ARUBA: White sand powdery beaches, beautiful waters, and the ability to eat and drink local makes Aruba a nice island to visit. Their slogan is "One Happy Island". Most of the available tours/excursions are centered around water (snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, stand-up paddleboarding, etc), but there are dune buggy and ATV tours that will take you to the other side of the island to run around in the desert, hiking in the National Park and a visit to a Butterfly Garden. Aruba is a flat island and is desert-like. You won't see much greenery off-property. It gets HOT on the island, so lather on the sunscreen! On average your transportation to and from the airport is 15 minutes drive.
Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort and Casino - on sale until 3/31/17. The Hilton Aruba is a very nice hotel. It will remind you of other Hilton hotels you may have stayed in. The rooms in the Bonaire and Curacao towers have been recently remodeled:
The Hilton sits on a nice stretch of Palm Beach - almost a mile long. The beach can get really busy since it is a public beach. Two very nice pools, 4 restaurants on-property, a coffee shop and 2 bars. The hotel is surrounded by many local restaurants on Palm Beach and you can easily take a taxi a couple miles away to Eagle Beach for other restaurant options.
The sale is an automatic upgrade in your room category. You can book a partial oceanview room (similar to the view below) for the same price as a garden view: $3041.96 with flights, ground transportation and travel insurance or an oceanview for $3185.96 for the same price as you would pay for a partial oceanview. Must be booked by 3/31/17.
Nothing is included here. Even non-motorized watersports like snorkeling has a daily rental fee.
Manchebo Beach Hotel is a small, boutique hotel with 72 rooms. You lose the "chic-ness" of the Hilton, but you get a huge, much-less crowded beach
Manchebo isn't "frilly" - the rooms are pretty basic and to keep you around your budget you would need to stay in the gardenview room, which means that you will have a view of the grounds. There is one pool, 3 restaurants, and free wi-fi
Manchebo sits on a secluded piece of Eagle Beach so not many people come to this area. The food here is very good, if you decide to eat on property. Nothing is included here in terms of food, drinks, or activities (except yoga). There is an all-inclusive plan available here, but I honestly don't suggest AI for Aruba. There are so many different places to eat and drink that you don't get to experience the island as much (and I think it's very expensive - the all-inclusive option would add another $300 total per day). With all flights, transportation, and travel insurance the price would be: $3347.96
BELIZE: Belize is located in Central America sitting on the Caribbean Sea. It is lush, vegetative, has a variety of wildlife, many activities to do, and (to be honest) is a really good bang for an American's buck. Their currency exchange is $2 BZE = $1 USD. To eat, drink, and shop here is a really good price. The famous Blue Hole snorkeling/diving spot is in Belize, as well as Mayan ruins, waterfalls, ziplining, etc.
To get to Ambergis Caye and to stay in this area you have to be up for adventure! Once you fly into the main airport in Belize City you will take a small "puddle jumper" to the Caye. Ambergis Caye is an island off the coast of Belize and is very small. Once you reach the Caye it is a short 10 minute ride to the hotel (bumpy ride!).
X'tan Ha (pronounced "Ish Tan Ha) is on the north end of the island in a secluded area. You can rent a golf cart for the week to get back and forth to town to grocery shop, eat, etc. or take the water taxi to other areas of the island to eat and drink. The hotel looks like a lodge with the authentic wood, but is set up like a condo with a full kitchen: