Greetings and Farewell From The “Happy Island”-Why You Need To Visit Aruba

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Spring Break as a Senior in college is typically reserved for long nights filled with many friends and variations of beer and mixed drinks, but I was looking to do something different. I decided to book a trip to Aruba with my girlfriend and experience what is known as the “happy island.” Wow, what an unbelievable decision this was, as we had the time of our lives. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a gregarious and knowledgeable taxi driver who provided us everything we needed to know for our stay in Aruba. We were housed by the Holiday Inn and Resort on Palm Beach, which is one of the most valuable properties in the world due to its expansive beach coverage and tremendous amenities. The grounds are littered with colorful lizards and iguanas that man the rocks above the pools. Every room at the hotel was in a great location, yet I feel like ours may have been the best. We stayed on the side of the hotel, on the first floor, which is just a stones throw away from the beach. The property is surrounded by a variety of restaurants, which were terrific and filled with freshly caught seafood. So that is all just a brief summary of the trip, now lets get to the details.

The first of the two excellent excursions we went on was an ATV Tour around the island with the tour company Kini Kini. Our tour guide was Stuart and he was terrific. We took the ATVs around the majority of the island and through the hot Aruba desert. This tour was bumpy and at times a little unnerving. Our guide first brought us to  a natural bridge that spanned across the shoreline. We were able to take photos and marvel at its beauty in our time here. During our tour we also visited a cove that we were able to jump in to and swim within its boundaries. The cove’s water was was warm and inviting and provided protection from the sharks and other predators that exist outside its walls in the much colder Atlantic Ocean. This cove visit was separate from the stop we made at a natural pool a little while later. Through the clear water you could see the abundance of wild life that makes this pool home. The fish came in many different colors and sizes and the crabs roamed the rocky walls that sat above the pool. There were just enough people in the pool to be social but not enough to overcrowd it. The ride down to the pool was rocky and painful at times but was 100% worth it.

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Aruba’s Natural Bridge

Our second excursion came later on in the week and boy was it a dandy! We toured the Caribbean Sea on a machine called a Seabob. It was created by a Navy SEAL and can dive deep down into the sea and travel at high speeds if the settings are adjusted accordingly. Fortunately, our machines were set at lower levels which allowed us to take everything in. Our first visit was to the Antilla shipwreck, which sits ominously at the bottom of the sea. Staring you right in the face are years of history, as the Antilla was a German ship that was sunk by Dutch authorities in Aruba when Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1939. It is known to be the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean. We were able to take in all of this information from our guide as we experienced it in person, making it that much cooler. After scavenging around the ship we made our way over to the coral reef that exists closer to the shore. This reef is a colorful representation of the beautiful wildlife that exists on the island of Aruba. The highlight of the reef was being able to feed the eclectic group of fish that swam aside our seabobs. I felt like I jumped on to the set of Finding Nemo, as colorful fish surrounded me and gigantic sea turtles looked on from the sea floor. I give sea bobbing two thumbs up and proclaim it a “must do” in places that contain coral reefs and other mysteries of the sea.

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Miscellaneous Notes and Observations

-Deciding to ride an ATV for the first time uphill in a rocky desert is a questionable move that could lead to near death experiences.

-If you see a dog wandering the beach or street, it’s probably wild or a stray, so act accordingly

-Lizards and Iguanas are like ants there…They’re EVERYWHERE.

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-I lost $7.00 at the casino, the slots are definitely rigged and I probably should’ve gambled with more money.

-If you eat anything but seafood you’re making a huge mistake.

-Happy Hour at Bugaloe’s is the place to be, and if the kids blocking the entrance to the bar look like they’re 15, they absolutely are

-Sometimes you will feel like you’re in the northeast, everyone seemed to be from New York or Massachusetts