Backing it up to Christmas 2015, my mom & Roy decided to skip the whole decorating a Christmas tree thing, buying gifts & hosting Christmas dinner. I know what you’re probably thinking, “How Scrooge of them,” right? Well, this was decided because my brother & I were older and not living with them anymore so instead of a traditional Christmas they decided to take the four of us on a family trip.
This past Christmas, Kev finally got the invite because he put a ring on it (HA) & my brother’s girlfriend, Taylor, got the invite as well.
2019 was a nonstop, jam packed year. I took TWENTY FOUR flights, moved to a new apartment, planned my entire wedding from a different coast, got married, was a bridesmaid and matron of honor, attended close to ten weddings/bachelorettes/showers and began the grieving process when my grandparents tragically passed away. (We still didn’t get to attend every event we wanted to, if we missed one of your milestone events please just know we wanted to be there, those flights just add up QUICK!)
Needless to say, as a family we needed to plan our 2019 Christmas vacation in a place with beautiful weather and a beach to just lounge on and Aruba did not disappoint!
We stayed at the RIU Palace Antillas with the most gorgeous views. You may have heard of the RIU Palace in general but if you’re looking for an all inclusive, adults only resort, Antillas is the one for you.
We each had a corner suite with the most gorgeous views, jacuzzi tubs and two separate balconies. On Christmas Eve they also hosted a “Couples of the Week” contest which Kevin of course volunteered us for but it all worked out BECAUSE WE WON!
Although I could never put into words just how awkward it was to have my husband give me a sexy lap dance in a full onesie costume with my parents & brother in the audience, it’s something we surely will never forget! We also won champagne and massages at their spa so that’s a win in my book 🙂 Here was just one part of the contest:
There were two pools. A huge one and then another pool bar with a swim up bar, barstools and tables. They were both gorgeous and hosted a variety of activities each day like water aerobics, volleyball games and even beer chugging contests.
Right across from the pool bar of course was the gorgeous beach. If you’re not one to sit on a beach all day, included in the all inclusive you are able to rent paddle boards, kayaks, snorkel equipment & floats. The water was a stunning blue and was so clear.
The food was so delicious too! They had everything we could have imagined and it was available at most hours. We had breakfast and lunch here most days and ventured to other restaurants for dinner some nights. A few restaurants I recommend are Hadicurari for the amazing ambiance eating on the beach, BLT Steak for an amazing filet and Lola Taqueria for the best tacos you’ll ever have.
We also spent about every night in the casino of the hotel and had a lot of fun. I learned how to play three card poker, lost some money & totally understood why people can’t stay away from gambling. If only you could play with fake money!
Originally arriving in Aruba with only one reservation for Christmas dinner, we decided on a bunch of awesome activites to do when we got there and here they are!
Monforte III Luxury Cruise
If you only do one thing when visiting Aruba, book a cruise on the Monforte ship!
We had the best time and even debated going again the next day. We boarded the ship at 10AM & cruised to The Spanish Lagoon, docked in the middle of it and then snorkeled, kayaked and flipped into the water via a rope swing all while consuming unlimited drinks, snacks & indulging in a lunch grilled on board. The crew was everything we could have hoped for. Funny, accommodating, very friendly and even showed off their rope swing and climbing skills. I would give this day a 15 out of 10 and already can’t wait to do this again.
De Palm Island
When we decided on Aruba, I knew I wanted to purchase a day pass at the Renaissance Hotel to see the flamingos but they weren’t offering them during the holidays. I asked around and was told I could book a spa service at that hotel and then use their beach to see them but then a local told us we could also see flamingos by visiting De Palm Island.
Now, let me preface this story by saying that once we got settled here it was a great experience but let me tell you, getting to this island felt a little bit like some Fyre Festival stuff was about to go down. Let me explain:
We purchased tickets from our hotel lobby and took a bus where they dropped us off at a ferry.
WAIT #1&2: Before we could get on the ferry, we had to hand in our tickets for a bracelet. One of the attractions on the island (a giant water slide) was broken so they decided to refund everyone on line one by one which had us waiting in a line for over an hour. You can imagine how agitated everyone was once they finally made it to the ferry & then they made us wait for everyone to get on the ferry before driving all of us to the island.
WAIT #3: After a less than 5 minute ferry ride, we finally got to the island where we were greeted by another line to wait in to listen to rules of the island which no one could hear.
LINE #4&5: We had tickets to go snorkeling and rent one of their private beach cabanas (highly recommend) & had to wait in separate lines to get yet another bracelet for each activity.
One thing to note, they don’t serve food until 11:30AM, BRING SNACKS. My brother & I joked that we were going to be served cheese sandwiches like the Fyre Festival goers but were pleasantly surprised when they offered salads, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, etc.
It felt like an eternity that we finally got to enjoy the island but once we were situated we had an amazing time. There are only four beach cabanas on the island and I highly recommend renting one for the day. The beach cabanas offer a private section of the beach with lounge chairs, a cabana to lounge in with couches/tables, outdoor shower, someone taking your drink orders the entire day and most importantly the flamingos are on this side of the island along with peacocks, randomly.
Snorkeling was such a fun time on this island & we saw tons of gorgeous marine life. We just had a day with very rough water so one second we would be far from the coral and another we would be right on top of it. Heads up, if you touch the coral reefs you can get stung. I did & had to go to the emergency area on the island to get the stinger out. (Only me, ha)
All in all I would definitely take a day to experience this island when in Aruba. Just don’t have high hopes of the morning moving quickly, rent a beach cabana and bring snacks 🙂
We also attempted parasailing one day, took the boat out in the middle of the ocean, where it died. They offered to have another boat come & take us but I was too spooked and we all decided not to go. Tons of other people successfully went so hopefully you’ll have better luck than us 🙂
I hope you all get a chance to visit this beautiful island! We already can’t wait to return! Mom & Roy, thanks again for these amazing memories.