Aruba, Aruba, Where for art thou Aruba?

I am in love with Aruba! Too bad Aruba is not a man. What do you do with intense feelings for a country? Or better yet, an island such as Aruba (one of the Caribbean islands)? As a traveling consultant for SERJ Solutions, my recent project in Fresno came to an unexpected and abrupt close in mid-September. In-between assignments, I decided to enjoy this refreshing break on vacation. My next assignment doesn’t begin until mid-October. To book a last minute luxurious vacation (and it was oh so luxurious!) I went to www.bookit.com.


First off: know this, depending on what you want to spend, on one side of the spectrum, you can choose a fancy all-inclusive resort to a small hotel on the other side. Either way – you are making out on top of your game. Just being on a beautiful island itself is a wonderful experience. The beach and ocean alone is so beautiful that I could literally have spent my entire stay in Aruba in a tent on the beach and been happy. However, I chose the all-inclusive route. Never done this before so I had no idea how boss it is to experience this. I stayed at the Riu Palace.

Remember that Aruba or any of the Caribbean islands for that matter will require you to have a passport. Arriving at and leaving Aruba required a stop at customs where you will have to fill out paperwork and state the purpose of your stay. Not a scary process but a little more lengthy than your usual airport experience. Be sure not to look or say anything suspicious as this will only delay the process or even endanger your travel plans. I have to remind myself of this because I love to engage people and make them laugh with my horribly funny jokes. However, it would not be in my best interest to jokingly tell customs that I have successfully smuggled firearms on my person.

After getting through all the logistics, let’s now talk about Aruba. Have you ever dreamed about being in paradise? I never knew what paradise would be like, but I believe I have experienced the closest thing to it on Earth. Can you tell I am still on cloud 9 and I’ve been back for more than a few weeks now?

Aruba is about 15 miles away from the coast of Venezuela. This is also the island where Natalee Holloway disappeared in 2005 during an ‘unofficial’ 5-day high-school graduation trip. I don’t want to detract from my wonderful experience but I think it relevant to address real quickly the following facts: The sex trade is a real phenomenon and travelers are easy pickings. Especially hot American chicks. This applies to any foreign country. So always be aware of your surroundings when traveling and try to make good, sound decisions about where you go and who you go anywhere with. That said, let’s get down to business.

History:

Aruba in a nutshell was originally populated by native Caquetíos Amerinds from the Awok tribes in Venezuela, Aruba was occupied first by Spain and then subsequently colonized by the Dutch. Later to be claimed for Britain and then returned to Dutch rule until recently, whereby Aruba has been campaigning for independence.

Language:

Although English, Spanish and Portuguese are all spoken in Aruba, the official language is called Papiamento. Papiamento is a mixture of, Spanish and Portuguese with influence from Arawak, African and Dutch languages. However, English will get you by quite easily since tourism is currently Aruba’s biggest industry.

City of Oranjestad:

The Aruba airport code is AUA and is located in the city of Oranjestad. Unfortunately, I did not leave Oranjestad during my entire stay and I assume there is a lot more to explore throughout the island. However, everything you need for a nice vacation is located within this city. There are quite a few resorts, shopping opportunities and nightlife all within walking distance or a short taxi drive.

All-Inclusive:

If you haven’t experienced an all-inclusive trip, I recommend everyone try it at least once. It may seem pricey but really it equals out significantly if not turn out better in the end. Minus the all-inclusive status – I assume any traveler should then prepare to have lots of cash on hand. I cannot stress enough how absolutely wonderful I felt to not have to worry about stashing a bunch of Benjamins in my bathing suit!

Upon arrival, before checking in at the front desk, I was greeted with freshly made drinks. The rooms were more than sufficiently stocked with alcohol, snacks, drinks (water and soda). There were 4 restaurants available for all 3 meals each day and 2 buffet areas open in-between. And drinks were unlimited at all bars.

I have never before felt more like royalty than on this trip. Everyone deserves to be treated like that at least once in life. Treat yourself – you deserve it!

Beach:

OMG! The water was warm and beautiful. I could see my feet. I wished to turn into a mermaid like in the movie Splash (for you youngsters – youtube it) because I never wanted to get out. Food and sleep were the driving factors for an Ocean Exit strategy. Just kidding, bathroom breaks and clubbin came into play too.

Activities:

I went jet skiing for the first time too. This was awesome. I know I sound very green (and I am!). The cost was about $40 per person for 30 minutes. I recommend not doing this through the hotel. Go down to the beach to see what the guys at the beach stands have to offer. I hear it is cheaper and quicker. 30 minutes doesn’t sound like enough time. That’s what I thought at first too, but after being reassured by the locals and then actually getting out into the waves, it was long enough for me. I have come to the realization that I am a total spazz when comes to scary movies, dark places, spiders and now ocean waves about a mile out from the beach. I know I know, I wish I was Lara Croft (my alter ego), turns out I am a scaredy cat. I did, however, gun it a few times and did a few water donuts. It was a blast.

I didn’t get a chance to swim with dolphins or snorkel but these options were available for about $100 for a day long trip with food included. Island jeep tours were also available. For these deals, I definitely would see what the hotel has to offer first. And all your options will be readily available to you upon arrival.

Nightlife:

I went to Senior Frog two nights in a row (it was a pretty packed spot during my stay and I like to be associated with the best). There are a number of night clubs, bars and lounges to choose from about a block or two from the Riu Palace Hotel. Literally – it is walking distance. There are also options right on the hotel grounds and if adventurous, there is more to do further out in and around Oranjestad. I just didn’t do any of them. I would encourage others though to explore out further than I did (I will commit to that on my next trip) to really see the island.

Towards the end of my trip I began to feel a little separation anxiety. It was over too fast. So word to the wise, make sure you take enough time during your vacation to truly enjoy yourself. At least 4-5 days and that is at the minimum. For a thoroughly enjoyable trip I would say live it up for 7-10 days. I cut my trip too short and am now regretting it.

So how many times can I promote a vacation to Aruba? I don’t know, I cannot see an end to my infatuation right now. Only time will tell. So just go and see for yourself how great it is!

October 21, 2010

2 thoughts on “Aruba, Aruba, Where for art thou Aruba?

  1. Woh Molla, I was just in Aruba and agree with you one hundred percent. Although I was only there for a day (first port on a cruise) I found it paradisical in so many ways–friendly, perfect beaches, and fairly cheap. I took a shared van from the port to Eagle Beach, then walked down the beach back to town. I came across a resort called “Bacuti and Tara” that sprawled along the beach like an ad from a magazine. I walked up…they offered me coffee and I stretched out on one of their marvelous lounging chairs by the bar like a landed gentry. I vowed right then to come back.

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