How to have fun in Aruba without hanging out with strange men in bars
June 18, 2006 7:27 PM   Subscribe

HoneymoonFilter: my fiance and I have settled on Aruba (although we're willing to consider the other ABC islands) for our late October-early November honeymoon; however, we're stuck on the details.

We chose the Caribbean in the first place because it's our honeymoon and we don't want to feel pressured to sightsee -- we want to lie around, drink fruity drinks, have spa treatments, and read all day. What's really confusing us is the whole all-inclusive vs. regular hotel thing. Which is more cost effective? Is the food any good at the all-inclusive places? We are super adventurous eaters and love good food, so bland hotel food is uncool. If you stay at a regular place, do you end up needing a car to get into town or can you walk?

We're not looking to do anything super active. We are looking for a resort on the beach with luxury rooms, a spa, a bar and room service and a couple of good on-site restaurants, as well as the usual beachfront, pool, and fruity drink delivery mechanisms.

So, Aruba? Bonaire? Curacao? All-inclusive? Regular? And if you're pro all-inclusive, please share your opinions on the Wyndham in Aruba (if you have any). I have a ton of Amex points I might trade in for our honeymoon.
posted by wildeepdotorg to Travel & Transportation around Aruba (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I found Aruba to be gorgeous if you're willing to venture, but rather manufactured/predictable if you stick to the hotel. The two hotels I experienced in Aruba were the Marriott and Hyatt -- these were not all-inclusive packages. Overall, the Hyatt had better dining with more variety and the Marriott seemed to have a more pleasant beach/pool but with fewer, less exciting dining options. Both had lots of fun tropical birds, landscaping, and poolside laziness. They both also had casinos, the least "escapist" or "Caribbean" thing I could imagine on a Caribbean island. I found Aruba to be a bit too Vegas-y or maybe just American for my taste. I think this was due to the casinos/gambling at many hotels and small town Vegas attractions -- shows, more casinos, etc -- in town as well. I would hope that Bonaire and Curacao would offer a better sense of tropical escape (rather than just a generic beach setting, indistinguishable from a Florida postcard). There are fun, secluded areas on other ends of the island if you're looking for escape (Baby Beach and their national park). So if you want scenic views and humble experiences, venturing out of town to these areas would be your best bet. That said, Aruba could be the perfect place for just lolling about on the sand with tropical drinks at the resort, as it does that part wonderfully -- just rather generically in my experience.
posted by superfem at 8:22 PM on June 18, 2006

As for a car, we were able to take taxis from the hotels quite easily to get to town. Probably less expensive than renting a car over the entire trip!
posted by superfem at 8:26 PM on June 18, 2006

Bonaire is beautiful if you like to scuba or snorkel. If you want long sandy beaches, though, you won't have much luck; the beaches in Bonaire are coral. I also don't recall seeing any real 'luxury' places on Bonaire; there are places that offer great diving or just a nice, laid-back vacation spot, but none I recall as being the whole 'pamper you with spa treatments' thing.

We did the all-inclusive thing at Sandals Turks And Caicos, and it was really nice as far as a feeling of luxury; drinks on tap whenever you want, just ask, food (wonderful food) the same, plenty of pools to lounge at or beach to sprawl on, anything you want, practically, you can just get, and no need to worry about the cost or the tip or anything. I felt very spoiled but it was almost -too- indulgent; I started feeling guilty for being so hedonistic. Still, it was fun for a short-term thing.
posted by Rubber Soul at 9:35 PM on June 18, 2006

I've only done Cuba on all-inclusive packages, and I've found that it really varies. At the 3 star resort I stayed at the second time, the food is pretty meh. The 4 star I stayed at the first time was amazing. I can't say for sure what Aruba would be like, but would definitely recommend at least 4 star resorts. It really depends on how much you want to drink, whether or not all-inclusive would be cost effective for you. For me, when I'm drinking 25 beers a day, it clearly made more sense to go all-inclusive. :)
posted by antifuse at 12:52 AM on June 19, 2006

Best answer: My wife and I are returning to Aruba for the 5th time this October. Clearly, we love it. We own on the Marriott Property. Aruba is great for a honeymoon for the following reasons:
1. No hurricanes
2. Predictable weather - 82, sunny with breeze, dry
3. Tons to do
4. No hurricanes

On the to-do front, here are the things we recommend:
- Hike in the Arakok National Park - cool early inhabitant cave drawings. Tips: wear bug spray, do in morning
- Rent a jeep and tour the Island - my wife and I are the least likely to "off-road" but tooling around the northern part of the island is great.
- We do the casino thing - the Hyatt's is best on the island
- Restaurants! There are a TON of good ones on the island, and the best news is that you don't need to go in town for them (although several exist there also).
- Any of the snorkel/scuba day trips

Things to avoid:
Horseback riding - NEVER do this on your honeymoon - we will leave it at that

Restaurants to include:
- El Gaucho Steakhouse- (classic, in town)
- Texas de Brazil - Brazilian Churrasco (BBQ) - we are meat eaters
- The Tepanyaki Grill at the Wyndham
- All the dinner restaurants at the Hyatt.

Where to stay:
If you are on a first trip and money is not too tight - the Hyatt is perfectly located, great beach and has the aforementioned restaurants and casino.

Best of Luck... and as Arabians say Bon Bini!
posted by jshelus at 4:30 AM on June 19, 2006

I lived and worked (at the refinery) on Aruba for 8 months, ending last October. Depending on when you plan to go, it could be quite nice. MOST of the time, the wind blows quite strong and steady, but every now and then... it doesn't!

Although some of my opinion is based on being there so long, my wife and I got bored rather quickly. Aruba is only 6 miles wide and twenty miles long, so there's only so much exploring to do. In fact, one of the main tourist attractions, the Natural Bridge, collapsed last year!

Having said that, it's probably perfect for honeymooners. (We did the same thing for ours in Kauai.) Plenty of great food to choose from (I heartily second El Gaucho, above), everything from surprisingly good hole-in-the-wall joints to really popular ones, as mentioned above. (I can also highly recommend the Ruinas del Mar at the Hyatt for a nice romantic evening dinner on the terrace - ooh la lah! 2nd best filet I've EVER had!)

You won't have much to do, but there will be some things to do if you feel like "getting out". All the suggestions above are good. Also, if you enjoy this, the area just north of the Mariott is where all the windsurfers and kitesurfers congregate - really nice and colorful. (World Championship windsurfing contest is usually in June sometime.)

You CAN survive without a car, but driving around is fun too to get to those out of the way spots. A word of caution - DON'T try to take a CAR off-road! Only use 4-wheel drive or something more suitable. They won't insure it if you get stuck on a rock - and you WILL.

One last tip: Baby Beach, near the refinery, is very nice for an early morning or late evening, fairly private, walk on the beach or swim.

Have fun!
posted by Bobtheordinary at 7:26 AM on June 20, 2006

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