“Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take ya to Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama,” played on repeat in my head all day long as we cruised on a Jeep around the island.
We got to port on a cruise ship early in the morning. We booked a full day Jeep Safari tour with El Tours prior to boarding the cruise ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Looking back, after a two week honeymoon, the Jeep Safari tour was one of our favorite excursions.
Hands down, the best part of the tour was the fact that we got to drive the Jeep’s ourselves. We got lucky and somehow ended up with the only stick shift Jeep. Boy were there some jealous tourists :).
The tour guide definitely made the tour more adventurous by allowing us to do cookies in the sand, go in circles as we played follow the leader and go at our own pace. However, going at your own pace is a double edge sword. One Jeep, full of girls, was going a bit too slow and got stuck in the sand, which became a dominos affect. Part of this exciting adventure was having the guys push the Jeeps out of the sand. Good job boys… you did great 🙂
There were many stops throughout the day and at every location we got a little history before we were able to explore freely. There was a sufficient amount of time at each stop and the tour guides were every flexible, friendly and informative.
Driving on the coastline we stopped at a Rock Garden, also known as the Rock Wish Garden. The tradition is to collect rocks and build a tower. As you are laying each layer down you need to make a wish. The trick is not to make the tallest tower but the strongest and most sturdy because the winds pick up and can knock the tower down. Its a little more difficult than it looks.
Our next stop was the Alto Vista Chapel. This chapel is the first church built on the island of Aruba in the early 1750’s and then reconstructed in 1953. Leading up to the chapel are a row of white crosses lined on the street. It is located on top of a hill with beautiful 360 degree views of the island. Services are still held at the chapel with a children’s choir on Sunday’s.
The chapel is located in the middle of nowhere. So, Dr. Coco decided to put a drink stand in the parking lot of the chapel, which was a great idea because we were all hot and thirsty. Dr. Coco is self named and is a cousin to Dr. Pepper 🙂 . He was quite a character and very pleasant to talk to. We ordered fresh coconut water and as he prepared our drinks we got to talking. Once he found out we were on our honeymoon he wished that we would make twins and Chad was all for it.
Then we were off to see the Baby Natural Bridge. This bridge, along with a few others in Aruba are natural formations caused by waves and winds hitting the limestone and chiseling away to create a bridge. The bridge connects Bushiribana Gold Mine Ruines (which we will see next) and Andicuri Beach. This bridge is approximately 25 feet high and about 100 feet wide. The views are magnificent from the top so if you’re a dare devil like me, climb the bridge and strike a pose.
Bushiribana Gold Mine Ruins is an abandoned stone building that used to be the gold mill. In the nearby hills, ore (stone with minerals) used to be mined, gold was extracted and held in this building. Then in the early 1800’s gold was discovered in Aruba and this company produced multi-million pounds of gold.
Lunch time! Along the coastline on the way to Baby Beach we stopped at this cute little beach front restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Included in our tour package was a BBQ lunch that included BBQ chicken, pasta salad, cucumber salad, fried plantains and a drink of choice. The food was definitely made with love and had a nice smoky taste. Perfect to go with our outdoor adventure.
Finally it was time to relax at Baby Beach. If you are looking for paradise then Baby Beach is a must as it is located in a calm lagoon with fine soft sand. The water was very calm, crystal clear and warm. It’s waste deep as far as the eye can see, which is a prime location for children. Huts and umbrellas are available for a small fee as well as snorkel gear. It’s a bit of a drive from the city but well worth it. The pictures speak for themselves.
What better way to end the day then shopping? Outside of the cruise ship port there is a strip of markets, which have reasonably low prices for souvenirs, a shopping mall and great restaurants. At the local market you can bargain getting a bang for your buck. It always feels good when you walk away knowing you got the best deal. This is where we picked up gifts for the entire family including matching T-shirts for ourselves (I know.. aren’t we cute).
Travel Tip: Bring small bills to the market to give the exact amount of cash for your purchase.
Question: What’s your favorite vacation song?