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Trip Report Aruba trip report (first time visitors)

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This is my first trip report ever, I felt compelled to share since I didn't find TOO much info on here when I was first looking into an Aruban vacation.
Traveling for 10 days was myself and my husband (ages 33 & 43, respectively). We like to be independent travelers, staying away from "packages," resorts and all-inclusives that clip our wings.So we did an AirBNB in Noord, and another apt in the Malmok area (less touristy). Our places where we stayed were awesome, and the hosts were wonderful. Other than our hosts, I have to say that we didn't buy the whole "One Happy Island" slogan. If you're exploring the island outside of official group tours, etc we found most locals were annoyed, rude or completely miserable. I understand that the economics of these islands are probably pretty bad, they may resent our tourism, but nonetheless I didn't hear anyone mention on forums how miserable and unhelpful people were. We gradually realized that to "do" Aruba properly (and enjoyably) you really should stick to a resort and not try to get the local flavor.
We felt safe when exploring in our car (which you absolutely need in Aruba!) but we did have 2 backpacks stolen while we were snorkeling in Malmok. Our host said it was the first he'd heard of it. We didn't have anything of value in them, but it set the precedent to be even more careful.
Restaurants were ok, nothing steller ...and everything was pretty pricey. A lot of the restaurants have the same menu items (hello, beef carpaccio). We did have some wonderful local fish, but they don't do other seafood very well (maybe it's imported?). We try not to be picky at restaurants, and we were pretty happy, but for those who DO care, I wanted to include that.
Rent a Jeep and explore the Arakok National Park if you want some serious off-roading...the desert park wasn't much to look at but the off roading was very fun, and the rugged coast is totally worth it! Dos Playa beach is a great place to spend a day on a remote beach! The Conchi (Natural pool) really isn't worth the EXTREME off-roading that it requires as it's quite a small pool, unless you want the's not for the faint of heart!
Flying out of Aruba they ask that you come 3 hours ahead b/c it's a small airport and you go through customs, but it really went smoothly b/c they have a customs kiosk that you fill out and that's it.
Aruba is beautiful, the water and beaches were lovely, the dry heat is really nice (and perfect in the shade), there were NO bugs, the mainland is desert-like with cactus everywhere, and we enjoyed seeing it...but we won't return as we don't want to waste time staying on a resort when there are many other places to explore.

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