There is nothing more relaxing than a beach vacation. My family an I have been on cruises and wanted to actually hit an island in the Caribbean for longer than 6 hours. After speaking with a few avid Caribbean travelers, and doing our research we picked Aruba due to the following:
- Quick to get to. We live in Fort Lauderdale and Jet Blue has daily flights with an approximate flight time of 2.5 hours
- Predictable weather. The island has a year round average temperature of 86 degrees. The island as well has a constant breeze due to the trade winds
- Native Arubians all speak English
- American cash is accepted at all places
- Pictures of Aruba boast beautiful white sandy beaches and excellent grounds for snorkeling (a family favorite)
- You are not required to get a Visa prior to your trip. Just bring your passport and you are welcome for up to 30 days and cannot exceed 180 days per year.
For lodging we had 3 choices from the Marriott Brand (not including any of their vacation rental properties), as per prior blogs Marriott is our go to. You will see why shortly…. Our choices were the Ritz Carlton, Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, and the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino. We opted for the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. The reasons we selected this resort were due to:
- Location, nestled towards the end of Palm Beach. Directly located on the beach I must add.
- 2 pools (one adult only, major plus)
- Several restaurants
- Starbucks located in the lobby
- Beach Palapas
- MOST IMPORTANTLY… recently upgraded.
We selected the month of June as we paired this trip with our son’s 12th birthday. June is also a historically light month for hurricanes. Again we live in Florida and we have already had one trip extended once due to airport closures. Not fun.
The flight in was super quick. Getting through customs took approximately 30 minutes. Grabbing a cab was very easy as well, nice organized line and then you are off to your destination. The cab driver was super friendly. In route to our hotel he pointed out 2 markets, one that contained more American products and one that was more European. I immediately made it my mission to visit the European market as I had to get my hands on a TRUE Kinder Egg…. Our cab driver also informed us that all Arubans speak 4 languages Dutch, Papiamento, Spanish and English. He also let us know that only native Arubans can be obtain a cab license, hence why there is no Uber. It took about 40 minutes to get from the airport to the resort. This is a bit longer than usual due to road improvements going on. From what we were told this is an island infrastructure project that is anticipated to be ongoing for several years. We pulled into the hotel and unloaded.
When we checked in, unfortunately our rooms were not yet available. We were however able to upgraded to a higher floor with an ocean view, wrap around balcony. Fantastic! Doesn’t beat being a Gold Elite Marriott Member. The front desk staff was extremely welcoming and conversational. We briefly noted that it was our son’s birthday. We checked our bags with the bellhop and headed to the beach side restaurant. Of course, after 2.5 hours flying, getting thru customs, obtaining bags and a long construction zoned taxi ride WE WERE STARVING. The food was your typical pool/beachside fair. Nothing spectacular hence why I have no pics!
The room was super clean with modern furnishings. We had a king bed corner room with a pull out sofa sleeper. The wrap around balcony had 2 loungers along with 2 chairs and a small table. The views of the beach and pool were phenomenal. We immediately unloaded our stuff, lathered on the sunblock, dawned our bathing suites and headed for the beach. Since it was nearly 4pm we did not rent a Palapa. We did however arrange for one for the following day along with arranging one for our last full day on the island. I do wish they gave the option to prepay and secure in advance of your stay, sadly both days our Palapa was in the third or fourth row back from unobstructed ocean views. The fee for the Palapa included unlimited bottled waters, I do wish that they had more servers for the beach. The ones working clearly appeared in the weeds, we just walked to the bar and grabbed our drinks ourselves both days.
Our family loves to snorkel. Prior to the trip I researched the best snorkeling day excursions. We selected Jolly Pirates Cruises. The pier was within walking distance of our hotel. The fair includes equipment, lunch and 3 snorkeling stops. One of the stops you get to snorkel above a wrecked WWII ship Antilla. My son and I are not as strong of a swimmer as my husband so we opted to watch from the ship. The water was very rough. My husband thoroughly enjoyed this snorkel as he had never seen a ship wreck before. Lots of sea life could be seen. The second stop was Boca Catalina. The water was much calmer and crystal clear. You could see coral along with several types of fish. The final and BEST stop was Malmok. Just gorgeous. I’ve never seen water so blue and clear in my life. After the last allotted snorkel time passed, one of the “Pirates” took a small dingy to shore to gather our lunch. Lunch consisted of BBQ chicken, a rib, potato salad and steamed veggies. Nothing spectacular but after a few hours snorkeling you will eat anything. Another fabulous post snorkel treat…. HAPPY HOUR! The bar was open. Typical Caribbean rum and fruit drink mixture along with soda and water for the non partakers. Probably the coolest thing about this ship was the rope swing. Not for me but boy did my son and husband have a blast. Enjoy the video and watch till the end. I would definitely recommend this excursion to any one visiting the island.
Time to get to the food…. Every morning we would head to Dushi Bagels for breakfast. Some mornings we would walk, others we would opt for the brief cab ride. Dushi Bagels is located just in front of the Playa Linda resort. 4 resorts to the left of where we were staying. They served your standard American breakfast fare, eggs, bacon, bagels and French toasts. The service was excellent, coffee always filed. They accept visa, Amex and American cash as well. For lunch one day we ate at Pelican Pier. Their fish special was good and you could not beat this view. You could see schools of fish swim buy as you ate. Two of the nights we ate at our resort. I mean after all we did have a Ruth Chris, absolutely delicious. Just like back in the states. Several locals had recommended that we head to Smokey Joes for dinner one night. We were very happy we took them up on the recommendation. I had the BBQ chicken chopped salad, my son the chicken finger platter, and the husband had the BBQ sampler platter. It definitely did not disappoint. They also sell some excellent hot sauce, my son LOVES hot sauce. The bottle we brought home is nearing it’s final days.
On our last day on the island we were pretty beached out and done with the sun. We decided to check out that European market. Ten minute cab ride and we were there. The place was FULL of French pastries, danish meats, danish cheese, European chocolates and…. KINDER EGGS. We grabbed some meats, cheeses, crusty loaf of bread, pack of Balashi beer, along with a box of Kinders and headed back to the hotel. Pretty much spent the rest of the day on the balcony munching and enjoying the ocean breeze out of the sun and steps away from air conditioning.
On our next trip our trip here I definitely want to do an excursion out to Arikok National Park. I’ve read and heard a ton about it.
Have you been to Aruba? What did you enjoy most about this island? I’d love to hear about it.