…And still so many to go! After touching down in Aruba, we have spent a week to find our bearings, get frustrated over this website and explored the island.
As we landed and took our luggage (including the big boxes with bikes) across the airport the heat and humidity was of course what hit us first. But after that, getting to our little cozy resort Punto di Oro and settling into our 2-bedroom apartment was a breeze (helped by the 3 aircons). We rented a tiny little Kia Picanto from our accommodation for the entire period as the island requires your own set of wheels to get around, and off we went to discover what the island had to offer.
Beaches, beaches, beaches
Ah the joy of white sandy beaches and clear blue waters. As the island is sprawled with beaches, we have taken it upon ourselves to explore different ones, and get a feel for the different beaches around the island. As the wind is constant and blowing from the same direction – illustrated by the Divi trees around the island – the north(east) side of the island has more rocky coastlines and choppy waters. Most beaches are thus situated on the south and west of the island.
Generally, all beaches have beautiful white powdery sand, and they have lots of shade through public huts/parasols and trees. Depending on the location however, the atmosphere at the beach can differ greatly. We started at Arashi Beach, up at the northwestern tip of the island (close to the lighthouse). Some decent snorkeling here, and mostly quiet but hardly any facilities. Eagle Beach on the other hand, is a massive stretch of sand right in front of the resort area which means plenty to do (including riding the banana or renting jetskis) but as it is mostly sand, not so much for snorkeling. Baby beach so far is our favorite, on the other end of the island. It is a beautiful crescent shape bay, with shallow waters, but rocky patches across it which make for great snorkeling, especially for beginners. Biggest bonus here is the Zeerovers restaurant on the way back – Fresh fish (literally delivered while you are eating) with no frills but great taste at ridiculous prices… we will be back there before we leave!
The rest of the island
The rugged side of the island is not to be missed though! We took a hike along the coastline of the Arikok National Park, starting from Daimaru beach down to the Conchi, a natural pool at the seaside. The walk itself is easy and fun, as you walk through different landscapes and terrains, and the end game is a dip in the Conchi before heading back out. Don’t forget to buy a permit (including wristband) first at the NP, or you will not be allowed into the pool and sent on you way again. The coast is dotted with tidal pools as well, which is great fun for the kids to scour for fish and crabs.
For some much needed exercise, there is the climb of the Hooiberg, the 2nd highest peak of Aruba. Ok, so hopping up 500+ flights of stairs to make it to the top is not a massive achievement (we did it in 10 minutes), but the view is really giving you a good feel of the size of the island. And everybody likes to feel on top of the world once in a while. If you take the effort, do it late in the afternoon as most of you climb will be shaded with the wind in your back…
Some good ol’ touristy entertainment
When not lying by the pool or canvassing the coast of the island, we also found some entertainment worth mentioning so far. The Donkey Sanctuary is a nice stopover to spend half an hour petting the donkeys that worked so hard to get the island going in the early days. They are well taken care of and really enjoy your company (because you come bearing gifts in the shape of food of course :-)). The highlight so far for our boys however is the Butterfly Farm. Not only because you can make a wish when one lands on you (and believe us, they do!), but the part that gets our Dutch frugal juices flowing is the fact that your entry ticket is a ‘return as often as you like during your holiday’-ticket! We bought 1 ticket for 1 adult and 2 kids, and alternated that ticket between us (there are only so many butterflies an adult can handle), as the kids really loved it and will most certainly go again before we leave.
Then there was a website that would not go live…
Yes all of this sounds fantastic, but it has not all been fun and games! As the months have passed, we worked diligently on this website offline, figuring our WordPress and building content as we moved along. The idea was to get it done offline first before starting to pay into webhosting. Sounded logical, but the ‘one-click make your website online’-scenario did not really materialize. In normal circumstances this is not an issue, you grab a good coffee, take a load off and try to figure out the glitches. But in 35 degree heat, with everybody on edge because of the jetlag and the constant fear of losing EVERYTHING you worked on in the past months, it was not a great start-up. The sigh of relief when we finally did go live was a very big one (and of course celebrated with a nice cold beer).
First week verdict: We could get used to this!
Oh yes we could… as we start to find our rhythm, and see more and more of the island it is absolutely a thrilling thought that this is only the beginning of a massive journey for the upcoming year. In hindsight, this detour to Aruba was just what we needed to switch out of home-life and into travel-life – and get this website live ;-)… The island itself is small and manageable, but with enough to keep you occupied! And with that positive note, we will just ignore the fact our youngest wet the bed he shares with his brother last night :-p.
Keep your eyes peeled for more updates on our journey! We will post weekly summaries, and if there is something worth elaborating on, we will add a blog on that as well. Check out our Instagram and Polarsteps for our actual locations and snapshots of how we are doing!