Aruba, One Happy Island

After a long and tiring hours surfing the net for finding a perfect destination for our next summer vacation, constant pressure from my son (Papa summer vacation par kahan jayenge…) and my better half, I finally decided to visit Aruba. Probably never heard off…but it’s presence can be felt in a famous Beach Boys song “Kokomo” starting line. Basically its a tiny island with native population of around 100K, on the north coast of Venezuela. Its administered by Holland and is a Dutch colony. It can simply be described as one of the most different and amazing islands of Caribbean’s (West Indies).
Aruba, One Happy Island
Trademark Divi Trees.


The weather here is pretty constant and same throughout the year with few rain showers during Aug-Nov time frame. During Summers temp gets to around 80 degree F, but feels hotter due to its very dry climate, it’s not a tropical island but constant trade winds make it very soothing and relaxing place to be. Now one would ask, why did I chose Aruba among all famous places like Hawaii, Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas etc etc…I wanted to play safe, since July is typically a hurricane season in the Atlantic, to avoid any such trouble and uncertainties in planning, I chose Aruba, as it falls outside of the hurricane belt and is pretty safe and family oriented, One Happy Island. Since its a Holland country, on an average, people spoke 4 languages fluently out here…Dutch, Spanish, English and native Papiamento, so language was not a barrier at all.
beach
Colorful chairs

After long planning and advance reservations we started our Journey on July 2nd. It was a long 8 hrs flight from Seattle to Oranjasted (Aruba’s capital city). Even though it’s a small island country with a good public transport, I decide to rent a car for greater flexibility and it was pretty cheap as well (BTW, you drive like in US, so this was not an issue). The local currency here is Florence or some people also prefer to say Guilder. This is a pricy island with pretty much everything at par with US, but probably better than Hawaii where everything cost more than what’s in the mainland US. Being a vegetarian family, food is always a problem at these foreign places…so having a kitchen is always handy, hence we booked a one bedroom suite with a kitchenette for those odd hour hungry times. We reached our resort room at around 2 pm…to our surprise, the guest at the resort were greeted with a free tropical drink, Fruit punch with Caribbean Rum…yummy. The Divi Phoenix resort was very nice with bunch of swimming pools / Jacuzzi and big open beach right in front in the low rise palm beach area. WOW we were happy with our decision. So far so good :)
BeachBeach huts by the sea…

We pretty much slept like a baby that day after the long red eye flight. It was hot but A/C did its wonders. Our room was on one of the top floors and the view from the balcony was simply stupendous. Long white fine sand beaches with blue green crystal clear water…so calm and relaxing one can’t put in plain words. We did not had any fix agenda in this trip…so enjoy the beach, sea and chill out. Pretty much most of the day went sun bathing and lying in the water at the beach waiting for the sun set which was simply amazing. My 6 yr old was having a terrific time in the water, the beach is so nice, you can walk 100 feet inside with water still at your waist. Very clean and pristine. He loved beach combing finding shells, collectibles etc. In the night we had dinner at the sea side restaurant in the resort with live music and karaoke performances. Overall great times.
BeachWhite sand beach

Again no agenda, so only thing in mind was to chill out and be on the beach…so that’s exactly what we did for next few days with some adventure sports like Para sailing and water tubing which the family enjoyed a lot. During some odd times, we would go for sightseeing to nearby butterfly farm, light house, natural stone formations, check out some other city beaches and drive around the country which is so cute and charming.
Butterfly
Butterfly farm…very cool place to visit.

Since this place is heavily flocked by American tourist, our resort arranged a special 4th of July celebrations with Firework and party on the sea, it was a spectacular show on the water. Food…my favorite…I’ve heard Local cuisine out here is great with curries and spices but again being a vegetarian our options were very limited. We did enjoyed great pastries from a local bakery Huchada in the Palm beach area. Casa Tua is also a good Pizza joint if you like Pizza. After 4-5 days we were finally craving for some good old fashioned Indian meal…and we were in luck…upon searching we discovered that there is one and only one Indian restaurant in this island, it was in downtown Oranjasted called Taj Mahal, my son was all excited to go there and we went, to our surprise the cooks were from UP / Uttranchal and the food was simply amazing, very much like a home cooked meal. We enjoyed it thoroughly and thanked the owner. From him we came to know there were quite a few (around 1000+) Indian families in the island mostly Gujratis, Sindhis and Marwarhis indulge in Jewelry and diamond trade. Pretty much all big jewelry / watch / gold showroom is owned by Indians, IMO that was expected and completely understandable, hats off to these communities for being in every part of world and making us Indian proud and homely J wherever we go.
Submarine
Atlantis Submarine
Inside sea
Marine life captured from submarine…

Next day we did a Submarine tour, a real US Coast guard certified passenger Submarine dives almost 150 feet into the sea surface. Great views of deep sea, sunken ships, coral reef, sea life was very interesting to watch from the inside of the submarine giant circular windows. We also observed how colors from the light spectrum slowly disappear as we travel deep into the water everything starts appearing blue, including your blood. Unique experience which we thoroughly enjoyed, though my wife did feel some pressure and sickness due to the dive but overall well worth our time and highly recommended for one time. Also since we travelled during the FIFA World Cup, we were lucky to see all the soccer excitement here as Holland went on to the finals and were runners up this year, entire Aruba was painted in orange for all these days. Great sight to watch and enjoy. We watched the Semi final at the local pub with huge crowd happy and cheering for Holland, great experience overall. In general Aruba is a big party place with Party Buses, Party Boats and pretty much party everywhere.
Sunset

sunset
Sunset at the Caribbean Sea

One week just passed and it was about time we take our flight back to the great emerald city from this truly happy island. We were very happy with our choice and were not in any mood to go back. The beautiful charm of tiny country, pristine beaches, green crystal clear water and friendly people were hard to say goodbye to. But remember it was just a vacation…though something to consider for your retirement, I said to myself J.
BeachBeach flowers

In the end, I would highly recommend Aruba. Anyone travelling to this part of the world, If you are visiting Caribbean’s, Aruba should be on top of the list.

26 Comments

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Dear Atul,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I never heard about this place “Aruba” before going this post.

    It would be great if you could add some of the picture taken while your submarine tour (inside the sea).

    Uttranchli cooks are avilable from Dhabas to five star hotels , India to any corner of the world. :-)

    Picture of Sunset at Caribbean Sea was awesome !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Atul says:

    Thanks Mahesh…Adding one picture taken from the submarine…since everything inside there is blue…picture is also blueyy :)

  • sskagra says:

    good photographs and watching your wrting work as like we had seating with you and watching sea, inside all are blue

  • Anand Khare says:

    The way you described the visit,it feels even better.

    Raju

  • Onil Gandhi says:

    wow….. seen many an beaches but Auruba….. well written!!!

  • Salil says:

    Cool!!!! Island to enjoy at peace. Visualized Aruba with your words.

  • Hello Atul,

    Excellent write up with finer details. I got to know this place only from your email asking about Camera tips for humid weather.

    Pictures are excellent, couple things are missing

    1. A map showing this island
    2. Your tip on how using Camera in a humid weather.

    One more thing on lighter side, US wale Desi thode adventourous ho gaye hein, recently couple of my friends travelled to east side of Mexico.

    Oh yes, how about writing your Mexico trip you had in 2005?

    -Upanshu

    • Atul says:

      Thanks Upanshu. PlayaDelCarmen(Mexico) trip was in May’04…its been a while, but will see if I can write something up.
      Regarding the map, I left it out on purpose to let our dear readers do some research of their own. Re. using camera in humid conditions, I didn’t had any special enclosure or anything like that…pretty much just wait for some time before Camera normalizes…its mostly coming in/out from your room which creates problems / moisture etc., once you get out and exposed things get better. US wale Desi logon ko adventurous hone par majboor kaun kar rha ahai….Desh me rehne wale Desi’s jo aaj kal yahan se bhi jyada adventours hain :)

  • Roopesh says:

    Hi Atul,

    Truly exotic location. I have heard and searched about this island country before though never came back anywhere near visiting it! The pics are good though I liked the one with white sand beach the most. Too bad for vegetarians in such seafood locations. Overall very tempting narration.

  • zeevie says:

    niceeeee niceeee

  • Patrick says:

    I do remember aruba – During the Miss Universe or Miss World Pageant there is always a Miss Aruba. I also remember seeing aruba during the olympic march opening ceremony!!!!

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Atul,

    As ever beautiful pictures, making it almost impossible to resist scrolling down again and again to have that last look on them.

    Great :-)

  • Sneha says:

    wow.. this is lovely. we are planning Aruba early next year. is there like a good season and off season to visit?

  • Atul says:

    Sneha…Aruba season is mostly driven by US…so typically its a high season (high prices) during winter months…and low/off season in summer. Aruba weather is pretty constant year around, it gets around 90’s in July / Aug but mostly its in 80’s year round.

  • Onil Gandhi says:

    couldn’t resist

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYVl6RnXFdc

    Aruba Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
    Bermuda Bahama come on pretty mama
    Key Largo Montego baby why don’t we go
    Jamaica

    Off the Florida Keys
    There’s a place called Kokomo
    That’s where you wanna go to get away from it all

    Bodies in the sand
    Tropical drink melting in your hand
    We’ll be falling in love
    To the rhythm of a steel drum band
    Down in Kokomo

    Aruba Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
    To Bermuda Bahama come on pretty mama
    Key Largo, Montego baby why don’t we go

    Ooo I wanna take you down to Kokomo
    We’ll get there fast
    And then we’ll take it slow
    That’s where we wanna go
    Way down to Kokomo

    To Martinique, that Monserrat mystique

    We’ll put out to sea
    And we’ll perfect our chemistry
    By and by we’ll defy a little bit of gravity

    Afternoon delight
    Cocktails and moonlit nights
    That dreamy look in your eye
    Give me a tropical contact high
    Way down in Kokomo

    Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
    To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
    Key Largo, Montego baby why don’t we go

    Ooo I wanna take you down to Kokomo
    We’ll get there fast
    And then we’ll take it slow
    That’s where we wanna go
    Way down to Kokomo

    Port Au Prince I wanna catch a glimpse

    Everybody knows
    A little place like Kokomo
    Now if you wanna go
    And get away from it all
    Go down to Kokomo

    Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
    To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
    Key Largo, Montego baby why don’t we go

    Ooo I wanna take you down to Kokomo
    We’ll get there fast
    And then we’ll take it slow
    That’s where we wanna go
    Way down to Kokomo

    Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
    To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
    Key Largo, Montego baby why don’t we go

    Ooo I wanna take you down to Kokomo

  • Nandan says:

    Brilliant pictures Atul. Kamaal hai.

    Thank you for sharing. I do not see myself visiting this place anytime soon or probably ever :-) and if not for you I would not have even heard. Thanks again.

    And comments are equally interesting. Desi log fight dene lage hai ab travel mein :-)

    Write about Mexico please. Last time I saw some of it was in ‘Kites’ (there was this Hrithik potboiler movie )

    @Sneha – Share your travel experiences at Ghumakkar please. I took a look at Auli/London/etc , would read more and comment.

  • VIJAY DUGGAL says:

    seeing all this, u feel out of the world. AMAZING…..

  • Pranav says:

    Hi Atul,
    Once again … u r simply amazing !!
    Good writeup knitted with amazing pics. No doubt, the place is awsome but your description made it even more beautiful for those janta who have not visted till date.

    Hope u will continue with such great trips and we all will have good experiences to benefitted with. :)

    Thanks,
    Pranav.

  • Atul says:

    Thanks Pranav, Nandan, Vijay and Onil for the complete song. Aruba Jamaica ooo I wanna go back again… :)

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