Aruba: One Happy Island

If you follow me on Instagram, I probably annoyed the heck out of you last week with my constant posts of sun, sea, and sand.  I took a much-needed break and headed for sunshine in Aruba.

While it was my first time visiting, the funny thing was everyone we met seemed to be returning for the 5th, 6th, or 12th time. Many people said once they came to Aruba, they didn’t want to go anywhere else on vacation (everyone was so friendly and ready to have a chat).  I’m happy to say, I see their point.  When you’re looking for gorgeous beaches, this is the place to be and I’ll definitely be coming back.

Palm Beach, Aruba
Palm Beach, Aruba

The Hotel

After much research and comparison, we ended up staying at the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba in Palm Beach, part of the “High Rise” section.  I must have studied every hotel before settling on this one, and I had some reservations (no pun intended) because, well, it’s a Holiday Inn.  The reviews and the pictures were astounding and the price was equally appealing.  When I saw that they renovated the whole resort in the last year and added an all-inclusive option (at only about $200 extra per night – per COUPLE) I was sold.  

Holiday Inn Aruba at Sunset
Sunset Dinner at Seabreeze Restaurant, Holiday Inn Aruba

The verdict? Absolutely pleasantly surprised.  We even met a friendly meeting planner on the plane who said she toured many of the hotels and was shocked by how nice Holiday Inn was and would recommend it to her clients.  

Holiday Inn Resort is on the beach, with three pools, three restaurants, plus several bars.  They had every accommodation that you could expect from a more luxurious resort.  I even watched a hotel staff member combing the sidewalks scraping off any spots or imperfections in the morning.  Walkways connect all of the hotels along the beach so we went for a walk and peeked into neighboring hotels, confirming we made a solid choice.  

The Activities

Although there is a wealth of day trips and excursions to do on the island, we added on two activities that we felt we couldn’t miss.

Catalina Bay and Antilla Shipwreck Snorkel Cruise – Run by Red Sail Sports, this open bar catamaran cruise takes you to two snorkel spots, the second being a sunken ship that you can snorkel over with the tropical fish. [Video above.]

Kukookunuku – Sound out this name, because you’ll be hearing it a lot.  Our friends told us with much enthusiasm that if you go to Aruba, you HAVE to do Kukookunuku.  An island bar crawl with an optional dinner (which we didn’t join), this is the notorious night activity in Aruba’s capital.  Your tour picks you up in a painted school bus (open with no glass in the windows) and hand your a maraca and from there, it’s shots, bars, and music.  Mama, one of the guides, is famous on the island for being crazy and fun – crazy fun. 

Last stop for Kukookunuku

There were plenty of day trips that we skipped – including the old Natural Bridge site, Baby Beach, Mount Jamanota, to name a few – so we’ll just have to go back. 

And now I’ll be one of those frequent visitors who just keeps coming back…

I love Aruba

Enough said.

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