Puerto Vallarta

CuseFaninVT

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#26
If you have the chance to not do Aruba. I would not do Aruba ;)
We just did Curacao this year. Loved it. I'd go back to the ABCs, but I'd try Bonaire before Aruba from everything I've heard (just because it doesn't really seem like our thing).
 

CuseTroop

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#27
If you have the chance to not do Aruba. I would not do Aruba ;)
For real, or kidding? lol. Right now all we have is round trip tix to JFK, and it sounds like she's open to anywhere that's hot and sunny. I'd rather her hurry up and pick a destination, so we can book the rest of the trip, and I can stop looking at freaking hotel reviews.
 

chugg21

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#28
For real, or kidding? lol. Right now all we have is round trip tix to JFK, and it sounds like she's open to anywhere that's hot and sunny. I'd rather her hurry up and pick a destination, so we can book the rest of the trip, and I can stop looking at freaking hotel reviews.
I guess it really depends on what your vacation preference is. If you want to just be at a resort for a week and not have to think or do anything besides sit on the beach or at the hotel bar then Aruba is absolutely fine. It's certainly aesthetically pleasing. I've only did the All-Inclusive thing once and it seemed completely at odds with what I want out of a vacation. Sitting at the bar or on the beach for days just drinking domestic beer out of a 12 oz plastic cup surrounded by other Americans seemed pointless and something I could just do in Florida. I however have friends that only do All-Inclusives and love it but I certainly make fun of them for pretending that they are going somewhere like Mexico when all they actually end up doing is going from the airport to the hotel and then being locked in a compound with only other Americans/Canadians and while they may physically be in Mexico, every moment of their trip is Americanized and could just be any resort anywhere in the Caribbean.

I'm more of a type of person that wants to go out and explore local restaurants/bars and meet natives and enjoy the culture of other places and Aruba is really towards the bottom of places I've ever been in that regard.
 

CuseTroop

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#29
I guess it really depends on what your vacation preference is. If you want to just be at a resort for a week and not have to think or do anything besides sit on the beach or at the hotel bar then Aruba is absolutely fine. It's certainly aesthetically pleasing. I've only did the All-Inclusive thing once and it seemed completely at odds with what I want out of a vacation. Sitting at the bar or on the beach for days just drinking domestic beer out of a 12 oz plastic cup surrounded by other Americans seemed pointless and something I could just do in Florida. I however have friends that only do All-Inclusives and love it but I certainly make fun of them for pretending that they are going somewhere like Mexico when all they actually end up doing is going from the airport to the hotel and then being locked in a compound with only other Americans/Canadians and while they may physically be in Mexico, every moment of their trip is Americanized and could just be any resort anywhere in the Caribbean.

I'm more of a type of person that wants to go out and explore local restaurants/bars and meet natives and enjoy the culture of other places and Aruba is really towards the bottom of places I've ever been in that regard.

Man, this sounds exactly the opposite of what she thought she was getting out of Aruba. We aren't going the All inclusive route there, because she said there's tons of off resort restaurants/bars ect.

Thanks for the info, I'll pass it on to her.

Man, she's always been my little travel agent, really solid at planning trips. I have no clue why this trip has been a month long process of trying to figure out where she wants to go.
 

chugg21

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Man, this sounds exactly the opposite of what she thought she was getting out of Aruba. We aren't going the All inclusive route there, because she said there's tons of off resort restaurants/bars ect.

Thanks for the info, I'll pass it on to her.

Man, she's always been my little travel agent, really solid at planning trips. I have no clue why this trip has been a month long process of trying to figure out where she wants to go.
There's certainly plenty of restaurants to fill up a week trip but being a Dutch colony, cuisine just isn't their specialty. I just went to Tulum a few months ago and it was really nice mix of beauty/culture and could get there pretty easily from JFK. If you were staying on the west coast and not coming all the way to JFK, I would recommend La Paz in Baja California Sur. It's about a 2 hour drive from the Cabo airport and is really incredible. Can swim with whale sharks, hang out at Balandra Bay, eat amazing street food and also spend a day or 2 in Cabo on the way in or out which is a pretty great place itself.

If she's narrowed it down to Aruba or Spain. Spain for sure.
 

CuseTroop

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#31
There's certainly plenty of restaurants to fill up a week trip but being a Dutch colony, cuisine just isn't their specialty. I just went to Tulum a few months ago and it was really nice mix of beauty/culture and could get there pretty easily from JFK. If you were staying on the west coast and not coming all the way to JFK, I would recommend La Paz in Baja California Sur. It's about a 2 hour drive from the Cabo airport and is really incredible. Can swim with whale sharks, hang out at Balandra Bay, eat amazing street food and also spend a day or 2 in Cabo on the way in or out which is a pretty great place itself.

If she's narrowed it down to Aruba or Spain. Spain for sure.
We were looking at Mexico first, (and I thought we had it booked) but she was worried the weather wouldn't be on point during that time of year, hurricane season I guess. Apparently Aruba, and the area around it is nice and toasty around that time of year (late October), which is why we jumped on the JFK deal that Alaska Air had.

I'm pretty sure she has narrowed it down to anywhere we can get from JFK and back for ~$500/person
 

CuseFaninVT

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#32
We were looking at Mexico first, (and I thought we had it booked) but she was worried the weather wouldn't be on point during that time of year, hurricane season I guess. Apparently Aruba, and the area around it is nice and toasty around that time of year (late October), which is why we jumped on the JFK deal that Alaska Air had.

I'm pretty sure she has narrowed it down to anywhere we can get from JFK and back for ~$500/person
Jet blue goes straight to Curacao from JFK for right around that price. That's what we did in February.
 

CuseTroop

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#33
Jet blue goes straight to Curacao from JFK for right around that price. That's what we did in February.
She was looking at that this weekend. Place looks amazing, and there was a cliff jumping thing I was checking out.
 

chugg21

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#35
We were looking at Mexico first, (and I thought we had it booked) but she was worried the weather wouldn't be on point during that time of year, hurricane season I guess. Apparently Aruba, and the area around it is nice and toasty around that time of year (late October), which is why we jumped on the JFK deal that Alaska Air had.

I'm pretty sure she has narrowed it down to anywhere we can get from JFK and back for ~$500/person
St. John is pretty incredible and looks like its about $270 from JFK in late October. Not a ton of culture but can do a lot of exploring. Looks like they are still in somewhat of disaster recovery mode but that also comes with some benefits.
 
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cliftonparksufan

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#36
She was looking at that this weekend. Place looks amazing, and there was a cliff jumping thing I was checking out.
I'm on record that saying that Aruba is not my favorite place as well, but like I told you we stayed at the Divi Phoenix which is very nice and lots of places around to eat and drink. If someone twisted my arm, I would go back because the beaches and the weather is beautiful but I didn't really find it stimulating.

I forget if you said if you have been to Costa Rica, but we stayed at Ylang Ylang in Montezuma. I would recommend that place to anyone. Very romantic, lots of beautiful waterfalls and hiking. it's a old hippie town. Horseback riding on the beach (my horses name was Carmelo). Nearby surfing. Great weather. Cheap beer.
Ylang Ylang Beach Resort For Your Getaway | Montezuma Costa Rica
 

CuseFaninVT

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#38
Where’d you stay? Didn’t wanna text you st midnight, and There’s no way I was gonna remember to text you in the morning.
Thanks
So, some notes from my trip to Curacao -
  • Flying out of JFK, while great for the direct flight, was a bit of a hassle, especially for this guy who really enjoys the small airport I normally leave from. The parking lot recommended was fine, but that Saturday morning was busier than I think they had prepped for. Took a bit to get the shuttle, but the driver did an amazing job navigating the ridiculous traffic at the actual airport to get us there in plenty of time.
  • We rented a small house in the Jan Thiel area. We ended up being about 1.5 miles from Jan Thiel beach. That was fine. The house itself, located in a gated community, was good for the family. Small pool for ourself, and the neighborhood actually bordered the Jan Thiel saltpans, which had an extensive trail system we ran twice while there. There is a nearby bike company that runs mountain bike tours on those same trails, as well as trails elsewhere on the island. Had I known that, I would have brought my bike stuff and done at least 2 tours.
  • Speaking of running, we did a couple great runs through Fort Beekenburg and the surrounding area right from the house. Safe, challenging, and interesting things to look at.
  • In terms of other exercise, we did a pretty challenging hike to the top of Christoffel Mountain. Pretty cool to be on the highest point of the island. They told us it would be about an hour up and an hour back. Pretty close to actuals. Very dry and warm. The trail system is part of the national park up on that side of the island. Some other parts of the park we visited while there are the bat caves, hieroglyphics, and the old plantation house museum.
  • Same day as the hike we went to the Westpunt (Westpoint) area of the island and did some snorkeling on two different beaches. The first one, Playa Piskado (also known as Playa Grandi) was really cool. The Piskado name refers to the fishermen that come into the dock there and use the adjacent hut to clean their fish. They toss the unneeded parts back into the water, which attracts tons of fish, pelicans and sea turtles. It's a pretty awesome spot. We also went to Playa Kalki. Snorkeling was okay here, but they had a bar, and that's really what we needed at that point. Nice day.
  • The day before the hike we did a catamaran snorkeling excursion through Bounty Adventures. Good snorkeling, great food, and the Polar beer was cold and free flowing. I'd do another tour with them again. They took us on a tour of Spanish Waters, which is an inlet with a ton of beautiful houses and some of the biggest boat lifts I've ever seen. Then we made our way to Tugboat beach and we did a 45 minute snorkel there. Interesting also were the oil rig and drilling ship that were docked there for maintenance. Enormous.
  • Also went to Playa Lugun to snorkel. Lots of fish, two morey eels, and a mellow atmosphere. Nearby Bahia Beach Restaurant was okay, not great.
  • We did a day in downtown Willemstad proper including the Kura Hulanda museum. Very interesting to see the story of slavery from a non-American slant. Went across the rotating bridge between Otrabanda and Punda. Very touristy here as this is the area closest to the Mega Cruise Terminal. Lots of americans here. Food was average at best right at the water.
  • Came back to Punda on Thursday night for a weekly festival. This was fun and we had a very good meal at the Bali Mixed Asian Lunchroom.
  • Other good places to eat include Rancho El Sobrino up near Westpunt (they had an awesome skewer - pincho in papiamento - special - I got the half tenderloin, half shrimp), Pop's Place and Zest Mediterranean in the Jan Thiel area. Tinto was good, but more expensive than it was worth.
  • The house we rented came with a car. A little snafu with the battery out of the gate, but other than that, it worked out nicely. The island is a bit confusing, but the driving is fairly simple. Same side of the road and steering wheel is same side of the road. Traffic signals are a bit different but google is your friend.
  • We got a ride from the airport to the house and back from a woman named Natalie whose company is called Dushi Taxi. I liked her. She also turned me onto texting using the WhatsApp app. Pretty awesome.
  • Another app that was recommended and highly useful was Maps.Me. Free and allows you to download very local maps to your phone.
I guess that's it for now.
 

CuseTroop

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#40
Well, We're headed to Curacao. Plane tickets booked. I told her I wasn't paying any change fees, so we are 100% committed now.

I appreciate everyone's input and assistance here. I'm glad the hard part is over.

She's got it down to two hotels, so that shouldn't be much of a dilemma (I hope)

Anyone know what time the bars at JFK close? On the way home we land at 12:30am, and have a 7am flight. Not enough time to get a hotel.
 

CuseTroop

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#41
After 32 hours of traveling, night one in Curaçao was a success. Kind of a cloudy looking week, with scattered showers tho. Gonna have to miss the Game. If it was in espn, I’d fight to find a bar. Can’t justify sitting in the room watching on my iPad tho.
 

CuseTroop

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#42
Hey VT, any issues with mosquitoes on your hike? We are hitting that tomorrow morning
 

CuseTroop

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#46
I forget how in shape my wife and kid are.
I honestly can’t belive they let kids do it. That last bit had me seriously worried for our safety lol.

You’ve seen the pic of me at the top, I’ll post it here in my recap. I was really worried about getting back down
 

CuseFaninVT

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#47
I honestly can’t belive they let kids do it. That last bit had me seriously worried for our safety lol.

You’ve seen the pic of me at the top, I’ll post it here in my recap. I was really worried about getting back down
I hear ya. There were a bunch of families with smaller kids. Not sure how they did it.
 

CuseTroop

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#48
Man, what a freaking trip.

30 hours to get there, 30 hours to get home. That was on us tho, as we jumped on super cheap tickets to JFK, and headed south from there (Fairbanks-Seattle-JFK-Miami-Curacao). Smart move would have been Fairbanks-Seattle-Miami-Curacao.

We landed about 2pm on Friday, customs wasn't too bad but would have been much smoother if we had a pen on us. There's literally no pens in the airport so in order to fill out the customs card, you had to beg people who had pens for their pen lol. Was a little crazy. We rented a car from "JustDrive" rentals. We had looked at the bigger rental companies, but most wanted like a $1k deposit. Last minute we cancelled with a big company, and jumped on JustDrive. $250 for the week, no deposit. They told us about a GPS app called maps.me. I didn't want to take my phone off airplane mode, but they ensured me this app would run on airplane mode. I have no clue how it did, but man, it worked. It's kinda like wikipedia tho, people can go in and add or alter routes. Leaving the airport we had a few issues with him telling me to go right, but the map shoowing go left. I took the phone from my non paying attention girlfriend, and had no issues from there.

Stayed at the Avila beach hotel about 15 minutes from the airport. I have 0 complaints about this hotel. Staff was super friendly, two amazing lagoons, solid beach bar with awesome bartenders, drinks were very reasonably priced and were super strong. They actually tried to play a game with me to see if they could make it "too strong" for me... Bro, I'm cusetroop, you're not going to win this game.

We wandered around the resort for a bit, had a cocktail and set out for dinner. We picked this hotel it was in walking distance to downtown, and a decent amount of restaurants. We settled on this little bistro, had a bomb tenderloin. We headed back to the resort for a few nightcaps, and to try to meet some friends. We were pretty much the only folks that spoke english, so that proved to be tough.

The next day we walked about 10 minutes to downtown Willemstad. Pretty cool area, all the buildings are bright colors (I'm a touch colorblind, so it didn't do too much for me lol). Checked out the floating bridge which was pretty neat. Watched it motor out of the way for incoming boats a few times. The girl was super pumped about buying fruit at the "floating market". Apparently it's not what it used to be.. Not its just a few stands on the street, where people just yell at you until you buy their fruit. We ended up walking back to the resort by about 1 and spent the rest of the day drinking on the beach, and swimming. The resort had some solid wifi, but it wouldn't let me stream the UNC game. I ended up following along on the espnapp. Had dinner at the resort, they were having a BBQ night. Was pretty solid.

Woke up early the next day to drive out to Mt Christoffel, for a hike that VT recommended, and my girlfriend had been raving about. Maps.me took us a crazy route, and tried to get us to head into a park entrance that had been closed for 15 years. We drove around for a half hour looking for the right entrance, and said "Screw it, let's head to the beach and find food". About half hour later, we randomly passed the entrance, wayyyyy outa the way from where the app said it would be. I was a little bummed, I thought I had gotten out of this hike. It was horrible you guys. (Disclaimer, I'm pretty lazy). It was like, straight up the whole way, climbing boulders on the side of a cliff type stuff. I thought I was going to die, or the girlfriend was gonna die. We made it to the top, and wow what amazing views. I didn't enjoy them much, as I spent the whole time trying to figure out how the heck we were going to get down...
I hate this picture, but it pretty much sums up how I felt:

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We made it back down without dying, and headed to a beach called Playa Forte for a little cliff jumping.
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Headed back to the hotel, more beach time, more drinks until sunset. Hit up Mambo Beach down the street, as they had a bunch of food options. Not sure what happened after that, but I caught a bug or something. thought I was going to die for about 24 hours. Held it together the next day, we went to rent snorkel gear. and snorkeled around our hotel a bit. I was finally able to eat something around dinner, but that was a horrible idea. Only had 3 drinks that day, so you know I musta been sick.

Headed to Kokomo beach for some snorkeling the next day. Pretty neat little beach, bar and restaurant right there. Snorkeled for a few hours, got burnt as hell and headed towards the resort. She found a GF place downtown, so we swung by there for lunch. For the 2nd time on our trip, we couldn't get the parking pass machine to work. The first time we just left it, and was fine. So I decided to just say screw it, we'd only be gone an hour. Came back to a boot on our rental car and a ticket in another language. I took the ticket into the nearest bar, but they didn't speak english either, but was able to point us in the direction of the parking authority. Found them 10 minutes later, paid them $15, and another 10 mins later the boot was off. Not bad, I thought this was going to ruin our whole night.

Back to the resort for more beach/drinks. Bed, beach drinks in the morning and off to the airport.

Pretty solid trip. Wish it had been longer, but at the time we planned it I was worried about having enough leave days for this trip, 2k classic, and a bowl game.

Sorry for the short/sweet recap, I've got a ton of work I should be doing lol
 
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