On our last day in Aruba, we had lunch at the Paddock, a Dutch restaurant right by the cruise ship dock. It’s a favorite of ours, and we go at least once while we’re there. The staff are a really friendly bunch and the food is quite good, with very reasonable prices.
The have a terrific sign on one of their chalkboards and we just had to take a picture! I’m sure lots of other places would like to use it!
When we got home after the long flights, we were walking through Vancouver International Airport and saw an amazing aquarium full of jellyfish! They were HUGE! Sure glad we didn’t run into these guys in the water.
Our last full day in Aruba was on Friday. We had a late start, slept in and took it easy. We got to the beach about noon, and it was super calm. The visibility was very good, and we went turtle hunting. We quickly found four, while dodging about ten boats. The waters close to shore have become quite dangerous in Aruba. This recent development is quite disturbing. There are several speed boats towing these inflatable couches, with four or five people on them. They zip up and down the heavily populated beaches, with little regard for snorkelers. But the problem is not just limited to the speed boats. The big snorkeling tour operators are bringing their huge catamarans and pirate ships so close to the beaches, that it is shocking. It was not fun!
After our turtle sightings, we had a leisurely swim among the fishes.It’s always tough doing that last swim. We never want to get out, but the time always comes when it’s inevitable. We had a great time this year, with lots of firsts. And lots of old favorites seen, and enjoyed.
For our last night here, we decided to go out to dinner. We drove around, with no location in mind, and we drifted all over town. We finally wound up about three blocks from our resort, at a Dutch restaurant called Bingo! It’s a fun place, with lots of nice dishes and a nice selection of beer and drinks. Our dinner was very nice, and we had a couple drinks. Service was fun, friendly and efficient.
Mike flew home in time for the Boxing Day sales, and we retreated to Malmok Beach. The water was absolutely glorious. It’s unreal how clear the ocean was today. We’ve had fairly cloudy water, not exactly awful, but not great. Well, today was great.
We’re going to remember this trip for two things really – turtles and octopus (and of course the seahorse). We have had amazing sightings of both octopus and turtles. Today, it was the octopus again.
One fellow moved like we’ve never seen before. Super active, jet propulsing around like never before, shifting colors like never before. Just unbelievable. One time he changed into the striped colors of a black and silver coney!
Tomorrow is our last day, and we are feeling rather subdued. It’s been a great three weeks. We were not in the ocean near as much as usual, since I’ve just been unable to handle the physical stress, but it’s been fun nevertheless.
Pam has picked up a heck of a tan as a result of more “pool time” (our saying for relaxing in a chair on the deck of the swimming pool, with a cool drink on a table.)
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope Santa brought you everything you wished for, and then some! He sure did here in Aruba! Today was dead calm, so we decided to go back to Mangel Halto. Because it is the best coral reef on the island, it’s where you want to be if the weather permits, and Santa delivered.
When we got to Mangel Halto, the water was the calmest I’ve seen any Aruban water. Completely flat, with next to no movement! Unreal – so we suited up and jumped in. We literally did not have to swim; a small kick of the fins was more than enough to move around. We got to explore the reef like never before.
Lots of fish to see and watch. The best thing we saw is one that has eluded us everywhere we’ve been. We saw a seahorse! Yep, first time ever, in any water. Very very cool. They look so frail, easily blown by the barest shimmer of a wave. That will be a highlight of this trip, and something Pam will talk about over and over, I’m sure!
There were some octopus we saw in the very shallow part of the reef and it was cool to see him use his jet propulsion close up like that.
We saw a fish called a butter hamlet, something we rarely see. This might be only the second or third time we’ve seen a hamlet, but the first time for this type. It’s always cool to see new fish, even after hundreds of snorkeling trips!
We decided to eat out tonight – give the cook a break, and all that. We went to the Chinese place called New Wei Tai and it was pretty good. Service was good, even though the place had a very large party going on. A nice way to end the evening.
Mangel Halto is the best shore snorkel in Aruba, bar none. The coral is more plentiful, and healthy and alive and just plain wonderful. The drawback is that it can be quite rough, with strong current. We only go there when the weather is very calm. We’ve been trying to get out there a couple of times, but today (Monday) was the first great day for it.
For those people coming to the blog looking for directions to Mangel Halto, here is a quick and easy guide. Head south, following the signs to the airport and/or San Nicolas. Go past the airport, and look for a stop light. There is a sign that mentions Depalm Tours/Depalm Island. Turn right there at the lights. Go down to the T-Junction. Take a left and follow the road until you come to the bridge across the lagoon. The next right after the bridge is signed for Marina Pirata, a restaurant.
Take that right and you’re on the beach road that leads to Mangel Halto. Follow that road for about a kilometer or so, and you’ll see the stone sign for Mangel Halto. Park there, walk down the wooden steps and through the mangrove. Enter the water via the mangrove and head out toward the yellow buoy. That is the channel leading to the coral reef. That channel can be quite quick, but once you’re through, it’s absolutely wonderful!
Today (December 23) we were lucky and the weather was very nice. Super calm and the water had very little wave action. It was a terrific snorkel. We even saw an ocean triggerfish, a very shy fish, that normally is out near the drop off. Here she was right in the center of the reef. We also saw a tons of brightly colored parrotfish, a turtle, barracuda, lots of blue chromis and plenty of eels. It was tough to get out of the water, but even with the calm water, my stamina is not great. Still, a wonderful day at Mangel Halto.
Here is a cool movie of an octopus. You don’t often see an octopus using his jets like this… normally we just see him crawling along the bottom, or hiding on the rocks.
We switched back into the unit we had last week. Changing units has been quick and painless. We have only had to move one unit over, so it’s been easy. The maid knocks on the door, letting us know the unit is ready, and we wheel our luggage over, swap the stuff in the fridge and we’re ready to snorkel!
We headed over to Boca Catalina, saw turtles, and assorted other fun stuff.
Here’s a brief movie of a flying gurnard. They have these cool wings they spread when they want to head out in a hurry.
Here is yet another little turtle movie.
We also checked out Frenchman’s Pass, in the southern part of Aruba. There is an old abandoned gold mine there. It’s still an impressive structure.
And lastly – how about these kayaking buddies? The navigator looks ready for anything, does he not?