What a perfect slogan for this Caribbean island just off the coast of South America. As part of the Dutch territories, its embrace is as warm as the sun, the water is an inviting pale green and a refreshingly cool bath, and the breeze is sweet as the rum punch! My first trip to Aruba makes me long for my next!!
As our plane descended onto the landing strip at Oranjestad, we caught a glimpse of our week to come! That breathtakingly beautiful ocean!!
I booked the whole trip through Southwest Vacations, easy and a good deal. Direct flights are always my preference and they fly direct from BWI to Aruba.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to break up my blogging about my trip since there’s a good bit to write about. I think I’ll start with our wonderful resort and some general notes about the island and the Palm Beach area. Then part two will be our awesome excursions! Sound ok?
Upon arrival, we were greeted with Prosecco (always a great touch!) and able to quickly check into our villa/junior suite room at the Riu Antillas. This is the “adults only” side of the house. The next door Riu property is family friendly and you can enjoy the all-inclusivity at both resorts. Although we had a little trouble with our room keys (they kept deactivating), maybe that was a sign that we should just keep enjoying everything outside the room that the property had to offer!! Food and drinks a plenty, a great beach with palapas for shade and lounge chairs to slip into the total relaxation zone, for starters!
Our room had a king bed, a jacuzzi tub (never took the time to use it!), and a great shower with fabulous water pressure from a rain shower head. Our balcony opened to the private pool for the suites and the ocean just beyond it.
Ok, so I clearly got more pics of the outside than the inside! But here’s one – an in-room liquor tap (also something we never even used since the bars had plenty of fun concoctions!).
One thing to note about drinking – the water here is so good!! Always stay hydrated!! Apparently Aruba has a top-notch desalinization program, so you’re drinking refined ocean water. It is perfectly safe to drink, and honestly tastes great! I mean like top-quality bottled water great. Ok, back to the resort. The palapas (shady open huts) closest to the ocean get snatched up pretty early in the morning, but we were still able to get one even when we didn’t get out that early, perhaps not perfectly located. Here’s a view of them in the sunset, so pretty!!
I try to catch a sunset at least once a day when I’m at the beach. Hehe. Plenty of great opportunities to view it down here!!
I just can’t get enough of a good sunset!! There is so much beach walking too! Along the resort and for a couple miles north, there’s a walking path along the beach with all the resorts. It’s so nice! Having had an opportunity to check out some of the other resorts along Palm Beach, I remained very happy with my selection of the Riu.
Even found a spot along the beach walk to relax in a hammock!! I love a good hammock swing. I almost fell asleep. But we had more walking to do. We’re big walkers!
We walked through one of the resorts where many wild iguanas were apparently staying as well!
I actually had a pet iguana as a little kid, so I’m not scared of them. So prehistoric! Felt like a miniature Jurassic Park. Now had these been snakes, the pictures would be very blurry because I would have been running away!! If you head south from Riu and the Palm Beach resorts, you’ll be heading toward Eagle Beach.
It’s about a 20 minute walk to Eagle Beach from the Riu and you’ll need at least sandals cause there are some rocky spots (you can walk barefoot north for a long time). Eagle beach is pristine, long, and very calm. However, the hotels are set back from the beach behind the street so they’re not beachfront like the ones on Palm Beach. That was an important thing for me when picking a spot – that it was on the beach.
Along our walk to Eagle Beach, there’s a rocky shoreline area between the beaches with pretty little swirling pools of ocean. And a great stretch of shore for shell hunting!!
I love sea shells. The perfect piece of beach memory. Interesting about the sand in Aruba – it’s actually made from decomposed coral once it has broken off the reef. And that’s why it doesn’t get hot!! You know how US beach sand can get so hot and burn your feet?? Not here!! Barely even gets warm! Along the walk back from Eagle Beach, I found a swing that had to be swung and some colorful chairs that needed their picture taken.
Back at the resort, there were plenty of dining options to start and end our fun-filled days.
The breakfast buffet rivaled any place I’ve stayed, save perhaps the big hotels in Vegas. Tons of options for fresh and healthy or fat and greasy. There was a fresh fruit juice bar, which I hit up every morning. My favorite was the orange ginger spinach energy juice.
There was also a mimosa and Bloody Mary station if you can roll like that in the morning (more power to you!!).
And we made frequent stops at the cappuccino bar for hand-crafted coffee drinks!
This was a great inclusion because usually the fancy coffee drinks are not included in things like this (i.e. cruises or all you can eats) – so that was a major perk for me and hubs as coffee junkies! And you can even splash in some Baileys or other cordials – you’re on vacation!! I enjoyed mostly healthy breakfasts each morning!!
Sidebar, when I had to go back to work Monday morning, I was sad that a buffet breakfast wouldn’t be greeting me on my arrival! Lunches were buffet style as well, good salad bar and plenty of hot options like pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, fish, and soups. I usually made a nice salad, that’s my standard lunch and I like it!
The dinner options include buffets at both resorts or sit-down restaurants. We went to all three at the Riu Antillas – Krystal, Rimini, and the Steakhouse. The Steakhouse has a wait, so if you want a table, you need to line up at about 5:45 (they open at 6:30) because they don’t take reservations. It’s worth the wait. We had the filet and the grilled lobster, both really yummy! I was impressed, again, at the quality for the all-inclusive food.
The other restaurants, Krystal and Rimini were good too. Krystal had a seafood theme, we had a seafood ceviche, fried shrimp salad, and entrees of the lobster risotto and sea bass.
The sea bass (bottom pic) was our favorite at Krystal. The lobster risotto (above it) was pretty good too. Rimini, the Italian restaurant, had an excellent antipasto bar (I missed getting a pic of it) and the porcini-crusted lamb was really good.
The dinner buffet had so much selection, you could eat something different every night. And they changed things up each night too. However, I did have sushi twice cause, well, I love sushi!!
There was also a really good cheese selection on the dinner buffet. That, of course, didn’t get overlooked by me and was part of my dinner most of the times we did the buffet!
Blue cheese, manchego, and Brie!! Oh my! And Peking duck. Random, yes, but a tasty protein to pair with the cheese!!
Wine was free flowing during dinner – once the wait staff knows what you’re drinking, they don’t let your glass run dry. It’s not the best of wine, of course or it wouldn’t be included, but both the Sauvignon Blanc and the Cabernet Sauvignon were perfectly palatable. One night there was a huge prosciutto display! I don’t know why, but who doesn’t like a metric ton of prosciutto??
I really was impressed all around at the quality of the food in such large quantity. I even saw an employee checking the temps of stuff on the buffet, a sign they are careful about the massive displays of dining pleasures. I definitely over-ate a few times here. But did a lot of walking and other activities to try and compensate!! During my beach walks, I snapped some more pics of the Riu.
I really give this place two big thumbs up and will surely stay here again.
The two pics above are from the Riu Palace, the other side of the Riu where kids can stay. This one is slightly newer than Riu Antillas. But it’s not like there’s dilapidation or anything, I found it perfectly fine! If you’re worried about the age of the light fixtures in the room, like some of the reviews I read about when booking, you’re missing the point of a beach vacation. I loved Riu and Palm Beach. I definitely recommend staying on Palm Beach.
I have so much more to write! Our adventures on UTVs and snorkeling coming soon!!!