Jan 6, 2015

Exploring Aruba

We often stay at several places when we are visiting an area. In Aruba, after our stay at Sunset Beach Studios we moved to the Holiday Inn where we had points for six free nights.  We are IHG members so our free stay included an automatic upgrade and other benefits one of which was a reserved palapa on the beach.  The Holiday Inn Resort recently finished a complete remodel and has three pools and of the longest beach of any Aruban hotel.  

John and I had driven along the south coast of Aruba but once we left the main road the highway markings were few and far between plus many roads on the wild, barren north coast are unpaved so we took a tour with jeep ABC Tours. One of the benefits of a tour, besides taking people to the significant sites, is that the guides are knowledgeable.  Our driver/guide, Rocky, was
great. The north coast is very different than the southern coast.  It is barren with a rocky coast pounded by high waves.  There are no hotels and few buildings.  We visited the beautiful Alto Vista Chapel, built in 1952 on the site of the first Aruban Catholic Church built by the Spanish in 1750.  Along the road to the chapel there are the Stations of the Cross and a labyrinth. 

We stopped at a couple of natural bridges sculpted over thousands of years by the strong winds and pounding waves. Arid Aruba was not suitable for plantations and has few natural resources but in 1824 gold was discovered by a 12-year-old sheep herder which created gold fever. We stopped at the Bushiribana Ruins, one of the old gold smelters. By 1916 it was no longer profitable to mine gold in Aruba. 

There are many interesting rock formations some of which have
petroglyphs. The Ayo and Casibari Rock formations look as if they were dumped there by giant beings.  They were sacred sites for the indigenous people hence the ancient drawings. I always wonder what the people were trying to say with their artwork. 
Some have hiking and climbing trails which offer great views. We stopped by a pretty Dutch-style private home and Rocky explained how traditional houses were built and that many people are restoring them.  In the hotel district there is an authentic windmill across from the Butterfly Farm. It was built in 1804 in the Netherlands and brought to Aruba in 1960.  We truly enjoyed the tour and would like to do it again as there is a lot more to see.

Our accommodations for 11 nights had been very reasonable so it
was time to treat ourselves.  We spent our last nights at the luxurious, adult-only Bucuti &Tara Resort on expansive Eagle Beach, one of the world’s top beaches.  I knew it was going to be awesome when we were greeted with sit-down check-in and champagne!
Needless to say our room was wonderful and had a balcony. After our complimentary breakfast on the restaurant’s deck we spent the day on our beach lounge with a book from their lending library. I took some dips in the infinity pool. We stayed at the beach to watch the sun set which was followed by a five-star dining experience at Elements Restaurants. The service and ambiance were excellent as one might expect from a privately-owned hotel where the owner makes a point to meet every guest.