Aruba : Things to see and new experiences!
For those of you who are wondering where Aruba is , it's located only 27 kms from Venezuela and it belongs to the known "ABC islands" : Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, in the southern warm and beautiful blue Caribbean Sea. I'll start giving you some tips and my opinion of our trip to the island. How to get there? From Ireland there are several options, the easiest are either to go from London or from Amsterdam. From London it's usually cheaper. We flew with Martinair from Amsterdam since it suited better the dates we wanted to travel. Martinair is cheaper than the Dutch company KLM. The plane was very old, not enough space, you had to pay to see movies and meals were not abundant/nor snacks. I had to put up with a huge obese Arubian woman by my side so my 10 hour flight from Aruba to Amsterdam were not very comfy.
Aruba has its own small airport with all commodities. Our luggage came on time from Dublin , so no complaints. No issues on the border, nothing. We took the bus to go to the hotel on time and in the hotel, Holiday Inn, thanx to my husband charm we got one of the best rooms with a very nice Sea view! About Holiday inn i have to say that i'm very pleased with the service they offer to be a all-inclusive resort. My only complaints are about the phenomenon of the queueing to book sunbeds (people there from 5.30 a.m.!!) and to book for restaurants at 8.00 a.m. I think i woke up earlier every day in Aruba than here to go to work! (never later than 6.30 a.m.). Due to the intensive heat in Aruba it can reach up to 35 degrees (humid temperature), you cannot afford not to have shadow on the beach (So leave the jackets in your country!)! Only stupid tourists all burned due to the sun did that, we even saw a woman with a bandage due to the sun-burns. You cannot play with the sun in these days!! Going back to the queueing issue, i know it's the same in most of the resorts, so nothing specific from Holiday Inn. It's a good hotel more family type, not very romantic for couples. A very busy hotel and a bit loud some times but being in the Caribbean loud music cannot be an issue! Last afivce about Holiday Inn try to avoid eating in the buffet "Coral restaurant", food is much nicer in the "sea breeze restaurant" or on the Italian one (of course you will need to book for dinner but for lunch , See bree breeze is o.k. to go without reservation)
We were in the area of Palm Beach, the most tourist one ,specially with U.s. tourists which meant that all was very expensive. Even the shops and restaurants were built in a very American style, I felt like in U.s.a. ,specially when they did not have the local currency: Arubian florins and asked us to pay in $ !! In the end we ended up exchanging our Florins to be able to get by!
Yeah, depending on what part of the island you are going to stay, exchanging Arubian Florins is not going to bring you much, I'd advise you to take $, otherwise the mess will start when you pay in one currency and they give you another one! 1 euros = 2 Florins.
We thought that being the island a former Spanish and Dutch colony , it would have a Spanish and/or Dutch influence. Well in relation to the Spanish, there is actually influence, most of the natives speak Spanish! English and their own language Papimento. In relation to architecture , we didnt see any Spanish or Dutch influence, only a fake mill on Palm beach imitating the Dutch ones. There are many chalets in different colours and many American influenced buildings/restaurants.
Most beautiful beaches for me were: Baby beach (hard to find, you need to go by car) and Eagle beach. Palm beach is very nice if you want to have an infrastructure for toursits with plenty of sunbeds/water sports and small bars on the beach. It depends on what you are looking for.
Landscapes have a vulcanic vegetation : Cactus everywhere and beautiful divi divi trees ,which look like big Bonsais! I was fascinated by them specially!
Where to go on the island and hoe:
Best option is to rent a jeep. If there is no budget for a jeep, you can rent a car for 65 $ a day (this was the cheapest we found) but you will not be able to go through all the roads of the national park.
Dont miss : National Arikok park , natural bridge, the caves, Californian Lighthouse (go to see the sunset there and have dinner in the restaurant!)Eagle and Baby beach (good for snorkling!). For shopping or Casinos (There are plenty of them) you can go to Palm Beach or the capital: Oranjestadt. Do not expect good value shops , most of them are very expensive brands like Louis Vutton ! It was hard for me to find small typical pottery from the area!
To eat: There are loads of grills to eat meat but also diff restaurants from around the worldfor those who are not brave enough to taste some of the local dishes like turtle soup or iguanas (They told it tastes like chicken, I was actually eating chicken all the time so i hope they dont give me iguana instead!). I have to say that it was not easy to find places with local food where we stayed and they also told us that it was forbidden to cook the iguanas. (shame on them!)
Dont forget: Plug adaptor (like the one for U.s.a or Canada, will do) , Sun cream with very high protection (sun is very powerful there!), Mosquito repellent! (specially at night!), bring a good camera with you to take nice pictures of the sunset! (one of the most beautiful i have seen!), look for a hotel with internet (it's not easy to find internet connection, if you dont have it in your hotel), bring your driving licence ! (forget about renting a bike, as i wanted to, there are no bikers and it's a bit dangerous, traffic can get heavy on the island!).
My First time..
I had never seen iguanas before and I was fascinated by them ,running loose ! They only came out in the heat or at night and were not dangerous at all.
First time i was on a jeep on a dessert-like landscape! First time for Andres driving one, too! He did a good job, the American tourists that were in our jeep also agree, very nice couple celebrating their anniversary: Bob and Melanie.
First time i tasted the Daiquiri cocktail , tasty!! and sweet!!
First time i actually drank water on a Caribbean island, in Aruba it's safe to drink running water everywhere, it was fab!
First time i lay-down on a sun bed inside a swimming pool, i loved it! but i actually got a bit sun burn due to this.. it was so comfy..
First time I flew with Martinair, dont think it's going to happen again if i can avoid it..
First time on Curacao island, only at the airport but it looked very nice, similar to Aruba with the divi divi trees!
First time i saw Divi-divi trees!! spent time looking for one i saw on a book and we found it on eagle beach! fab!
First time i have heard Papimento language (couldn't understand a thing!) and first time i have met locals from Aruba, very nice people!!!
First time i see so many Italians on Aruba!! I didn't know it was so popular in Italy!! Even Berlusconi has a house there! From the rest of Europe there were only Dutch.
Aruba has also many offers for people who want to have a good time, drinking, there are drinking tours on boats and special buses from the island.
It's a very safe island, we could leave the bags on the bags on the beach and nothing happened, we didnt feel unsafe any time.
We had a great time, specially enjoyed the sunsets, beaches and jeep tour around the islands with the agency palm tours. If you want to see my best photos of the islands visit the following link:
As a conclusion, the island reminded me a bit of Lanzarote due to the vulcanic landscapes and although i liked the island, i dont think i'll be going back, it's definitely too expensive and to me, i prefer more authentic islands with true natives. I love Caribbean, who doesnt? but in the future, we will go to the Colombian Caribbean, it's half price, also safe and more authentic!!