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Aruba - One Happy Island

  • Submitted by: Mike Saperstein, Aruba Expert
  • Website: None Available
  • Submission Date: 04th Feb 2005



ARUBA- One Happy Island




November 1994 Updated Version
Info provided by: Mike Saperstein, Aruba Expert
For more info, contact mikesap@aol.com

Aruba is one of the most dynamic islands I have ever been to. There is no time of year when Aruba isn't tops. Through my travels on the island, I have eaten at over 50 restaurants, toured many sites, stayed at numerous hotels, and purchased a timeshare. Here is a quick rundown of my favourite places to go.






HOTELS




TOP PICK:




La Cabana Beach and Racquet Club: This is where I own a condo. Over 700 luxury condo units, 3 pools, 5 restaurants, and everything you could ever want in a hotel. Many of the units are in a separate section of the hotel known as "La Cabana Villas".






OTHER RECOMMENDED HOTELS:




Radisson Aruba: One of the older, more established hotels on the island. This hotel has 3 wings which are surrounded by lush gardens. Such stars as Elizabeth Taylor and the Queen of Holland stay here. Also, there are 3 restaurants (rather expensive) on the premises.

Costa Linda: A brand new, smaller (about 130 rooms) luxury resort. All of the amenities, an awesome pool area with lush palms, music, and a bar. 2 restaurants on the premises, and a HUGE beach.

Hyatt Regency: One of the most spectacular hotels i have seen ANYWHERE. This hotel is surrounded by pools with black and white swans, there is a 3 level pool complex with water slides and such. Spectacular casino. Brand new hotel.





CAR RENTAL:




Many established American firms have outlets here (such as Avis, National), however, I recommend a few local outfits which I have used in the past. It is a good idea to contact the rental offices before the trip, this way, when you arrive, a representative is there to pick you up at the airport. Caribbean Car Rental offered good deals (make sure to meet the pet monkey at the rental office). Hedwina is a well established firm with an excellent reputation. Look for their cars with the little yellow bird on the doors.






CASINOS




ROYAL CABANA (at La Cabana): The Caribbean's Largest Casino.
HYATT REGENCY: Beautiful, modern casino.
ALHAMBRA: Free standing casino and bazaar, open late.
CRYSTAL CASINO: In the Sonesta Hotel Building, right in the heart of Oranjestad (the capital).




RESTAURANTS




I was never at a restaurant there that did not have top-notch service, Here are my favourites:

WARUNG DJAWA (Indonesian): This place is just GREAT.

EL GAUCHO: This steak house has the best steaks I have ever tasted. Try the 5 meat platter.

SANDRA's: Great ribs. Right on LG Smith Blvd near the hotels.

MAMAS and PAPAS: Great local food. Try the Johnnycakes.

BOONOONOONOOS: No, not a misprint. Great local specialties.

TWINKLEBONES: A great steak house. Great entertainment by the staff who put on a show two times nightly.

RIGOLETTO: Great italian food.

CHARLIE's BAR: This place is legend. A MUST SEE!

All fast food companies have outlets here (ie Burger King, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell)






CLUBS/BARS




CLUB VISAGE: Located on the outskirts of Oranjestad. Has restaurant also.
BLUE NOTE CLUB: Near fruit market.
PAPAS and BEER: North of the major hotels in the Noord area. New, and very popular.




SPORTS




Check out EAGLE PALACE or CAMACURI (only 4 lanes) for bowling. Tennis and Racquetball at most major hotels. Also, Aruba currently has a 9 hole golf course with a Robert Trent Jones 18 hole club being built. All water sports can be found outside the hotels, on stands by the beach. Jet skiing, para sailing, motor boating are popular. I recommend De Palm Tours for all touring/watersport needs. They have an established reputation and clientele, and great service. For the racquet sport enthusiast, La Cabana is a must.




SHOPPING





Oranjestad (the capital) offers the best prices on all goods. Shops are clean, air-conditioned, and modern. No tax. Some of the best shops can be found in the 80 store SEAPORT VILLAGE MALL. Other great shopping areas include HARBORTOWN and the ALHAMBRA BAZAAR. Fresh fruit can be found at the ocean-front fruit market (local crafts also available here). Other towns to shop at include San Nicolas and Noord. All hotels also have shops, and the airport ( Aeropuerto Riena Beatrix) has duty-free shops. Prices here are not necessarily lower, except in the free zones. Shopping in the free zones exempts you from duties on the goods. The free zone is located in the capital.




TOURS




De Palm Tours is widely known, and offers every type of tour imaginable. They also offer Glass-Bottom boat rides, horseback riding (at Rancho El Paso), and para sailing. Several other local outfits run tours also. They run ads in the many local tourist publications and also provide special coupons which you receive at the airport upon arrival.






SIGHTS




The island has many great sites. See the rocky North Coast, the sand dunes at California, the lighthouses, the Church at Alto Vista, the rock formations at Casibari, the gold smelter at Bushiribana, Frenchman's cove, and many many more. On the South Coast, try Sea Grape Grove and Baby Beach. Also, for the strong, Mt. Hooiberg offers a 563 step climb to the top. The views are magnificent, I have taken the climb 3 times. Atlantis Submarine offers underwater tours originating from the port of Oranjestad.




AIRLINE CONNECTIONS




American Airlines flies direct from NY JFK and from 100 other cities via San Juan PR. ALM flies direct from Miami and Atlanta, and Air Aruba goes direct from Newark, Miami, Atlanta. Also, many charter flights go to Aruba daily.

From Europe, KLM and Air France fly direct. Several small airlines fly flights to Aruba from other Caribbean Islands. Flights to Curacao and Bonaire are only a matter of a scant 15-30 mins.

FOR FURTHER INFO contact mikesap@aol.com and I can give more in-depth info on all these places. I hope you enjoyed this brief overview!

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