Aruba / February 2013
Bon bini Aruba! This is where we fell in love with snorkeling and confirmed our travel style of having the freedom to beach hop on our own. I chose Aruba as our destination because after the past few years of warm temperatures, I needed HOT when trying to get out of the Minnesota's winter. I wanted to go as far south into the Caribbean as I could and it worked! Aruba's temperature is basically 82 degrees year-round. It's so dry that they have huge cacti there! With many beaches to explore, stellar snorkeling, and the size of the Island being only 19 miles long you can't go wrong renting a car or taking public transportation anywhere. For this stay we bid and landed at the Marriott Stellaris on Palm Beach. I was really happy with it. Great pools, modern rooms, plenty of beach palapas and on-site coffee shops with yummy lattes and pastries for breakfast.
Mangel Halto. This is a must snorkel / watch the sunset from the deck combo. Be careful as it can be quite a swim back in deep water if there is wind, but it is a must-visit spot. A shipwreck and a nice reef await you, and through the mangroves is a nice place to lay out under a palapa to catch your breath.
Arashi Beach. People surf and snorkel here! Double threat! Locals like this place, and there's a bus stop right in the parking lot. Snorkeling was super decent as you drift toward the surfers and the water is calm so you can stay out forever. We saw a turtle, stingray and a huge barracuda.
Boca Catalina. At the very least this is worth a quick photo opp. Snorkeling tours dock old pirate looking ships here. We got in to snorkel but the entry was rough and the water a bit murky that day. This is a small cliffside stop.
Palm Beach. The strip of Aruba. Most likely you'll be staying here if you book a resort looking to be near other people.
Iguana Joe's. A nice little 2 story eatery in the middle of town. We ate here on our way back to the airport and watched people get on and off the cruise ships from the top deck.
The Flying Fishbone. We didn't actually make it to this place down by Mangel Halto...and I regret it.