We did a lot of different things while we were there. We spent time at the beach and the pool, just reading books and soaking up the sunshine. I had the genious idea to wear a two-piece swimsuit after a few years hiatus. Also forgot sunscreen one day. That resulted in my tummy looking like this: (and it is STILL peeling!)
One day we rented a jeep to go and discover the treasures on the uninhabited side of the island. We found the rocky shore and the natural bridge, which was very beautiful but full of trash. On the other side of the bridge water pools up and there is a little canyon dug out of the rocks. It was completely full of garbage that washes up out of the ocean. Kind of strange in such a pretty place.
The driving was rocky and bumpy but not really too bad until we got to the trailhead for the natural pool. At that point there is a sign that says 4 x 4 is REQUIRED and not to venture on without it. We soon found out why! The roads were steep and full of huge rocks that Sam had to manuver over or around. There were also cactus everywhere and we ended up with a flat tire before we were done. :)
It was so worth it to make the drive though. The natural pool was our favorite place on the island. It is right on the shore and there are great big rocks that form a circle. Waves crash up over them and then the water trickles down into the pool. The pool itself is perfectly calm and about 50-60 feet deep. We snorkled around and saw some beautiful fish in there and then climbed up on the big rocks and did some cliff diving. We had the pool to ourselves a while and then there were other groups there with us. Everyone was incredibly friendly. There were even two Aruban men 'working' there to make sure nobody gets hurt in that area. One of them told me that they sometimes have to call in helicopters to air-lift out people who get stupid on those rocks!
We took the bus into town a few times and walked around. The downtown area is very touristy and set up mainly for the cruise ships which port there. Lots of jewelry stores and souvenir shops. One night we went on a sunset cruise and got to see Aruba from the water. It was beautiful and we enjoyed being out on the ocean. We saw FOUR weddings taking place on different spots along the shore! The sunset wasn't spectacular as it was fairly cloudy that night, but it was still very pretty.
Our last full day on the island we took a trip to de Palm island. It's owned by one of the tourism companies on the island and it's just a tiny little island five minutes off the coast of Aruba. (The picture below was taken from the dock looking out toward de Palm.) Once you are on the island, everything is included. They have a restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch, a 'snack bar' that serves hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken nuggets and fries whenever you want 'em, an open bar, snorkeling equipment, a waterpark that our kids would have loved (and we made sure to use, just for them!), beach volleyball, soccer and all sorts of empty white-sand beaches. That was a pretty fun day. Very relaxing and fun. The snorkeling off the island was beautiful. We saw these huge blue parrot fish and lots of others. It was an amazing vacation. We haven't had any time away from our kids (besides date nights) in over three years, so it gave us a chance to talk and just enjoy each other's company. My favorite part may have been the airplane rides. I have flown quite a bit with my kids, but haven't flown without them in over six years. It was pretty fun to just nap when I felt like it, read my own books, and not have to carry anyone. :)
Now that I'm all refreshed and relaxed, it's back to reality! Sam was home from Aruba for just a few days before he had to leave to help with a retreat at work. He was gone from Wednesday to Sunday, so it's been just me and the kids getting back into a routine around here.
It's good to be home! :)