I have ten days before going on The Caribbean Collection with Princess. Our 1st stop is Aruba and i have never been to this island. I have NOT booked any land tour yet. Please tell me what YOU think I should do while on the island of Aruba. Thanks in advance
Of course it depends on what you like to do. Obviously, Aruba has some very nice beaches. When we were there, we took a 4X4 open air tour of the Island and saw an Ostrich farm and a remote beach, among other things. The island is mostly desert, which kind of surprised us.
It's a little piece of the Netherlands, tucked away in the Caribbean!
Aruba also has some of the best snorkeling I've ever done, last time we were there we did a ship tour of two snorkel spots on a cat called Mushi Mushi, the first was over a coral reef, the second was over an old WWII German Frigate, the current was a lot stronger at this location but the snorkeling was fantastic. We're heading back in January and are looking forward to doing our own thing this time around, maybe parked ourselves on a beach. Beautiful island, it's definitely one of my favourites!:doubleup:
The last time we were there we took the island tour. This took us to, among others, the Natural Bridge area, the Lighthouse, the aloe factory (which was interesting). If you haven't been there before it is a nice way to see the island.
My husband and I were in Aruba for a week this past July. What a beautiful island. I'll try to be brief, but thorough. There are taxi's on the island. Cost, I'm not sure sorry as we rented a car.
Shopping---There are a few outdoor shops along the sidewalk near the port. We never stopped at these because the area always seemed busy and across the street from the port there are more upscale shops like those we would find in the states and a few restuarants both quick and long. ( I can recommend many in this area and others....just let me know what you want.) I'm not rich, so we didn't bother. If you are in port on a Saturday or Sunday, to the left of the port, a mile or so down, there is a flea market where they set up tables and items from clothes to trinkets, and beautiful oil paintings under tent canopies. You can bargain for a better price and use US money. You must get the ribs they are selling. Only order one meal because 2-3 people can eat it and my husband and I are big eaters. There are also a few other shops/mini mall in the area. Down further to your left, which is really north, is another grouping of buildings that they call a mall, with unique stores and several restaurants. This area appears dead during the day, but is where EVERYBODY goes at night! Truly different...a mall and area that is quiet during the day but WOW busy at night. I'm sure there are other places on the island...and there are as we went on every road, but those are your closer groupings.
Snorkeling----Don't plan on snorkeling on the western side. The ocean waves are violent and this side of the island is for windsurfing (and drowning in my opinion). You have several choices for the rest of the island. At the northern western most point, you have Malmok Beach.....15 minutes for the port.....tops. Very clear--if I can figure out how to post a pic I will! I LOVED Malmok! Here and Baby Beach were the clearest! (Watch out for sand burs though!) There is virtually no waves here either. Malmok is one of the stops where all of the snorkeling tours stop. I saw several varieties of fish and the water was SO CLEAR! No beach chairs or rentals, just two or three of those canopy structures made of palm leaves. Also, no beverage carts, etc. Just south of Malmok, (touching Malmok) is an area where they say you can opt to wear a top. Their is also a ship in this area you could snorkel to. (BTW, Malmok is north of the Marriott). Not to many people, and to enter the water you must walk down a small hill (5-10 feet and NOT steep). We stayed at Divi Phoenix, and the water is clear here, but seems clouded due to the jet ski and boat activity. We snorkeled there once, and that was it. There is a large public beach area south of Divi Phoenix. (Middle western side of the island.) I can't remember the name of it at the moment, Eagle I believe it is. Very busy and I can't vouge for the snorkeling there. Baby Beach, this is the second place we snorkeled while we were there. 30-35 minutes from the port. (I'd keep the taxi waiting or schedule a pick up because this is somewhat remote.) Baby beach is beautiful as well and protected by a levy on one side. The other side, believe it or not, has an oil refinery. I just looked to the left Roger's Beach, is in between Baby and the oil refinery. Baby beach is located on the southern point of the island. (I should add that it is in an alcove and the refinery is on one of the other points and DON'T let that deter you. It's a beautiful beach as well.) No hill entry and lounge chairs for rental. Although this was not a nude/topless beach, I came back in from snorkeling and there was someone here with no top on. I'm sure my hubby enjoyed it! :camera: Here, I saw alot of the same fish and a few more plus an eel. In between the two levies is spectacular. There is an opening where you can swim against the current and see SO MANY SCHOOL of fish coming at you. Exhilarating! Alot of people brought bread to feed the fish. Someone else I saw had peas in a plastic container and WOW! I thought I'd give it a try to and off to the store we went. I tried it at both beaches and it worked great. I must ad that there is a small food/beverage cart and bbq at this beach as well. The beach is free, loungers/sun covers are extra. As for which beach I would go to again...hmm....because I saw an eel and there is more coral clumps Baby Beach, especially the schools of fish. As for less people and a little clearer, Malmok. Avid snorkelers would probably prefer Baby.
Sites----there are so many! The natural bridge on the mid-western coast of the island has collapsed, but there is a smaller one as well and a trinket shop/restaurant/bathroom. There is also a gold smelting building you can tour for free in the same area just north of the bridge. Very remote areas on the mid-south western part of the island. There is also a national park, it was free when we went. Not much to see in July, but they are working on it. We took some excellent photos on the coast in this park. Would I go back to this area? NO, unless my kids were with and I wanted to go check out the caves in the park. We went to both and they were pretty cool. One of them had sunlight flowing through about 100 feet in and then you had the choice to go five or six different directions to explore further. Of course, I made sure to pack two flashlights, and then, of course, left them in the room! I was VERY dissapointed. No one was in the cave but us. Yes, there are a couple of bats.....I'm not gonna lie, not being able to see into a couple of those holes/walkways was very scary! I can honestly say I walked out of the cave faster than how we entered and it wasn't because we knew the way. The caves were free, but of course, a tip for the person explaining the history could be given. BTW, I loved the way they used stones instead of parking lines in the parking lot near the coast. The donkey refuge----central part of the island. I couldn't wait to go here, I thought it would be cool for me (don't plan on petting them like they're in a cage). They won't hurt you, but you are there at your own risk. I must say alot of people were here with kids. I had read that people brought carrots, celery, and the like for them. The owners are fine with it if you decide to. But, I will warn you, hide it UNTIL you are SAFE on the porch of the little building! Dumby me thought, O how cute, they walk right next to you (no barriers except the fence for you to get out). Since this ONE donkey was near me and I thought it looked sad, I decided it was deserving enough to get one or two of my carrots. OH MY WORD! Before I could even pull the bag out from under my arm I had 5 around me and one was growling. Did you know a donkey could growl? I didn't see that on Shrek! Then another started growling one started to nudge, so he turned to buck and I was behind him! SCARY! I was freaking out and ready to bawl like a baby. My husband found it slightly humorous that I was acting that way, but was still concerned about my predicament. Of course, now we've attracted the attention of about 30 donkeys, some of which came running. I finally weazled my way to the shelter/house area to get on the porch. PHEW! Ok, I think I lost track of the purpose here......sorry. Anyway, they do sell veggies and bread for $1 a piece, but they were sold out when we were there in the very early pm. They also have where you can purchase a bale of hay to feed them and take it out yourself and purchase donkey shirts and trinkets, etc. Would I go here again, yes, with my kids. It is an experience, plus the drive out there and inside the sanctuary. Cactus everywhere...it was a cactus forest. I teased my husband about trying to play hide n seek. NO WAY!
There are rock formations as well. We stopped there too. Would I do it again? I dont think so.....because ive seen them once, but they were pretty neat. Drove by the Ostrich, didn't stop. Went to a tiny Catholic church by the western side, it was BEAUTIFUL. This would be a great place to get married! A man and his wife were selling religious things. I would go here again just because of the view. There is a free tour of the Aloe Vera plant, that was interesting as it gave the history of the island and why Aruba came to farm Aloe. Kids would hate it. I'm sure there is more that I'm forgetting, but my ideas are depleted at the moment.
I'll try to figure out how to add pictures, or you can try to message me and I can email them as it would probably be easier. I loved Aruba, but, I also love the beach!