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Tamarijn Aruba June 12 - 24, 2008

Author: Arubalisa (More Trip Reviews by Arubalisa)
Date of Trip: June 2008

On the back of his ATV, Ray carried a cooler with water as well as strapped our backpack carrying digital camera, video camera and towel and was happy to allow us as much time as necessary at each stop for photos and video.

I do have to say after visiting the Natural Pool twice previously by 4 x 4, getting there by ATV, was by far the easiest and quickest way in which to get there once we were "off road". It was still a little "hairy", as it was in a 4 x 4, but by following our guide Ray, we knew exactly where on the path to follow. I might add I was grateful the brakes worked! Never once did I fear for my life though. Imo it is more dangerous swimming in the Natural Pool than getting there via ATV. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough, especially as a way to see the Natural Pool. This was one of the best excursions we have ever taken on the island in the 13 years that we have been visiting.

Also, as many times as we have been over on the "other" side of the island, there were a couple of new things Ray showed us: 1. "Baby" Natural Bridge, always been there, we just drove by it, 2. the coolest blow hole you have ever seen, 3. Been to Alto Vista what about 15 times ? and never knew there was the Peace Labyrinth there. Dd and her friends took their turn through the Labyrinth when we stopped there later in the week.

Was there a downside? Dirty as anything. Riding behind our guide Ray, and then my dh, I literally know now where the expression, "eat my dust" comes from. Remembering how green the island was at Christmas, it was immediately noticeable that it was now so totally opposite. Brown as brown as can be. No significant rain since February, by June the island had become very very dry and DUSTY. As a side note, as I will mention later, the island did see significant rain June 24 and 25. In 17 visits I have never seen the island as dry as it was. If you prepare beforehand and wear junky clothes (think throw away) and shoes as we did, this will not be an issue. My t-shirt from that day just went into the trash; no amount of bleach was ever going to get out all of that dust.

Dd complained about everything under the sun during the ride, but this was her chance to see and swim in the Natural Pool. If you asked her now I think she would say she liked it but will tell you that she did not like the dirt and the dust. For dh and myself it was a unique experience and an opportunity to see Aruba from a different perspective.

While I went back to the Tamarijn to shower and cool off, dh and dd went to the grocery store to purchase Red Bull or something similar to combat my "lack of caffeine" headaches. A nice surprise was the addition of a 12 pack of Amstel Bright. They got a ride back from the supermarket by golf cart that was down at that end of the resort so by the time I showered, suntan lotioned up and put on a bathing suit they were back. We went to the buffet for a late lunch and then dh and I hit the ocean and dd caught up with her new found friend at the pool. Later on we joined dd's friend's parents for happy hour at Pizza per Tutti while the kids frolicked in the pool. We had met them for the first time the day before after meeting originally through my website. Similar in ages, coming from NJ, the four adults had something in common and the girls are close in age and clicked as well. Overall, made a nice vacation even nicer.

Dragged dd out of the pool at 6:30 p.m. after her four hour swim interrupted only by a break for pizza and refills on soda. Cutting it close we made dinner at the Red Parrot by 7:30 p.m. Golf carts between the Divi and Tamarijn for the most part seemed much more readily available than they were at Christmas. One of my favorite things to do in Aruba, eat dinner outdoors with my favorite honey, under the stars listening to the palm fronds rustling in the wind above. The delicious food was just a bonus.

We had decided that since the following night was Father's Day we are going to a place called Pinchos just south of Oranjestad. It is out over the water and was supposed to be very romantic. That was spent as many others would be, lounging on the beach. C. spent part of the day at the pool and a good part of the afternoon sleeping. Too much play and not enough shut eye had finally caught up with her. Dh made up for his early mornings by dozing on the beach some afternoons as well. Dinner that night at Pinchos was a disaster. I must be getting old. We were seated at one of the couches with real low tables which made for very uncomfortable eating. To make matters so much worse, there was an open air Christian Revival going on nearby with a rock band and lots of praise the lords and hallelujah. The restaurant was directly downwind so it was just that much louder and may as well have been right next door. It lasted from the time we got there until we left. Not the restaurants fault. If the food had been stellar we might give it another shot, but my steak at the Red Parrot was just as good and the seating much more comfortable.

Monday morning we, along with our new found friends and their two daughters set off for our "Sail, Snorkel and Swim" with Jolly Pirates. It was a nice day and the kids especially had fun. Most of our boat was filled with a family attending a wedding in Aruba and they were lively of spirit but not rowdy or drunken. We did the normal snorkel stops of Arashi and Malmok. Unfortunately there was a great deal of moss like seaweed, part of nature, but just kind of creeped me out swimming amongst green blobs.

There was less seaweed while we snorkeled the Antilla wreck but of course for anyone who has never been, there was a current, winds and waves. Dd wanted to see it, and I wanted her to see it so I went off with her holding hands to see the top of the wreck. Visibility in my mind is never terrific in Aruba and this day was no different. Dd was able to see the outline of one of the cargo holds and the mast from somewhere in the depths to where it sticks out of the water. That was about it. We were out of there. Dh and I have dived the Antilla over 20 times and still have to say that it is a much much more worthy dive than a snorkel. For starters, when you dive the wreck, you are able to see not only more fish but the abundant sponges which have grown all over the wreck.

After the Antilla it was back to the coastline along Malmok where we dropped anchor and lunch plates were handed out. Food included: a chicken skewer and a couple of ribs, a roll, pasta salad, Cole slaw and watermelon. Following lunch it was time for the infamous rope swing! Dh took her turn about 4 times and our friend took a couple of turns as well. Before we knew it was time to sail back to Palm Beach. En-route, one of the "mates" Javier led the revelers in some dancing. Everyone had a blast.

We took this excursion mostly for the kids and decided next year we will switch off and go on Tranquilo again. Better snorkeling, I love sailing and just an overall relaxing day. It is just a different type of experience. I went over to the Divi to have my nail polish changed late that afternoon and at $7 by far one of the best bargains on the island. My nail salon at home here in the states charges $6! In a comedy of errors, I ended up having to go back and forth between the Tam and Divi twice because the beauty salon only took cash, no credit cards, and no room charges. Now I know. It took me longer to wait for the golf cart back and forth than it did to have my nails done, but after having already taken my shower, I wasn't about to get all sweaty again. The two women at the salon were very nice and I would not hesitate to go back again.

Tuesday and Wednesday were days of doing nothing and lounging around. Dh and I always wanted to take the helicopter tour, but had a tough time justifying the expense. This year we decide to bite the bullet and in lieu of exchanging gifts for our wedding anniversary, do the helicopter tour instead. Thursday morning was our helicopter tour of the island. There is only one operator on the island, Aruba Heli Tours http://www.arubahelitours.com/ We decided to reserve the first tour of the day at 10 a.m. in order to have the rest of the day at the beach.

Christian was our pilot and tour guide. We felt it was well worth the extra money for the island tour versus the beach tour. The island tour begins at the helipad at the marina in Oranjestad. We headed north and saw Druif, Eagle, Palm Beach, Malmok, Arashi and beyond. We out over the wreck of the Antilla for a very unique view. From there it was on around the lighthouse and Tierra del Sol Country Club with all of it's palatial homes, flying along the northeast coast all the way up to the Aruba Drag Raceway Park.

Christian then took us back towards the west coast with a view of the refinery, heading back northward over the barrier islands towards to Oranjestad over Savaneta and past the airport, finally land back in Oranjestad. The color of the water during this portion of the flight was just as breathtaking as it is over Palm Beach. The tour was well worth the money even if only a once in a lifetime experience.

Through 17 visits to Aruba, this ranks in the top 3 excursions we have taken. The other 2 being Tranquilo and the Kini Kini ATV tour.

Our new friends had asked us to suggest an island tour. They were not sure if they were up to the ATV tour or just wanted to drive around by car or 4 x 4. Dh and I have done the round about the island tour for other friends and family, so now gladly offered one more time. Planning on splitting the cost of the rental it ended up they insisted on paying for the rental so dh insisted on paying for the fuel- diesel. I don't remember how much, but not cheap.

Dh had called around to get prices. We usually use Royal Car Rental and they had nothing available. We had a bad experience with Hertz in the past and even though they were at the Tamarijn we were hesitant to use them. It did not matter because they too had no SUV available. Dh found a rental with Amigo Car Rental http://www.amigocar.com/ They offered free pick up and drop off at the hotel. Only downside unlike Royal who brings the vehicle to you and allows you to do the paperwork there at the hotel, the men had to go back to their office to do the paperwork.

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