[this post is being updated – so please bookmark to view most recent edit]
This year’s trip was well anticipated after missing last year due to Covid 19. To see pictures please click this PHOTO LINK. Perhaps it was coincidental that Memorial Day week was the first holiday were more people traveled since the pandemic. The island was crowded but not overbearing. There are many options or price-points in having a great time. Some like the hotel experience, some like renting homes and then there are those like us who invested in a timeshare (although you can also rent). For us it allows more versatility as well as entertaining friends we have met over the years.
Covid protocols – Getting in to Aruba and departing
International travel can be tricky in normal times. Even with Covid improving we needed to be laser-focused on our planning and execution to minimize any surprises. Basically, we needed a negative PCR test within three days of our arrival, so we opted for two test back to back days (to insure we would at least get the results back in time). Next, we had to upload the results to obtain the ED card (paper) to the Aruba site and pay the mandatory $30 Covid insurance. Once you arrive at the Aruba airport my only advice is you have PATIENCE but make sure you have your required documentation available (there were about 4 or 5 checkpoints). We complained because the line was super long and it took us about one hour and fifteen minutes to completely exit. Our friend from ATA told us we were lucky!!!!!
Departing was similar as we needed to negative result within three days of leaving. Luckily we shopped around and got RELIABLE information as we only needed the less expensive antigen test. So instead of paying $90+, you will notice numerous clinics where prices vary. We settled for $35 and our results came back within 6 hours. You only need to show your test results to the airline you are flying.
Masking is required, however while on the beach area you are not required to wear it. While curfew has been eliminated, gaming ends at 1AM.
MARRIOTT ARUBA SURF CLUB
This has been one of our best investments. The Surf Club is the largest timeshare property on the island. It boast 900 Villas (owners/renters) and for our trip it was at 93% occupancy. The property is well maintained and for our needs it is perfect. Again, some don’t want the hassle of doing their own cooking or having living accommodations so a hotel room is perfect, and Aruba has many. Another hidden treasure of owning at the Surf Club is its location. A pier was remodeled several years ago and is adjacent the property leading to the Caribbean sea. Fisherman use this spot for bringing in their daily hauls. If you are lucky they will have some extra stock to sell you and seafood ranges from Tuna to Red Snapper to Grouper to Lobster to Shark……you just never know what will be brought in so it adds to the excitement and the fact you have a complete kitchen saves you from having to pay a fortune at local restaurants.
- Baby Beach – The beach is in the Seroe Colorado neighborhood and part of San Nicolas. It’s kind of laughable now but during our first couple of years to Aruba I simply could not find Baby Beach. Once I found it we go every visit. Years ago we met Letizia Rouzan who runs Big Mama with her family. It is a unique venue (Flintstone themed) but they offer great food, cold drinks and also a good time. During Memorial Day Week, thousands flood to Baby Beach as it is a SoulBeach destination, however since it was canceled, Letizia brought her band to perform (they are normally at the Hard Rock) and it was a great afternoon.
- Rodgers Beach – Is adjacent Baby Beach so if you are looking for quieter action this might be your spot.
- Radisson Blu – Just south of the Marriott Aruba Surf Club was supposed to be a large property. Nearly ten years have lapsed so we were pleasantly surprised that Radisson created their flagship premiere venue called “Blu.” We wanted to check out the infinity pool as well as grab a snack so this is one of the newest properties.
- Ritz-Carlton – This is Marriott’s latest development as I was surprised to find out it has been 8 years since opening. Anyway, for me the scenes and the gaming is great because it is less crowded.
- Aruba Aloe Factory – Always a great stop. This year while at the Ritz-Carlton they were using hand sanitizer from Aruba Aloe. It has a great fragrance so I needed to pick up a few bottles.
- Aruba Cigar Factory – This is off the beaten – highway, although no comparison to the tabac factorias in CUBA, but I give them credit for the effort.
- Palm Desert Mall – Paseo Herendia – This is also adjacent the Marriott Aruba Surf Club. It has really expanded but I like to check out the nightly water show and just “hang out.”
- Zeerover’s – is a fav spot in the town of Saveneta. It is a coastal spot adjacent the beach and the big feature is you can dine in or purchase fresh fish and take-out.
fresh whole jumbo shrimp which I prepared back at our Villa
- Big Mama Grill – offers traditional Aruban fare and has a bar featuring all of the island’s favorite beverages.
- La Vista at the Marriott Resort The Marriott transform venues from time to time. The La Vista offers outdoors as well as inside dining. Live music is performed and dishes are affordable
- O’Neil in San Nicolas – A Caribbean fav. Features local menu as well as specialties from Jamaica.
- Sunset Bistro at the Radisson Blu – a new venue in the Palm Beach part of Aruba. Very trendy. Features infinity pool with outdoors dining.
- Ritual Coffee at the Ritz-Carlton
- Aruba Experience – historically correct architecture and great property with fresh food.
- Eduardo’s Shack – a must stop for fresh smoothies, food and acai bowls. Very affordable.
UTV off-road excursion by DePalm
We opted for the 4 hour UTV off-road excursion. It was amazing and for $165 (for two, not per person) we had our own vehicle. Big “D” and Gillermo did an outstanding job in conducting the route, making sure it was safe and educating us on the history of Aruba. The vehicles are amazing as we went through some very rough terrain with rocks as sharp as a blade – yet, we had not flat tires. Sunglasses are OK, but do yourself a favor and invest $10 for some googles as the wind gets very brisk and you will encounter lots of dust.
A video of the experience will be posted soon. Check back frequently.
The White Hennesy Mystic
I’m not a cognac drinker as I never reached that level of sophistication. Anyway, Hennesy is known throughout the the USA, however “Pure” Hennesy aka “White Henney” cannot be purchased there. It is primarily sold in the Caribbean and prices vary based on location. In Aruba it is a hot commodity especially during Memorial Day Week which is the traditional date of the iconic SoulBeach festival.