We are headed to Aruba in April for the first time. We are so excited to being staying there in the Marriott and would like to know what you think are the things we must do during our week there. We love the water, obviously, and while not scuba divers, we love snorkling. Also, enjoy sailing Hobi's or maybe an excursion with others to interesting destination. Great places to eat are always on our "search" list.
Anything you can offer for suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
We went to Aruba in June 2007 as a family-below is a trip report with info you may find helpful.This was our first trip to Aruba and we traveled as a family with two kids, age 13 and 9. To make this easier for others looking for information I’ve broken it down by topics not by what we did each day. I hope this helps another family plan their vacation to Aruba.
Accomodations: We stayed at the Marriott Stellaris Resort. The Resort was nice, clean and comfortable. We stayed on the 8th floor in the middle of the bottom of the U. My only complaint would be about the cigarette smoke from the Casino at night. Since this was slow season it wasn’t bad, however if you went during their busy season you would need an oxygen mask to get from the elevator to your room! The smoke smell was never in our room though. It would be nice if they would solve this problem. The rooms are large with a good size closet to store empty luggage and a large bathroom with two sinks. Our room was clean and in good repair. The balcony was nice to sit and have coffee in the morning and being on the 8th floor we had a great view of the ocean and overlooking the pool/beach area. Anything below the 3rd or 4th floor and you would be looking at trees though. The room had a small coffee pot and a mini refridgerator. All the staff at the Resort were very friendly and helpful. They also keep the grounds very clean! The walls between the rooms are thin and you can here some noise from the other rooms. We lucked out and the rooms beside us were not full the entire time. Overall we were pleased with our room/resort choice.
Food: Food is not a big thing for us. Prices reflect lunch or dinner for 4 people and we usually had salads, sandwiches or wraps of some sort. We ate at the Pavillion Grill ($35) between the Marriott Resort and the Marriott Ocean Club-hot dogs, hamburger and salad. This was our first night and we didn’t want a heavy dinner or to leave the Resort area. Food ok, would only recommend it if you didn’t want to go anywhere else. We also ate at Salt & Pepper ($50). The food was good, however the service was horrible. We had three different people serve us and not one person came back more than once to see how we were doing-if the food was ok or if we needed more water etc. We ate early (5:30 p.m.) so their being very busy was not an issue. We didn’t eat here again. Iguana Joe’s-had lunch and dinner here. Service was good-friendly and attentive waiters. Food was a good value also. Lunch was about $47 and dinner was about the same. I would recommend them, however it’s all outdoor shaded seating with no air conditioning! So if you are looking for a place to eat and cool off, this is not it. Amici’s-loved this place! Small little deli with great gelato (ice cream)! Service was great and the food was really good. They have sandwiches, salads etc. Great for people who are not into a fancy meal but still want good food. Gelato was only $2 a scoop and the food averaged $35-40. Pizza Hut-my son wanted pizza…medium pizza & breadsticks. Service was good and the pizza was just like at home. $23 for dinner here. Wendy’s-same food as at home-about $22 per meal. We had dessert from the dessert bar in the Marriott hotel. The desserts were very good and prices really weren’t that bad. Three desserts for $11. We also had muffins or danishes in the morning here a couple times.
Rental Car/Taxi: We rented from Hans at Tropic and would recommend them. We took the taxi to and from the airport and it was $23 each way.
Touristy Things: We drove up to the California Lighthouse one morning. Not much to see, just the lighthouse. We went to the Butterfly Farm. That was interesting and we learned a lot about moths and butterflies. We took the tour of the Aruba Aloe Factory. It was a quick tour, but interesting. We were going to tour the WEB facility, which is the desalination plant, unfortunately, our rental car had a flat tire and we missed the tour. We drove down to the end of the island around Baby Beach and up near the caves to do some exploring. Found a bunch of goats and quite a few donkey’s. By the time we got to the caves they had all closed for the day. Someone at the cave told us they close at 4:00 p.m. This same person told us you can go in the caves for free, but they charge you for the flashlight-which is required! We also came across a couple signs that stated that we were entering the “military live firing range, enter at your own risk and don’t touch anything that looks suspicious”. That was not on any tourist map! We ended up at a beach at the southern end that had about 8 or so brightly colored huts/cabins on it. I assume they were fishing cabins or something. It was very pretty with the rough surf and the line of colored huts across the sand. We also found a huge compound that we assumed was the prison! Not on the tourist map either. We also drove around the northern end of the island and found the varied landscape interesting. It goes from powder white beaches, to large chunks of bleached coral that had been washed ashore with sharp, jagged rocks to smooth huge bolders. It was very dramatic scenery. We also found a “cave” where the water rushes in and out. You would never know it was there unless you got out of the car and walked the edge of the coastline.
Now for the reason we went to Aruba-Beaches! Baby Beach-it was really, really windy the day we went to Baby Beach. We decided to stay and rented two chaise’s and a shade hut for $31 for the day. Even though the wind and blowing sand was terrible we paid the $31 and we were staying! I’m glad we did as we had a good time. The snorkeling was good and the water was warm and shallow. You could “drift snorkel” from the left opening of the bay. The fish were very friendly as I think they were used to people feeding them. About halfway through the day while we were out snorkeling, one of the people that rent’s the shade hut’s came and turned our shade away from the sun. While this sounds like a nice service, it really made a mess of things for us. We had brought a couple bags with books, magazines, food & drinks in as well as our soft sided cooler. We had carefully propped the bags up under the shade and closed them away from the blowing sand so they wouldn’t be filled with sand. When they turned the shade, the drug all of our bags under the metal bar of the shade and completely filled them with sand. Everything was dumped upside down. So much for our sand-free snacks! I mentioned to them that they should really ask if we want our shade turned before they just do it.
Malmok area-there are several little bays in this area. You can easily find them as the tour boats arrive around 10:00 or 10:30 in the morning. We snorkeled in three of the areas. The snorkeling was good in all the areas. Since my son had never snorkeled we stayed pretty close to the shoreline. We brought a small kick-board from home that he used when he snorkeled and I towed him along with me. That worked very well.
Our favorite beach as Arashi. There wasn’t a lot of snorkeling unless you went out a ways or to either end of the beach area, but the main beach was long and white with shade huts. The water was shallow and had good waves to play in. My kids both played on tubes that we had brought from home. Due to the wind, when we were resting on the beach, the tubes were locked in the car or they would be blown away.Palm Beach-in front of the Marriott. We swam here a couple times, but didn’t really like it as much. It was a little boring. My daughter and I did take a windsurfing lesson from Vela Windsurf shop one day and had fun. It was $60 for two hours per person.
De Palm Island-We spent an entire day on De Palm Island. This was the best snorkeling from shore we found on the island. There were huge parrot fish-blue and teal, angles, trumpets, puffers, small and large fish of all varieties and plenty of interesting coral. We also saw two small nurse sharks in one of the little bays. We didn’t snorkel with them! Access into the water was easy also. My son really enjoyed the water slides and even my husband, daughter and I went down them several times. Not huge thrill rides, but something different to break up the day. It also was a good way to wash off the salt water after snorkeling. The food was only average, breakfast and lunch buffet and hot dogs, hamburgers and fries. They close the buffet at 3:00 p.m. so if you are thinking about a late afternoon snack-go to the buffet early! They also ran out of fresh fruit, which would have been refreshing on a hot day. Plenty to drink however.
Overall, we had a great vacation although I’m not sure we will return to Aruba anytime soon. We decided to go to the JW Marriott in Cancun next.
More Aruba Links:
Marriott's Aruba Ocean Club http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/docs/DOC-1332
Marriott's Aruba Surf Club http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/docs/DOC-1331
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/docs/DOC-1285
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/docs/DOC-1330
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