For our pre-Thanksgiving trip, we decided to go to Aruba. We’d had heard from several people how much they liked Aruba, some even more than Kauai. We could also fly on Southwest using our Companion Passes, so the kids would be free. We left early on Saturday morning. Since we were flying on Southwest, we had to stop in Houston. I bought the kids some Astronaut ice cream, since they’d never had it before. We had to all sit apart because they messed up our boarding passes and we were the last to board the plane. It was only a 3 hour flight, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. We landed in Aruba at 1 pm, got a car drove to the hotel. We were staying for the first 2 nights at the Hilton resort, using points, of course. The rooms were all freshly renovated and really nice. The queen beds were tiny though, I think they were only fulls. The Hilton is on a great stretch of beach called Palm Beach. By the time we got to our room, it was dark and we were hungry. We got in our car and drove around to explore the area. There were lots of restaurants and souvenir shops nearby. We at at Tony Romas and did some shopping.

The next morning, we woke up ready to hit the beach, but it was raining really hard. We waded down to breakfast at the buffet and it was awesome. We actually had one of the staff members escort us through the kitchen because it was raining so hard. When we finished breakfast, we tried to drive around the island, but all the roads were flooded with standing water. So, we went back to the hotel and went to the pools and beach for a couple of hours. It rained on us most of the time, but the water felt great. It was Sunday and the Cowboys were about to play, so we went back to the room to watch the game. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t on the hotel channels, so we went across the street to Hooters to watch it and get some snacks. The girls left after half time to do some shopping and the boys finished watching the Cowboys win the game. After the game, we went to see a movie at the mall. We then went to eat at Senior Frogs, before the partying started. It ended up being a really fun day even though it wasn’t what we had planned.

The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel, and then got in the car to drive around the island. It was very similar to Phoenix with lots of cactus and sand. We drove across the island to the big National Park, but decided not to stay. We were anxious for some beach time. So, we checked in to a different hotel for the last night, the Renaissance. The reason we changed was because the Renaissance has its own private island with Flamingo beach. The hotel was nice and we had an awesome ocean view suite. We quickly checked in and changed and took the boat over to Flamingo Island. As advertised, it was beautiful. They have two beaches. One of the beaches had about 6 flamingos that would walk back and forth on the beach and interact with the people. They had a machine that you could buy food to feed them. The beaches also had lots of huge iguanas on them. The Flamingo beach allowed kids to feed them, but not lounge in the chairs, so we stayed at the other beach. We also had a great lunch at the cabana cafe. We had lots of fun in the water and found a baby coconut to play catch with. We stayed until the beach was about to close at around 5 and then took the boat back to the hotel. That night, we went to explore the town. It was really neat, but most of the stores had already closed. We ate dinner at a fresh seafood place called Driftwood. It was off the beaten path and we kind of got lost walking back to the hotel. Susan got a little scared, but we made it just fine.

The next morning, we had breakfast at a Dutch pancake restaurant right beside the hotel. It was awesome. We got the mini-pancakes called pofertjes. After that, the kids went back to the room. Susan and I shopped at the souvenir stalls. There were a few cruise ships docked, so everything was open. We check out of the hotel and drove to the airport. We were told to get to the airport 4 hours early. That worried us, so we did it. We were about 3 hours too early! We hung out in a lounge in the airport with free drinks and snacks. The flight home was uneventful, even though we went out of the way. We were routed from Aruba to Baltimore to Dallas. When it’s free, you take what you can get! The flights weren’t that bad and we even had a nice dinner at the Baltimore airport.

Overall, we enjoyed Aruba. The “One Happy Island” theme was kind of cool and the few locals we interacted with were very nice to us. It’s nowhere close to Kauai, though.

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