Aruba Trip April 2-9

Saturday, April 2
Flew U.S. Airways at 7:08am to Charlotte NC for 50 minute flight. Left Charlotte around 10:30am and arrived 1:30pm in Aruba.
I sat next to Kim Hoff, a lady from Pennsylvania, who had been going to Aruba for 15+ years, and she gave me lots of recommendations (restaurants, beaches, shopping, etc).

We took a taxi from the airport to the Divi Golf Village check-in.
This year instead of exchanging our time-share we purchased directly from the resort (at same cost as extra week from RCI). I think we got a better deal (room, etc), since we paid the resort directly instead of using RCI. Aruba Divi resorts is actually four resorts in one. Divi Golf (newer), Divi Dutch (oldest, but still nice), Tamarijn (mandatory all-inclusive, older, but all rooms are ocean view) and Divi Phoenix Beach (mandatory all-inclusive, newest).
It took about 30 minutes to check in. Waiting in line they had nice appetizers and a refreshing fruity drink.
There is a golf cart transportation that is not too bad during the day, but at night around a 15-30 minute wait.
The room we got was Divi Dutch #41. It was a 1 bedroom on the first floor with a large covered lanai out back directly by the pool.
The king size bed was 6/10, so not bad.
TV's are small but LCD so they are sharp. Only 30 channels, with 8 in dutch or spanish.
The kitchen is small but functional - full frig, cook top, microwave with convection cooking. No stove and no dishwasher, but cleaning lady washed our dishes every day.
Our room was in the middle of the building, so out our back door was the pool (20 steps away).
The beach was around 200 feet away.
Saturday afternoon we walked about a 1000 feet to the Super Food store. Small and mostly local food, but well stocked. We purchased about $175 worth of drinks and snacks. Prices around 50% higher than the US. A taxi back to the hotel cost $6+$2 tip.
We walked around the resort to see the Ocean side bar and down the beach to the Tamarijn main area (restaurants, pools, shopping, etc).
I called to make restaurant reservations for the next 4 nights (based on advise from Kim).
We had sandwiches for dinner since we were tired from the flight, watched TV for a little while then went to sleep early.
Sunday, April 3
Sunday got up late and had cereal around 9am. We had purchased a store brand with text only in dutch. It was fun trying to guess what the words meant. The cereal was a mueslix type that had twice as much content at half the price.
We laid around the pool for a while, then around I called Economy Car Rental to pick me up at the resort. We rented a Toyota Echo "Yaris". It was the smallest car, but actually quite roomy inside. It cost around $65 a day. I rented the car for only 2 days, but ended up keeping the car for 5 days.
I got done at the rental company around 4pm and found out the restaurant we were going to was on the other end of the island. But since the island is only 20 miles long, it only took around 45 minutes.
Dinner was at the Flying Fishbone (tripadvisor #16). Great location, right on the ocean (behind a barrier island). The outside seating had chairs where your feet are in the water. We sat in at a table next to the water, but dry. We watched 3 surfers who were out past the break-water island (300-400 yards away) with waves as high as 10 feet. The reservation was at 6pm, so we watched the sun set at 6:30pm. Since the sun goes straight down, it gets dark fast. Food is B-, prices high (2 drinks, 2 appetizers and 2 entrees + tip = $125).
We went back to the resort, sat around the pool for a little while, then went to bed early.
Monday we didn't get up until around 9am. We had breakfast, then went on a drive to check out the island. We drove along the west side of the island to the California Lighthouse. This is as far as you can drive. We checked out the beaches on the way back.
We had sandwiches for lunch and then sat around the pool.
Dinner was at the Papiameto (tripadvisor #19). Great location in an 18??'s old house. The seating area is around the pool or under trees (bird above....yuck). Food is B, prices high (2 drinks, 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, 1 glass of wine + tips = $130)

Basic information -
April is at the end of high season, so the island wasn't very crowded.
We had sunny to overcast, with barely any rain.
The temperature was around 70 at night to high 80's to low 90's depending on cloudiness. With the wind, it didn't seem so hot.
It is almost always windy in Aruba averaging around 20mph.
Aruba is on Atlantic Standard Time (1 hour later than EST, but same time when on Daylight Savings).
Sunrise is around around 6:30am and sunset around 6:30pm. Since Aruba is near the equator, the sun comes up and goes down quickly.
The island is around 20 miles long and 6 miles wide and is only 25 miles north of Venezuala.
The best beach resorts are on the west end of the island.
Waves are 0-2' on the west/south side and 4-10'+ on the north/east side.
Driving is on the right. But signs are graphic (and mostly cryptic) with all most no street name signs. But since the island is so small, it wasn't bad. The locals drive fast, while the tourists drive confussed.
We did not exchange US dollars for Aruba florin. Most businesses are so used to dollars, it was rarely a problem. Occasionally we would get money back in florin, but it worked out well as tip money. Note, some of the coins can be work $2.50, so be careful to read them.
We did not ride the bus since we had a car. Note - half the island is not paved and most car rental companies tell you to not drive there.
Sunscreen is expensive, so bring your own. We heard the Aruba Aloe is some of the best in the world, but it is really expensive - $12 per small bottle, so bring your own.
Most restaurants are really expensive, so check prices.
Entrance to Aruba -
The airline attendants will give you 2 forms to fill out. A Tourist Card for entrance to Aruba and a US Customs form for departure.
Tourist entrance was fast and easy. We just had to fill out the Tourist Card on the plane, then give to immigration agent. After we picked up our bags, customs didn't even look in our bags. Make sure you keep the Tourist Card stub with your passport for ease in departure.
Departing Aruba -
This airport is realtively small, but the process does take a long time.
Get to the airport at least 2 hours in advance. We used one of the check-in people at US Airways to get our seat assignment (exit row - yea!) and we got to jump the 100+ line. We showed our passport to the airline agent, who put the tags on our bags, then the bags are put on a conveyor. Then you go to Departure Department where they check your airline ticket, passport and take back the Tourist Card (so keep the stub). Then you go thru Aruba security x-ray. If you filled out the US Customs Form on the plane. There are duty free shops, but just pass them by. Then you can proceed directly to Baggage Claim Area. Yes....you will have to pick up our luggage from the conveyors....our bags were already taken off and sitting on the side. Then you take the bags thru the US Immigration and Customs booth and claim any items. They didn't see the agents check any bags. Then you take your bags to another conveyor to be put on the plane. Next is the US security x-ray (yes....the second time). Finally you arrive at the gates. There are restaurants and shopping (including duty-free). Note - the alcohol is around half price and you can buy as much as you want, so long as you don't mind lugging it on the airport and between plane.

Photos -