Port and Shore Excursions
The ship docked at Oranjestad port. Oranjestad itself is lovely, with pastel coloured fronted buildings - well worth a walk through, and it has funky looking restaurants/bars and nice marina areas. Also saw iguanas on the rocks by the Radisson on the right, opposite the red english telephone box.
Went to Palm Beach - absolutely beautiful, $16 dollars for a taxi outside the port terminal but you can also get the bus from the road behind the beach that drops you off right by the ship, which we got back, for $2! Chairs/parasols near the Riu hotel on Palm Beach are more expensive than further down the beach, so do look around.
Next to Palm Beach is Eagle Beach, which looked even more beautiful but not as many watersports/bar areas, the bus also stops here.
Went with Thomson, was Â£44 each. Took a 5 min bus trip to small marina, then boarded catamaran, then by catamaran to an area out to sea. Soft drinks provided on way, crew very friendly. All snorkelling gear for swimming with turtles provided, although you can stay onboard if you like. A member of crew went into the sea and threw fish to bring in the turtles, then we all got in and he gave a few simple instructions/points. The turtles are huge and swim underneath you, you have to be careful not to kick them! You can also see them popping up for air. It was a bit of a scrum though as there were about 30/40 of us in one small area and some people seemed to forget there were others around them and kept banging into you with their face in the water and didn't even bother about it, it got annoying after a while so we kept to the edges where the turtles swam past anyway. Was great seeing the turtles and on the way back, there was unlimited rum punches/beer etc and the regaae music was cranked up. Also sailed past exclusive beaches and posh hotels. A great way to spend 2/3 hours. Would recommend!
Booked kayaking and snorkel tour with Thomson for Â£40ish (but when we got there, saw that it was a lot cheaper directly). 15 min trip from ship in bus, then we, with instructor, kayaked over to a beach, had a drink, then swam/snorkelled to sunken tug boat. Plenty of brightly coloured fish. Then swam back and kayaked back to base. Was good but kayaking was a bit tiring Lasted about 3 hours. Also walked around Willemstad port itself, quite pretty, plenty of shops, interesting swing bridge, had a drink on waterfront.
Came out of port and plenty of taxis offering trips. Went on 3 hour island tour with 2 other couples, $20 each, a lot cheaper than Thomson tour. Was good, explained all about the island, took us to small spice place where they explained about all the spices and you could buy some; then up to the Annandale Falls; then to Grand Etang Lake viewing point where you learn about the island and see monkeys, there are a couple of cafe bars there too. Also went up to old English Fort Frederick then down to Grand Anse beach, which looked gorgeous and would have been even more so if it was sunny. Was good value for money. Shame it was raining but that's what makes this beautiful island green I guess!
At port there are places you can take trips to the Pitons and around island etc that were cheaper than Thomson, but as there were only two of us, it would still have been expensive and as it was raining a little we decided to just take the water taxi over to the town, which was $4 each I think. Quite busy in town, bustling with locals, there's a market but it was a little overwhelming. We decided to go to Reduit Beach at Rodney Bay (even though cloudy/raining a little) so accepted an offer of a taxi for $30 return. Reduit Beach is lovely, overlooked by green hill, would be stunning in the sun. Also nice bars and restaurants on beach and behind beach so looks like it would be a good place to stay for longer. Taxi was great, explained a bit about island on way and picked us up at whatever time we wanted, we didn't pay until the return.