You’ve probably seen it all over social media lately: the flamingos on the beach with overwater bungalows in the background. YES this place exits and it’s the happy island of Aruba!
Depending on where you live, making a quick getaway to Aruba is easier than you think. From places like Orlando and Miami, you can find cheap direct flights to Aruba on multiple airlines, we flew with American Airlines. We used some vouchers we had that were about to expire, but the flights were only $164 pp round trip!
If you are short on vacation time, are dreaming of visiting the flamingoes, or just want to get away- Aruba is the perfect choice for you. We only spent 3 nights on the island with some of our dear friends, and it was the perfect weekend getaway! Here’s how:
We are Marriott card holders and were able to stay at the Renaissance hotel for 3 nights using points! If you do not have some type of travel rewards card, you need to get one! It makes traveling much cheaper and convenient.
The big PRO to staying at the Renaissance is having unlimited access to Renaissance Private Island. This is where you’ll see the flamingos! If you are not a guest at the hotel, you’ll pay $99 pp for a day pass. They only sell a certain amount each day, so it’s worth it to stay at the hotel even for just a night.
Day 1: Renaissance Private Island
Access to the island is extremely easy. A taxi boat leaves every 15 minutes ish and comes directly to the hotel lobby for pick up and drop off (the lobby has access to the ocean and it’s actually pretty cool watching the boat go through a tunnel to pick you up) The first boat heads over there at 7am and the last one leaves the island at 6:45pm. If you are a guest at the hotel, you’ll scan your room key before boarding and you’re good to go! The island is about 10 minutes away by boat, and once you arrive you will not want to leave.
Upon arrival, you’ll have the choice to go to the family side or the adults only side. The flamingoes swim between both beaches so you’ll see them no matter which side you go to. If you have kids with you, please be respectful of the “adult only” side, even if the flamingoes are over there. You’ll get your chance to see them- don’t worry!
Besides the beauty of the water and the privacy of the island, my favorite part was the cabanas. An overwater bungalow complete with floats, snorkels, champagne, hammocks, lounge chairs, and the perfect views made the price totally worth it! From what I’ve read online, the prices for the cabanas can vary slightly depending on the time of year. Ours was $300 USD for the day. I recommend booking a cabana months in advance if you can; we were told all of the cabanas are booked every day of the year! You can book via email or just call the hotel and they will book for you.
Tip: You can only book a cabana if you are a guest at the Renaissance. Day passers are not allowed to rent a cabana. All the more reason to stay at the hotel for a night! 🙂
There are attendants for the cabanas and you can order anything off the menus and it will be delivered to you in your cabana. We each found the food and drinks to be great and well priced!
(I obviously had to bring my husbands flamingo swim suit to Aruba right?!)
I also just wanted to address the flamingoes. From what we could tell, they are treated well. They are well fed and are not caged at night. They come and go around the island as they please and guests are not allowed to touch them. Please be respectful and mindful of these beautiful animals if you are there!
Day 2: UTV Tour
After a day in the sun, it was only fitting for a day of adventuring around the island. There are countless water based and snorkel tours in Aruba. After doing a little research, it seemed everyone recommended taking an ATV or UTV around the island. Oddly enough, the majority of Aruba is rock and desert which is something most people don’t know! Bring good glasses and maybe a bandana because as you explore this island off roading style, it will be bumpy and dirty! We went with Action Tours Aruba.
It was SUCH A FUN day riding along the rocky coast. The tour takes you to a natural bridge, an old gold mine, a cave where you can do some jumping, and a natural pool. My personal favorite was jumping into the crystal clear water in the cave!
There are many casinos in Aruba. We found the nicest (and least smokey) to be the casino attached to our hotel at the Renaissance. We enjoyed our evenings in the casino but you can go at any time of day as the Renaissance casino is opened 24 hours.
Day 3: Take Your Pick!
Day 3 for us was a sad day because it meant we were flying home. We could’ve done a few things with the 4 or 5 hours we had before heading to the airport. Eagle Beach, Palm Beach, and Baby beach are all within a 20 minute drive and are supposed to be beautiful for lounging on pristine sand.
With our unlimited access to the beautiful private island, we woke up and headed straight for another round! We wanted to enjoy a few more hours of sunshine and flamingoes before heading out. We planned our day around eating at The Dutch Pancake House. This restaurant was a few minute walk from our hotel and has award winning food! Because of the dutch influence in Aruba, you have to have some dutch pancakes while you’re there.
Airport Tip: Our airport experience was a little crazy. I didn’t read anything about the airport or the process of going back to the United States before our trip so take this advice! Get. there. early. When you are traveling to the United States from Aruba, you go through U.S customs in Aruba, not once you land back in the States. We thought it would be a normal experience but we were wrong! You will show your passport about 7-8 times, so don’t put it away. You will go through local security, local customs, get your bag checked, THEN go through U.S customs, U.S security, and check bags again. Just remember that everything will be done twice and give yourself enough time and you’ll be good! (Not like us who had to sprint to our gate.. ha)
Aruba had good prices, the friendliest locals, and beautiful water. Everyone spoke English, we felt as safe as can be, and I highly recommend you go for yourself! 🙂