Dec 29, 2014

Aruba - One Happy Island

The small island of Aruba in the southern Caribbean Sea has sandy beaches, cooling trade winds, and friendly people so the island is dubbed “One Happy Island.” Aruba is considered one of the safest Caribbean destinations where even the water is drinkable. 

John and I had Delta vouchers for a free flight because we volunteered to give up our seats on a recent flight.  The flight wasn’t overbooked but was over the weight limit. The flight attendant said it was easier to take off four passengers than to take off 500 pounds of luggage which would have upset passengers when their luggage didn’t arrive with them plus those of us with flight vouchers were happy to fly for free.  

We decided on Aruba because the airfare matched our vouchers
and we had never been there.  After we arrived we were met by Royal Car Rental. John wanted to go to an ATM machine to get florins, the local currency, which turned out to be unnecessary as USDs are accepted everywhere and prices are usually listed in both currencies.  We picked up our vehicle and set off.  The roads are good and there isn’t a lot of traffic which was good because there are several roundabouts which can be confusing.  

Going through Oranjestad, the capital, I thought, “I am not going to like it here.”  There were three cruise ships in port so the area was full of tourists and the city looked like an upscale mall with many glitzy shops.  Then we continued north past the various hotel zones and arrived at our accommodations, Sunset Beach Studios.  It was perfect for us. We had a small room with a kitchen and a side porch that looked out onto the ocean and, as the name suggests, a great place to watch the sunset.
The staff was wonderful and helpful in many ways. They recommended the car rental and also a food market on the way where we could shop. The food market was huge and busy with everything one would find in the states from fresh Florida oranges to Steward’s root beer.
We bought food for breakfast but, even though our place had grills available, we found getting takeout from Wendy’s (there is a slew of familiar food chains and restaurants) perfect for us. We ate on our patio porch and watched the sunset. Sunset Beach Studios has great off-season rates and a discount for long stays. We were only booked for five nights.

The island is 20 miles long and six miles across making it an easy
island to explore. One day we drove to the iconic lighthouse at the northwest end of the island.  I noticed people had piled stones in various places which I found interesting because I had marveled at the artist who creates 100s of balancing stones along the river just outside Ottawa.  These are not balanced but just piled up.  When I asked about it we were told they are “Wishing Stones” as in wishing to return like throwing a coin into Trevi Fountain in Rome.

Another day we borrowed the hotel’s snorkel equipment with the intention of snorkeling but ended up driving around instead.  There are several small beaches along the way and all beaches in Aruba are public.  John took kite surfing lessons so we drove to the southeast end of the island where there are more beaches and where experts kite surf.