize until I was just typing this (wow what a weird feeling).

    We had booked the Kuku Kanuku excursion and hustled back to the ship to shower and change. The next 5 hours was a nonstop party that ended with us at Carlos and Charlies (2 months before it would become infamous) with seemingly half our ship. The memory of 1000 cruise ship passengers all stumbling back to the ship literally minutes before departure is one of my favorites ever. The party continued until the sun came up and it was probably my last great "how in the world did I survive that" party night which will always keep it very special. But to me that's all it was the last in a long series of parties.

    Luckily Aruba left much more of an impression on Maggie and we would return via cruise ship over and over again until our number came up and we got on one of those ships that would break down mid-cruise. We only made it as far as St. Martin and since I had promised her that we would go to Aruba and didn't want Princess cruise line to make me a liar we rented a condo and took our first trip down and have been coming back ever since.

    the officially unofficial podcast of the island of Aruba. Tips, tricks and stories about the best place on earth! If you don't listen you are missing out.

  6. #16
    Senior Member act1966's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    In the pool.
    It was 2009 and the global real estate market was still in the toilet - time to buy a retirement home!

    I Google'd "great weather no hurricanes" and the ABCs came up. Did some reading about each island and, the next thing I knew, the flights were booked for Aruba and the search for real estate began.

    I stumbled on to a website that was for a development in Paradera called, "Modanza Villa Park" - they were just starting to build homes for the development and had a model home already up and running. I exchanged emails with the developer, told him our interest and he said we could stay in the model home to get a feel for the residency. Bingo! Now we had a place to stay.

    In March, we were off and running. We landed at Queen Beatrix, the door opened, I wept when that wall of heat hit us (looooong Canadian winter) and went through customs in what must be a record time for any customs check-in throughout the world.

    We opted to rent a car so we could tour the island and get a feel for the different areas/residencies.

    Another couple had come with us and my friend, Mary, had always wanted to be on "The Amazing Race": she immediately seized the wheel of the rental car and screamed, "IT'S GO TIME!!!"

    We all pile in the tiny car like a bunch of really pale clowns and look at each other: "Where the hell is Paradera?!?" We didn't have a phone so GPS wasn't an option (it would have been useless back then anyway) and all we really had was the instructions on how to get to Modanza that I'd scribbled on the back of a napkin. Yes, a cocktail napkin.

    Mary: "Just start yelling things out and we'll find it." I was in the navigator seat.

    "What's a round-about?!?" We learned what it was in micro-seconds at the first one we exited to from the airport. Mission accomplished.

    Needless to say, it was rollicking drive almost completely to the Lighthouse before we ran out of the road and headed back to "the Texaco... you can't miss it" and then, through some sort of divine intervention, we saw a tiny little sign on the side of the road that had the villa park's name on it.

    The love affair began the minute that airplane door opened but it was cemented by that first night tearing around the island. That and the first pitcher of margaritas in the pool at midnight.

    Good times.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2013


    My first trip to Aruba was in May of 1985, 30 years ago. My mother had recently bought a timeshare unit at Playa Linda and wanted to show me the beautiful island of Aruba she had found. The very first thing I remember was how windy it was! At that time, you had to walk down a long set of stairs coming off the plane and walk across the tarmac to the airport building. Our picture was taken and we were given flower leis. (yes, all for free back then) When leaving Aruba, we always bought an ice cream cone in the waiting area. Back then it cost just $1! I don't remember any other food being available at that time.

    In 1985, Playa Linda only had their first phase built and didn't have a swimming pool yet. We had permission to swim at The Holiday Inn and I remember walking over there. There was nothing built beyond The Holiday Inn and there was no Hyatt. Eagle Beach was not developed.

    There were NO fast food restaurants on the island at that time and American food was rare. There was a wonderful restaurant at Playa Linda run by the woman whose family now owns Papiamento. The food was outstanding! I remember getting ice cream at dinner one night and sending it back because I thought it was spoiled. Turned out it was "goat's milk ice cream". Yes, the island was loaded with goats and every hotel/timeshare had goat grates to keep the animals out. If you look closely, you can still see where the grates have been filled in. There were only two brands of beer you could get, Amstel and Henniken. I remember taking a bus to the old Ling & Sons supermarket that was located down by the shipping docks. Almost everything was canned. At that time, no one rented a car. I remember walking to a fine international restaurant located in the Windmill. We walked from Playa Linda over a mud field to get to the place. It was very dark and my sandal got stuck in the mud! This is now the very built-up Palm Beach mall area.

    I remember going to a Las Vegas type show and realizing the girls were all topless, with their feathered fans and ourfits! I remember getting very dressed for dinner. I remember strolling along the sidewalk of the Palm Beach casino strip, many women dressed in cocktail dresses or gowns and the men all dressed in suits or even tuxedoes. The sidewalks were packed as people walked from casino to casino.

    There have been so many changes on the island since that first trip to Aruba. But the one thing that has not changed is the warmth of the Aruban people. I knew on that first visit, 30 years ago, that I had found my paradise, for many reasons.

    Today, because of timeshare, I am fortunate to visit Aruba twice each year, two weeks on each visit. It never seems to be enough!
    Last edited by Arlene; 04-14-2015 at 01:41 PM. Reason: Addition

  8. #18
    Senior Member SkiChris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    I'll join in on the chorus to say this is a fun topic and I've really enjoyed reading all the posts above. My husband and I first traveled to Aruba on our honeymoon in 1996. We stayed at the Aruba Palm Beach Hotel which was distinctly known for its bright pink color! This resort had several different owners/makeovers since then but the original building is still there and now part of the RIU. We are from New York so I remember the first few days on the island drove us crazy because we are used to a fast pace and everything on the island was so S....L.....O....W !!! I remember being so frustrated when we'd go to dinner and it would take 2+ hours. But by the middle of our honeymoon, we became more relaxed and "got in the groove" and learned to "rush slowly". By the end of our trip, we were both as loose as spaghetti - and enjoyed the long dinners and great conversation. To this day, the pace is our favorite thing about Aruba. No matter how hectic our jobs and lives can get, when we come to Aruba the island has this magical way to totally unwind us - more so than any other vacation destination we've visited. It has been fun to see the island develop over the years. Many of the restaurants and tours we first enjoyed in 1996 are still there (gives us that link to the past) and yet each year there are so many new things to enjoy and discover (keeps bringing us back).

  9. #19
    Senior Member arubacandy's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    We were invited by my cousin to stay with her at her timeshare at CDM in Jan 2005. After the first day we were hook ! On the day we were to fly home, snowstorm hit back home in NY and bonus we got to stay another 2 days !! Oh how we wanted to buy a timeshare but we were getting married that Oct. After returning from honeymoon and checking the resale list we bought our first timeshare! Now we own 3 wks at CDM and celebrate our anniversary at MJ every year ! Fabulous restaurants, great weather, people are so friendly counting down the weeks (24) till we land back in Aruba .

  10. #20
    Senior Member AUA1989's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Palm Beach, Eagle Beach, any beach
    December 31, 1989. What a way to start off a visit to a place to which you have never been! It was our honeymoon and when we arrived and they opened the door on the tarmac I felt the warm sauna like air of Aruba enter the plane. Of course, it was winter back home and I had on sweat pants and a sweat shirt (never did that again). And we too got leis.

    Our first night was N.Y. Eve and we were staying at the Americana which is now the Occidental. We ate at the buffet at the Americana, and when my DH asked what something on the buffet was, the server simply repeated the word "carne" to us. Carne, which means meat, was a little too vague and we kept asking what kind of carne, but the point was not coming across. I'm still not sure what we ate that night.

    What is memorable from the next day was the immense amount of red firework paper, which still happens every New Year.

    We didn't rent a car that year and took cabs to the restaurants. Our favorite was Roma di Notte and La Taurina. We pretty much stayed within our resort. When hubby said let's go back on our first anniversary, that started a long string of visits.

    Hoping for a 30th anniversary trip to our favorite place.

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