Aruba - What to Do/Where to Eat/Where to Stay

Discussion in 'Other North America/non U.S.' started by Sweet Willie, Oct 23, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Sweet Willie
    Original Member

    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    I did a search & noticed that there isn't a thread on Aruba yet, so here we go.

    ok, Mrs Willie & I are heading to Aruba the first part of January.

    Using some Club Carlson points to stay at the Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa but have a couple of days where we don't have any lodging booked, looking for suggestions.

    Any good restaurant recommendations & what does the restaurant prepare well?
    (seeing as Aruba was a Dutch colony I'm really hoping to find a rijstaffel meal)

    What activities? (besides sunsets & beaching it:D)
    -
     
  2. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Willie and Mrs. Willie,

    It's been a few years since we've been to Aruba (we've been there 10 times, but haven't been back since 2004). We've made friends with locals in past trips, and need to get back there! I just checked a couple of websites, and some of our old favorite restaurants are still in business and seem to be rated highly by their patrons. These include:
    The Old Cunucu House - Arubian (the natives pronounce it that way) food, fairly priced, with live entertainment - http://www.restaurantsaruba.com/The-Old-Cunucu-House.html
    Madame Janette - Euro-Caribbean food, a bit pricey, but well worth it, and is very popular with the locals. Outdoor dining experience.
    Cuba's Cooking - Authentic Latin dishes, Latin music and meringue and salsa dancing, with mean margaritas and a great Cuba Libre! What more could you ask for? http://www.restaurantsaruba.com/Cubas-Cookin.html

    But, don't take my word for it, go ahead and check out these and many, many more restaurants (with their customer ratings) at: http://www.restaurantsaruba.com/
    Have fun! :)
     
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  3. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Willie,
    I just checked AirTran for us East Coasters, and business/first seating to AUA for us is ~$400-500 each way. That is about half or less of what AA, UA, and US charge for the same seating. You may want to check out AirTran pricing for your trip.
    :)
     
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  4. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    @Newscience thanks for the airfare check. Award miles have been redeemed for saver awards, seeing as we are going during uber high season, both the saver air awards and the hotel redemptions have been a very nice ROI compared to going market rates.
     
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  5. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    Looks like taking a 4 wheeler through Arikok National Park is a big item on most people's to-do list of Aruba activities: www.arubanationalpark.org

    We've got a car rented for while we are there as we hate being tied to resort dining (prices & lack of quality of dining options at resorts drives me nuts).

    But I've read that one needs a 4 wheeler for the park, anyone rent one for a day? if so, who did you use?
     
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  6. flynhwn

    flynhwn Silver Member

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    We stayed at the Radisson and it was a great location and a reasonably nice property. Alo stayed down the coast but can't remember the name but the Radisson was much better. I don't recall the food being anything special except for some food trucks and tent vendors on the east section of town. Windy there and thus the Divi divi trees.
     
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  7. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    thanks for the feedback! (all of it) Your comment about food trucks/tents reminds me of many good eats on the Caribbean islands can be found on the side of the road or in little select areas, vendors selling grilled chicken or other goodies.
     
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  8. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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  9. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    Some dining suggestions for Aruba from the Radisson Blu Aruba (Club Carlson property) thread: http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/aruba-club-carlson.57426/
    looks like a curl your toes in the sand type place www.flyingfishbone.com
    www.wackywahoo.com I plan on having lots of seafood while on Aruba, a 10 min walk from the Radisson is easy.
    -
    thanks viguera & needtoescape!
    -
     
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  10. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Hi, Willie,
    In the past, we've rented a car for the week or two that we've stayed in Aruba. We used to get some decent deals by calling all the car rental agencies, using all possible discounts, and then settling for the best one. Heck, we still do that on vacation elsewhere :)
    Anyway, it's your decision whether or not to rent a car. If it's your first time in Aruba, you may want to rent for the ability to explore the island. A trip to the lighthouse on the North tip of the island to see the sunset is a fun thing to do. Another fun trip is to Baby Beach on the South side for snorkeling. Seeing the the natural bridge is also worth the trip. And if you're in that part of the island, a "must stop" restaurant is Charlie's Bar, in San Nicolas. You can order the "jumbo dumbo" shrimp here, where you get to "suck the heads and eat the tails", see: http://charliesbararuba.com/
    Have fun!
     
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  11. brucewil

    brucewil Silver Member

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    The wife and I have been there about 5 times in the last 4 years. I would definitely recommend Arikok National park for a day trip. We took our rental car there, but would not recommend that. The road is filled with a lot of dips due to drainage ditches that might damage a car. There are caves at the end of the park that are kind of cool. I have heard stories of people dying on those four wheelers in the park, so be careful. Our hotel (Marriott) stopped tours there because of the danger. As far as restaurants, there have been some good suggestions already. Wacky wahoo is good, Madame Jeanette's is overpriced and I thought was not worth it. For a nice meal, try Papiamento or Carte Blanche. Carte Blanche is pricey, but it's as much about the food and wine as it is entertainment. They only seat 14 people per night so you definitely need a reservation before you go. The chef owner Dennis? cooks the price fix meal in front of you and the sommelier Glen pairs the wine to go with Dennis's cooking. Expect to spend 100-150 pp depending on wine or no wine. They have a new location this year at the beach. We have not been there yet as we are going in two weeks. Take a trip to the north end of the island and have lunch at the lighthouse. Make sure to get a coconut smoothie (with rum of course) made with fresh coconut. The view from there is great. There's a really cute little cove on the road there where you can jump in and snorkel right off the beach. Bring water shoes as it's a little rocky. Theres a really nice public beach (Malmok) on the way as well. They have decent parking and bath facilities. While in Malmok, if you want to see how the 1% live visit Tierra del Sol. There a a few streets of multiple-million dollar vacation homes. Baby beach at the complete other end of the island is about an hour away. Good snorkeling there. No real food or great bathroom options though. Porta potty and a roadside grill. Water is shallow and calm in the cove. Just don't wander out into open water. A woman drown there a few years ago. Eagle beach is nice for swimming. Again, no great bathroom options. There are a few good beachside dining options there as well. As far as restaurants within walking distance, you will have plenty of options all along the street in the high rise section where you will be staying. None of them great, but very convenient. Plenty of cheap eat options there. Dushi Bagel is the best bagel you will find in the Caribbean. Free wifi there too. I would rent a car for at least part of the time. I got a good deal for a compact thru UR shopping portal. There is a rental right down the street from your hotel next to Dushi Bagel that you can use to rent for a day or two. Have fun. Bon bini.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
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  12. Sweet Willie
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    Thanks @Newscience and @brucewil , Appreciate the input & believe we will rent a car for at least part of our trip.
     
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  13. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    Anyone been to the restaurant Nos Cunucu (in Papiamento (the local dialect) means "the farm.") I've read it is set in a traditional Aruban home. Apparently they serve dishes native to Aruba such as savory goat stew and keshi yena, a hollowed-out cheese rind stuffed with chicken, raisins and vegetables
    Nos Cunucu
    Tanki Leendert 145A
    Phone: (297) 582-7122
     
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  14. brucewil

    brucewil Silver Member

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    Maybe the wife and I will try it in a couple weeks. If so I will let you know. We have one night right now that we don't have a dinner reservation. Sounds like something we would like.

    Papiamento restaurant is also in a former home. Very cool setting. You are sitting next to the pool on the patio.

    BTW, no need for anything other than shorts in Aruba even in he nicer places. Too hot for that. My only negative about Aruba is it NEVER cools off. Dinner outside at 8:00 is still 80 degrees and humid.
     
  15. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Bruce has provided excellent tips for visiting Aruba! The other attraction that brings tourists to the "ABC islands" (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) is that they are out of the "hurricane belt" and very rarely get hit by severe storms. It does happen, and is quite a big deal when it occurs, but it's also a rare occurrence. As a scuba diver, I was able to dive the north shore of Aruba with some locals on one visit some years ago (this area is normally completely off limits for divers, due to severe surf and surge), when a hurricane made it's way well above Aruba, and the trade winds then completely stopped. On this island, that was a very, very noticeable event!

    And, given the great number of restaurants located in Aruba, no one visiting there will be going hungry anytime soon :)
     
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  16. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    +1 for Papiamento, it is a fantastic place. It looks "fancy" but I'd say it's somewhat casual, and they have some nice seating near the pool area. Since the weather is almost always nice it's definitely a plus when you're down there.

    Their website is lacking but their facebook page is usually pretty up to date: https://www.facebook.com/PapiamentoRestaurant
     
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  17. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    VERY good to know, that will make packing quite easy ! Perhaps I can even convince Mrs Sweet Willie to bring a carry on for our week trip:eek: (I kid, she actually is quite a great traveler, but it is always the numerous shoes:D)
     
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  18. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    Mrs Willie & I used to scuba dive quite a bit and have made the comment to each other we need to get back into it. Was the diving done from shore or boat? Any dive operators on Aruba you could suggest?
     
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  19. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Hi, Willie,
    As it's been a few years since we've been to Aruba, I'm a wee bit hesitant to recommend a dive operator there. I've dove with both Red Sail Sports and Aruba Pro Dive (both by the major hotels) and diving with these guys was O.K.
    The one professional dive operation that I've dove with in Aruba and in Bonaire and have no problem recommending is S.E. Aruba Fly'N Dive, see: http://www.se-aruba.com/
    The divemasters at S.E. Aruba Fly'N Dive are all very highly proficient and safety conscious (on one dive I made with them near Baby's Beach we were joined by a professional diver wanting to have some fun). The owner, John, is a former Dutch Marine, a real character, and an airline pilot. The Fly'N Dive part comes if you sign up to dive in the neighboring island of Bonaire for the day and return to Aruba. You can do this safely and not get "bent" by flying a couple of hundred feet above the ocean. Anyway, most of the guys and gals at this operation are from the Netherlands (not to worry, they all speak English), and very professional. Since their operation is not located right near the hotels, you'd have to call them for a pickup at your hotel if you can't drive to their shop. Enjoy!
     
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  20. brucewil

    brucewil Silver Member

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    A word a of caution about driving around at night on the back streets. The streets in the neighborhoods are poorly lit and poorly labelled, making it difficult to find your way out of a neighborhood if you aren't familiar with where you are going. If you are going off the beaten path for dinner, I would suggest a daytime run to see where you are going first.
     
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  21. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I personally have never rented a car while there, as the island is not big enough to warrant it -- IMO. The island is maybe 20 miles across, so chances are that with a bit of planning you can get by with taxis or even public transport without too much of a hassle. We stayed in the hotel strip where the Radisson now sits, and a bus ride "downtown" was a couple of bucks and didn't take long at all... plus you get to see how the locals move about. We did some shopping, but did take a taxi back as it was getting late -- and it was mostly empty as the cruise ships weren't in town, even had a guy try to sell us "some stuff" while walking around.

    The time before this -- albeit we went in a cruise -- we just "contracted" a taxi guy to give us a tour of the island. It didn't take more than a couple of hours and he showed us all the sights. With the "Natural Bridge" collapse back in '05 and the small size of the island, there's really not a whole lot to occupy your time to drive from place to place, unless you want to visit the ostrich farm a few times while you're there. :)

    And chances are the hotel can arrange for a tour of the site (there's still an old fort there) and the church, etc. with a guided tour in an air-conditioned bus, so you don't have to worry about driving. :)
     
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  22. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    Sure looks pretty easy: http://www.visitaruba.com/getting-around/bus-schedule/

    Did you use the bus system to get elsewhere on the island other than Oranjestad?

    Not renting a car would save me per day charge of car + gas & cost of parking car at resort. A side benefit being I could drink alcohol if I wanted to seeing as I wouldn't be driving.
    While personally I'm happy taking public transportation most places I travel to, Mrs Willie is not a bus fan. So I think a happy compromise would be bus out to dinner/pubs, cab back.
     
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  23. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I didn't go anywhere else, but seriously there's not a whole lot of places to go that warrant renting a car, IMO. Most of the hotels offer tours to Arikok and Alto Vista, and other than that you have things like ATV tours, the butterfly or donkey / ostrich farms (seriously) and that's about it.

    We took the bus downtown and went shopping and hung out for a while then took a cab back, then took taxis to the restaurants when going out.
     
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  24. brucewil

    brucewil Silver Member

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    I prefer to be on my own schedule, so the $250/ wk is worth it to me to rent the car, but I understand the economy of the other options. As I said, there is a car rental agency next to Dushi Bagels well within walking distance of your hotel if you want to rent for just a day or two.

    As far as Oranjestad, not much to see there other than t- shirts, etc usually associated with ports of the cruise ships. There is about 3-4 days of site seeing on the island. A car would be a must for Baby beach IMO. Too far too rely on public transportation.

    Trying to get up to the North end of the island to the lighthouse would also be best by car to stop at several places along the way such as the church, beaches, etc.

    IMO, for a first time visitor, 2 days of car rental would be perfect supplementing with cabs to/from restaurants. We always go with at least one other couple deferring the cost of the rental.
     
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  25. msv
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    msv Gold Member

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    I have been to Aruba and it is easy to get around on public transportation except for Sunday so plan on making that a beach day. There were some jeep tours of the back country where they pick you up at the hotel. Just my FYI if it rains (and it happens) the roads will flood fast. I like casual restaurants and think Iguana Joes is fun.
     
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