“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Travel Haven Journal — Family Trip to Aruba, Part 1

Sunday

My family includes my daughter and son-in-law, Alisa and Mike Fuller, my two granddaughters Kaley and Torrey (19 and 17), and my “significant other” Arnold.  We vacation together every year, usually cruising or hitting a beach/island location.  It’s a great time to reconnect and enjoy each other and have some really good family times. This year, we rented a house in Aruba, part of the Netherlands Antilles, just off the coast of Venezuela.

Arnold and I got to the Fullers’ house around 7:50 a.m. on Sunday, July 31. The cab got there promptly at 8 and the six of us —Arnold and I, Mike, Alisa, Kaley and Torrey — loaded up. Everything at the airport went smoothly. Our flight left about on time at 11:15 and about 3 hours later we landed in Aruba—very nice flight. Aruba is always on Eastern Daylight Time (when we go off DST they don’t change the time), so right now it’s the same time there as in Orlando. .

When we arrived, we breezed through Immigration, hit the duty free liquor store in the airport (Arnold’s Cruzan Rum that costs $19 at home was $11), and were picked up by our car rental company, “More4Less”. We had a Honda Stream, which held all 6 of us, but left only about 10 inches for luggage or anything else, so the rental car company, in another van, led us to our rental home with the luggage.

aruba-rental-honda-stream

We were met at the house (43 Spaans Lagoon, Pos Chiquitos) by Marie, who is hired by the house owner to meet the rental guests, answer any questions, and do the house cleaning before and after the stay.  She gave us all the info we needed on the house: security system, where everything was, and so forth. She also told us that nothing is open on Sundays. Uh oh! What were we going to do for dinner?  We asked Marie where we could get something to eat and she offered to show us where a local restaurant was since it was on her way home. So we resigned ourselves to having to wait until Monday to lay in provisions. Good thing we stopped at the duty free liquor store!

Marie led us to La Granja, obviously a favorite with the locals. Very little English was spoken here and it was basically Aruban fast food; but it filled the void! We ate fish with a Creole sauce, fried plantains and rice—very tasty. And there is one somewhere in Orlando too, in case we get nostalgic. After dinner, we went back to the house, unpacked, and checked out the house and the beach across the street from us.

aruba-rental-home

The house was great—3 bedrooms, 3 baths, with a good size kitchen and huge living room. The owners really thought of and provided everything—beach towels, beach toys, snorkeling gear, fiction and non-fiction books (including tour books on Aruba), games, coolers, pretty much anything you could hope for. The backyard wasn’t much to write home about, but the view from the very large front porch was spectacular! The lagoon was right across the street with a little tiki hut there, though not much beach. But about twenty yards down the road was Mangel Halto, a very nice beach. A wooden platform across the street from us gave access into the water, about 3 feet deep. Farther out near the reef, The water’s about 5 feet and more. It was so peaceful to sit on the porch and look out at the water, very calm—almost like a lake. There were waves crashing over the reef, but the water smooths out as it comes in to the beach.

aruba-rental-home-view

We didn’t do much Sunday night but drink cocktails on the front porch and watch the sunset.

Monday

Our first full day here and of course, we wanted to head to the beach. But which one should we choose?  There are a ton of beaches here. One of the tour books listed ten “must see” beaches, so we decided we would try to hit each one of those. One of them happened to be Mangel Halto, the beach about twenty yards from our home, so that one would be easy!

Today we chose Eagle Beach in the northern part of Oranjestaad (the main city in Aruba). Everyone piled into the van and we drove north to the beach. There is a hotel there (Passions) with a tiki beach bar in the sand where you can get your favorite drink and lunch. The lunch is delivered from the hotel restaurant across the street directly to the beach bar. The beach itself was beautiful—sugar sand, very few rocks in the water, and the water was waaarm. We parked our “stuff”—chairs, towels, cooler—under a wonderful divi divi tree, which provided lots of shade, and we proceeded to totally relax.

aruba-eagle-beach

After a while on the beach, we went up to Passions for some lunch and an ”adult beverage” or two. We were served by Lucy, who did not forget to put the alcohol in the drinks—Yum! We would find that most places put lots of alcohol in the drinks—unlike most places in the States! The calamari was excellent, the fried shrimp very good, and the fish tacos also very tasty. We stayed at Eagle Beach most of the day and then hit the grocery store and went home.

That evening we had dinner at Marina Pirata, which was an easy walk from our home. Sylvia was our server and our table was on a wooden deck about a foot above the water. While we waited for cocktails and dinner, we were entertained by the huge fish swimming near us, enticed by the leftovers the servers threw to them. Great dinner—among us we had lobster, steak, shrimp, and barracuda (which Arn proclaimed very tasty!). The generous portions of really well prepared food left us all groaning. The walk back home was a very good thing!

Arriving back at the house, we sat around, talked and had a few more “adult beverages.”  Then it was time to go to bed and get ready for an early day and another “best beaches” outing.