Aruba is known as the windy island, and when you get there you will quickly realise that this is no casual accident. The wind is strong and constant. Most of the time this is very welcome indeed as it is so hot all the time that you need the cooling breeze.
There are, however, one or two real downsides to the strong wind.
One is that you don't realise you are getting sunburned, as you feel pretty cool all the time.
The second is that you may be ( as I was) hit by a sunbed on the beach. There was I, sitting up watching the brown pelicans dive for fish, when suddenly.....whack!.....the back of my sunbed blew forward and hit me headlong in the side of my face, cheek, ear. I got a nice little bruise there too.
One other thing I learned about the wind from chatting to locals - Aruba is not in the hurricane belt, but when there is a hurrticane locally it sucks all the air from Aruba and this lovely wind just disappears for a few days. At those times the air is suffocating and it's difficult to catch a breath.
Two types of snakes are indiginous to Aruba - the rattlesnake and another non-poisonous small snake.
However, in recent years other types of snakes have been getting into the country in deliveries of sand and cement. In particular the boa constrictor is a snake that's causing a lot of worry to the Aruban government as they cause a lot of damage to animals by strangling them. The government is working really hard to eradicate these stowaway snakes.
You may well be forgiven for picturing Aruba as the idyllic Caribbean paradise, and indeed it is, but there is a hidden dangerous side to the sea and surf of Aruba that most people don't see.
At the North of the island there are incredibly dangerous currents. We sat in the jeep and watched as the sea approached from two if not three different directions and turned to tumultuous waves that crashed together as the currents met.
I also watched a couple of men as they came here to fish, stayed twenty minutes or so, then walked away.
Do not swim, fish, windsurf, or do anything else water related at this part of the island.
I had thought that travel to Bonaire or Curacao from Aruba would be pretty simple and that they would have a ferry, turns out that they aren't that close to one another and the only option is to fly between them. When I inquired about daytrips, they said it ran between $300-$600 dollars to get to Curacao, guess it will have to wait for another trip. The flight from Aruba to Curacao is about 30 minutes, Bonaire about 35 minutes.
Aruba is touted as having near perfect weather but they do get rain, the day we flew in it had rained the entire day. For the 5 days we were there, it rained every day, never enough to ruin your trip, but enough that I needed an umbrella at least one of the days. The rain tends to come in quickly and go quickly, October-January is when they get the most rain, an average of 18 inches per year.
I just found a handy tip for Aruba - and I must say, it was one I hadn't really considered ...
(anyone have any coconut falling on head tales?!)
"Palm Trees - A word of caution. The coconuts are real. If you sit under a palm tree, don't sit under the coconuts. The ripe ones will fall when they are ready. Bonk!!! An easy way to open them up is to throw them down on a large pointy rock until they crack. You lose most of the milk, but you don't need tools".
(Link Below - Aruba property rental, local advise etc)
This was THE worst long haul (10 hr) flight I have ever had the misfortune to experience. I know most airline food is inedible but this was just plain disgusting. The staff were unbelievably rude, they did not serve enough drinks of any kind & it took us 3 hours to find out we were supposed to help ourselves from a trolley at the back of the the plane.The only snacks available were small bags of salted minature crackers (we ate loads). Being so hungry, on trying to order some chocolate from their mag for for THREE hours, a 'hostess' eventually barked at us 'haven't you got your legs, there are some chocolates open at the back of the plane'. 'Ah ok' we said (stunned, I mean, how were we supposed to know!) Making our way to get some of the said delights, she retorted 'You're too late it's all gone now'.
The childrens 'Activity Pack' is a joke. (Some 3D glasses - hmm for what exactly?) a few crayons and not much else.
Toilets unclean & the sink blocked & full of other peoples muck for most of the journey. No bin.
See - photo of one of the plastic cups we were supposed to drink from (already used & not properly washed). This pic does not do the dirt justice.
I am tiny but they crammed so many people on that plane the seats were too close together & I suffered cramps a few hours into the flight.
Headphones did not work (for the one channel one screen TV). There were no games of any description.
Amazingly, KB's seat would not stay in an upright position so he had to lean back at an angle on the person behind for the whole flight even in take off (illegal surely?) & landing, or hold the seat up forceably using a legbending/forward leaning /handgripping contortion.
I'm sure there is more but I am trying to erase this journey from my memory!
A hint to the company :
"Please try to remind your staff that they are being paid to do this journey, whereas we (the customers) are paying for the 'pleasure'.
This flight was nicnamed 'the dreadful journey from hell' for the rest of our holiday.
Return journey in part 2.
On the return flight, the staff seemed somewhat happier, and it was more enjoyable due to a shorter flying time (8 1/2 hrs). and some herbal sleepers to knock us out so we didn't have to suffer!
They still managed to forget our veggy meals (booked ahead) & had originally seated me & the Small Person in different rows (had also confirmed seating arrangements before flight). We took our own food this time!
The plane was totally overbooked & they tried a VERY hard sell to get us to stay in Aruba for longer. Originally delighted we were ready to accept when they let it slip that they couldn't promise to get my sister back from Amsterdam for the last leg of her journey. We declined as we felt we wanted to get the return 'dreadful journey from hell' over with & were tired having already flown from Venezuela that morning.
Onflight food was still totally disgusting. Veggy breakfast consisted of a stale ricecake, cut in half and wrapped in clingfilm, some off fruit salad (around 4 pieces of old fruit), a dry cracker and water. There was juice available from the hostess, but she zoomed expertly past so fast, lips frozen into a stiff smile, she missed our row of seats entirely.
I know it is a huge plane full of a very large amount of people, so a hard job for the stewards, but maybe KLM could provide more staff? Also, the staff are getting paid, we the customers, are paying!
KLM should check out the veggy food on Monarch Airlines which is far superior even for short haul journeys to Spain from the UK.
Handy tip : There is a 20 kilo weight limit on the return journey. We were OK, but I saw many people rearranging their cases in Aruba Airport.
Another handy tip : Take your own food, you will need it.
I have heard horror stories of people getting stuck in sand dunes....there is no one around to help if you do, so save that for a guided tour.
****other than that -watch out for poorly made drinks, with hardly any booze in them!!!!!!!
(for $4. in town)****
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 ... heehee
One of the things you have to be aware of are the dogs. When runnning or cycling you can be attached by dogs. We got a tip of one of the locals, if you you go out for a run or for a trip on a bike take a stick with you!
And go running in early morning or early evening, the sun can be leathal too!
While out on the ATV tour (which was awesome) they stopped at the 'natural pool' which is a large pool of rock created by the ocean (lagoon type). There is a smaller 'pool' at the top where people jump from into the large pool. My daughter stood up and stepped on a sea urchin! EXTREMELY painful and they can not be pulled out! The strands are hollow and brittle so they immediately break in your foot. We finished the ATV tour and rushed her to the hospital where they told us there was nothing they could do just wait until they were pushed out of the skin themselves, but had to keep it wrapped for several days - total bummer! WEAR WATER SHOES AT ALL TIMES!
As a fair skinned individual I can say, based on very painful personal experience, that if you have ever been known to get a sunburn, you will definitely get one in Aruba unless you take the necessary precautions and follow all sunblock directions religiously.
Knowing my tendency to resemble boiled crustaceans after any extended solar exposure I arrived in Aruba with a giant economy sized tube of maximum strength waterproof sunblock. While the gorgeous sunshine dispells any thought that a burn is not possible, the famous winds of Aruba keep one cool enough to minimize emerging burning sensations.
Due to repeated and generous applications of sunblock I avoided burning until I went snorkeling. I thought I was doing everything right- I even wore a long t-shirt over my swimsuit. But I learned my defenses were inadequate when I tore myself away from the amazing display of fish and coral to use a restroom. Upon entering the ladies room I glimpsed a streak of brilliant pink in the mirror. I turned to look behind me. Nothing. I looked in the mirror again, and to my horror saw that the vibrant color was the back of my legs.
It seems that I didn't reapply the sunblock near enough, and the cool water combined with the breeze had completely balanced out the burning sensation that would not subside that evening. I iced, aloe vera-ed myself to kingdom come, and sprayed enough Solarcane to cover a football field.
I ended up with a second degree burn and edema. The burn cream provided by my physician when I returned home was the greatest help, particularly when the thousands of tiny blisters began to dry and itch like there was no tomorrow.
My suggestions: The higher the SPF the better, apply and reapply more than you think necessary, and have a friend be your sunburn "spotter"- early warning is far better than a later surprise.
My husband Bob took these pictures of the Casibari Rocks and the warning sign which says ATTENTION: CLIMBING THESE STEPS IS AT YOUR OWN RISK.
This is the second most visited site in Aruba (after the Natural Bridge which has fallen down now anyway)
The Government has created trails and steps to get to the top (second picture). It is steep and in some places, only one person can pass at a time. There are some handrails, but Bob's pictures don't show them except you can see some in the first picture where there are people up at the top. He said that in some places you go through tunnels and along narrow steps and ledges.
It’s not for people with small children or the elderly who need help walking. Don't feel bad if you don't feel that you are not up to the climb. It is a desert landscape which basically consists of rocks and dirt.
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!
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