Aruba Day 3
The 3rd day in the One Happy Island was our souvenir shopping day! We like to bring back something special from each trip to add in our display cabinet at home. We took the local bus from the bus stop right in front of our hotel to downtown Oranjestad around $1.20. USD are widely accepted in Aruba and sometimes we got some Aruban florin change back. Some of the Aruban florin coins were square shaped instead of round which I thought was cute. The ride to downtown was around 15 minutes and we stopped at the "main" bus station which was right next to the Royal Plaza Mall. This little mall was all pastel colored buildings with 3 levels of shops.
We got there pretty early so some shops were not even open yet! On the back of the Royal Plaza, there was a street filled with souvenir shops as well. We walked along the street and saw a tiny place where the locals selling breakfast like sandwiches. It was cheap and not bad at all.
After breakfast, stores started to open so we begin our shopping day in this shopping street. Once again, the street was filled with pastel colored buildings. The architectures in Aruba are very cute.
I really like souvenir shopping in Aruba more than other Caribbean islands because they are fairly priced (unlike Cancun which made you feel like you are getting rip off!). Also, if you buy more quantities, you can bargain a little, the store owners are very nice. I went in a souvenir store (sorry I forgot to write down the name), I saw bathroom items that were made with acrylic and liquid filled with very nice shells inside. I spend quite sometime in this store because I couldn't make up my mind on what to buy, there were a few color choices! I ended up buying two sets (soap holder, liquid soap dispenser, toothbrush holder) since they are very inexpensive around $3-$4 each in white and blue color. Here's a picture of one of the white color themed liquid soap dispenser:
I think those made very good souvenirs to give to your relatives and coworkers. We continued our shopping going in one store to another. We also bought two shell-picture frames which were around $7 each. Time goes fast when shopping (don't we all agree?), it was lunch time already! We had lunch at Casa Tua Barcelona - Spanish food in downtown. Here we had some tapas and paella. The food was okay but in the salty side I think and it was expensive for a lunch.
After lunch and rest, we continued our shopping. We went in the Royal Plaza and shop around its shops there. In Aruba, there were a lot of Aruba Aloe products (which it was known for) and butterfly taxidermy displays/souvenirs. I really like the butterfly souvenirs, they are very colorful, great for my white walls at home. We went in a lot of shops and found an arrangement that we like, we bargain a bit and got down from $30 to $25:
We really enjoyed souvenir shopping in Aruba, many choices, many stores,and nice people!
After a day of shopping, we went back to our hotel and relax at the beach of course! Looking at the calm turquoise sea relaxed us :)
We had our dinner at the Italian restaurant (less expensive than Pago Pago) in the hotel. We ordered fried calamari, seafood linguini, and red snapper:
Our meal was delicious!
Aruba Day 4
Today was our snorkeling day! Ever since I snorkeled in Bahamas few years ago, I love snorkeling! I booked an excursion with Jolly Pirates. We walked to MooMba Beach which is just between the Holiday Inn and the Marriott Resorts to the Jolly Pirates "office" inside the Jolly Pirates Skull and Crossbones Souvenir Shop. We signed the form and paid our trip - $100 for two of us. Since we were early, we walked to the departure port. Here we met this guy who was fishing and he was very nice to let me try haha!
There were many small fishes; we could see them clearly!
Our pirate ship arrived and we boarded the ship. There were a lot of people but was comfortable! We sailed away and our first stop was the 400ft WWII shipwreck, Antilla. It was pretty deep and we weren't strong swimmers so we didn't snorkel there. We watched others jumped into the water :)
Soon, another pirate ship arrive as well:
I heard from people said that the water wasn't as clear today so they could barely see the shipwreck. Next stop, we went to Boca Catalina, shallow water so it was great for us.
Hubby snorkeling and our ship on the back! We didn't get to see much fishes but as expected because Aruba is not a well known snorkeling island. The last stop was Malmok which was very close to the beach. We snorkeled more here and saw more fishes this time. After snorkeling, we got back in our ship and watched others in the water. The view here was very relaxing:
We had lunch in the ship (included), the BBQ food was decent :) After lunch, the ropeswing begin! I didn't try it but was fun watching others doing it. At first, people weren't that good at it and then after a few tries, some guys became real pro at it! The pirates (crew) were great, they do flips and we were amazed. There was one part that the crew carry a girl and did the double flip, amazing! We recorded video so sorry no great picture to show!
The snorkeling trip lasted from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm. We had a great time!
We got back at 1:30 pm and we walked along the beach to get back to our hotel. When we got back to our hotel room, we showered and changed. Then, we walked back down to the lobby just in time for the parrots. The staff took the parrots out and we were free to touch them. This parrot was heavy!
For dinner, we took the local bus again to downtown area to Aquarius, a seafood buffet. Aquarius is located inside in the Renaissance Mall. We walked around the mall since we were here before heading for dinner. The buffet was smaller than I thought but have decent food. They have a sushi bar and a grill bar where you can take your favorite seafood (fish, shrimp, scallops, lobster tails) and hand over to the staff for him to grill. You can pick the sauce too. I ended up having 2 grilled plates, ate 4 lobster tails!
The buffet was $39 each, we thought it was okay at least we tried :)