Since I moved out of my Brooklyn apartment back in 2018, boxed up my things, and left the US, I have been traveling mostly alone. I occasionally get someone to join me for a week, but most of the time it is me spinning the globe deciding. This changed in April on a trip with 16 girls to Aruba. What started with a google survey for dates and locations evolved into a festival.
Heather made the google sheet with activities galore and found us a travel agent. Ashley designed the SWAG, putting some of my premium orders through work to shame. I helped project manage researching best tours and vendors. With weekly zoom calls and multiple whatsapp chats, we planned the damn thing to a T. Our travel agent killed it. She helped us find the a yacht to rent and connected us with John who helped organize our personal transportation for the week. If you plan on leaving your resort, message me to be connected with either. We had 4 days in Aruba planned from what at first was a girls trip, now had evolved into a bachelorette party.
I flew from CDMX to NYC for a meeting then to Aruba. As a nomad I was always on a one way flight. My carry on luggage and backpack hop from one city to another based on who calls me where. When work calls, the flights are expensed. Flying domestic in the US is insanely expensive so my flights from Mexico and to Aruba were just as much as the round trip flights from California. I would work Thursday and Friday from the airbnb, Monday from the airport, destination TBC. This is how I landed in Aruba on Thursday with no exit flight. Monday we had to leave, I had plenty of time to decide where to go next.
Logistics Note: Aruba had covid entry requirements when I arrived. Check the travel website before you go. We had to purchase a travel insurance and get a visa before entering. Also they will take USD but at a higher rate since it isn’t their currency.
Stejchella / n; taken from Coachella the famous festival in California and merged with Austeja, the name of our bride to be
Designed by Ashley, each tent on the ferris wheel linked to our instagrams. Next level.
Where To Eat
Brutto Beach House | West Deck Bar & Grill | Quinta Del Carmen | Private Chef
All of the places we ate were delicious. We pre-booked tables for 16 at 3 restaurants and planned our festival themed dinner with a private chef. The first night was sushi with flaming cocktails and a secret club in the back. Another was in the sand with a massive table to fit 16 of us around it. With delicious seafood and small bites this restaurant was probably my favorite meal. Maybe that was due to the special chocolate my friends brought though. Last was a private chef, he was fine chef and affordable but not overly impressive. This night was our main festival event and after our drunk yacht charter so none of us were really focused on the food.
What To Do
Private Boat Charter | UTV Tour | Flamingo Island
Our arrival gifts included sunglasses, bandanas, bathing suits, drink pouches, bucket hats, lanyards, squiggle straws, and a But Did You Die? bag including chap stick, liquid IV, and spf. Ashley printed the passes with the schedule, the little bags, and the drink pouches. We ordered the suits. Each item went with an activity. Obviously the suits were for the boat day. Since this was a festival, our Bride was the headliner, we were the roadies. For the UTV we wore the bandanas and the sunglasses. Perfect to keep the sand from kicking up into our eyes and mouths.
Our travel agent helped us secure a private yacht for an afternoon. It came with snacks and 2 deck hands to help us. There was a big space in the front of the boat where we spent most of our time. We brought our alcohol and mixers and our own drink pouches. To get from the back to the front was a tight squeeze alongside the boat. The deck hands kindly refreshed our drinks while we danced and partied in the front. Walking alongside the boat drunk was a challenge but we are all professionals here. We stopped twice to snorkel and hang at a sand bar. By the end of the afternoon we were cooked. The boat dropped us off a swimmable distance from shore. They filled garbage bags with our things and put it on a life ring. The deck hands swam the things to shore while we drunkenly swim along. Dangerous but super fun.
Aruba has incredible beaches, rocky lava cliffs, and deserts that make you feel as you’ve been transported to Mars. The tour started on the livable side of the island. We drove on the main roads, turned through some houses, then entered the desert of nothing but cactus. This was not an easy ride but Megan killed it. We bounced and screamed along like little kids as she took a hill screaming “momentum!” There were a bunch of stops. We went to a natural bridge, a hidden rock pool, a light house, a fort from when the colonizers came, and finally a beautiful calm place in the ocean where turtles are found in the mornings.
The rock pool was across lava rocks. You climb down a sketchy ladder, cross the harsh rocks, and see the jumping point into a sheltered pool. The waves rock you in the pool gently which is a surprise when you see how crazy the ocean is on the other side. Exiting is difficult, there is a rope you grab and scale your feet on either side. Luckily our guide, Eduardo, is a beautiful strong man. With one hand on the rope and one hand in his hand, he flew me out of the water. The day ended with us convincing the other guests to drive our UTV back because the swimming spot was right by our house. Naturally we were already late for dinner. They dropped us off and we tossed them beers in thanks as the sun set.
The final activity was Flamingo Island. This island is owned by Marriott and getting tickets if you are not staying there is basically as hard as getting into Coachella. Each ticket is $100, they go on sale 1 month before and are limited to 4 a person. One morning we all got online, I bought 3, Heather and Ashley couldn’t see any available, my dad got on and he got 4. We needed 12 as some girls were leaving early. Because we couldn’t get enough tickets we also got a hotel room for the night which includes 4 tickets. We were one ticket shy so one group had to sneak a girl in. Most of us came in through the hotel across the street on a gondola type boat. The other group came from the hotel on the beach and took the boat to the island. If you are staying at the hotel it is free to get on the island. If you bought a ticket it comes with lunch.
Once you are there it is gorgeous. There is a rocky protected shallow water area to swim in. Flamingos eat and walk around. There are hammocks sitting in the shallow water, swaying by the mangroves. It is bliss and worth it.
I went on this trip knowing 4 of the 16 people going. I left in awe of these women. The love, support, beauty, intelligence, and life experiences here give you hope for the world. A trip I was worried could turn into high school mean girls, ended in new friendships and a strong hangover.