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Old 07-11-2008, 11:21 AM
 
Location: The Big D
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I love to find all of the LOCAL places everywhere we go. I've never been to Aruba but my sis is and I don't trust her judgement. Sad but true.

Anyway, what is there to do in Aruba for a week besides lay on the beach or by the pool which we plan on doing a LOT of?

Place to eat?

Sightseeing?

Things for the kids (9 & 13)?

Things for the whole family?

Another family member that was there on a cruise told us about going snorkling over off some island. Is this worth it?

THANKS
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Old 07-11-2008, 03:32 PM
 
Location: Catonsville, MD
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There's a really great butterfly farm there. GORGEOUS butterflies. Palm beach is a gorgeous beach. We stopped there on a cruise, so we only had part of one day, but it sure was a beautiful island!
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Old 07-11-2008, 05:14 PM
 
Location: Kirkwood, DE and beautiful SXM!
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It has been about 5 years since we were in Aruba. There is a bus system, but Aruba is hot and windy and you probably don't need to be standing on a corner waiting for a bus. Plus, it is an easy drive. Signage is very good and you won't get lost. There are also jeep tours of the desert which looked like fun. Shopping is good and you will find Aruba to be very clean. Some of the sights we went to were the California Lighthouse, Arikok Park (desert--take water), Natural Pool, and the many beaches. Unfortunately, the Natural Bridge is no longer there. You will probably want to go to Aruba Aloe and they have lots of product. Unfortunately for us, this was the only place that I have ever been in the world where my credit card number was stolen. A word of advice is that you take a credit card that has nothing on it except your purchases from Aruba.

We enjoy eating out and and I can't remember everywhere we ate, but here are some of the places (all were very good): Brisas del Mar (a few miles out of town)--sit on the deck; Aqua Grill; Driftwood (one of the best); Carlos and Charlie's; Iguana Joe's; Flying Fishbone. I know that we had breakfast at Le Petit Cafe at least once.

The kids will love going into the desert and the beaches. If you stay on Palm Beach, there is a path that goes almost the length of the beach and hotels and restaurants are right there. Water is not too deep so the kids can go out pretty far.

If you are driving around at night, I would probably skip the San Nicholas area. Of course, it has probably changed in the past several years.

We really enjoyed Aruba and hope you do also.
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Old 07-13-2008, 10:02 AM
 
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I am from Aruba now living in the US. Would love to give you some tips and hints of what to do and where to go feel free to DM me for questions. Just for starters definitely take one of the jeep tours as well as a horse back riding trip. Also look into the Atlantis Submarine. The island for snorkeling is called Palm Island, and is one of the prime spots to be up close to all kinds of fish, including parrot fish. You can basically touch them. Palm Island also has Sea Trek, where you literally walk on the bottom of the ocean. I have done this with my 8 yr old son when they first opened.
Some restaurants not to miss, The buccaneer, best seafood around, El Gaucho, Argentina steak house, The Paddock for some dutch fare and many more.
some links for info: Visit Aruba: Vacations in Aruba, Hotels, Information, Aruba News and More! and for the palm island and tours: Welcome to De Palm Tours - Your adventure starts here!
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Old 07-13-2008, 06:29 PM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
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It takes about 4 hours to see all that there is to see in Aruba. Unless you're a scuba person, there's not much else to do. They do have a great beach area for scuba divers. When we were there a few years ago, all they would brag about is their new McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets. They considered that bringing themselves into the modern world.
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Old 07-14-2008, 07:01 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nitram View Post
It takes about 4 hours to see all that there is to see in Aruba. Unless you're a scuba person, there's not much else to do. They do have a great beach area for scuba divers. When we were there a few years ago, all they would brag about is their new McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets. They considered that bringing themselves into the modern world.
Just FYI, those have been on the island for years so I don't know when the last time was you have visited. Plus the only reason the fast food chains came to the island was to cater to the American Tourists. We been in the modern world way before they came. We locals much prefer the local food venues and/or snack trucks. Obviously you missed a lot of what the island has to offer if you thought there is not much else to do. I am from there and still go back on vacation to do things I have never done before.
Also if there is nothing to do, why do tourists return every year, for over 20yrs in a row, and many of them more then once a year?
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:32 AM
 
Location: The Big D
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THANKS EVERYONE!!!!!

I'm printing out all of the suggestions. We are going to relax and chill for awhile but still want something to do. Most of our vacations are "go go go go go" as there is always a LOT TO SEE AND DO!!! While Aruba has plenty to do it is not so much that we would be overwhelmed and no down time.

We DO want to visit mostly local eating establishments. McD's and KFC have little to no value to us. We don't eat them here so we usually don't eat them while traveling. We MUCH prefer more local flavor.

We are staying at La Cabana which appears to be north of town on the west side of the island. I'm not sure how far we would have to walk to anything or if getting a cab all the time would be the most feasible. Hubby does not want to rent a car if we can avoid it. Many places we have stayed we have gotten by on just walking and cabs and done just fine. We don't mind renting one for a day or so if we should need to in order to do something that makes it more feasible and not "crunch time" to be able to enjoy it more on our own time.

Keep all the info coming as I truly do appreciate it and want to enjoy the island as much as possible while there. THANKS!!!!
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Old 07-14-2008, 02:11 PM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
39,578 posts, read 47,812,904 times
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I'm not demeaning Aruba, it's a beautiful place. But it's primarily a scuba area. Most people I know of go there to either to get away from the hustle and bustle and rest along the beautiful beach for a week or so, or they go like my neighbors just to scuba dive.
I mention the Mac and KFC as the tour guide was the one that exclaimed how people felt about them adding to the culture of the area.
I always look for the local cuisine and visit the native areas vs the tourist spots. But like Aruba, as well as other places we visit, we always take a tour of the place in order to get a feel for what is going on there. The we take off to the local spots where the locals are.
And Aruba pretty much relies on the tourist trade, especially the Cruise lines.
And of course there's the world wide notoriety of that story about the missing girl that has been all over the news.
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Old 07-28-2008, 01:25 PM
 
Location: The Big D
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Got back from Aruba and had a great time. We stayed at La Cabana (the rooms are undergoing a much needed renovation and we knew that ahead of time so it was not a big deal. The renovations were not interfering w/ the entire resort and the area under work was blocked off - no big deal). I knew it was "across the street from the beach" and it was not THAT BAD at all. We have stayed at properties that were "DIRECTLY" on the beach and had to walk further. The street is not even that noticable. If your not paying attention as your walking from the pool area to the beach you won't even realize it is indeed a road. LOL!!! The newly renovated rooms will look like brand new and the resort is in a good location w/ PLENTY of beach palapas, lounge chairs by the pool, nice pool side bar and restaurant (great chicken wings) and not right smack dab in the middle of tons of congestion. We don't do highrises and mega huge resorts at all.

Did not make all of the dining spots mentioned - can only eat so much. Did eat at these though:
Paddock - has some dishes w/ a bit of an Asian influence. Spicy Shrimp was very good.
El Faro (at the lighthouse for sunset - great view but it was hazy, cloudy and humid that day )
Charlie's for lunch(the seedy side of the island but not a big deal for us)
Scala - this was an unintended spot to dine as we had plans for another spot but after hitting some of the shops for fun we were HUNGRY. It started out w/ slow service but that was fine and the food was very good.
Salt & Pepper - recommended by a local. Tenderloin was delicious.
Le Petit Cafe - lunch one day. Tenderloin sandwich was very good.

The only REAL downer was the night we got there. Plane was not scheduled to land until 9:30pm but was an hour late. Got a taxi to our condo and asked the front desk if there was ANYTHING open to grab a bite to eat. "Nothing is open!". He was NOT helpful at all and while we filled out glowing comment cards on every other person that waited on us at the resort I let them know the front desk never ONCE had ANYONE that was the least bit helpful and acted like you were interupting them for just being there. Got a taxi driver out front to take us to Wendy's that was still open and VERY BUSY!!!! That was a $50 fast food meal due to the taxi fare being $25 and something extra for his very helpful service at that point. If we had known that beforehand and had thought to ask the taxi driver from the airport we would have had her stop at the Wendy's we passed for us to grab a bite real quick. This info needs to be posted to travelers coming in that there is not much open to grab a bite real quick at midnight.

The bellman at La Cabana was AWESOME. He helped us rent a car for the week and showed us on the map where to go, what to see, eat, do, etc. He eagerly made dinner reservations for us. VERY HELPFUL! Also told us which grocery store to go to. I bought some of the Aruba reusable shopping bags and have already used them here at home when I went to the grocery store.

It DOES take more than 4 hours to see the ENTIRE island if one DOES get out of the car at the points of interest and checks them out. We went to the:
California Lighthouse - wish they would open it back up and would LOVE to see the view from the top.
Santa Anna Church
Natural Bridges
Alto Vista Chapel
Old Dutch Windmill
Ayo Rock Formations
That was ONE DAY!

Another day of exploring included:
Arikok National Park
Boca Prins
Fontein Cave
Quadirikiri Cave (where the bats are and the kids loved it)
Wish more caves were open but only a few each day are open.
Baby Beach
San Nicolas and lunch at Charlie's

When we stopped at some of the shops in Oranjestad one of the locals asked where we had been after I apologized for my disheveled looks. They were amazed that we had been to the caves and such and had stopped to come shop for a bit - they said most tourists never venture on their own to those spots much less actually WANT to go see them. I'm sure being in Orangestad they see mostly the cruise tourists that barely get 100' from the boat.

There is more to do on Aruba that we did not make due to time. We liked to take our time and enjoy some days of nothing but laying on the beach so that kept us from seeing and doing EVERYTHING! Never made it to DePalm Island to snorkel. John the bellman at LaCabana told us to stop and buy some cheap snorkel gear and go snorkeling at Baby Beach and the kids would still love it and not take up the entire day like DePalm would. Good advice if you don't want to take the whole day for such.
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Old 07-30-2008, 07:02 AM
 
Location: Cheshire, UK
306 posts, read 1,062,229 times
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Here is a blog from a writer who spends his time between the US, Aruba and Spain

The Bent Page
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