Okay! Perhaps a beach with wall-to-wall loungers isn't your idea of Hell... yes, you may like to pay through the nose for your food and drink...
However, this is a trap for many of us!
We had just arrived by cat (The 'Pelican'); we had 40 minutes to kill before our 'bus picked us up to tour the island! The beach was crowded. The local hotel, behind the beach, was cool. The shops in the hotel and the food places possibly linked to the hotel were expensive ---okay, not for us but for locals. We were the tourists with lots of dollars to donate---and it felt like it!
We bought nothing!
One good thing though....the hotel toilets were okay.
Unique Suggestions: Take your own food and drink or else be prepared to shed many dollars!
Fun Alternatives: Ask a taxi driver!
Totally hokey and clearly catering to tourists, but with the right attitude, Mama and the rest of the Kukukunuku crew will show you a good time. The party bus is a bright multi-colored school bus decorated with what looks like every option from the party store if you were to throw a luau-themed party. The bus will pick you up at your hotel and the party begins with a trip to the north end where you will have a champagne toast at the light house at sunset. From there, you head to a local restaurant (which either used to be, or is, someone's home) for dinner and drinks. You are then taken to 3 different bars on the island, with tickets or chips to "purchase" your drinks. The bars are very, very local and dingy, but there is a DJ at each one and...plenty of drinks.
Unique Suggestions: I do not generally take part in activities geared toward tourists and would not have chosen to take this "tour" except that my friends thought it would be a hoot. It sure was. We had a really, really fun time, but I think that's mainly due to the fact that we decided to go all out and have fun no matter what. The bus was crowded, but most of the couples/groups were not that out-going and much more reserved than we were (I was with a loud group of 6 from NYC). Regardless, we had a blast and managed to get everyone else on the bus loosened up. The bars we went to were not great, but had music to dance and sing to, which is what a silly bunch of girls like us wanted to do. Drinks were ok, perhaps a little watered down. All in all, a fun time if you are willing to "bring the party" with you!
For the first time in my life, on being presented by the waiter with a sip of wine to taste, I actually blurted out the words 'Oh my God, that's disgusting' ! Never before has this happened.
We were at Tangos 'Argentinian' bar and grill, supposedly one of the 'V.I.P.' restaurants on the island.
If you know your food and wine - DO NOT GO THERE. The food, wine and ambience were a total let down, it was so bad, we laughed about it throughout.
Located in the high rise hotel area, Tangos pitches itself as an 'Argentinian Steakhouse and Seafood Grill'. There was only ONE fish available (the 'daily special' that seemed to be the daily special every day and everywhere whose name eludes me, but I will try to remember).
The terrible wine that I rejected, was on the menu at $28 a bottle no less. The 'special show' promised on the telephone when booking consisted of three very short tangos, albeit performed to a high standard by some highly trained dancers, it lasted around 6 minutes and there was no stage lighting etc..(as you can see by the rather dak photo here!)
The food was extremely average, the child menu offered nuggets (I kid you not!) and my left foot is more Argentinian!. They also forgot the Small Person's ice cream. However, KB enjoyed his enormous steak.
This place that offers meringue dance lessons, salsa and a 'genuine Argentinian atmosphere' (ho ho) was a total disappointment. After the 'show' we were entertained by a karaoki style cabaret singer from across the street who seranaded us with the very Latin 'California Dreamin' among other such traditional mediocre tourist pap.
An evening in the nearby Dunkin' Doughnuts would have been a more exciting option.
The bill was large. The waiter knowingly apologetic and I can safely say, we will never go there again!
Unique Suggestions: Take some earplugs.
If you're going for the seafood, take your own dinner.
Take your own wine.
Eat before you go.
Don't go there !
Fun Alternatives: Cuba's Cookin, in town.
But please dress up a little, the atmosphere there deserves it.
If you are on the beach local women will offer to braid your hair. Becareful they overcharged me and I heard several women arguing over the very high fees...totalling over $100+ when the fee should have been $30.
Unique Suggestions: If you agree to get your hair done you must agree on a complete 100% top price not an approximate. And ask HOW Long it will take...it can take hours for some people!
Fun Alternatives: Go to a shop in the hotel. Do not get your hair done on the beach.
We'd signed on for a day trip frm our ship, the 'Star Princess', anr this trip included this factory.
The museum will take you 5 minutes; the factory tour 20 minutes and the shopping to buy the stuff bit takes an eternity!
Would you pay good money to tour a local factory wherever you live?
If you're not wanted to buy lots of Aloe Vera then I suggest that yo hire a taxi and make your own way to the other sites!
We took a tour from De Palms Tours which included the Natural Bridge. What they didnt tell us until we arrived at the site was that on Sept 2, 2005 the Natural Bridge collapsed. Thats right, it doesnt exist anymore and is a pile of rocks. There is however, a smaller version of the Natural Bridge to the left of the pile of rumble.
Fun Alternatives: The smaller version of the Natural Bridge is still quite pretty, it just is difficult to get down there if you wish to go underneathe it. If this is what you wish to do, make sure you have sneakers as it looked rocky.
If you go to the caverns, you DO NOT have to pay anything. The people at the booths there are renting you flashlights. If you just bring a flashlight, you can walk in free. By the way, the caverns are pretty uninteresting - and very hot. Also fairly treacherous. Spelunking through the "Tunnel of Love" made me want to hurt my husband.
Unique Suggestions: Bring a flashlight or two. Wear good shoes and something you don't care about getting dirty. The roads out there are treacherous. Also, the path is pretty steep and narrow at times. Again with the hot and dusty and not very interesting, at least in the Tunnel of Love. We didn't try the others.
We had suprisingly good sucess barganing prices with most of the independant vendors (and even some of the shops) when purchasing goods. Don't expect to bargan the price at the grocery store or even the high end jewelry stores, but a lot of the stores will bargan with you to make a sale. There is a lot of competition between shop to sell tourist type goods and in general, they are open to dealing.
Unique Suggestions: Don't shop around too much looking for the "perfect" Aruba souvenier for someone. Most of the items are comparable throughout the shops.
A very expensive scuba diving trip. If you're going to spend as much money as a scuba diving trip for 1/2 hour, get wet! I guarantee you'll see more and be much more happy. The one thing that made this fun was the hostess but even she wouldn't be able to get us to go back.
Fun Alternatives: Do the Jolly Pirate ship for snorkeling. It's less expensive and less deep as scuba diving, but just as beautiful and peaceful.
A boat with a few glass windows underneath the boat that you had to stand up to see under the ocean. Though it was cheap, just go snorkeling, don't waste your money.
Unique Suggestions: At least go on the Jolly Pirate Ship if you want to see underwater. You will realize how much better Jolly Pirates is than this.
Fun Alternatives: Jolly Pirate Ship or maybe the Submarine.
Shopping can be tricky. The main shops are in the downtown area of Oranjestaad (the capital). Although you will find brand shopping it is more expensive than, say, duty free. I recommend buying local handcrafts and look for brand bargains... and never buy at first sight... you will probably find it cheaper one block down the street
It's no secret that Aruba is made up mostly of timeshares. That means you will be approached to take part in a timeshare preview from numerous different hotels. In return you will get coupons good for shopping or gambling. The good news? Most, and I do mean most, of them are NOT high pressure. If you do decide to participate I recommend you choose those with reputable names (ie Marriott, Raddison, etc.) and please try to be polite and they will do the same.
CAUTION: The Natural Pool is a good place to visit but it is NOT easy to get too. Jeeps are prohibited in the Arikok National Park (where the pool is located) thus you will have to find alternate ways to get there, hiking being one of them. If you go, be prepared to walk.
Be very,very carefully when it rains at us.
Roads get as slippery as iced in your country.
This is because the asfalt is much denser and a small film of oil by a lack of frequent showers.
Water and Money
evaporate very fast
on this Island.
Euro-tourist, Aruba is into the Dollar Zone.
Buy your groceries at a supermarket, not at the mini market in your hotel which is more expensive.
Picture: PRIKICHI'S or our local Parkeets. Best time to see and surely hear them: sunset.
Not a tourist trap but a civil trap...we get elections in Aruba at the end of september.
2 big parties MEP and AVP (Movemiento Electoral di Pueblo and Arubaanse Volks Partij) 2 smaller OLA and PPA have a lot of chance to deal the votes.
But politics has only a little bit to do with sense.
Most is about a carnavalesque atmosphere where flags in all sizes play the major role.
Also a lot of wheeling and dealing is involved. Seriously, mister 'W' could learn something here...
Pictured is the city town, knowed as Cas Arends, in center of O'stad. Just renovated and by coincidence,
the color of the major party in power. (AVP)
Beaware that prices at mini markets in the lobby of the resorts are pretty much expensive than when buying it out of the resort. Grocery prices at Aruba's Mega Supermarkets such as Kong Hing Super Center, Ling & Sons Supermarket and Certified Mega Center are comparable or a bit lower than grocery prices in the U.S. The above mentioned Supermarkets are all located in a cluster next to the resort area.
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