3 of our 4 shore excursions were to primarily beachy areas. Roger and I are definitely not beach people. We hate feeling sandy. We can't figure out how to keep the sunscreen on without spreading sand around with it (and therefore end up very exfoliated but also very itchy). We tend to hide in the shade. But I really like to jump in the waves (if and only if the water seems clean and very warm), and I had a great time splashing at all three of the beaches we visited.
The first one, in Aruba, was probably my favorite overall, despite the fact that it was the least convenient. That's because the people in Aruba don't believe in public bathrooms. There are lots of hotels around, and the beach we ended up on had a hotel nearby. Now, I'm a terrible liar and worse actor. (I had to quit my job as a secret shopper for just this reason.) So it was very hard for me to walk into a hotel at which I was not staying, acting all nonchalant, and slip into the bathroom to change my clothes. Roger's not much better, so we ended up using a bathroom only once on the afternoon we were in Aruba. Which means it was a short beach day. But that was OK, since, as I said, we're not big beach people and we were about done anyway.
Before we got to the beach, though, we walked around Aruba (Oranjustaad) for a little while, and ran into these guys.
They are everywhere, I tell you. Also roosters ran wild, too. (They ran wild at the other places we visited as well. We asked one tour guide whether people catch them and eat them and he said, "No one can catch these guys.") I don't think people catch and eat the iguanas, but you never know.
Most of the businesses were closed in Aruba (we found out later it was because it was a holiday, and not because of the Natalie thing, which was breaking news that very day). It was kind of eerie. And neither of us is a very brave tourist anyway, so we wandered around feeling awkward for quite a while until Roger spotted one of the cruiseship employees and asked him advice about the bus to the beach. Once that was settled, we were pretty cheerfully on our way.
Here's the reason I liked the Aruba beach best:
Yes, Roger was there, too. (You were beginning to wonder, weren't you?)
We're talking the whitest of the white sands (even whiter than me!) and the bluest of the blue water (although Grand Cayman came close to this) and waves big enough to jump into.
In Costa Rica (Puerto Limon), our tour guide took us to a beach (yes, it had public restrooms) where the natives hang out. I liked this beach for its waves, which were fantastic. Some of the natives were even trying to surf. The water wasn't as clean, though (although very warm). And we were anxious about our stuff being stolen (which proved to be a reasonable anxiety when Roger caught a young woman making off with his sandals).
I guess the waves were too good in places. At one point, our guide, Oscar, got a phonecall from another tourgroup leader in another part of the city who informed him that a tourist from one of the two cruiseships in town had just drowned trying to surf in Puerto Limon. Oscar wasn't sure which ship the tourist was from, but it was a 50% chance that he was from ours. We didn't hear any more about it, but I doubt the captain would have made an announcement if it had been from our boat. What a way to end a vacation, huh?
We saw some other interesting things in Puerto Limon. Oscar was a native and knew how to give us a taste of the real Costa Rica (we think). He drove us through town and out into the countryside where we stopped at the "home" of a friend of his. Here's his friend:
His friend had set out a little table with some native fruit for us to taste (I've forgotten the name of most of them). And Roger got to interact with this guy's pet . . .
. . . sloth. Oscar also took us to a Del Monte banana plantation.
I guess it's because we are programmed to, but we felt sympathetic for all of those poverty-stricken, hard-working workers on the plantation. But Oscar really emphasized that the plantation workers are NOT poverty-stricken. Rather, their jobs are considered quite good because, although the hours are long, the pay is good and the workers are provided with free houses. We saw the houses and they were not bad at all. I was a little concerned when I saw kids trying to help with the work, but then Oscar told us it was a school holiday and all the kids were off.
The third beach we tried out was in Grand Cayman. This beach was almost as beautiful as the Aruba beach, and a lot more convenient because there were restrooms, umbrellas and beach chairs for us to use. The sand was not quite as white as Aruba's and the waves were pretty darn puny, but the water was just the right temperature and felt great to play/float in. Here we are being beach bums:
We really enjoyed the walk back to the pier from the beach on Grand Cayman. We passed a lot of tidal pools that were fun to peek into.
I'm sure we saw some of the world's most beautiful beaches on this trip.