We are a family of 4, teens 16 & 18 from MA. Hubby and I came 21 years ago for honeymoon but first time back....not sure why we waited so long!
Will break down into categories and try to be brief.
Playa Linda, was lucky enough to book from an owner for a deal but even though he said no additional fees we paid quite a bit when we left for environmental tax, some other tax and a daily tax. Wasn't thrilled about that. We had a 2 bedroom in Phase 3 right next to Carlito's. Loved the Playa Linda but a couple drawbacks were that you really can't see from the balcony unless you are standing. The edge is the roof for the unit below so I didn't have a view while sitting/lounging. Other bummers were that my bracelet stopped working and had to go down with all 4 to get re-programmed and while we were there they needed our unit one day to haul mattresses from our balcony to other floors and another day they needed to spray for pesticides so that was super inconvenient but other than that we loved the place....all the shops, food, location and staff were awesome. Also never had problems getting spots when we wanted to hang out....
Is there even bad food in Aruba? We only had reservations one night and it was date night dinner at Elements-which was amazing. You can't beat that beach or view. I can see why you would stay there-it was gorgeous.
We like to wing it based on when we are hungry...ate at Smokey Joe's, Gianni's, Dutch Pancake house, Diane's pancake house (we all agreed that Dutch in town was way better), Texas de Brazil, Moomba's, Dushi beach bar, pool lunch from Azzuro, amazing sandwiches on the Black Pearl, Chicken and Lobster...couldn't go to Wacky Wahoo since they seemed to be on vaca. We tend to be late breakfast, snack and dinner people. Oh and LOTS of Eduardo's...the coco whip was awesome and daughter loved the smoothies and bowls.
Everywhere we went the drinks were great but always a bit strong!
Went into a few....Crystal casino in town, Hilton, Hyatt and Ritz. They really aren't very big and I really wanted to play Caribbean stud poker since it's not really near me anymore. Was only able to play it at the Hyatt one night ...never saw an open table with people at it any other time. Lots of machines I have at home and some wins and some losses but nothing too exciting.
We didn't do a tour, we rented two and went on our own tour. We rented from Arubiana and had to pay cash. Ended up with a flat tire and they were there almost immediately! Thankfully it wasn't our fault so we didn't have to pay for that.
Went to lighthouse, beach where you build rock towers, baby natural bridge, real natural bridge, goldmines, natural pool (that was so flipping scary!) and just stopped at other really cool places. It was hot and harrowing but totally worth it.
We booked the trip super last minute and there really weren't a lot of options for rentals so rented a Jeep through Top Drive. They picked us up and dropped us off at the airport and the jeep was great, newer condition and very clean. We took it out pretty much every day and went into town, around the island, to the caves and Dos Playa
After 21 years of looking for a tanzanite ring that I wanted I finally bought one on this trip. It's perfect and Aruba is the first place I ever saw one so kind of fitting, lots of tourist stuff purchased by teen daughter and prices seemed consistent with other tourist destinations.
It was an awesome trip and we all agreed we would come back even though we don't duplicate a lot of locations...never made it to Arashi beach which was on my list but there's always next time.