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Aruban Beaches

Aruban Beaches

MemoriesE

Aruba, as you might expect, is covered in beaches and most of them are beautiful light sand beaches stretching out into turquoise waters.  The great thing about Aruba’s beaches is they are (almost) all public, so you can enjoy any beach no matter where you are staying. The only privates ones are Renaissance and DePalm Islands; you have to pay a lot to get out there for the day.

The left side of the island is covered in sandy beaches. Eagle Beach and Palm Beach are what you’ll read the most about online, because all the hotels are located along them. They are beautiful beaches, light sand, turquoise waters, but they are packed. Many people come to Aruba, stay at an all inclusive hotel, and spend all day at the beach right outside their hotel. It certainly wouldn’t be a bad way to spend a couple days, but there’s a lot more to Aruba.

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Here’s a beach just North of the crowded hotel area.

The southeastern side of the island, Seroe Colorado where we stayed, had two main beaches: Rogers Beach and Baby Beach. They were fairly busy during the weekends, but full of locals not so many tourists. On the weekdays, we had the whole beach to ourselves at times.

Baby Beach is a crescent shaped cove with shallow waters almost all the way out of the crescent shape. I could wade out a long ways and still have the water only at my shoulders. It’s popular for families, since the kids can play in the shallow water. If you drive a ways past the crescent shaped beach, there’s a rocky reef.

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Roger’s Beach is next door to Baby Beach, but even less crowded. We came here on the weekdays, sat in the shade of a cabana, and had the beach to ourselves for stretches.

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There are also some beaches with snorkeling off the shore. We visited Boca Catalina, Malmok Beach, and Baby Beach to snorkel. Although there are other sites as well such as Mangel Halto and Boca Grandi.

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The right side of Aruba is also covered in beaches, but they are not suitable for swimming. This side is exposed to the open Caribbean Sea and has a strong undertow. Aruba is not in the Hurricane Belt, making it great year round for vacations, but they still get huge waves set their way from it. This coast is more divers with some sand beaches, others exposed cliffs with huge waves crashing against them, and other areas are rocky beaches.

We spent one morning along the Grapefield Beach coast, wading in the water, and watching the kite surfers perform tricks.

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Other areas we visited during out “Wild Side” tour of Aruba.

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the Natural Pool inside the Arikok National Park

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and the long expanse of rocky coasts.

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We had a great time laying out on the Aruban beaches we visited. You really can’t go wrong. Just make sure to put on a lot of sunscreen. The constant trade winds make it so you don’t realize how hot you are or how burnt you’re getting!

Bon Bini a Aruba!

Bon Bini a Aruba!

Ocean Memories

Aruba is a funny little island. It’s a lot of desert and sand surrounded by the Sea. I have never seen so many cactus in one place. It’s also an island of friendly people, colorful houses, and a diverse culture. The island stays a constant 78-88 degrees year round, but doesn’t even feel that hot thanks to the constant trade winds (although your hair will look ridiculous in every single picture).

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Today it is owned by the Netherlands and the primary language is Dutch. Although most locals also speak Spanish, English, and Papiamento (the local little-bit-of-everything language). We were there over King’s Day (4/27), which is the Netherlands’ King Willem-Alexander’s birthday. All the shops were shut down for the holiday.

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 I’m assuming this is the King and Queen since their picture was everywhere.

It’s slogan is “Aruba, one happy island.” It’s pretty easy to be happy there. A normal day was beach all morning, then some cultural/island sights in the afternoon. We rented a house through airbnb and it turned out great. The house was bigger than we thought, bedrooms with air conditioning, wifi, and a porch to eat our meals on overlooking a slice of the ocean.

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We used our car A LOT since we were staying on the very southeastern tip of the island and most restaurants and hotels are located on the northeastern side. It was a 20-50 minute drive anywhere. I’m not one for crowds though, so I enjoyed staying in the less populated area. Baby Beach and Rogers Beach were both 2 minutes driving from our house. We were the only ones at time during the weekdays. On the weekend it was us and Arubans. Plus Rogers Beach has wonderful shaded cabanas we made great use of.

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We cooked one meal and ate out the other meals. The food we ate was pretty fantastic the whole time, although it had better be for the prices. I know I’m a mid-western girl and it’s more expensive elsewhere in the world. I expect my meal to only cost $8-10. Meals in Aruba that were rated “cheap” online were $15-20 a plate. We did not go to any restaurants that were rated more expensive.

Some of the places we ate at were:

  • Bavaria – delicious German food. I had fantastic chicken schnitzel, Donovan tried the special of stuff beef, and we shared a gooey cheese soup appetizer.
  • Red Fish – I had great shrimp, Donovan had a delicious cheese stuff chicken dish, and we shared a fried rice covered in cheese appetizer
  • B-55 – fun views of the center of the island, good food, bad service
  • Ritz – sort of has an old fashioned diner feel, but local food. I had orlog fries. I had no idea what they were just picked something and ordered it. They were fries, covered in peanut sauce, mayonaise, and chopped up onions. Mayo and onions were a great idea. Peanut sauce… not so much.
  • La Trattoria el Faro Blano – only disappointing place we ate at. They have pretty views at sunset, so everyone goes there around 7. Charge $18+ a plate and neither Donovan nor I liked our meals.
  • Iguana Joes – touristy place in downtown Oranjestad, good food

 Fried Rice  Shrimp  Cheese Soup  Orlog Fries  Donovan Dish

Things we did in Aruba (broken up by my [soon to come] posts on them):

Bon nochi! (Good night!)

The vagabond adventures, leg 1

The vagabond adventures, leg 1

vagabond (n): a person who wanders from place to place without a home or job

Costa Rica has a one week break in the middle of their summer school sessions. During this week, we packed up and journeyed across the border into Nicaragua. It was my favorite week of the whole summer. I cannot tell you how much I loved Nicaragua. Although I loved studying abroad, I did a lot more studying, more school, and less adventuring than I thought I would. My classes were challenging. It helped me with my primary goal of learning Spanish, but not with my general desire to experience another country. In Nicaragua, we had no classes or obligations. We woke up each morning and decided what we wanted to do. I felt free.

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To cross the border, I took a bus from San José to Rivas, Nicaragua. We went through customs and spent the night in Rivas.

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The next morning, our hostel arranged a car to take us San Juan del Sur. A constant throughout our week was the amazing people we met. The 6 hour ride was memorable for several reasons. First, 7 of us including the driver were piled into one car. Second, we jammed to the driver’s CD of Snoop Dog, Eminem and other 90’s rap classics the whole way. Third, at one point we all tumbled out of the car so it could make a particularly steep climb up a hill. We arrived safe in San Jual del Sur, found an $8 hostel with breakfast and ocean views, and settled in for the night. DSC_0211c2           DSC_0111c2             DSC_0254c2

San Juan del Sur is a beautiful calm beach town. The ocean harbor is gorgeous and the town is watched over by a giant statue of Jesus up on the mountain. It reads “Jesus en ti confio.” How beautiful! We hiked up to the statue and it was miles of almost vertical roads. Our thighs were burning, but the views were incredibly worth it. The rest of the night was spent at an awesome cheap beach restaurant resting in their hammocks.

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The second day we took an hour boat ride to snorkel, but let me warn you, this is not a spot known for snorkeling. It was still a relaxing day on the water.

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Spontaneity Is Necessary In Life

Spontaneity Is Necessary In Life

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll

This was a spontaneous trip, deciding 2 hours before the bus left that I was going. Two buses took us from San José to Manuel Antonio. It was pitch black when we got there and by complete chance we managed to find an amazing hostel, Backpackers Paradise Costa Linda. It was only $10 a night, clean, had wifi, and a cafe attached. There were giant breakfasts with 2 huge plates of food for only $4. The beach was a minute walk from the hostel and the National Park was a minute walk the other direction. Manuel Antonio is a small lazy area, with beautiful beaches on the Pacific coast.

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We spent our whole first day relaxing on the beach. We rented two surf boards and one of the guys in our group attempted to teach us how to surf. It was SO much fun, but I can confidently check surfer off my list of possible careers. We layed in the sun and explored the coves and rocks around the beach.

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The second day we hiked through the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio. There is plenty of wildlife and fauna along with beautiful beaches. The wildlife takes a careful eye to spot and other groups benefited from having a guide, but I still managed to see a couple creatures: a lizard, some crabs, toucans, sloths, and some really weird spiders. We also found monkeys outside the park playing in the trees.

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Manuel Antonio was truly beautiful and reflected the image I had of Costa Rica in my head. Costa Rica has spots of complete beauty, but it is easy to remember that it is still a developing country. Some ways, such as recycling they are far beyond other countries, but there is also trash littering the country side. It is a wonderful marvelous country that is capturing my heart, but there are vastly different sceneries here.

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Anhelo una reina

Anhelo una reina

“Smell the sea and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly.” Van Morrison

We spent a weekend in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. This is a typical touristy beach town with a little bit of a night life. Puerto Viejo lies on the Caribbean coast and the water was quite warm! We stayed in a motel across from the beach with lines of hammocks outside the rooms.

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Our first morning was spent at Parque Nacional Cahuita. It was created in 1970 to protect Costa Rica’s largest coral reef. A trail takes you down to the ocean and along the way you can spot a variety of creatures. There were lizards, crabs, a purple locust as big as my hand, and monkeys and sloths high up in the trees. We swam in the Ocean for a while and walked back along the beach. The water was unfortunately too rough to go snorkeling, but they are supposed to have wonderful snorkeling on calm days.

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The afternoon was passed on the beach in Cahuita, nextdoor to the Parque Nacional. A man stood by the beach selling fresh whole coconuts. He used a large machete to slice off the top and I poked a straw through to sip out the milk. It was not what I expected. When we had drunken the milk, he chopped it in half and sliced off a bit to be a spoon to scoop out the inside fleshy coconut. They were baby coconuts and the inside had a texture sort of like fish. I can’t say coconut will be added to my grocery list, but it sure was an experience! The man talked to us for a while. He told us about how he has a nice relaxing life, but “anhelo una reina,” he craves a queen to share it with. It was quite sweet.

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On the ride home, the program director had the bus pulled over and we walked through the selva not sure where he was taking us. Once we emerged, we were on the edge of a cliff with the ocean crashing beneath us. It was a hidden perfect place.

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The final day was spent on the beach in Puerto Viejo. There’s a restaurant there called Pan y Chocolate (bread and chocolate) and you can’t go wrong. The owner used to live in Pennsylvania before moving to Costa Rica and opening this shop. I highly recommend the caramelos, chocolate covered caramels. I wanted to stay on that beach forever eating as many caramelos as I could.

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