Aruba Trip Reports

Marriott's Surf Club

July 10 - July 17, 2004 By Brad & Mary

areal view Aruba

We've been back for a little more than a week and still find it difficult to get "up-and-at-it". Our first trip to Aruba was so relaxing! All 8 of us agree that it ranks at the top of the "all-time best vacations" list for our family - one happy island indeed!

Using ATA, we departed Indianapolis on July 10. Switching planes at Midway, Chicago, we were finally on our way. Five hours later, Aruba could be seen out the plane window. Azure sea, white sand, and fanciful colored buildings - gorgeous! Getting through the airport was a snap with only a slight delay at the car rental place. I had reserved a 12-passenger mini-bus from Thrifty. While I am not fluent in Spanish, I understood enough to know that they had miscalculated. Apparently these Hyundai diesels are a popular item. After a brief wait, we were on our way to the resort.

hotel view

Heading north up L.G. Smith, we went through Oranjestad and arrived at our resort in less than 20 minutes. Pulling up to the main entrance of the Ocean Club resort, we were immediately greeted by the resort staff. After asking for the vehicle keys, they suggested we go in and register. By the time we finished registering, the luggage was unloaded from the van, the van had been parked, and the staff member was patiently waiting for us so he could deliver the luggage to our room. I knew right away that I was going to like it here! A short walk and we were inside the Surf Club. The resort had only been open a little more than a week. The halls still had that new smell, the rooms were impeccable, and even though the on-going construction was visible, it was unobtrusive.

Day #1

was sun and fun at both the beach and poolside. Thank heavens for the constant wind. Had it not been for the continuous breeze, the day would have been much shorter. With the breeze, some SPF 30 was all it took to spend the greater part of the day splashing, floating, and lounging around. The fishermen's dock has not been moved yet. As a result, the Surf Club beach is not quite finished so we moved down in front of the Ocean Club. We never bothered with a palapa, but there were plenty to go around if so inclined. That evening we went to Madame Janette's for dinner. While the restaurant is in a rather unassuming area, the food was absolutely scrumptious. Service, presentation, and flavor were all top-notch. In retrospect, this was one of the best meals we had while there. We highly recommend it.

Day #2

was full of more sun and fun. Everyone decided that the banana-float rides looked like fun. Diego down at Red Sail made the arrangements and after getting our ski vests, we were joined by another young couple from Connecticut. Everything started out smoothly enough, but it wasn't long until my son and daughter's boyfriend decided to spice things up a bit. A rather dramatic crash in to the sea resulted. That was it for my wife and the 2 younger girls. They spent the rest of the time in the towboat. As for the rest of us, four more crashes and some extremely weary muscles capped off loads of fun and a thrilling trip up and down the coast. That evening, we dined at Tuscany's in the Marriott Resort. While pricey, Tuscany's has a wonderfully elegant atmosphere, service, and great northern Italian cuisine. After dinner, everyone stopped at the Stellaris for some gaming. Our daughter's boyfriend ended up ahead by a couple of hundred dollars. The rest of us weren't quite as lucky. The casino is undergoing expansion that is supposed to be complete within a month or so. That will probably open things up a bit.

Day #3

quad tour

found us on our way to Rancho Notorious for their quad-runner tour. What a hoot! Everyone had a blast running around the desert and seeing the sights. We had stops at the California lighthouse, the chapel of Our Lady of Alta Vista, the "Baby" natural bridge, the gold mill ruins, and the real Natural Bridge. All tolled, we spent 3 hours of thrilling sightseeing and having fun getting filthy dirty. We were absolutely filthy! After spending a couple of hours at the pool, we headed off on the 25-minute drive to Savaneta and the Flying Fishbone for dinner. Once again, we enjoyed a fantastic menu and unparalleled atmosphere. Fine dining on the beach, barefoot in the sand, only a couple of feet from the waters edge, watching a sunset followed by a star-filled sky was all too magical.

Day #4


was the day we decided to go on Red Sail's ½ day Luncheon Snorkel Cruise. It was a lot of fun, but I was a little disappointed that the three stops were so close together. Even still, it was loads of fun being with the kids and checking out all the marine life. They particularly enjoyed checking out the wreck of the Antilla. The catamaran wasn't too crowded, but we were definitely not the only ones on board! They served a light breakfast of breads and fruit on the way out, a full-blown buffet lunch before coming back, and an open bar the whole time (those green iguana's are addicting!). The crew was great fun and we all had a ball! Mid-afternoon, we were scheduled to take the customary resort tour and listen to the sales pitch. By now we had fallen in love with Aruba and decided this was a vacation spot we were definitely coming back to - we bought a week! That evening we dined at the Moomba Beach, which is located between the Surf Club and the Holiday Inn. Casual and laid-back with very good food, we would not hesitate to recommend it to people. The folks at the bar are great fun and there is always some sort of entertainment going on.

Day #5

saw the boys and the girls going their separate ways for most of the day. The guys went scuba diving while the ladies laid out by the pool. Once again, we made arrangements with Red Sail. The diving was beautiful and the boys enjoyed checking out the wreck of the Pedernalis. Playing with a sea turtle and checking out a moray eel highlighted the coral, sponge, crab, and myriad of fish that were observed. By the time the guys returned to the resort, the ladies had moved on to their afternoon at the Mandara Spa. Needless to say, after 3 hours at the spa, they were completely relaxed! Dinner was an adventure this night. The resort concierge made a reservation at the Amazonia. All we can say is bring your appetite. At $35 per person, it isn't cheap. At the same time, it's not hard to get your moneys worth! Turn your indicator green side up, and here comes the servers! The meat (13 different kinds) is still on the rotisseries and they carve it right on to your plate. Don't forget to turn your indicator to red side up - they just keep coming otherwise!

Day #6


came all too soon. After a little time on the beach, we were off to Oranjestad for some shopping. Carnival Cruise lines was in port so all the little stands were open along the waterfront. We had fun picking through the various items for barter. The mall got a good visit as well! Once everyone was satisfied with his or her purchases, we returned to the resort to just simply relax. The rest of the afternoon was spent by the pool, returning to Moomba Beach for dinner. The sunsets off the fisherman's docks nearby were spectacular and we found ourselves down there around 7PM on several occasions. After coffee and dessert at the Marriott Resort, we tried our luck at the Stellaris Casino again. This time my wife walked away ahead of the game. Me? The same as the last time I was in there!

Final thoughts

Often, we are ready to come home from vacation, but not this time! This trip went all too fast. The weather was perfect (it sprinkled the day we le ft, but we were in the airport already). The people are super friendly and helpful. As they say - One Happy Island. We can't wait to get back next year. This will definitely become an annual event!