IMG_1253Aruba, Jamaica, oooh I wanna’ take you…   or so goes the song, for good reason. Aruba is a small island with miles of remarkable silky-white soft sand. If you can find a beach chair and umbrella, you’re set.

This time we visited a small island off the island. De Palm Island is a self-contained water wonderland. So many options! Bright white sand beaches on calm, shallow bays; a selection of water slides; snorkeling, snuba and Sea Trek adventures. The ticket price is all inclusive of food (two restaurants) and beverage (including adult beverages) and most facilities.

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We plunked down in the shade of a tiki-style umbrella at the beach furthest from the entrance with frozen fruity beverages for several hours aaaaaahhhh. The water was so clear I photographed fish from my iPhone. The surf was so gentle and shallow I imagined the delight of wee ones learning to swim. I watched a little boy snorkeling and screaming with glee every time he found a fish. His sister entertained herself playing in the sand and sea. I so very much wished our grandbabies were with us. We recorded a short video to let them know we were thinking of them.

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IMG_1265Next time I vow to take advantage of the snorkeling. I hear the parrot fish are stars of the show. “They’re on the payroll at DePalm!” Before we left, I snapped this photo near the dock. The sea is the most intense turquoise blue you can imagine. Just gorgeous! It was a wonderfully relaxing day.

We returned to the ship to shower and change, and soon disembarked again to meet up with family members who live in Aruba, Linda and Ricky. We asked them to take us to their favorite restaurant. We landed at the Old Fisherman, not far from the pier. They serve what they catch daily, so it is very fresh. They have plenty of non-seafood options, which suited the Hubs.

We enjoy trying local food wherever we travel.  The Hubs and I each tried a local brew and agreed that the Balashi Chill, served with lime, was the best. I tried the fish cakes, on Ricky’s recommendation, and they were good. The most notable new flavor at the Old Fisherman was an appetizer of small bites of a crunchy-fried bread (funchi) served with Dutch cheese. It was delicious!

After dinner we toured around the Oranjestad area. It was fun to get Linda and Ricky’s perspective on island life. I’ve always wondered why so many ships are at anchor in the harbor, within in sight of but not too close to shore. Linda explained this is because everything is shipped in by container. Everything. (As a desert island, that makes sense!) Container ships must wait their turn to unload, so it’s a ship parking lot, so to speak. This also means that the cost of living in Aruba is extremely high — basic commodities generally cost double what we pay in the States. Yikes.

Beaches in Aruba are all still public, fortunately, but it was disheartening to see the overgrowth of tourism since our first visit more than twenty years ago. Miles-long stretches of white sand so accessible then are now completely obscured. “It’s Little Miami all over again,” Linda proclaimed. After dark, the area was ablaze with shopping, dining, hotels, and casinos and congested with people. During the day, Linda noted, a 15 minute commute now takes over an hour. Beaches are busy with vendors and water sports. Claiming a quiet spot is quite a challenge. I was all the more thankful for our day on DePalm!

~ René Morley

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