Let's Go Latin is the name of a spectacular show of Latin singing, dancing, and acrobatics. It runs from Monday to Saturday at the renaissance Hotel theatre and is a visual feast of colour.
We went on a Monday and the theatre wasn't full. Seating is free-style so we had our choice of seats. We sat about five rows from the front. Where you site is important because it is said that if you sit in the front three rows you cannot see the dancer's feet as they perform. Also, I found that sitting in the fifth row (close to the front) I was chosen to sing and also to dance. Normally shy, this time I agreed to go ahead with it and it turned out to be a lot of fun. In fact, three days later when dining at Madame Janette's, some people came up to me and said "Oh you're the dancer from the Latin Show!"
The show has a cast of around 40. There's a leading male and a leading female and they are comperes and singers - both with great singing voices and very easy on the eye. We met the female singer before the show when we were trying to find our way atround the hotel and she could not have been more helpful - she's a lovely person as well as a great singer.
The costume changes for both the singers and the dancers were many and varied and quite amazing.
The acrobats (two males and a female) performed about three seperate acts and are amazingly talented.
I would recommend taking the dinner and show package. At a cost of $89 per person some might find it expensive, but I thought it was great value for money. Dinner is at L G Smiths restaurant and I will seperately review that. For $10 less you can eat at the adjoining seafood buffet.
To see the show alone it costs $44 per person.
After the show the cast line up in the foyer for photographs and to greet the audience. It's a lovely touch.
I thought this was an incredible night out.
The beaches in Aruba are really the main reason to visit, the Caribbean is a stunning turquoise blue, warm as bath water, the white sand is soft beneath your feet and never hot and very rarely do you come across shells or anything that would stop you from walking barefoot.
Palm Beach is where the high rise hotels are located, the beaches have beautiful sand but are the most populated and crowded, you'll find the resort's palapas (beach umbrellas) scattered along the beach, a couple of pier for boat trips, restaurants and lots of people.
Eagle Beach and Manchebo Beach are south of Palm Beach, across the street in most places from the low rise resorts, you can find some palapas here but not as many as Palm Beach and not as close to the water. Manchebo is supposed to be top optional but I didn't see anyone sunbathing without their top.
Druif Beach is the last stretch of beach before hitting Oranjestad, it's rockier than the other beaches
Baby Beach is another popular beach on the southern tip of Aruba, it seemed difficult to get here without a car so we didn't go
Boca Catalina is the beach that you see from snorkeling excursions, if you have snorkel gear including fins you should have no problem snorkeling from shore.
We briefly thought about renting a jeep to go exploring but decided to let someone else do the driving and booked an afternoon trip with DePalm. The price is the same no matter where you book it, $72 per person, we found a $10 coupon per couple in one of the Aruba guides at the hotel.
They pick you up at your hotel, take you to the main depot where you decide who wants to drive the jeep and who wants to be tossed around in the back. There was only one of the passengers in our jeep that wanted to drive, a crazy Brazilian who did a good job of keeping the jeep on the road.
The tour takes you around the northside of the island, stopping at the California Lighthouse and Alta Vista Chapel along the bumpy unfinished roads on the north coast then onto the Natural Bridge, or should I say the remains of the Natural Bridge, and finally to the Natural Pool where the road got really interesting.
I think all of these sights, except the Natural Pool, were accessible without a tour, some by car and some by jeep. If you had a jeep you can get to the Natural Pool but it wasn't extremely well marked and the road is REALLY rough.
Although I enjoyed getting out and seeing some of Aruba besides the beach, I think you can do most of this on your own for less money by renting a jeep. The sights they stop at aren't all that exciting, a lighthouse you can't go up inside, a small chapel, a natural bridge that collasped. The scenery along the north coast is beautiful though.
The ride in the jeep is a lot of bouncing, several times we flew out of our seats so it's not recommended for people with back trouble or pregnant women.
You might have a look at one of DePalm's competitors, ABC Jeep Tours, for a few more dollars you get a whole day excursion and see a lot more of the island.
Snorkeling trips are offered in the morning and the afternoon, the afternoon trips are less expensive because they are slightly shorter and don't include lunch. You can book at your hotel or the tour offices along the beach, the price was the same.
We went on a morning trip with DePalm Tours that left from the pier near the Radisson, the price was $69 per person but we found a $10 discount per couple coupon in one of the Aruba guides so it was $64 per person + tax. The afternoon trips ranged from $33-$49.
DePalm was the tour outfit that everyone seemed to recommend, but I didn't find the staff to be overly friendly and all of the boats were stopping at the exact same three stops, there were always 3-4 boats anchored in addition to ours so I think you can book with anyone and have the same experience. The person we booked with said the catamarans are a nicer, smoother way to travel though than a sailboat like Jolly Pirates which was cheaper (online looks like $53 and perhaps even 15% cheaper with online booking).
The Antilla wreck, a German ship sunk by the Germans off the coast of Aruba druing WWII, was the best snorkeling spot, it was cool to see the ship wreck and there were lots of fish. The Catalina reef snorkeling was OK, if you had your own equipment and are a decent swimmer, you could snorkel here from the shore. The 3rd stop at Malmok was a waste of time, I saw two fish and a couple of starfish. Most people didn't even get off the boat as they served lunch at this stop.
The included lunch was fine, salad, fruit, small sandwiches, pasta salad and either chicken or beef served over rice. Beverages, including beer, pina coladas, fruit punch and rum drinks, are included in the price.
Aruba is blessed with a number of beautiful white sand beaches.
Perhaps the most popular is Palm Beach, which is the beach in front of all the high rise hotels. In fact, the island clearly signposts high rise areas and low rise areas.
In the Palm Beach area the sea is calm and the water is shallow. Perfect for kids and even for adult paddling.
Here you will also find the jettys for the main tour companies such as De Palm Tours, many of which have their own bars which are open to the public. There is little nicer at sunset than sitting on one of these jettys sipping an exotic cocktail as the sun goes down.
Captain Jethro has been hosting snorkeling and sunset cruises for over 28 years, 21 of which have been on the OCTOPUS, his 40 foot trimaran sailboat. All equipment is included and they limit booking to a maximum of 22 people.
Prices are all inslusive - Meals and Open bar:
Special Half Day Champagne Brunch
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Stops to explore two snorkeling destinations - the first is the "German Freighter" and the second is "Catalina Bay". A homemade breakfast of baked goods and sparkling Mimosas is provided. Lunch features a fresh meat board, crisp salad, crusty French bread and an array of fresh friuits.
$42.50 per person
Afternoon Delight Sailing-Snorkeling
Monday thru Friday 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Afternoon trips feature snorkeling at "Catalina Bay" and a light lunch is served.
$27.50 per person
Happy Hour Sunset Sails
Tuesday and Thursday
March - October 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m
October - March 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m
A fun and relaxing tour passing the coast line and watching the sunset. Accompanied by music and open bar.
$27.50 per person
Although you might be able to get to the Natural Pool (conchi) on your own, it certainly is easier when you have a guide leading the way. We visited with DePalm tours, we also saw people on an ATV tour. You can't get here with a regular car but you can with a jeep, the terrain is VERY rocky getting to the Natural Pool. Follow the signs for conchi
Once you get there, you still need to walk down a long flight of stairs. I highly recommend aqua shoes that you can go into water with, the guys on our tour with tennis shoes probably had soggy salty shoes for the rest of their trip and you wouldn't want to climb down in bare feet.
I was expecting an extremely calm pool of water but it was anything but, be careful if the waves are crashing over the top of the rocks into the pool, if the sea is that rough then there is a fairly strong current in the Natural Pool.
No, they don't sell fleas here, but they do sell just about everything else.
The market takes place every Saturday from around 10am 'till 6pm. It's on the main road from the low rise hotel area to Oranjestad. You can see the stalls being set up on Friday evening.
We went along at about 11am, but we felt we were still a bit too early as some of the stalls were still setting up.
It's a great place to go if you want to buy typical souvenirs at less than half the price of the shops. You can buy three t-shirts for $10, whereas one will cost you $17 in the shops.
I liked the white cotton tops, skirts, and dresses that were on offer at very reasonable prices. There were also white cotton clothes for men. Ideal to wear in the blistering and humid heat.
There are signs for a barbecue, though I didn't see it - maybe, again, we were too early.
Donkeys were first introduced on Aruba to transport goods and people. After the introduction of the automobile, many donkeys were set free. Because many of them lost their habitat, the Aruban wild donkey is today at the edge of extinction.
A group of animal lovers founded the Fundacion Salba nos Burico ( Save our Donkey Foundation ).
Often terribly abused ,injured or ill, these donkeys have found refuge at the Santa Lucia Donkey Sanctuary. Visitors and volunteers alike melt when they pet the donkeys, especially the newborn jacks and jennies.
Open weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Open weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
In my opinion, the prettiest sight of all on Aruba is the Chapel of Our Lady of Alto Vista, sited as it is on a hill overlooking the whole island and right out to sea.
It was built in the 1600's and has been renovated in recent times. Inside it's as pretty as outside and will seat perhaps 20 people. There's a lot more seating outside and I am told that regular services of worship are held here, and indeed many weddings.
I cannot imagine a prettier place in the world to be married:-)
In this tip, I will highlight some of the tours that DE PALM TOURS has to offer:
This original dinner and barhopping adventure takes you into the countryside and down city alleys for a true island adventure.
Come ride this wacky, wonderful, one-of-a-kind, hand-painted Parranda Bus. Shake your Maracas to Caribbean music, then it's off to dinner under the stars at a country locale. After dinner you are off to Aruba's best kept secret "watering holes".
NATURAL POOL JEEP ADVENTURE
Their half-day Safari will take you through Aruba's Cunucu ( Countryside in Papiamento ). Along the way you will see Aruba's exotic fauna and flora, Iguanas basking in the sun and Divi trees and some of the island's main historic sites. At the Natural Pool you can swim or snorkel in its pristine waters.
SCREAMER JET BOAT THRILLS RIDE
For the ultimate adrenalin rush, a ride on the Screamer is a must. The 42-foot long jet boat with 1.000 horsepower turbo twin engines takes you for 60 non-stop minutes of high speed runs up and down the North Coast.
Tours depart from the Pelican Pier located at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort. Visit you hotel activities desk for reservations or call 588-6881.
Look for a coupon that offers $5.00 off the regular price of $44.00 US per person.
Also offered are:
Happy Hour Snorkel Sail
Palm Pleasure Snorkel Adventure
Aruba Safari Off-road Adventure
Aruba Sight-seeing tour
De Palm Island
Snuba and Scuba Diving
Sunset and Dinner Cruises
For more information on these tours and others, visit De Palm Activities desk in your hotel or De Palm Pier on Palm Beach
Oranjestad is the capital and largest city of Aruba and I suspect it's the only city in Aruba that has anything going on for visitors. We visited Oranjestad three times, twice we walked from Palm Beach, an almost 2 hour walk along Eagle, Manchebo and Druif beaches and the 3rd time we took the bus from outside the Radisson.
We walked along Main Street with it's tourist oriented gift shops, high end stores and stores that the locals would shop in for clothes and other goods, ate at two different restaurants and visited the grocery stores.
The architecture here looks like brightly frosted gingerbread, with bright pink, blue, green frosting, the Dutch colonial style buildings are mostly not original but built to look like they date from the colonial era.
Ummm, make that the former Natural Bridge! Even though the Natural Bridge collapsed on September 2, 2005, tour companies still take you here. You can see the bridge that collapsed, the "baby" natural bridge that sits right next to the rubble, use the bathrooms for 50 cents or shop in the gift shop and get a snack.
Our guide told us that the bridge collasped in the wee hours of the morning so fortunately no one was standing on it at the time. I did find it rather amusing that the horde of tourists that were standing on the "baby" bridge after hearing how the other bridge collapsed...
On your narrated tour of Aruba's undersea world aboard the SEAWORLD EXPLORER, you will enjoy a spectacular view of the Arashi Reef and the largest wreck in the Caribbean, the Antilla, a 400 foot German freighter destroyed in World WarII. This semi-submarine is an underwater observatory, which was originally used for research on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The vessel remains above sea level at all times, while its hull, five feet below the surface, provides spectacular viewing.
Departs from Holiday Inn Pier.
The California Lighthouse is situated at the North of the island and is said to be called after a ship that went down! What an unusual way to name a lighthouse.
I visited it twice - once from the road and the second time from the sea when I saw it from a different perspective. The second visit answered my question as to whether or not it still functions. It doesn't - or at least, if it does, it's not gainfully employed as a lighthouse:-)
The view from the lighthouse grounds is incredible, taking in much of the island.
There's a restaurant beside it where it's magical to watch the sunset. I didn't eat there, but apparently it's a pretty good Italian eatery.
LG Smith Boulevard 55-B, Oranjestad, Aruba, 1347, Caribbean
Good for: Business
My husband and I enjoyed our honeymoon here. There is a great restaurant on site and the staff are...more
Palm Beach Road, Noord 43E, Noord, Caribbean
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Couples