Sean and I got engaged while on our summer 2013 vacation in Germany. Deciding on our honeymoon was a huge decision for us. As avid travelers, we originally had grand dreams of an elaborate vacation – perhaps finally making a trip to South America. However, once we started crunching numbers and making budgets for the wedding, we realized that it might not be as feasible as we originally hoped. So, we had two options: 1) delay our honeymoon until we could afford the “big trip”, or 2) take a slightly smaller-scale honeymoon right away. We decided on option 2 because we didn’t want to miss out on the fun of travelling and being alone on our first few days of wedded bliss. We then narrowed down the destinations to somewhere with all-inclusive options and relaxation. We had only ever heard glowing reviews of Aruba, and neither of us had been, so it was decided! We got married on Saturday and left in the wee hours of the morning on Monday.
(May 26 2014) Day 1. Flying out from Boston, Landing in Oranjestad.
We got an early start, with a flight leaving Boston around 7 a.m., landing in Oranjestad around noon. After picking up our luggage and passing through customs, we caught a cab to our resort. We chose the Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive, which is in the Oranjestad area. Our cab driver was very personable, and we started some conversation about his history with the island, the weather, and some other fun facts to get us oriented.
We checked in, but were too early to be able to settle into our room. So instead we left our luggage with the concierge, ate our first meal at the buffet, and then walked around our new home for the week (with fruity cocktails in hand, of course). Once we were finally able to get into our room we changed into our bathing suits, grabbed a snack and some more drinks, and then hung out on the beautiful beach.
This night we also found a fantastic spot to watch our first Arubian sunset. We found an area on top of one of the bars, which had a great view of the ocean and let us fully enjoy the pinks and oranges of the sunset. Afterwards, we realized just how tired we were from a long day of travelling and took a quick nap to refresh ourselves before eating dinner again at the sister resort’s buffet. We tried to stay up to have some more drinks at the closest bar, where we ended up meeting some amusing British folk. However, after about an hour we were still fairly tired and went to bed pretty early.
(May 27 2014) Day 2. Oranjestad.
We spent the second day fully enjoying our honeymoon. We drank lots of fruity beverages, ate delicious food, read on the beach, took a couple of walks along the water, and had a mid-afternoon nap. We then ate at Red Parrot for dinner, which was our first a la carte restaurant experience of the trip. It was tasty and the view was terrific.
After dinner we caught another great sunset on the beach and then took a cab into Oranjestad. We walked around for a little bit, ran into one of the “I love Aruba” signs, and caught the last hour or so of the Bonbini festival. The whole festival was a fun introduction to Arubian culture, but the best part was definitely the finale, which involved a live drum line and elaborate Carnival-costumed dancers.
We then bar hopped a little bit, drinking some delicious mojitos at Cuba’s until the electricity went out! We later found out that this affected almost a third of the island, but at the time we only saw some of downtown being dark. So we just moved onto a different bar that had power, Local Store, where we got some cheap beers. After the Kukoo Kunuku bus arrived with their large group, we took a cab back to the resort. However, we arrived only to find out half of Tamarijn had also lost power, so we went to a beach bar in the lit half to wait it out. Luckily there was a live band playing and our favorite bartender serving us drinks, so we were perfectly content until we could finally return to our room and fall asleep.
(May 28 2014) Day 3. Oranjestad.
Day 3 brought our first off-resort excursion. We booked a Jolly Pirates Afternoon Aruba Snorkeling trip. We chose the afternoon version so we could relax until our 1 p.m. call time. It worked out well, especially since we were unable to go to bed super early the night before due to the blackout. The schedule allowed us to have time to eat a leisurely breakfast and lunch at the buffet, and lounge on the beach to read before heading to the high-rise area and board the boat.
The trip was super fun – we took full advantage of the boat’s rope swing, and snorkeled at two separate stops. The first was very choppy (and deep, I think around 40 feet) so we were very happy to have on our life vests. It was a tough swim and we had to make sure we kept track of not drifting too far from the boat, but we did see a lot of beautiful fish. This stop also had a shipwreck, which was both awesome as well as a little creepy. The second stop had less fish but better conditioned (and shallower) water. The third stop was for the rope swing. Sean and I each took a couple of tries, and the guide showed off his skills by doing flips while a guest was hanging onto his back! Our only complain for the entire trip was the lack of beer on the boat. We had to stick with mixed drinks, which aren’t either of our preference, but we obviously made it work (honestly, we didn’t want to drink too much anyway for fear of getting seasick).
Afterwards we went straight from the high-rise docks to our hotel’s honeymoon package candlelight dinner. We had barely enough time to change out of our bathing suits and freshen up a little in the lobby bathroom before they bused us and four other honeymooner couples to a beachside restaurant, Pure Ocean. The atmosphere was amazing. We had an incredible view of the bay, our toes were in the sand, and we were given a complimentary bottle of champagne all to ourselves. The meals were also very delicious and we were in no rush to leave, especially once the amazing pink sunset arrived. It was romantic and as close to paradise as we’ve ever been.
After dinner we were back at the resort in time to see the end of a steel drum band and then some synchronized swimming in the resort pool. Once we got our fill of resort entertainment we went back to our room and drank our (other) complimentary bottle of champagne. We enjoyed the bubbly while on our beachfront porch playing some cribbage. A perfect end to a fantastic day.
(May 29 2014) Day 4. Oranjestad.
We planned for this to be a resort day. We spent the morning on the beach in our favorite spot outside of our room. I even got some breakfast to-go items from the buffet and brought them back to eat in our lounge chairs. Sean eventually went for a walk and found some Dunkin Donuts iced coffee – a wonderful treat for some New Englanders! (Especially because I’m a little addicted to iced coffee.)
Part of the reason we chose the Tamarijn was because it was so accessible to the city. So once we had our morning fill of sunshine we rented some bikes and rode into town! The ride was pleasant, flat, and not too hot. However, once we got into town, the area’s stores and attractions were unfortunately mostly closed for business due to a religious holiday. Luckily we were still able to wander around a little bit and browsed a touristy flea market that was open for the cruise ship patrons. I ended up buying a pair of wood and mother of pearl earrings. To end the adventure on the ride home we treated ourselves to some ice cream and free wi-fi for a quick email and social media check.
After cleaning up and resting for a little bit, we grabbed some refreshing beverages and watched the most amazing sunset at the Bunker Bar. Afterwards we ate an Italian dinner at a la carte restaurant Paparazzi before heading over to the sister resort to watch some dancers (I even got picture with the crew!). Once more we did not stay out too late and after a couple of drinks we leisurely walked back to our room and called it a night.
(May 30 2014) Day 5. Oranjestad.
On day five we were supposed to go on the island tour, but unfortunately I woke up with an upset stomach. After changing my mind a million times I decided it would be best to stay home. Luckily, Arubians are super nice and we were able to reschedule our tour for the next day. So we grabbed our spot on the beach and took advantage of this as a rest day. We lounged around all morning.
We did eventually get a little stir-crazy and decided to go on a second bike ride, since the shops should be open. We didn’t end up going into any of the museums, but we were able to walk around the waterfront and grab a drink at the Local Store again. We then checked out the little outdoor mall next door to our resort’s casino, followed by a little within our resort bar crawl to make our way back to the roof deck we found on our first day in order to watch the sunset. We ate dinner at the a la carte Ginger, which was Japanese and delicious. Other than a post-dinner walk not much else happened that day, since we wanted to make sure we were healthy and ready to go on the tour tomorrow.
(May 31 2014) Day 6. Oranjestad.
Today was our ABC Island Safari Jeep tour. We were picked up around 8 a.m. and taken to the company headquarters. Once the tour began, it was full of non-stop thrills. First off, we visited what felt like a million beautiful site like the Alto Vista Chapel, California Lighthouse, Gold Ruines, multiple Natural Bridges, Natural Pool, National Park, Baby Beach, and a bat cave! All of this was seen while speeding down intense terrain with a fearless tour guide who often drove so that it felt as though the jeep was going to flip over. The experience was both terrifying and exhilarating. In the midst of all this, we had a delicious barbecue lunch at Waka Waka restaurant.
In fact, the day was so packed that we ended up getting back to our hotel later than advertised. We anticipated returning around 5 p.m., but instead returned closer to 7 p.m. It was a full, amazing day! Everything was so beautiful and it was a great experience to be able to see so much of the island.
We originally had reservations in town for a fancy dinner, but we ended up getting too late. So after cleaning up we instead were serenaded by a Mariachi band in the buffet. Directly after dinner we were able to see some salsa dancing at the resort. Needless to say, the sun and adventures of the day left us very, very tired. This was yet another early night to bed for us (in hindsight, we didn’t ever stay up super late on this vacation).
(June 1 2014) Day 7. Oranjestad.
Our last full day in Aruba. We spent all of it soaking up our last hours of relaxation, unlimited food and beverages, and beach time. We did not leave the resort until late afternoon, when we went to the high-rise area to catch the Red Sail sunset cruise that my sisters and sister-in-law bought us as my bridal shower gift. The boat ride was relaxing and beautiful. It even had delicious drinks and some tasty appetizers on board. I have to admit that this might not have been the most colorful sunset we saw on our trip, but the atmosphere made up for it (and the sunset was still very pretty – we had just been seeing some jaw-droppers on the previous days).
Once we got back to land and back to our resort we decided to go to Barefoot restaurant and treat ourselves to an off-resort dinner. Even though we did not have a reservation, we lucked out and were able to get a table on the sand right by the water. It was another amazing night and the weather was perfect for our romantic candlelight dinner. What a fantastic way to end our honeymoon.
(June 2 2014) Day 8. Flying out from Oranjestad, Heading Home.
Our flight home was in the early afternoon flight. We did not do too much. We ate some food in the buffet and then I got some last-minute souvenirs at the resort’s shop: two bottles of aloe and a small bottle of white rum. We then took a cab to the airport, where we were pleasantly surprised to be offered seats on the non-stop flight home. Honeymoon complete and we couldn’t be happier with how everything went – although it was a little rough to transition back to reality…