Well I've already prefaced how uncomfortable and excruciating the sun was in Aruba, and while I had an amazing trip I definitely was appreciative of the cooler climate that welcomed me back in Seattle. When I am researching a destination, I always want to know what I should do, where I should visit, and what I should try (whether it is food or an adventure). Therefore, I wanted to create a list of things that you should do (or not do) if you should visit this "Happy Island". Some might reiterate what I said in my previous post, but I am going to elaborate more on what I experienced.
1. PACK HEAVY DUTY SUNSCREEN LIKE YOU ARE ABOUT TO ENTER DANTE'S INFERNO.
-->I'm not a fan of sunscreen, and I typically pack carrot or coconut oil for a beach trip, but trust me when I say that the Arubian heat is not just hot, it's fucking SEARING. It is so unbearable, that within 10 minutes of exposure to the sun, you are sure you have gotten skin cancer. Our biggest rookie mistake was to not pack strong sunscreen, and we ended up paying a pretty penny for SPF 50.
-->One more thing... if you're a sweetner lover like myself (i.e. sweet n low or equal) - yes I'm one of those horrible people, then make sure you pick some up in the last American airport (probably Starbucks) that you are at before getting to Aruba.
3. GROW UP AND STOP USING HOSTEL WORLD (LE SIGH), AND GIVE IN TO AIRBNB TO BOOK ACCOMMODATIONS.
I was excited that I got to pop my AirBnB cherry, and use the site for this trip! Being obsessed with Hostel World throughout college, it was very refreshing and exhilarating to try something new. I knew from past travels that I wanted to stay in an apartment vs. a hotel, and that I wanted it to be semi close to the beach, but not adjacent to the tourists. I also wanted to stay in a place that was closer to the locals.
4. DON'T BE AN EBENEZER SCROOGE.
While I was looking what you must see and do when in Aruba, I came across a couple of orphanages and the people that had gone to visit them. I knew I needed to add this to the list. Please note: I am not obsessed with kids, am not even sure about having them, but knowing there are kids out there that didn't grow up with the luxuries that I had breaks my heart.
There were two orphanages on the island - Casa Cuna is for ages 0-8, and Imeldahoff is for ages 8-teen. Children are placed there by the state because they cannot live at home anymore (whether it is from physical or sexual abuse). Before we left the states we each made a small area in our suitcase that would be dedicated to clean clothes, and toys dedicated to learning and fun. I literally had to SIT on my suitcase in order to get everything I wanted to bring in there.
We decided to go to Casa Cuna on the Tuesday that we were there (I had called the previous week when we were in the states), and getting there was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Luckily we had mapped out every street and turn, because the Arubian people made it very difficult to find these kids. I guess that's a good thing?
Here is also the link to other ways you can help around the Island: http://www.togetherforgood.org/.
5. DO THE KUKOO KUNUKU TOUR...EVEN IF YOU HAVE SWEAT ON YOUR UPPER LIP THE ENTIRE TIME.
This by far was the favorite thing I did in Aruba. A friend of mine from NYC that had recently been there, and suggested that we do this while on the Island, so we looked into it. You had your choice of 4 tours:
As everyone got on the bus...we all had our maraca's (that they told us not to break them, but of course I did...)
The tour included stops at 4 bars, in which you have time to mingle, as well as get drinks and shots at a discounted price. There is also a welcome shot at every bar, and you get a "shot necklace" when you first board the bus. I must have broken this necklace at least 4 times.
They also offer these "sippy cups" for $5, which not only allows you to drink on the bus, but prevents the crazy drunks from spilling drinks all over your already sweaty body. Of course we had no cash or debit cards on us to buy some sippy cups, but we met a couple from Jersey that got us some cups in exchange for some shots. Our alcoholic angels <3
Our bus driver, Jaime was A. PARTY. ANIMAL. Not only were his stripper moves on par, but his eclectic mix of genres and karaoke skills took the cake.
The bus was not complete without a few lap dances...as well as the older creeper
watching every move we made.
While we all begged and begged and BEGGED for Jamie to take us to one more bar, he could not. Therefore he put on Kokomo by the Beach Boys, and let it sink in that the most fabulous night in Aruba was about to end.
For more info on the Kukoo Kunuku click here.
6. FIND AN ARUBIAN MAN AND TELL HIM HE'S BEAUTIFUL.
Because well, who doesn't like a compliment?! I met him at the last bar of the tour, and my first question was, "So, do you like Aruba...Oh you do? Ummm ok. Great, here put on this hat...Oh and I wanted to tell you that you very beautiful. Bye!"
*if you ever meet me in person, you know that sometimes my awkwardness crosses with whatever comes to my mind at that moment...and you'll never know what you'll get. :)
That's all I have at the moment, but I do have a ton more tips and pictures, so a part 2 will be coming soon!
Bellisima = "Extremely Beautiful" in Italian, and how i would describe the world, and how I view it through travel.