Back again to recap more of our trip to Aruba! If you missed Part I outlining the first three days, you can check it out here.
Day 4: Aruba Butterfly Farm (again), Eduardo’s Beach Shack, Baby Beach, Zeerover
After visiting the butterfly farm and hearing about the early morning opportunity to see the butterflies “hatch”, we had planned on waking up early and heading back to see the magic happen. We DID manage to get up early, but it was mostly because we hadn’t slept the night before since the party girls in the apartment below us decided to stay up all night. We made some coffee and took our zombie selves to the butterfly farm, and once we were there I didn’t regret skipping out on some extra sleep at all. We arrived in time to hear the owner deliver some really cool facts about the life cycle of butterflies before he opened up all the cabinets where they kept the chrysalises. We picked a cabinet to hover around and settled in to play the waiting game to see which butterflies were ready to emerge. I’m not sure how long we waited exactly, maybe 30 minutes? It doesn’t really matter, the wait was worth it. We finally saw some movement and a chrysalis split open and the butterfly with it’s tiny, crumpled wings emerged. As a science geek I was over the moon excited and managed to get a video of the whole thing.
Before we left we picked up a beautiful art piece to keep as a memory. I’m really glad we did since I usually say I’m going to bring home art and then I never do.
By the time we left the butterfly farm we were pretty hungry and we knew exactly where we were headed to eat…..Eduardo’s Beach Shack! I had been eyeing up this place on Instagram for WEEKS and couldn’t wait to finally try it out. This little gem is a vegan food stand that serves fresh smoothies, juice, protein bowls, protein balls, and some other raw vegan treats. As a bonus, it’s located on the beach in among the resorts so we were able to go check out that whole scene. Josh grabbed a chocolate protein bowl and I had the açaí bowl. We also ended up splitting a peanut butter sliceand grabbed a couple protein balls for the road. Everything was just as good as I hoped it would be!!!
After breakfast we headed to the south end of Aruba to check out Baby Beach. It was absolutely stunning. To avoid the crowd, we avoided the area with the restaurant and snack bar, and used a small parking area further up the beach. Josh spent a couple hours snorkeling while I read a book and hopped in and out of the water. There was a tern colony out on the breakwater so I spent a fair amount of my reading time actually watching the birds instead (I couldn’t help it!).
We weren’t really planning on stopping for food on the way home, but we figured we’d at least locate Zeerover on the way back to the apartment since we were already in the area. We had planned on renting a UTV the next day and planned to stop in while doing a loop of the whole island. We were REALLY glad we did some reconnaissance. The lineup to order food was HUGE and if we had of left it until our UTV day, we never would have had the time to stop!
We waited in line to order for around 45 minutes, we knew it was going to be worth it based on everything we had read online so we stuck it out. You can grab drinks while you wait so that makes things more enjoyable! When we finally got to the counter, they told us what the catch of the day was and ended up getting a red snapper, some shrimp, fries, a plantain, cornbread, and pickled onions (so, pretty much the entire menu). You pay per weight for the fish (NOTE: they only accept cash!!!!), then you go hang out on the deck while your catch makes it way to the kitchen. The deck was pretty cool and the fishing boats were docked right along the restaurant so you could see how fresh the fish really was.
I’m not going to lie, when our food showed up and the fish was whole, I had a slight freak out moment. Good thing I was starving by this point so I was willing to eat just about anything. Turns out it was amazing!!!!
The rest of the day was pretty low key. We hung out by the pool at our apartment and relaxed for the evening.
Day 5: UTV Rental → Ayo Rock Formation, Arikok National Park (Dos Playa, Conchi Natural Pool, Fontein Cave, Quadirkiri Cave), Boca Grandi Beach
The folks from Arubiana were picking us up at our apartment at 8:30 am so we had a bit of a latere start than we had on the other days so far (how many of you are laughing at 8:30 being a late start?). I used that time to prep a bunch of food for the next couple days and got it all in the fridge. We knew it was going to be a long, tiring day so I was trying to make things easier on us for later on.
The shop was only a short drive from where we were staying at so by 9 am we were off in our UTV for the day! I love that you are able to rent them at take off on your own instead of having to follow a guided tour. (Another good thing to note here is that they also only accepted cash, it seems that cash only was really popular throughout Aruba). We had already done a lot of the suggested stops so we were able to plan on spending more time in the national park than I’m sure most people would. We started north and drove by California Lighthouse then went off onto the dirt roads along the coast. The views were beautiful and I was glad Josh did advance research and bought us a couple of buffs. Driving through the dessert in an open vehicle can be pretty dusty!
We drove by the gold mill ruins and since there were no tourist buses around, we ended up making a quick stop at the natural bridge to get some pictures. We made a few other stops along the way to take pictures but our first real stop of the day was at the Ayo Rock Formations. We followed a short trail through the rocks and they were really cool to see. To be honest though, there were SO many bees nesting in the rocks that we didn’t hang out very long since we were being chased by them the whole time.
From the rock formation we headed to Arikok National Park. We stopped in the interpretive centre to get our wrist bands and check out the displays. From everything I had read online I knew that if you are someone who likes the outdoors, you could spend two full days in the national park looking around. We only had the one afternoon so we didn’t want to waste time! We followed one of the main paved roads through the park and ended up at Dos Playa Beach. There’s no swimming allowed in this area because the surf is so heavy but since we had the beach to ourselves we stopped to walk the shoreline and have some beers while we took in the scenery.
Next stop on our list was Conchi, the natural pool. There are multiple routes to get to the pool and you need 4-wheel drive no matter which route you choose. I’m pretty sure we ended up following the most backwards way of getting there (even though they told us there were signs everywhere, there were not) but ended up finding it just as a guided tour was leaving! We walked down the stairs and on to the shoreline and found the pool. We ended up meeting a couple from New Jersey and talked to them while we swam around. Josh brought his snorkel in and we both ended up using it. I couldn’t believe how many fish were in there with us! We spent about an hour at the pool and it was a pretty amazing experience.
After the pool we headed to Fontein Cave. This was the first of two caves we were planning on checking out and it was pretty small so we only spent a few minutes in there. The Quadirkiri Caves were much bigger so we spent more time wandering around in there. Signage out front of the cave gave information about the bats that lived in it and that a maternal colony was present. We did end up seeing bats flying around inside the cave, which was pretty cool!
We had to have the UTV returned for 5 pm and since we were in the southern part of the island we had to drive back north. We ended up stopping at Boca Grandi Beach for a swim and to watch the kite surfers. The waves were big in this area and it’s where the experienced kite surfers go to play.
We made our way back to the shop and they dropped us back off at our apartment. Advanced planning came in REALLY handy and we were able to throw some pre-cooked sausages on the BBQ along with some veggie foil packets. We hung out by the pool with our Slovakian friend for the evening exchanging travel stories and telling him all about our island 🙂
Day 6: Mangel Halto Beach, Barefoot
One of the places on our list to eat at was Bugaloe on De Palm Pier at Palm Beach. We figured since it was always busy in the afternoon/evenings that it would be a good breakfast destination. When we got there, they were locked out of their kitchen and waiting for a locksmith, so we ended up making another visit to Eduardo’s! This time around I tried out a green power juice and matcha bowl….totally yum!
We headed back to the apartment and hung out by the pool reading for the morning. It was nice to have a private, quiet place to relax since we had been so busy so far (and because I was seriously lacking in sleep due to our partying neighbours). We BBQ’d for lunch and then headed to Mangel Halto Beach since it was supposed to be one of the best snorkeling spots in Aruba! We arrived at the beach and found a quiet area with only a few people. There was another section to the beach that sounded busy but I couldn’t even see it from where we set up. I forgot my mask so Josh set out snorkeling and I hung out on the beach (but had a puppy friend keeping me company!).
We only ended up staying for an hour or so since Josh said the snorkeling wasn’t actually that great compared to other spots we had been. He dropped me off at the apartment so I could read by the pool and he headed back to Arashi Beach to do some more snorkeling. I had really liked that beach when we visited earlier in the week, but I got bitten by little ants the entire time so figured hanging out by the pool was more my speed that day. I ended up hanging out by the pool with some of the other guests and had a lovely time! Since we had already seen so much of the island it was nice to have this down day to be lazy.
Once we were cleaned up we headed out to Barefoot for supper. I should note that the only reason we were able to get a table without a reservation was because we showed up about 15 minutes after they opened. Score! We ordered the goat cheese medallions and dijon mustard soup for starters while we watched people walking the beach and swimming. For dinner we ordered the Caribbean grouper and the tuna pepper steak. We both agreed it was our best meal of the vacation!
That’s it for the Part II recap of our trip to Aruba!!! If you’re still with me after this long winded post….thank-you! Stay tuned next week for Part III.