After months of planning and waiting, I finally took my long-awaited trip to Aruba.
We left our home in North Carolina at 3:30 a.m., where the temperature was in the 30s, and by noon we were greeted in Aruba with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80s. Oh, how nice it was to be able to once again travel to a tropical place to escape the cold of winter!
We rented a Jeep so we could enjoy places on the island that can only be reached with a 4WD vehicle, and we headed to Noord. Since we were traveling with another family, we rented a house, Villa Tropical Aruba. We were shown around the house and its beautifully landscaped grounds, complete with a volleyball court, pool table, ping pong table and other games, and a garden with fruit trees. The pool looked so inviting, we immediately changed into swim suits, and within less than 30 minutes, we were relaxing in the pool and the hot tub. When we left our home, there weren’t flowers blooming yet, so I enjoyed taking photos of some of the pretty plants on the grounds. We were a bit startled by a random rooster and hen running past us by the pool, but being the animal lovers we are, we were entertained by their presence all week. We enjoyed a nice quiet evening and went to bed early so we could wake up ready to hit the beach.
On our first day we visited Eagle Beach, near some of the resorts. The waterfront is dotted with palapas, structures resembling a beach umbrella but made with dried palm leaves. Apparently, they get claimed early by resort guests, so we couldn’t find one available. But it didn’t matter to us, because that crystal-clear turquoise water was calling to us. We ended up enjoying our time at the beach wading in the water through the soft, white sand. Some of the members in our party spent their time snorkeling and were amazed at how far down they could see. This is a huge difference from Tar River, where we spend most of our summer weekends on boats. When we venture in that brown water, we can’t even see our feet!
I informed everyone I did my research; and although Eagle Beach was beautiful, it surprisingly does not offer the best snorkeling. Our next stop that day would be a small, rocky beach called Malmok Beach. From the road, it doesn’t look as inviting as Eagle Beach. The water is more of a dark blue, and you have to wear water shoes or swim fins to get past the rocky beach and some vegetation into the deeper water. But once you get out there, it’s apparent why this is the place to snorkel. I had bought my daughter a waterproof protective case for her iPhone to take underwater photos, and it worked great. She got photos of so many colorful fish and a huge starfish at least a foot across. The limestone rocks along the shoreline were home to hundreds of fish and did not disappoint.
When everyone was done snorkeling, we headed back to the house to get ready for dinner. I made reservations at Cadushi Sunset Terrace at Straddle It Saloon for happy hour. This restaurant is built high up on a large outcropping of boulders and offers 360-degree views of the island. We enjoyed a few two-for-one drinks and a delicious dinner and stayed to hear a local band play for a while before heading home. That night we played a fun game of giant Jenga and then went to bed so we would be ready for our next day’s adventure to Baby Beach and the Donkey Sanctuary. But you’ll have to tune in next month to hear about that and more.
— Tracey Cullen, art director
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