White sand beaches and warm turquoise waters. Yep, Aruba is a pretty sweet vacation spot, and exactly what I needed. I went to Aruba maybe 15 or so years ago, so I was due for another trip. My grandparents have a timeshare there and go every year for a month. Last year 2 of my cousins went and I had major FOMO watching their Insta-stories, so I decided right then that I was going this year. I’m so glad I did. My grandparents ended up backing out last minute due to health reasons, which was a bummer, but I got to spend time with other family.
We had a pretty big group. My mom and nephew stayed together at the timeshare unit. My aunt, her daughters, her boyfriend and his son stayed at the all-inclusive side of the resort, and 3 of my cousins and I were a 10 minute walk at an Airbnb.
Our whole group was on the same flight on the way there. I’ve never known so many people on one flight before, bahaha. My aunt rented a van that holds 9 people, but we managed to smush all 11 of us plus our luggage into that van. Quite the ride from the Aruba airport to their resort.
All of us hung out at the resort pool, drinks in hand, until we could check into our Airbnb. Our place was so nice and modern. Our daily walk to the beach wasn’t totally ideal, but since I had no intention of exercising while on vacation, it got my steps in. Since we woke up at 2am that morning for our flight, we had a pretty lame night. We went grocery shopping (worst food shopping experience of my life, busier than Market Basket before a Pat’s game) so we wouldn’t have to spend toooo much on food, then made mac n cheese, watched Netflix and called it a night around 8pm.
Day 2 was New Years Eve! We found a cute coffee shop called Santos on our way to the beach, which became part of our daily routine. We had cocktails on the beach with my mom, while my aunt and the kid’s went snorkeling. Spent a ton of time in the ocean, it’s so nice. I wish the beaches here were that warm.
Later we got ready to celebrate NYE and grabbed dinner at Ricardo’s with a sunset view. All day people were letting off fireworks to ward off bad spirits. We met up with the rest of the fam on the beach for a little bit to watch some of the fireworks until the beach parties started to pick up. We found a fun party at a resort with an awesome band and danced until midnight when everyone ran to the beach with champange while the whole island lit up with fireworks. Probably the best NYE I’ve ever had.
Very slow, hungover morning as you can imagine. Took it easy, got our usual coffee, hung by the pool and the beach. Watched Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour Netflix special while getting ready to get dinner. Met a stray dog (there are a lot of them) that we named Henry and he followed us to dinner. Grabbed tapas at Fusion and was actually up for a glass of rosé by that point.
Coffee, beach, the usual. I had been dying to go to this smoothie bowl place that was not a walkable distance to us. Luckily it was near the dock where we were going to be boarding the Jolly Roger Pirate Ship booze cruise. So we went down there early to get smoothie bowls AND IT HAD JUST CLOSED! So that was a major let down.
Instead we got nachos and salad at a nearby spot to absorb our future booze cruise consumption. It was a sunset cruise, so it was picture perfect. Open bar for 2 hours and they had a rope swing! We were all dressed in cute clothes though so none of us did the rope swing, but I did take photos of random strangers doing it! Including the bartender taking people on his back and back flipping off it!
After a weird Titanic life boat experience (no the ship didn’t sink) we stumbled upon Moomba Beach Bar. We had way too much fun there and I’m not going to elaborate on that. What happens at Moomba Beach, stays at Moomba Beach.
After our usual coffee stop, we headed to the beach to meet the fam. My mom was treating us to a ride on “Big Mabel.” Bahaha I just love that it’s called that. It was one of those 4 person floats that a boat pulls. This was way more fun than I anticipated. My younger cousins and nephew went first and had such a good time.
The four of us went next and oh my god. Libby kept telling him to go faster and he did. We were bouncing all over the place, water was splashing in our eyes and I could not stop laughing. We lasted a really long time but eventually we all went flying off into the Caribbean. I honestly wish it was recorded because it was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I witnessed the whole thing and honestly thought I was going to be the only survivor but sure enough I got whipped off too. I was on the end so I just looked over and saw Libby bounce so high and flip backwards over the top into the water. Followed by Rebecca the same way, then Caroline. I thought I was good but very quickly was tossed into the water too.
I’ve never laughed so hard, and apparently the whole beach was cheering! HA! We got back on and survived the rest of the ride. You would never think that holing onto a float for dear life would be a good workout but we were all so sore the next day. My cousins went on a second ride, and then my mom, my aunt and two cousins went on a ride, and none of them fell off. Just us.
After that exhausting morning, we chilled out for a bit, showered and went downtown for some shopping & dinner. Caroline was wiped so she stayed home to nap.
My aunt picked us up in her van to take us to Splash Park Aruba. It was sort of like an inflatable obstacle course in the ocean. It was a lot of fun, but also so tiring. We looked like idiot fish trying to get up onto it because everything is super slippery and wet! It was pretty funny though. There was a water trampoline, monkey bars (which are harder than I remember them being), slides and all sorts of stuff to climb. Did I mention we did all this before drinking any coffee? Woof.
Next, we went home to pack up as much as we could because we were determined to have a great last night in Aruba and didn’t want to worry about packing when we got home. We then all met up for happy hour and nachos (again), took some fam photos (we just missed sunset, GAH) on the beach and then the four of us headed back to Moomba Beach since we had such a good time there before. Awesome band, beach, drinks, dancing, and nachos (AGAIN) on the sidewalk at 2am while waiting for a cab. Successful night.
I swear the climate, the sand and the ocean cleared up my skin and I never felt the need to use lotion once while I was there. The moment the plane landed in Boston I swear my dry skin returned. Thanks winter! But really, it was a perfect week filled with priceless quality cousin time, loads of new inside jokes, and much needed stress-free relaxation. Ok, well, back to reality and our impending snow storm of doom coming this weekend.