Tag Archives: beach

The Aruba Mountain Bike Excursion

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, we decided to go on a mountain bike excursion while on our trip to Aruba.  We intended to make the entire vacation very relaxing and unplanned, but after a day of just lounging, we approached the concierge about a possible activity.  We began to start the reservation process for a catamaran/snorkeling excursion, when we saw a flier for a new mountain bike/snorkeling tour.  I’m a cycle instructor.  This was just up my alley.  We booked it with De Palm Tours.

photo 1-50The company has been offering the tour for only about two months.  Typically eight people will ride from the north, choppy, Atlantic Ocean side of the island around the northern most tip (where there is a lighthouse) to finish at a small, beautiful beach.  The ride was described as “strenuous”, which we didn’t really take too seriously.  They actually mean it when they say “strenuous” though.  The north side of the island is almost like a desert. Lots of sand and rocks.  Did I mention it is also extremely hot?  That is probably why the tour begins so early (we were picked up at 7:30 AM).

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The bus picked up six people from various hotels before taking us to the start of our bike trip.  Our guide was great.  Bikes were super nice and definitely the appropriate type of bike for the riding that we would be doing.  You can’t use a beach cruiser here.  After a brief intro about the bikes, we were given plenty of time to ride and around to get our bearings on both the bike and the terrain.  Riding on a mountain bike in desert like conditions is 100% different than riding on a bike indoors that is bolted to the ground.  I give a lot of credit to people that do this regularly.  With unexpected road conditions, it is very easy to lose control.  After several minutes of test riding, we started our trek.  Our first stop was at an Aruban natural bridge.  We got off our bikes to walk over to the shore and check it out.

photo 1-51We spent a decent amount of time checking things out before our tour guide asked us to continue on our journey.  It was at the point that a mini disaster occurred.  I have been on many tours all over the world, and I have never actually seen someone get hurt.  My husband and I followed the guide up the next hill (which I had to walk up because the sand was so deep I couldn’t pedal through), until we heard the horn beeping of the truck that follows the last biker. We turned around to see another woman on the tour laying on the ground with everyone else surrounding her.  We came to find out that she had lost her balance trying to just get on her bike.  She was unable to make contact with the ground to catch her fall and landed on her right arm.  We never found out the extent of her injury, but nevertheless help was called and she was not able to continue on the tour.  The guides handled the situation in the appropriate manner, however, I can’t help but think this injury could have been prevented through proper core training. Remember when I posted about how core training can make every day tasks easier?

photo 2-50As soon as the situation described above was handled, we continued on our journey.  Our next stop was beautiful church.  This was a quick stop.  The church is absolutely beautiful and offers services every Tuesday.  Here we also fueled up on fluid (since we had been out in the hot sun for quite awhile).

photo 5-13This time we rode literally until our final destination.  The terrain was pretty intense with a lot of rolling hills.  It was in our favor to pay attention to the road ahead to avoid large rocks and areas with deep sand.  I did have to walk again through some deep sand.  Our guide did a great job of warning us when there might be trouble.  The ride was worth the beautiful beach that we ended up at.

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We spent almost an hour enjoying company offered snacks and drinks while cooling off in the beautiful (almost desolate) water.

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You know we had to Garmin the ride too.  Would you believe we rode almost ten miles. Pace was pretty slow, because we stopped several times, but it was just what we needed on our relaxing vacation.  We wish the woman that was injured well, and we certainly recommend this excursion to people who can actually handle a strenuous workout while on vacation!

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Aruba – Our Happy Island

photo 2-45If you read my blog regularly, I’m sure that you noticed that I haven’t posted in almost a week. For the first time in almost two years, my husband and I took a “real” vacation. By “real”, I mean no phones, no computers, and no social media. In determining where we should go to escape, we wanted to stick to a place that we had been to before (so we wouldn’t have to do much planning) and we could ultimately blow through all of the remaining Marriott hotel points that I had left from public accounting.

IMG_1093Aruba it is. We have traveled to some pretty amazing places, but there are a few reasons why Aruba stands out to us.

  • Direct, affordable flight + a clean airport (it is hard to find a nice airport in the Caribbean)
  • English speaking, friendly natives
  • US currency is accepted everywhere – Yes, no currency exchange!
  • Gambling is legal – there are some really nice casinos, and I’m talking Craps, Roulette, and Black Jack (not just slots)
  • It doesn’t rain here – Average rainfall is 16 inches a year. Yep, pack the sunscreen; you will be in the sun A LOT!

Leaving our daughter for several days while we went away was the hardest part about the trip. Thankfully, my parents moved into our house to watch her while we were gone. Since we have been to the island before, we knew that we were going to be overwhelmed with some amazing (even healthy) food choices, but we also packed our workout gear because we knew that there were some great outdoor running areas. Over the next few posts, I plan to share with you some pictures and reviews of some of our amazing meals, plus our fun workouts.

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Let me start by saying that we were lucky to have stumbled upon the Marriott Stellaris Tradewinds Club. On our first trip to the island we decided to stay on the club level, and we enjoyed it so much, we decided to come back. Here are the details. To stay in the Tradewinds Club you have to pay a premium on top of your nightly amount. However, the premium includes all of the following that a regular room does not:

  • Complimentary breakfast – see pictures of my typical breakfast compared to my husband’s breakfast.  Like I said, you can make it as healthy or unhealthy as you want to!
My typical breakfast.

My typical breakfast.

My husband's typical breakfast.

My husband’s typical breakfast.

  • Complimentary lunch

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  • Afternoon snacks
  • Complimentary bottled waters (big time advantage in the heat), soda, and beers during the day.

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  • Evening happy hour (including a taste of specials from the hotel’s restaurant dinner menus, plus cocktails – wine, beer, and liquor)
  • Free internet
  • Private adult pool
  • Private beach area with optional beach hut and chairs

IMG_1102We did the math and we definitely won out here. Not only are the breakfast and lunch options good, but you can make both meals extremely healthy (or not). There was always a significant amount of fruits and vegetables at every meal. Not to mention whatever type of cold beverage that you wanted to take back to the beach for the afternoon (or morning).

IMG_1094The private beach in front of the hotel is pristine with little to no waves. You can literally pull a raft out into the ocean and not float away. In fact, I think the ocean might even be less choppy than the lakes surrounding Charlotte!

Since we hadn’t gone on a real vacation in years, we even took advantage of the spa and got massages. I will be the first to tell you that I don’t get massages often. I think they are awkward. Should I talk? What if I fall asleep? What should I wear? Yea, it’s not my thing. This place blew my mind. I set up a Bali (relaxing) massage at the Mandara Spa. Everything about this place is calming and somewhat euphoric. Even the smell when you walk in the door makes your shoulders drop (if you are someone who sits at a desk all day hunched, you know what I’m talking about). Relax. I felt like a different person when I left this place. This was exactly what I needed to force myself to settle into a day of doing nothing.

The transition area.

The transition area.

The selection of scents and scrubs for massages.

The selection of scents and scrubs for massages.

With my introduction of the island and our hotel, look forward to details about our meals and workouts throughout the next several days. While I enjoyed our time away, it does feel good to be back!

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