I was wondering if you can help me. I am planning my honeymoon for the first week of April 2009. We are trying to decide between
Aruba and Hawaii. I have done a lot of research and have gotten mixed reviews from both places.
We want a place that has great weather, great beaches, great restaurants, water sports/snorkeling, is not super-crowded with families and kids, and has a nice luxurious hotel that will pamper us, plus some nightlife.
With Aruba, I have heard great things except that it is crowded, “Americanized,” and lacking a 5-star facility. I have read that the Radisson Aruba Resort is the best; is it?
Can you please let me know what you think?
I've been to both destinations, and frankly, there's no comparison. Away from Aruba's wide, clean beaches, it is somewhat unsightly. The perimeter consists of industrialized stretches, scrubby desert, a small downtown/port area, and the hotel strips.
Since Aruba is a desert island and little grows there, all the food must be imported, so it's fairly pricey. (And yes, there are lots of American fast food joints.) Also, Aruba has no first-rate hotels. IMO, Bucuti Beach Resort is the best place for adult couples. But there is little to do on the island other than the beaches and casinos.
Over the years, Hawaii has gotten more family friendly, which can be unpleasant for people who don't want to be on vacation with other people's kids. So you need to be choosy about when and where you go. At almost every place you're safe in May and September, when school is in session. (Most couples have the sense not to subject babies and toddlers to the long flight to Hawaii.)
Look for hotels that do NOT offer a program for children. And if every place you check does have one, ask if there are adults-only pools or wings.
Food is also expensive in Hawaii, but there are plenty of restaurants.
As for night life in Hawaii, well, there's no gambling so that option is out. Some hotels have hula shows and luaus, but those tend toward the touristy/cheesy. There are periodic music and jazz festivals, so if you can time your visit to occur around one of those, there will be plenty of entertainment.
Oahu has the excitement of Waikiki, the beauty of Diamond Head, and the surfing beaches of the north.
The Halekulani Hotel is tops with travelers and you're unlikely to see families with kids there.
Hawaii Beach photo © Susan Breslow Sardone, licensed to About.com, Inc.