Top 8 Aruba Post of 2018
This year we took our first trip to Aruba. It was a fun relaxing trip.
Before going, we did some research to learn more about the island. We wanted to know more about the island and what makes the island special.
We learned a lot about the island and it helps make it a fun trip. We ended up with 16 blog posts about Aruba. While they were all good, some topics were more important than others.
Top 8 Aruba Blog Post
Here are the Top 9 Aruba posts of 2018 - they are worth checking out before going.
- Aruba International Airport - Far more than you ever wanted to know about the Aruba airport.
- Vamanos, Aruba! - This is our airport experience when we left Aruba.
- General Aruba - Some fun general information about the island.
- Marriott Aruba Surf Club Pools - We stayed at the Marriott Surf Club. The pools were a fun place to spend the day.
- DiVi the most photographed tree in Aruba - Learn more about the DiVi tree that is used in promoting Aruba.
- Palm Beach, Aruba -
- Mix Drinks in Aruba - Learn about all the different mix drinks available at the Marriott Surf Club. Make some at home so you can remember your vacation.
- Unique Souvenirs to Buy in Aruba - What Souvenirs and worth getting and where to find them. (Don't buy Souvenirs that were imported. )
- Signs in Aruba - Location of the popular large Aruba signs - great for family group pictures.
Marriott Aruba Surf Club Pools
The Marriott Aruba Surf Club is a fun place to spend the day in the sun. The Pool area is a fun place to be all day long.
Various Things We learned about the Pools
- The deepest point of all the pools: 6-Feet in the Blue Water Pool
- Seaworthy Pool - This is the main pool that has a pool bar and a volleyball net. You can swim up to the bar and sit down and enjoy a drink. Don't worry about getting your credit car wet - simply charge to the room. Volleyballs can be borrowed from the activity center. The pool is also the location for any pool activities - such as - Bingo.
- Lazy River - The Lazy River is a great place to sit and relax in the water. The resort does not provide any floats, you can bring your own or buy ones in the gift shop. We found the river to be crowded at times with people bumping into each other. New LED lights were placed during construction in October 2016
- Blue Water Pool and Slide - The slide is hard to see from the Lazy River but tuck into the rocks on the Blue Water pool is a nice slide. Adults are allowed to have run and gone on the slide too.
- Serenity Pool - This pool, the closest to the beach, is a nice quiet place for adults to relax. No one under 18 is allowed in the pool. We noticed that chairs were always available in this area. This pool was never crowded.
- Guppies Lagoon Children's Pool - This pool is reserved for the non-swimmers. We didn't see many people using the Guppies Lagoon during our trip. Most parents brought their kids over to the shallow end of the Seaworthy pool.
- Pool Tags - Pool tags are used to reserve your chairs. You can reserve your chair starting at 7 am. You are allowed to go down earlier and mark your spot around 7 someones will come by and let you know that it's safe to leave.
- Water Slide - The water slide opens at 10am. The slide consists of one 180 Dunn and drops the person into 5-feet of water. There is an attendant making sure people crash into each other on the slide. When there's no attendant on duty the slide is closed.
- Snack Bar - There are attendants that walk around the pool getting drinks and snacks but we found it quicker to go to the Seaworthy Pool bar and order there. You can get all sorts of snacks and beverages - Hamburgers, Salads...
- Hot Tub - Tuck between the Lazy River are a couple of hot tubs. They do feel really hot - even in the hot Aruba sun. Kids are not allowed in the hot tub - however, we did see kids relaxing.
- Lizard Sightings - One of the best places to find some of the larger lizards is the lazy river. One thing we learned is that lizards have been known to swim across the lazy river to get to the other side.
Mix Drinks in Aruba
Here is the drink menu for the Sea Worthy's Pool Bar at the Marriott's Aruba Surf Club. During the day is a very popular bar with people looking to get a nice refreshing drink. Happy hour starts at 1pm
- Mango Majito - Bacardi Rum, Fresh Mint Leaves, Lime Juice, Mango Puree, Topped with Soda Water
- Marvelous Margarita - Tequila Jose Cuervo Gold, Triple Sec. Margarita Mix
- Wild Rita - Wild Berry Puree, Margarita Mix, Triple Sec, Jose Cuervo Tequila.
- Light House Passion - Passion Fruit Puree, OJ, Stolichnaya Raspberry Vodca, Raspberry Mix Swirl
- Banana-Banana - Banana Puree, Captain Morgan Rum, Bacardi Lemon, Pineapple Juice
- Peachy-Peachy Bang-Bang - Peach Puree, Banana Puree, Bacardi Razz, Mango Swirl
On the Rocks
- Berry-Berry Nice - Raspberry Vodka, Triple Sec, Wildberry Puree, Lemon Juice, Crushed Mint Leaves
- Mikes Full Monty - Cruzan Island Rum, Stolivhnaya Vodka, Peach Liqueur, Peach Puree, Iced Tea
- Blues by Zheng - Peach Schnapps, Blue Curacao, Stolivhnaya Vodka, Lemonade
- Sweet Tart - Wildberry Puree, Banana Puree, Ice Cream Mix
- Mango Frosty - Mango Puree, Vanilla Ice Cream
- Peaches Dream - Peach Puree, Ice Cream Mix
Two Additional Drinks
The bar is an open bar and they could make just about any mixed drink that you wanted. We asked for these two popular Caribbean drinks:
We liked this but found that bars off Marriott property did a better job making this drink. (They had more flavor and you got more drink) Make sure to try a different place at least once.
Had this on the beach, it was good. As I recall it was a great drink to sit and relax in the sun. This was only available at beach-side, not exactly sure what was it in.
Frozen Cocktails - 2007
Back in 2007, I wrote a blog post about the various drinks that we enjoyed at Pelican Bay in St. Maarten. It's another page to look at for some drink ideas when heading to the Caribbean or having a Caribbean theme party.
The Lazy Turtle Aruba
On our recent trip to Aruba we found it very challenging to find places that offered Gluten Free meals for my seven-year-old daughter. There were several restaurants in the Palm Beach area that did have gluten free options and the one we liked the best was The Lazy Turtle Aruba.
The Lazy Turtle Aruba
When we arrived at the Passeo Herencia Mall we wanted to go to the Iguana Cantina, but they weren't open. We arrived at 5 - when they are scheduled to be open but they told us that they were ready yet. So we ventured out to another restaurant.
We found The Lazy Turtle nearby and asked about their Gluten Free options. The host had to check with the kitchen, and came back and said that they did have Gluten Free options for us.
When we sat down we were told of several options but was impressed when they informed us that they would be able to make her Gluten Free Pasta.
The pasta arrived very quick, and the server mentioned the dish was gluten free - which is a good sign that the kitchen was aware of the allergy.
My daughter tried a few bites and liked it and she ended up eating the entire dish. Which is a rare occurrence since she typically wants to save some for a later meal.
We were fortunate as they only charged us $5 for the pasta - as part of the kid's meal. (Aruba can be an expensive place to eat out)
Wanted to go Back...but
We did have plans to go back since all our meals were really good, but we didn't as we wanted to try different restaurants on the island.
We certainly recommend going to the Lazy Turtle for anyone looking for a Gluten Free meal in Aruba.
Finding The Lazy Turtle
The Lazy Turtle Aruba is located in the Passeo Herencia Mall in Noord, Aruba. There telephone is +297 5871992.
Like most restaurants at the Passeo Herencia Mall, they don't open until 5 pm.
Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts
Your not completely isolated from America when your enjoying life in the Caribbean. Among all the local establishments in Palm Beach, Aruba is Dominos Pizza, Wendy's and MacDonalds.
You can even find Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts just a few feet from each other near the Palm Beach Mall. Yes New England, you can get your favorite Dunkin Ice Coffee in Aruba.
There's a Starbucks in the Palm Beach Mall and at the Marriot Hotel.
Both places offer the usual drinks and food. They didn't have any egg white breakfast treats. Nether places accept the Starbucks card or allow payments via the Starbucks app.
Both places have the Aruba mugs - both for the same price.
At the Marriott hotel Starbucks, you can charge your order to your room. This is very convenient when getting a nice cold drink after a hot day in the sun.
Brewed Coffee cost $2.75 for tall, $3.00 for Grande, and $3.25 for Venti
Carmel Frappuccino cost $5.25 for Tall, $6.00 for Grande and $6.75 for Venti
The Marriott Starbucks is located in the xxx hotel, conveniently located next to the Casino.
The Palm Beach Starbucks is located in the Palm Beach Mall, along J.E. Trausquin Boulevard. This location offered free wifi.
The Dunkin has a donut sign on the outside so that you can show the world that you were at the Dunkin Donuts in Aruba. Apparently, people do stop by and take a picture.
We arrive at the store late in the day and they still had plenty of donuts in the there were only a couple of unique donuts that were available - Guava and a Chocolate. I had them the next morning and they were delicious.
The store also sells Dunkin mugs and hats. Great souvenir for anyone that you know that likes Dunkin Donuts. (You can also find the mugs on eBay.)
We purchased the large Ice Coffee mug. The one thing we noticed is that the non-slip grip on the bottom would fall out. We speculate that the mug was probably sitting there for a long time.
Dunkin Donuts Location
The only Dunkin Donuts in Palm Beach area is located on J.E. Trausquin Boulevard - next door to the Texas de Brazil Aruba. If your not up to coffee, you can get some Baskin Robbins ice cream.
De Palm Tours
The De Palm Tours is one of the many tours that you can take to explore Aruba. They offer a Full Day Tour and a 3-hour tour. It's a great way to see some popular sites and learn Aruba history and culture.
Stops Made Along the Tour
There were six official stops where we were able to get off the bus and explore. Here are some notes about our recent adventure on the De Palm Tour.
We were the last ones on the bus. The bus drove down the road for a bit and then pulled over.
- Basic introduction to the tour and how the day will play out.
- The tour guide will give some history of thier Island experience
California LightHouse - Stop #1
First stop is the California Lighthouse. You get 20 mins to explore the area around the Lighthouse.
- On the way up you learn about the history of the Lighthouse.
- You can't go up inside the California lighthouse, as the Lighthouse tour is only in the mornings.
- One of the truck vendors sells a coconut drink that served in a real coconut. There was a tropical bird which drew a lot of attention.
- There's a small replica of the California lighthouse in the La Trattoria El Faro Blanco. In addition, there's a small garden which makes a great place to take photos.
- Opposite of the La Trattoria El Faro Blanco is the northernmost tip of the island - great views of the ocean.
After the lighthouse the Bus will stop near the Antilla Shipwreck, near Boca Catalina Beach. You learn a little about the German ship that sunk just off the shore.
Chapel of Our Lady of Alto Vista - Stop #2
After leaving the California Lighthouse you have a nice drive over to the Chapel of Our Lady of Alto Vista. This is another 10 minute stop
- On the drive up to the chapel there are multiple crosses on the side of the road, these are the Stations of the Cross.
- This is good place to get rosary beads and holy water (Gift items)
- You can buy a candle at one of the vendors and light it in the chapel - there are matches inside.
- There is no "official bathroom" here. The driver joked about going into the desert to use the facilities.
Gold Mine Ruins (Bushiribana Ruins)
- We basically drove by the ruins, we thought this would be a stop.
- There were a few cars at the ruins but it didn't look like you could do anything other than taking pictures of the ruins.
- The driver side of the bus is the best views of the ruins
Sea Shore (Unscheduled Stop)
- We weren't supposed to stop here, but he did stop and let us get out for about five minutes to take pictures.
Natural Bridge - Stop #4
- You can buy Balashi, local Aruban beer, pretty cheap at the Souvenir store (I think it was $4 a bottle) Balashi taste like Budweiser.
- Each person on the bus gets a ticket to try some Pastechis. To get your treat, you go to the souvenir store and give the ticket to the person at the counter. You do not have to make any purchase to get your treat.
- Pastechi is a Caribbean pastry filled with Gouda cheese and fried up. It was very good.
As for the Casibari Rock Formation, you view it from the bus. The best view is from the side opposite of the driver.
Lunch at De Palms Island - Stop #5
After the Natural Bridge, you're on the bus for a while on the way to the De Palms Island for lunch. Once you arrive you take a short ferry ride to the Island.
- You'll have an hour to eat the buffet lunch.
- There are plenty of tables in the lunch hall.
- Each item on the buffet has an tag that highlights any allergy information (Wheat, Milk, Seafood)
- There were plenty of Gluten Free options - including fish and BBQ chicken.
- There's plenty of local soda options - a good chance to try out the different Aruba soda flavors!
- Since Baby Beach is the next stop, this is a good place to change and put on lotion.
Baby Beach - Stop #6
- You'll have an hour on the beach.
- The bus had plenty of snorkel equipment, they don't have flippers as you don't need them for Baby Beach.
- If you do go swimming, make sure to leave some time to dry off before getting on the bus.
After leaving the Beach, the tour comes to an end and it's time to head back to the hotels. It officially gets over when you arrive in Oranjestad.
We actually asked our driver if we could get dropped off at one of the downtown hotels to do shopping. He didn't mind, as it saved him a stop since we were the only ones at our hotel to get on.
Additional Notes about the Tour
- Bring towels, Camera, and some money to buy souvenirs.
- Make a note of the bus number as there are multiple De Palm buses at each stop.
- It doesn't matter which side of the bus you sit on, you get a great view of the island. Sitting on the driver's side allows you more views of the ocean. The other side had better views of the California Lighthouse.
- You can leave bags on the bus between stops and at lunch.
- The bus ride is a bit bumpy after the Natural Bridge.
- Many of the stops have bathrooms and they charge $1 to use them. (Only exception is De Palms Island where it's free to use the bathroom)
- The driver will tell you how long you have at each stop. Make a note so you don't miss the bus!
- There is plenty of cold water for your trip.
If you're leaving Aruba and heading back to the United States, make sure to arrive at the airport really early - especially on a Weekend. Everyone will tell you that getting through Queen Beatrix International Airport is an experience.
Here's a walkthrough of our experience and some tips we learned along the way. On our trip, we traveled using JetBlue.
Getting Boarding Pass and Checking In
As soon as you walk into the airport, you need to check-in. JetBlue allows you to do it in advance, but you still need to check your luggage.
- This took about 20 mins. We could have saved some time by checking in before arriving but I don't think much time.
- Obviously, make sure everyone's Passports are available before getting to the counter.
- Be aware of what's not allowed in checked baggage. The attendant will ask you a couple of questions about it.
Aruba Emigration (Stop #1) - Checking Tickets/Passport
After check-in you move to the left of the building and wait outside in the Aruba Emigration line.
- There were two lines and they both appeared to move at the same pace.
- This will be the last time you'll be outside of the airport.
- There are restrooms available if needed.
- You'll get to a counter and the person will verify your boarding pass with your ticket.
- Some people were dumping juice boxes at this point. They could have kept it.
Aruba Emigration (Stop #2) - Checking Passport
After the person checks to make sure you have the right paperwork, you move inside to meet another Aruba Emigration official.
- There were two people checking passports and four self-passport stations.
- They both moved at the same speed, this is probably because of the long line for the General Airport Security Check-in
- We weren't asked any questions they just took our passport and scanned it.
- The room was air conditioned so it was nice and cool.
General Airport Security Checking
After they verify that you're allowed to leave the country. You now wait in the Airport Security line.
- This was the longest line/wait during our departure
- There are two lines leaving the Aruba Emigration, and the left line was moving faster.
- You could still hold a drink during this period.
- As you get closer, you'll see another line merging at the security counter. These are people that are not taking International flights.
- When you get to the scanners, tablets didn't need to be taken out of the carry-ons.
- You didn't need to show Passport going through.
- After you go through the general security - Don't stop - unless you're thirsty! Continue all the way through to the baggage claim area to pick up your bags for American Immigration. This is a large room with suitcases everywhere.
- There are plenty of food and drinks upstairs - which is where your departure gate will be.
- Avoid any Duty-Free Shopping, you can get the same products upstairs. If you do purchase something here, they put it aside and you get to claim it after the American Immigration check-in.
Picking up Bags
After you go through the general airport, you have to pick up your luggage and see US Customs.
- You will need to show your Passport and Ticket to enter the baggage claim area.
- If you haven't marked your bag you'll be spending time searching for yours.
- Pick up your bag and head over to the opposite corner from where you enter the room.
American Immigration Checking
Customs will be quick - make sure to declare anything that you have!
- The line for American Immigration wasn't all that bad, we waited maybe 10 mins here.
- There were plenty of officials checking passports - I believe all stations were open.
- They will ask you a few basic security questions - such as "Did you purchase anything over $1,000?"
- As part of the Preclearance Memorandum of Cooperation, your face will be quickly scanned by the Immigration official.
- Once you get past the agent you get in a line to drop off the bag. The end of the line might be all the way to the right.
Dropping off Bags
Make sure you can lift your bag. You will have to place the bag on the belt which is about a foot and a half off the floor.
- At this point, we have been at the airport for an hour and a half.
- Make sure to drop off the bag at the correct belt! Delta and JetBlue is the second belt.
- The agent at the door will tell you which belt to place your bags.
- After you drop the bag, you now wait in line for the International Security Check-in
International Security Checking
We're not exactly sure why we have to do this again. Seems that they could have placed the bags in a secure area so you don't have to leave and then get rechecked.
- The security bins are small, they barely fit a 15" laptop monitor - compared to Logan Airport where you can put a laptop and a tablet in the same bin.
- They didn't say anything about taking out the tablet, I kept mine in the bag and didn't have any issues.
- There are two lines before going to the Security Checking station. There's actually a person letting people know there are two lines.
- Your Passport and ticket will be checked before going through security. This will be the last time you need your passport for the trip.
Some Additional Notes
- Pay attention to your departure gate. It probably will change.
- You can get a drink after the "General Airport Checking." You'll have time to drink it, there are trash containers right in the security area. (Including a place to dump liquid from a water bottle.)
- We didn't see a lot of places to purchase bottled water or soda. You can get fountain drinks at most of the restaurants.
- If you are leaving Aruba on a Saturday or Sunday (busiest flight days) you should give yourself at least three hours to get through the whole check-in process. This will also give you time to grab a bite to eat, a drink or those last minute souvenirs.
Palm Beach, Aruba
The Palm Beach area is famous for calm waters and white sandy beachfront. It is located right in front of the luxurious stretch of high-rise hotels. This is where the Aruba Marriot, Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino, and the Radisson Aruba Resort are located.
Seven Things I Learned about Palm Beach
- The beach is two miles in length. You can walk the entire length of the beach in roughly 20 minutes.
- This area is commonly called the "High Rise" area because the properties get lower to the ground as you head south.
- It's a 20-minute cab ride to Oranjestad.
- The Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino is the largest resort in Aruba and is located at the heart of Palm Beach.
- The largest pool on Aruba is at the Marriott's Aruba Surf Club.
- The first hotel to be built on Palm Beach was in the 1950s. It was called the Hotel Base-Ruti. The hotel today is part of the Riu Resort.
- The 2017 Cond- Nast Traveler has Palm Beach / Eagle Beach rated #6 best beach in the world. In 2012, it was the #2 Best Beach Destination in the World - According to TripAdvisor's Travel Choice (2012).
- The sea levels are pretty good. As you walking about 50 yards it only gets to about 5 feet deep. There are no rip currents concerns anyplace along Palm Beach.
List of Hotels Around Palm Beach
Talk of the Town Hotel and Beach Club, Palm Beach Retreat, Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino, Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, Marriott's Aruba Surf Club, Holiday Inn Report Aruba - Beach & Casino, The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba, The Mill Resort Hotel Aruba, Hotel Riu Palace Aruba, Barcelo Aruba, DiVi Aruba Phoenix, Brickell Bay Beach Club & Spec Boutique Hotel, Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba, Tropicana Aruba Resort & Casino, Blue Residences Aruba, Caribbean Palm Village Resort, Playa Linda Beach Resort, Palm Aruba Condos, Royal Club Grand Aruba Resort, MVC Eagle Beach Resort Aruba, Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba.
Jeep Tours in Aruba
Aruba is most a desert country, and most of the side roads are dirt roads. If your going to tour the island might as well do it by Jeep.
There are a couple of companies that offer Jeep tours of Aruba:
- Five Hour Tour
- Each Jeep seats 4 people, Guest drive their own jeeps with a lead tour guide
- Children under 12 travel for $64.
- Visit California Lighthouse, Alto Vista Chapel, Baby Natural Bridge, Bushiribana Gold Mine Ruins and Ayo Monolithic Rock Formation.
- Free pick-ups at your hotel or at the cruise dock.
ABC Tours - Island Ultimate - Starting at $108 + tax
"Aruba's #1 Jeep Tour Company"
- Full Day Tour (9.5 Hours)
- Children travel for $70 + tax.
- Lighthouse, Bushiribana Gold Mills Ruines, Natural Bridge, Natural Pool at 'Conchi' Aruba's Arikok National Park, Baby Beach
DiVi the most photographed tree in Aruba
One of the most famous photos from Aruba is that of the Divi-Divi tree by the ocean:
The famous tree is located at the very north end of Eagle Beach (where Eagle Beach ends) across the street from Amsterdam Manor.
What is a DiVi Tree?
A Divi tree is scientifically known as the Caesalpinia coriaria. This is a leguminous tree or large shrub native to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.
Other Common names include Cascalote, Guaracabuya, Guatapana, Nacascol, and Watapana.
Five Things I learned about the Tree
- Caesalpinia Coriaria is a shrub or a small tree with a rounded, spreading crown
- The tree can grow up to 30-feet in height.
- Flowers on the trees attract lots of bees.
- India likes the pods from the DiVi-DiVi as they are powerful quick-acting tanning materials.
- Local say "follow the bend of the divi-divi trees and they'll lead you to town"
Get Your Own DiVi-DiVi Tree
US Customs laws prevent bringing back any trees back to the United States. However, you can buy seeds online and grow your own. Just remember the tree likes warm weather - all year round.
You can buy Divi-Divi seeds from seedvendor.com, they have 20 seeds for $10.