What NOT to do in Aruba
I’ve been to Aruba four times in the last five years - five times altogether. My very first trip, I went with a huge group (shout out to OPsalms Travel Family!) and we stayed at the Marriott Stellaris Resort and Casino with an all-inclusive package, so outside of a catamaran trip, we never really left the resort.
During my other four trips, we stayed at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino in the Marina (adult-only) Tower. After my first stay, it quickly became not only one of my favorite islands, but my favorite hotel! Most of my trips are fairly short (3 nights or less), but there is so much you can do in that short amount of time!
I’ve put together my list of things you SHOULD NOT do while in Aruba, starting with:
Do NOT only stay at your resort - venture out! There is so much beauty that Aruba has to offer, and you’re really missing out if you don’t go out and see it (like I did on my first 3 trips!). You can either rent a car upon arrival, rent one from the Renaissance if you decide to stay there, or cab it. Take a trip to the beautiful and serene Eagle Beach, or to see the goldmine ruins. Check out the California Lighthouse or Arikok National Park. You can even rent an ATV at a couple of those places to explore with a little edge.
Also, don’t underestimate the different neighborhoods you may happen upon while driving around. We stayed in Oranjestead, Aruba, which is near the airport but also considered the downtown area. Taking a quick walk around the neighborhood, we found countless restaurants, beautiful buildings and as always, the kind and happy people of Aruba.
Traveling outside of your resort brings me to my next tip:
Do NOT leave the US without cash! Especially if you plan to take a cab from the airport to the hotel, or a cab in general. The cabs only take cash (USD is fine, no need to exchange your money), so you’ll save yourself the time (and ATM fees!) by not having to ask your driver to take you to an ATM before getting to your destination. Cabs are plentiful at the airport and everywhere else. We took a cab from our hotel down to Eagle Beach (more than worth the $24 round trip cost!) and on our way back, we were able to just hail a cab on the side of the road. Took less than 5 minutes to catch one!
Speaking of beaches - Do NOT stick to just one beach! There are so many beautiful ones to see and you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by spending all your time at just one. Take a day or two and explore different parts of the island. My favorite thus far is Arashi beach. With tall cacti right on the beach, a restaurant (with wifi!) and beautiful blue waters, I’m sure you can understand why I love it so much! Arashi beach has chairs to rent and there is also shade. No facilities, unfortunately, but there is plenty of parking if you drive and it is accessible via bus.
I’m sure if you’ve googled beaches in Aruba, you’ve come across images of Flamingo Beach. It is a private island owned by the Renaissance, but…
Do NOT think you have to be a guest of the hotel in order to visit
Although, yes, guests of the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino can visit the private island (which has 2 different beaches - Flamingo Beach, adults only, and Iguana Beach, family friendly) have access to the private island, but even if you’re not a guest, you can purchase a $150 day pass here: https://renaissancearuba.idaypass.com/ The day passes are only available for the following day, go on sale at 7am, and usually sell out within a few minutes.
There is a restaurant on the Iguana Beach side, full facilities, and a separate bar on the Flamingo Beach side. You can rent a chic cabana for $300 for a 4-person cabana or $350 for a 6-person cabana. I might be doing that on my next trip!
The speedboat that takes you over to the private island pulls directly into the lobby of the hotel - and you can grab your Starbucks before heading over to the beach. Each person has to have their room key (or day pass on your phone) in hand in order to board the boat, and the ride takes a quick 10 minutes.
Multiple hammocks, a store to rent snorkel gear and floaties, a restaurant and a bar and of course our little pink friends await you when you arrive to Renaissance Private Island.
While, no, you don’t have to stay at the Renaissance for access to their private beach, not having to stress about purchasing a day pass is worth checking out their rates. The rooms are comfortable (especially the beds) and well appointed, the vibe and atmosphere is extremely lively and everyone working at the hotel is kind and greets you with a smile. Plus - the happy hours are LIT (is that what the kids say?)!
The pool has a beautiful view of the marina and the temp is always comfortable. With only a few chairs and shaded areas available, if you plan on spending your morning there, it’s best to get there early to claim a spot. But once your’re there, and the bar opens, you can get poolside service which is a huge plus!
Since we’re talking about the Renaissance Aruba - if you’re considering it,
Do NOT get the all-inclusive package! It is completely unnecessary as the hotel bar and beach restaurant have great food at decent prices, and there are LOTS of places nearby to eat. You’ll be sorry to miss out on all the local restaurants within walking distance of the hotel if you pay for an all-inclusive deal at the hotel.
Do NOT bring only neutral or earth tones! You’re on an island, bring the brightest, most colorful pieces you can find and let that Aruba sun add to your gorgeous vacation glow!
I hope this was helpful - tell me, are you considering Aruba? Let me know in the comments!