I visited Aruba a few times by cruise ship and I spent most of my visits wandering through the capital and main port of Oranjestad, sitting next to the ocean and getting lunch from a place with a good vantage point for people watching. I always had a good time, but I jumped at an opportunity to visit De Palm Island with my friends.
This all-inclusive destination is a few miles outside of town, along the southern coast of Aruba. It’s not within walking distance of the ship, but it is easily accessible via taxi, and De Palm even offers transportation that can be booked right on their website. A taxi or a bus are not the only transportation you’ll need to take, because as the name De Palm Island suggests, this place is an island! There is a ticket booth in the parking lot where we each got wristbands and then boarded a ferry. When it’s time to go back to the ship, leave extra time for any ferry or other transport delays.
This trip was sold to me as a visit to a waterpark, but don’t get too excited about the waterpark. It’s small. It is awesome for kids and still fun for us “big kids.” But it's nothing epic. In fact, some cruise ships have more impressive waterslides than De Palm Island. However, this destination is so much more than a waterpark. Take some time to splash and slide but then go for a ride on a banana boat behind a jet ski. Or play basketball. Or volleyball. Or take a dance lesson. Or visit the buffet or snack bar. Or the bar. Or lay on the beach. It’s all included. Yes, even the food and the drinks.
Waterslides, margaritas & awesome snorkeling
Depending on your arrival time, a breakfast or lunch buffet will be available. We made this our first stop. We were quickly hungry again after a few trips down the waterslides and that’s when we discovered the snack bar complete with an open bar. I loved the waterslides, but the unlimited chicken tenders, Diet Cokes and margaritas were my new favorite part of De Palm Island.
Even the snacks were overshadowed by the snorkeling. The crew at De Palm outfitted me with mask, snorkel, fins, and life vest. I’ve snorkeled in many islands, but this was some of the best. The water here however was a bit rougher than in other, more protected, places I’ve snorkeled. It was still easily navigable, but I was grateful for the vest. The extra effort was worth it as there were so many fish and lots of different habitats to explore. The parrotfish are a must see. And you will see them — you will probably see many of them. These multicolored fish with large front teeth reminded me of Donkey from the Shrek films.
Whether you choose to slide, swim, snorkel, eat, drink or lounge, you’ll have a good time at De Palm Island. There’s something for everyone. If your ship doesn’t offer tours to De Palm Island, be sure to check out their website. In fact, prices have been reduced for summer 2015 and even include transportation now.
What are you looking forward to most at De Palm Island and Aruba?