Robbed in ARuba 2004
We learned a hard lesson on this trip. We rented a car and had every bit of cash, ID, credit cards .. plus sunscreen and prescription sunglasses. I've since learned most travel areas have "hot spots" that attract the tourist and that attracts those who want to rob you. They broke into our car and took everything and being without money and Id is worse when you are out of the country and no cell phone service. Plus they know what the rental car license looks like. The 3 such places in Aruba are baby beach, the natural rock bridge and the old Mine. So now we don't carry everything with us and leave some cash and Id in our safe.
we found out the hard way being robbed out of the country makes it more complicated. the 1800 number on credit cards don' t work out of country. We had no photo id which made proving who we were very difficult. When we finally got money wired to use which took all day on the phone ... we bought sunscreen and it was stolen from our pool chair which has never happened in all our travels.
One Way Road Through Eastern Arikok
Back when we were still planning to rent a car, I thought about driving to San Nicolas, and entering the park from the south. I was told by people on this site, that it can be done. Technically, it can, but you might get a ticket in the process.
We were traveling on the dirt road, that runs through the eastern part of the park (where the caves are). We were on a jeep tour, and I noticed the road was only wide enough for one car. I asked our guide, if it's a one way road, and he said, "Yes. You can only go this way. If someone tries to go the other way, they will get a ticket."
The road was empty, and in a rural area, and we didn't see a single ranger, but it's not worth risking it. DO NOT enter the park from the south. If you're gonna drive yourself, enter the park from the west, and drive it, clock wise.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Road Trip
Don't Plan On Day Tripping To Other Islands
If you were planning to take a day trip from Aruba to Curacao, Bonaire, or Venezuela, forget it.
First of all, flights are a bit overpriced.
Second of all, going through customs takes so long, that by the time you make it to your destination, you will have to be in line to leave, so you won't even see anything.
We actually wanted to take a day trip to Curacao, despite the price, but after we saw how long it takes to get through customs, and multiple security checkpoints, we see that it would not have been possible. We would land in Curacao, and wouldn't even make it out of the airport, before we had to stand in line for our return flight.
2, 3 days is fine, but a day trip is not possible. And, unless you own your own boat, you have no choice, but to fly.
We will just have to visit Curacao another time.
From what I’ve read on here, this seems to be quite common. People plan a day trip to Curacao or Bonaire, than end up not making it, and having to visit another time.
Unless you own your own boat, the ABCs, are not a good destination for island hopping.Related to:
The Dutch People Are Rude
Before anyone says I am generalizing, or trolling, please read the entire post.
I don't know what is wrong with the Dutch people on this island, but for some reason, they are very rude. They are only nice if they are a tour guide, or trying to sell you a timeshare, but if you meet them on the street, in the taxi, or in the hotel, they are very rude.
All the local mulato cab drivers talked to us the whole ride, and laughed with us, but we had a few Dutch cab drivers, and they were all rude, grumpy, and didn't want to talk to us. I asked a Dutch cab driver what "Iguana Joe's" is, and he answered in a very grumpy tone, as if I had asked something wrong. The Dutch cab drivers all seemed like they hated their job, and were doing you a huge favor by driving you. Most Dutch drivers didn't say a word to us the entire ride.
We said "hi" to some Dutch boys at our hotel, and they just mumbled back.
My mom asked this Dutch girl if the store is open, and she jumped up, and started freaking out, and never answered her question.
And it wasn't just with us, they were like that with each other too. There were 2 guys and 1 girl at our hotel, all from the Netherlands. They were swimming in the pool, and didn't say a word to each other. Not even so much as a, "hello".
But the local people, when we said "Hi", or "Bon dia", they always replied in a very friendly , and happy tone, and were very helpful when we asked for something. You could tell they are happy people. But the Dutch, no.
Even these tourists from the Dominican Republic, and hotel staff from the Philippines, were really friendly, and talked to us.
We later asked a local cab driver if the Dutch people here are friendly, and he said, "Some of them are." Which means that most of them are not.
We also met an Asian kid who lives in the Netherlands, and he also said they are very rude. No one we talked to had anything nice to say about the Dutch people.
We were surprised. We always thought they would be friendly. I don't know what is wrong with these people. They would not talk to ANYONE.
I was at the Bon Bini Festival, and there was this Dutch lady sitting next to me, and I was taking video and pictures of the dancers, and she kept looking at me, like I was some kind of retard. No one else was looking at me like that, except her.
We were hoping to make friends with some Dutch people, but after we saw how rude they are, we didn't even bother trying.
Do not waste your time with these people, unless they talk to you first. There are much friendlier people on the island that are worth meeting, and making friends with.
If you still think I am trolling, go and you will see for yourself.
A lot of people are still freaked out by the Natalie Holloway incident. Don't be. As tragic as it was, that was an isolated incident, and they already caught the creeps who did it. In the U.S., a person goes missing every 20 seconds, and that doesn't stop millions of tourists from visiting each year.
Trust me, there is nothing to worry about in Aruba. We walked around Oranjestad, and the rural parts of Noord at night, and we took rides from locals, in rural villages, who were complete strangers, and didn't once feel that we were in any danger.
The only place that's a bit shady, where I would be cautious is San Nicolas. Aside from that, Aruba is one of the safest places in earth. :)
San Nicolas, The Island's Shady Side
Aruba is a very safe island, but I would be cautious in San Nicolas. The town has a bad reputation of prostitution, drugs, and car break ins. It is the only place on the island where prostitution is legal, and car break ins are common, specifically in front of Charlie's Bar. It is recommended you park next to the refinery wall.
You won't get mugged, but you may have items stolen out of your car.
The town is okay to visit during the day, just be aware of your surroundings. I would not venture here at night, except on Thursdays during the Carubbian Festival.
The town was actually listed on our tour itinerary, as a stop, but our guide just drove straight through. That must be saying something.
Most Screwed Up Airport, I've Ever Seen!
Oh man! This is officially the worst airport I've ever been to, and I‘ve been to some pretty messy airports.
I will start from the beginning.
Everyone told us to get to the airport 3 hours before departure, we got there 4 hours, to get it over with. In the U.S., if you arrive, there are always agents at the counter to check you in. Not here. There was one lady at our counter, than she left and some guy came. We expected to be called over, and get it over with, but no. Instead of doing his job, the guy was standing behind the counter for 15 minutes doing absolutely nothing. Than he just walked away. Finally some lady told us, "you were told to come "3" hours early. The counter is closed", so everyone had to stand like idiots for over an hour. They checked the first class passengers in, but not us.
There was only one counter for another airline that was operating. The rest were not. I don't know what these agents are being paid for. There were 20 of them standing around, doing everything but their jobs. One guy was drinking a soda, one guy was texting, another guy was listening to music, two agents were dancing behind the counter, and the rest were all standing around talking to each other. This is the most unprofessional work environment I have ever seen.
Finally two ladies opened the counter and took care of us. They told us which way to go to our gate, and that was it. We got through security very quickly, and I said to my mom, "That was too easy. I don't know why we had to get here 3 hours early." I thought maybe it was because they won't check you in after a certain time. I thought, great. We have 3 hours to kill, so we shopped around, and ate some food. We were there for about an hour. Finally my mom said, "let's go to our gate." I said, "sure, we might as well, we've got nothing else to do."
We followed the signs, and were greeted by a TSA agent. He pointed us where to go. We went through the door, and there were like 500 people there, waiting to get through customs. My mom was freaking out that we wouldn't make our flight. There were only 2 agents working, but they eventually brought 2 more. This is why you have to be there 3 hours early. We weren't the only ones who made this mistake. Several other people also thought the security was it, and they were also shopping and eating, until someone got them. Some were told about the customs, some like us, were not.
There were people trying to get to the front, so they would make their flight, and the agents do not care if you miss your flight.
These 4 Dutch girls, weren't gonna make it, so people let them cut to the front of the line. They all ran to one of the agents together, and some a**hole ran after them, and brought them all back. I am sorry for my language, but that is the best word to describe him. They tried to explain to him that their flight was leaving, but he did not care, and made them go through one by one.
They eventually started to let people cut, so they would make their flights. After over an hour, we eventually made it through. At this point, we were expecting anything. Bag search, more security, and our hunch was right. We got through the customs area, only to be greeted by another security checkpoint. I have been to dozens of airports and NOWHERE have I had to go through 2 security checkpoints. What, they thought you gained something illegal, since your last checkpoint?
That's not even the worst part. I had a bottle of juice, that I bought after the first checkpoint. An agent told me, I can bring it through customs, and I got it through the second security, but than some guy said I can't bring it to the gate, and I either have to drink it or pour it out.
This doesn't make any sense. There is a store right after the first checkpoint where you can buy food, and Dutch cheeses, but if you buy something from there, they will confiscate it at the second checkpoint, since you cannot bring any meat or dairy products out, so you would have just wasted your money.
Do not stop to buy anything. Go straight to the customs area, and to your gate.
We also told the customs lady, we had beef jerky, and she said it's illegal to have. But we had been carrying it since we left California, and no one said a word.
This is the most screwed up airport I have ever seen. The only and I mean the ONLY good thing was that we took care of customs in Aruba, so we didn't have to deal with it in the U.S.
Other than that, there are no nice comments to me made about this airport. This place is really screwed up.
If you were thinking about taking a day trip to a neighboring island, forget it.
At least I will know for next time.
If there was another way to get off the island, I would suggest doing that instead, but unfortunately, there is not.
DON'T RENT A CAR HERE!
I honestly have no idea how tourists are able to drive cars on this island, and live to tell about it.
It is freakin' impossible!
Don't listen to the locals who tell you it is easy to drive on the island. It's not. Of course it is easy for them, because they live there, but for tourists it is very difficult and very dangerous.
We actually had a rental car booked, but ended up cancelling after we saw how crazy the drivers are here.
Later we thought, okay, that was in the city, maybe it the countryside it will be quieter. So we actually booked another rental car to go to the national park, but we once again got scared, after the hotel manager told us the police are very strict, and that she got 2 tickets in one week. Add to the fact, that there aren't too many signs on the island, and we were afraid of getting lost. With the chaos on the roads, we could not slow down, to find our way. We cancelled another reservation, and took a tour instead.
We weren't the only ones who had problems driving on Aruba. We met two tourists from California, who said they were lost for 15 minutes, trying to find the Hooiberg. Another couple on our tour said they also rented a car to visit the national park, but were lost for 45 minutes, and never found the place. They also returned the car, and took the tour.
Several other people on our tour, also said they had opted out of renting a car, because they were just too scared to drive here. But after seeing the roads in the national park, I don't think our rental car would've survived the journey. I am really glad we took the tour, as we saw more than we probably would on our own.
Don't listen to the people who tell you to rent a car. Driving here is very difficult, and extremely dangerous. The island offers several tours, and has such a good public transportation system, that a car is not necessary. I honestly don't know why everyone says you need a car here. We spent 5 whole days exploring the island, and managed just fine without one. You will actually see more without one, and the tour, taxis, and bus rides cost us half the price of renting a car for a whole week. We didn't have to spend $600 for a deposit, so we had more spending money, and still had a lot left over.
Seriously, I give props to any tourist who has driven a car in Aruba. It is not an easy or safe place to drive.
If anyone reading this has driven a rental car in Aruba without getting lost, getting into an accident, or getting a ticket, please tell me how you did it. We would really like to know, because we could not figure it out.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Baby Beach - deceptively shallow DROWNING DANGER
We went to Baby Beach and it was really beautiful --- the very shallow blue waters looked perfect for kids and in the distance u see some people snorkelling. I walked with the JumpingTwins (7 years old) to the island just off the beach and it was just about 4 feet all the way, and we enjoyed seeing the fish by the island...an hour later, my wife joined us and she said it was a bit hard for her to go to the island, and that her feet did not touch the sand ....that's when I noticed that the waters seem to have risen! So it was now over 5-6 ft! So, I just swam back to shore to get some help to bring us back! And I was swimming back, there was some undercurrent as well so it was hard to swim back....I did finally get a local to help me get the rest of the JumpingFamily by using a small float/raft....I later googled Baby Beach and saw that several people have drowned in this area around the island, specially where they snorkel. The beach is wonderful...but just stay in the really shallow side and watch your kids because sometimes because of the clear blue shallow waters, we forget that the sand shifts below and that we are not in a man-made pool which has constant depth....
UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE!
I made a video of our trip to Aruba!
Hope you like this:
JUMPING FAMILY IN ARUBA!
Deep fried Oreos.....
God...I hate these things...they make my mouth water and my gut bust..why do things that taste soo good end up being so bad for you?????? Had these at Smokey Joes which is part of the Iguana Joes chain on the islandRelated to:
- Budget Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Crossing the road
Watch the traffic on the roads here especially after you have had a few Brights or Pink Iguanas at the local bar. This is probably your only worry on the island. I have also seen worse drivers in other places.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Budget Travel
We decided to head to the beach for the day off the cruise ship and chose the closest beach to Oranjestad which is Druif Beach. When we arrived we asked a security guard if there was a problem sitting on the beach and she said not to worry, she was patroling and that we could sit on the beach next to the resort which was used by hotel guests. We didn't see any open chairs so we sat on the beach under a palapa, when a chair became free, I went to spread my Princess cruise towel on the chair and a man who had a stand on the beach renting chairs came running over and said we had to rent from him and to get off the chairs even though they didn't belong to him. Something about how he had the exclusive right to non hotel guest chairs and no explanation about the hotel guard seemed to suffice. Of course, our blue and white striped towels gave us away, the hotel guests had green towels.
Not wanting a fuss, we spread out back on the sand as we didn't really need the lounge chairs. I wouldn't have taken a chair if there were hotel guests looking to use them and I was fully willing to rent a chair from the hotel who provide the chairs and palapas but the man renting chairs really annoyed me. I know he's trying to make a living but it's a public beach and the chairs nor the palapas belonged to him, he just had a stand on the beach.
The man disappeared shortly after we got there and never came back, I'm guessing that he does most of his business in the morning when the ships arrive and then goes home.
It is an upmost heard question "if there are sharks in the water". Ofcourse my dear, sharks do live in the ocean all over the world. The moment you enter the ocean in Aruba or anywhere, you become part of the food chain.
Find most of the sharks on more of the East side of the Aruba island, where the island dumps a lot of its trash. Visit the Andicouri Bay, or try the eyecatcher of the Natural Bridge. Here the tourists may watch meat-food to sharks so swimming here isn't that realistic ...
For shark-lovers; you can get really close to sleeping nurse and sand sharks at the Shark Caves. Usually they sleep during the day and, allowing humans to get closer you may even touch them ... though better leave the sharks and donot bother them ... heeheeRelated to:
- Water Sports
- Diving and Snorkeling
This may not be a problem for everyone, but my husband seems to be particularly sensitive to jellyfish parts that are floating in the water, just about anywhere in the Caribbean where boats frequent. Here is what we've figured out: Boats pass through areas where jellyfish congregate and the propeller rips them up into tiny pieces. Apparently even the jellyfish parts can sting sensitive people and the parts float everywhere! I don't usually get a bad reaction from jellyfish. But then I always wear a full wetsuit that covers my arms and legs while I'm diving and snorkeling. Sometimes I feel a barely noticeable stinging on my face but it never leaves a mark on me. My husband wears a shortie. Just look at his arms by the end of our vacation in Aruba! He says he rarely feels any stinging while he's in the water but it itches a lot afterward. This happens every time we go to the Caribbean. Every day he gets more and more marks! If you are sensitive to jellyfish stings then wear a wetsuit in the water! And bring the Benedryl!Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
Natalie Holloway & Fear of "Disappearing" People
Natalie Holloway disappeared in 2005 and as a result of this a number of people have expressed concern about travelling to Aruba.
I was in Aruba in Dec 2006/Jan 2007 and found the place to be idyllic, peaceful and beautiful. We were not hassled by anyone. I know that there was additional press about this case in late 2007 but as the case was reopened in 2008 I imagine all that has quietened down now.
People disappear in all countries of the world all the time. You just have to be cautious no matter where you are, even at home.Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Road Trip
- Study Abroad
Been here many times. My opinion is it is the best overall resort on the island for value, luxury,...more
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