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Wednesday, March 27, 2013


We love Aruba.  It IS the “Happy Island” it calls itself, and from what I understand, today’s Aruba does not resemble the tourism in Aruba of even a few years ago.  Certainly since celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor began coming here once Cuba fell to Castro, Aruba has worked very hard at building and promoting its image. The growth is phenomenal, and it is still evolving.  You’ve got plenty of choices, so think about what you are looking for when you’re planning your vacation.

The Riu
Aruba is basically divided into two hotel zones, the high rise and the low rise, descriptive nomenclature based solely on the height of the buildings.  In the high rise section at Palm Beach are the big hotels: Westin, Rui (all inclusive), Marriott, Hyatt Regency, Radisson, Holiday Inn and some others that front on the beach.  Here you’ll also find restaurants, casinos, and plenty of places—many familiar—to shop.  It’s tourist oriented, touristy, and geared to offer the high life in entertainment and in action.

Looking toward the low rise section of hotels
In the low rise section, the hotels and beachfront villas are one and two stories high.  The area is more low-key, and generally there are far fewer people on the beaches. The three Divi all-inclusive resorts are in this area. 

ArubaThere is a third section of smaller hotels at Eagle Beach. Here you’re somewhere between the flashy high rise and the isolated self-contained low rise.  Eagle Beach hotels are generally located across the street from the beach.  There are nice restaurants within strolling distance, and there are places if you are interested in jet skis, banana boats and other water sports.

It all depends on what you’re looking for in your vacation.  All sections are just a short cab ride from Oranjestad, so you never have a feeling of isolation.

No matter your choice, all the beaches are invitingly tantalizing. In Aruba, you do not have to worry.

A Divi Divi that is not pruned
One very special feature of the high rise section is the beachwalk.  Stretching the entire length is a meandering, paved walkway, and as our hotel, Divi Phoenix, is on the edge of the high rise district, we were at one end.  The beachwalk stretches from our hotel all the way to the Holiday Inn at the other end.

While the paved beachwalk ends at the Divi Phoenix’s border, it continues as a sandy path toward Eagle Beach, and Rob walked this area too.  There in its solitude, he saw beaches as nature intended, lined with waving grasses and other plants.  He enjoyed the quiet naturalness along the Caribbean.
The path cut through the foliage to other beaches

Here was a more quiet atmosphere


a bit as I imagine Paradise

ArubaThe paved beachwalk, on the other hand, cuts a winding path between the beach and the high rise hotels, and it is a favorite of joggers, walkers, and people with strollers.  It is far more populated than Rob’s sandy route.

pruned Divi Divi
On our walks we pass iconic Divi Divi trees, some pruned neatly and some reaching their branches outward in beautiful disarray.  Divi Divi trees are easily spotted, and they provide a wonderful service by spreading their foliage out to bring shade beneath the tropical sun. 

The beachwalk is also great for people viewing.  Tourists in all their shapes and sizes are fun and interesting to watch.  Everyone has colorful, tropical attire.  Some people are covered to their ankles in flowing fabrics of pastel hues, and some stroll in the skimpiest, tiniest snippets of cloth. It’s a parade of fashion and beach gear. 

Just too beautiful!
It is also fun to get an idea of what’s happening at the huge resorts along the way.  We watched bocci at the Rui and lots of beach volleyball everywhere.  Lounges and hammocks may be occupied, but out on the water there are banana boats, hoby cats, and pirate barks.  In the sky are parasailors.  It’s an atmosphere of vitality, and it’s lovely to be a part of it. 

ArubaMany resorts have beach restaurants and bars on the walk, so stopping for a libation or lunch or even Dunkin’ Donuts is always a possibility. 

On the beach side of the walk are the lounges and palapas solely for the hotel guests.  The hotels post signs reminding walkers of that fact. The signs stake out each hotel’s turf.  As the properties are borderless, the differences are really designated by the different styles and colors of the chairs and lounges and the types and shapes of the palapas.  It makes for interesting patterns on the sand and shade as well as for an interesting stroll.

The beaches in Aruba are all open to the public. Regardless of hotel signs, people can make themselves comfortable with their own chairs or blankets.  There are even concessionaires from which you can rent anything you need. There is plenty of room for everyone on these very wide beaches.  Once again, hotel signs “warn” that the concessionaires are not part of the hotel.  The hotels would prefer a bit more exclusion, I’d say, but the concessionaires seem well-established and eager to do business too.

In fact, there are concessions on the beach for just about anything one’s heart desires.  We rented Hoby Cats for sailing.  We could have booked tours right on the beach as well as through our hotel’s concierge: tours of historic, geological, or unique places on the island, boat rides, snorkeling trips or practically anything else including massages.  But to be honest, the beautiful beach and the delightful water keep us close to home most of the day.  Aruba by day is for relaxing and enjoying the warmth on your skin.

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