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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:21 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 04, 2008 7:27 pm
Posts: 3021
Location: Ohio, Costa Linda
6/8/18-6/29/18 (timeshare weeks 23, 24, 25) – Bon Bini. This vacation consisted of my husband and I with our daughter and son in law arriving a day later than us. They stayed for 8 nights. Our youngest son and a friend of his arrived a few days after our daughter left and stayed for 7 nights. His friend had not been to Aruba before. This was our 10th anniversary of the first time we came to Aruba; it was to be a once and done 2-week trip before our oldest went off to college. Back then we had our 15 year old, 13 year old and 10 year old with us. The youngest is now a sophomore in college.

Observations – Week 23 was cloudier than normal and there was some overnight rain. There was also a great deal of sea grass that was in the water and eventually ended up on the beach. Costa Linda’s beach attendants did a great job cleaning it up though. Week 24 was perfect and week 25 had some rain. There was actually a downpour while we were eating the breakfast the day we left. Week 25 always seems to experience more rain than the other weeks we are there but nothing that would ruin our day. There are more roundabouts now in Aruba with orange barricades assisting with the traffic flow as construction prevails and people adjust to the new circles. There were no turtle nests in front of Costa Linda this year. Boo.

Flights – We flew Southwest from Columbus, OH with a stopover in Baltimore. We love Southwest and we take advantage of the free two checked bags. They are becoming quite expensive though for those flights so we may need to fly a different airline next year if we don’t have enough points. Leaving Aruba took us 45 minutes from airport entrance to the gate. We left on a Saturday last year and it took us 1 hour, which is still much less than the 3 hours, we allotted. This year when going through customs, we did not use the automatic kiosks but were instead directed to the booths along with everyone else but those with global entry. We did use kiosks though when entering the country. I always bring back Old Amsterdam cheese and report it to the officer (or declare as dairy on the kiosk). A friend of mine was stopped last year because she had pepperoni on her (in a snack pack with cheese) and had to pay a $300 fine. SAY NO TO MEATS – Not allowed coming back.

Transportation – This is the first year we did not rent a vehicle. We have been very satisfied with Hans at Tropic and would definitely rent from Tropic again if in need of a rental. We used cabs and the Alhambra shuttle. We saved 49% using the cabs including tips.



General
• We went on more excursions this year than normal and have included those below.
• We purchased liquor for the first time at the Duty Free in the baggage claim area. It was much cheaper than at Lings. We typically go to the Arubian Rum shop but decided to skip it this year since we did not have a car.
• The travel insurance we purchased this year was through RoamRight. The must have benefit for us is Medical Evacuation.
• Most of our time was spent enjoying the beach and the beautiful water. My favorite activity is still floating in the water on my anchored raft.
• We grocery shopped at both Lings and SuperFoods. SuperFoods was my favorite this year so we have decided to shop there first next year. I find their layout more similar to what we have in the states. Prices are similar between stores, some products higher and some lower. Lings can be discombobulated at times and finding someone to assist was not always easy. They bring in temporary people to help stock the store who are unable to answer any questions.
• We tried two new restaurants and revisited our favorites.
• My husband and I walked the beach daily and I attended several Zumba classes. He lost 6 pounds during the 3 weeks we were in Aruba and I gained 6.5. Not fair!
• We purchased a storage container from Timeshare Storage this year to keep our rafts, anchors, travel mugs, beach bag, towels, laundry pop up hampers, laundry supplies, extra sunscreen, first aid kit, swimwear and unused bottles of alcohol in. I don’t know why we didn’t do this earlier. I was so tired of bringing the same items back and forth. Although we receive two checked bags with SW, it is a lot to handle especially for someone who is only 5’2”.
• My new favorite find this year was Aruba Hands jewelry. Gaby is so creative with her glass and beadwork. I followed her on FaceBook and kept an online record of pieces I wanted created. She had them completed during my stay. I even picked up extra while there.
• Aruba is more than just vacationing in a beautiful environment; we enjoy meeting up with people that we now call friends. I am always amazed how quickly we acclimate and are able to pick up right where we left off the year before.

Helpful Tips
• Keep the taxi rate sheet handy if using cabs. There were some differing fares. Sometimes we were charged as an Eagle Beach hotel and other times as a low rise. One cab driver who took us back asked us what we were charged for the trip there.
• Bring spray sunscreen. Although I use lotion when I first apply, the spray is much easier to use when wet or sandy. Do not spray inside though as the residue could cause a fall.
• Pack plastic clothespins or Boco Blips to hang up wet clothing, secure towels to a chair or close bags of snacks.
• Bring lots of ones and fives for tipping especially for housekeepers and beach attendants.
• Attend an orientation meeting at your resort if applicable. I have garnered information each year at ours.
• Bring a collapsible cooler for the beach if not doing All Inclusive; saves on beverage costs.
• Pack some hair ties, headbands and or clips to help secure the long hair while on the beach. Aruba can be very windy.

Restaurants, Excursions and Accommodation Reviews

Listing of Restaurants we ate at and star rating according to their type of restaurant. (Please see my full reviews in the restaurant section)

Twist of Flavors – (5) – Great early bird specials
Pizza Bob’s – (5) – Favorite casual dinner (and leftovers)
Faro Blanco Lighthouse – (4) – Great sunset ambiance
Water’s Edge 12 North – (5) – Strawberry Chicken Salad is my new favorite
Pinchos Grill and Bar – (4) – Delicious food in a beautiful setting
Madame Janette – (5) Love my Almond Grouper
Chalet Suisse – (4) Caribbean Seafood Platter
Hopi Bon Grill – (5) Best new find this year
Ellioti’s – (5) – Outstanding as usual

Excursions
Tranquillo – (5) https://www.tranquiloaruba.comThey are located at the Renaissance Marina, and cruise to the Spanish Lagoon. We brought our daughter and son in law on the cruise and went with some other friends of ours. This was our second sailing with them. The ride to and from is so peaceful and the sights along the way are gorgeous (well except for the landfill). The four of us did the snorkel by the pier then my husband and I along with two other people did the drift snorkel, which is my favorite. The only downside is having to hoist yourself back into the inflatable dingy. Capt. Anthony assisted me though and I was safely brought in. Lunch consisted of his famous split pea soup, some sandwiches and an apple pastry. Drinks were generously handed out over the cruise. I really love the Tranquillo and the limited number of people allowed on the ship. It allows for a more peaceful sail. Capt. Anthony and his staff do an excellent job creating a fun and memorable experience.

ABC Tours Aruba - (3) https://abc-aruba.com My husband booked this UTV tour for my son in law and him to do while our daughter and I did another activity. He enjoyed the excursion especially exploring the new natural pool that they only have access too. They were picked up by a safari jeep and taken to the premises to acquire their UTVs. While there, they were told there was an optional insurance fee of $50 that if they did not take they would be responsible for any damages during the guided tour. This was not noted on their website or on the papers printed out from the prepayment of the excursion. My husband took it out of course but was not happy about the added expense. (On a side note, my husband put it on a credit card but they also charged the $50.00 on a different card that was used to pay for the excursion when it was booked. He called them and they sent an email today stating they have implemented the refund, which may take up to 30 days to be returned to us. I think they handled this well and hopefully it will be completed as discussed.) Water and bandanas were not provided on this tour but instead they were encouraged to buy drinks from a vendor and the bandanas from ABC. We took another UTV tour this trip with a different company that provided these items and was also less expensive. We do not recommend ABC at this time; there is a better company providing the same tour minus the new natural pool with better service.

Fofoti Tours & Transfers - (5) http://www.fofoti.comWe were so fortunate to have Julissa as our tour guide. She picked us up in a comfortable air-conditioned charter bus and took us to the site to review directions, sign papers and pick out our UTV. Julissa explained the safety procedures then took us on our adventure. We have been on an ATV tour before but this was definitely a notch above. We went to the Alto Vista Chapel, Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, and the Natural Pool while off roading through the Arikok National Park. Insurance, bottles of water, Arikok National Park Entrance Fee and a bandana were provided. Julissa while ensuring everyone was in line and safe was also very personable and communicative. If we go again, we will definitely request her.

Kukoo Kunuku Bus – (4) https://www.kukookunuku.com/ This was never on MY bucket list but was offered as a girls night out by a friend or what I thought would be a girls night. Our oldest had planned to go but decided at the last minute to stay back with her husband so my husband said he would sacrifice and make the trip too. Now it has been on my husband’s bucket list for a few years. There were 6 in our fun group who were picked up by Mama and her driver at our resort. We did the dinner tour, which included a champagne toast at a beach near the lighthouse, a pre fix dinner and drink at Barneys and three bar stops with included drinks. We had a great time on the bus and at the establishments drinking, dancing and getting temporary tattoos painted on us. The only real negative was at Mojitos. I bought the refill sipper in which we were told drinks would be $2. I asked if a mojito would be included. The bartender said yes, took my cup and filled it with a very delicious mojito. When I handed her a $5 bill she never came back with my change. She received a very generous tip that was not really offered to her. I would not complain about this but it happened on a different tour that my son took later that week when his friend gave a $20 bill for the drink in the refill cup and the person did not come back with that change either. They found the bartender and requested change back. They said it happened to some other attendees there too. Mojitos needs to be taken off the tour or the employees retrained on Kukoo Kunuku customer service. I enjoyed the dinner at Barneys (chicken with a delicious peanut sauce), rice, beans and a brownie sliver. Mama was such a blast and demonstrated how much fun a person can have without drinking any alcohol. She definitely got the party started in each venue. I don’t know that I would go on it again but if I do I would definitely request Mama.

Costa Linda Beach Resort – (5) This timeshare resort is located on Eagle Beach (ranked 3rd best beach in the world) in the lowrise section. I cannot recommend this resort enough. The two bedroom two bath units are roomy and well appointed. The only amenity missing is a washer and dryer in the unit but there are laundry facilities located on each floor. While we were there new furniture was placed in the units. We are owners of three weeks (now in the same unit). We first came in 2008 and rented from a vacation rental company. The next time we came we rented from an owner then exchanged through RCI. We knew though that this was a place that we wanted to return to annually and eventually bought. I have not regretted that decision.

The resort is well maintained and the beach is absolutely gorgeous. The staff is wonderful and the place is very secure. There are also many activities for people of all ages. My favorites are the Monday afternoon free Bingo with pizza/cake/wine or soda typically ran by Sandra and Hettie, and the Zumba class ran by Kenny. They all do an excellent job making guests and members feel at home. There is a new vendor at the resort called Zisland tours that books several different excursions including their own, Full Throttle Tours Aruba, that I will definitely book through next year. The owners would be seen picking up items here and there on the beach after they escorted guests to their tours. I was so thrilled to see them taking pride in the beach and sea. I met one of the owners who writes a blog describing their move to the island and the opening of their businesses.

There are different avenues to rent a unit (through the resort directly, by owners via the rentals and resale section of the website, Redweek or through places such as the Aruba Bulletin Board.) This is the only place I wish to stay in Aruba; we have toured or stayed in other locations on the island.

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