Aruba, dubbed as One Happy Island is exactly that. The island is below the hurricane belt so you can enjoy it year round without the fear of your vacation being cancelled. Aruba has a mix of relaxation and adventure so there is something for everyone. We recently spent four days in Aruba, below I share the details.
How We Got to Aruba Cheaply During a Holiday Weekend
I knew I wanted to take advantage of 4th of July and have a 4 day weekend with only having to take 1 day off work as the holiday was on a Tuesday but I still didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I didn’t care where we went as long as it was affordable so I went straight to Skyscanner to look for affordable options. Skyscanner allows you to find cheap flights two ways.
1. If you have specific dates but don’t care about the destination you can search your home (and nearby) airports and select the destination as everywhere. Just enter your dates and Skyscanner will tell you the cheapest places to fly to during those dates.
2. If you have a specific destination you want to visit but are flexible with dates you can search the cheapest month to travel to that destination and Skyscanner will do all the work for you. Their app is just a great as their website, download it here and always fly whenever you can or wherever you want to affordably!
Where We Stayed in Aruba
We booked the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino because of Flamingo Beach on their private island. It’s where you see all of the infamous photos of people feeding the flamingos. If you don’t stay here and want to visit the island you will have to pay $100 per person for a day pass. If you’re going with your child, kids are only allowed on the beach with the flamingos from 9-10AM as it’s on the adult only side of the island. The price of the hotel was the same and in some cases cheaper than the other options nearby. The hotel is in a great location; there are shops, restaurants, and a movie theater in the outdoor mall which is basically attached to the family side of the hotel. It is also directly across the street from the I Love Aruba sign. It’s ten minutes from the airport and the taxi will cost $18. Be aware that if you fly in on a Sunday their is a surcharge for taxis and the price will be $21.
Day One: Hotel Pool, Exploring our Hotel Area and Sea Salt Grill
We got to Aruba mid-day but our room wasn’t ready when we arrived at the hotel. We grabbed lunch and then hung out at the pool.
Before dinner we walked around our hotel area a bit and came across the cutest little house. There are tons of bright colored buildings in Aruba and this one was too cute not to snap some pictures in front of.
For dinner we ate at the Sea Salt Grill which has live music at night. The food was really good and I’d recommend eating here.
Day Two: 4×4 National Park Tour to the California Light House, Gold Mine Ruins, and Natural Pool
As beautiful as the beaches are in Aruba you can’t come here and not explore the National Park. We booked this half day 4×4 tour through Viator. After booking, a follower who saw we were in Aruba said visiting the California Lighthouse was a must. When we met our tour guide I asked him if this was something we would see and he said it wasn’t apart of our tour. I let him know I was disappointed as it was recommended and he said not to worry he would make it happen along with some other surprises, and he did. I was so appreciative of this and it really made a difference. Our tour guide was Andrew if you want to request him!
After a quick visit to the California Lighthouse, Andrew made a second bonus stop to visit the oldest Catholic Church on the island, which is in the middle of nowhere. They still have mass every Tuesday and some people get married here.<
Next was was a stop to see the Natural Bridge which is a rock formation on the coast that looks like a bridge. After a brief stop we made our way to the Gold Mine Ruins, which was the place to dig for gold at the height of the gold rush in Aruba.
Our final stop and the main attraction was the Natural Pool Cenote which is right along the coastline. Here we spent an hour and you can swim, snorkel, or jump off the small 3ft cliff.
Day Three: Palm Beach and Eagle Beach
If you want to do sports activities Palm Beach is the perfect place. The water is calm and shallow which is great for some time on the Stand Up Paddle Boards. We rented ours from Island Cabana.
Island Cabana also rents clear kayaks which is great for seeing the crystal blue see-through water while paddling. They are two-seaters but as you can see if you have a small child they are allowed to sit in front of you even if there are two adults. They do not provide child life vests so be sure to bring your own.
Other water activities on Palm Beach included kite-surfing, wind-surfing, parasailing and much more.
Next we headed to Eagle Beach, famous for the pair of native Divi-Divi Trees towards the end of the beach. While there are water sports/activities available here there were definitely more options at Palm Beach. The water at Palm Beach is also a lot more calm and see-through. Whereas at Palm Beach Jordyn and I could go far out, we couldn’t go more than 5ft from the shoreline at Eagle Beach.
Day Four: Flamingo Beach
The island is open from 7AM-6:45PM with boats taking guests to/from every 15 minutes. Although we visited Flamingo Beach each morning from 9-10AM to see the flamingos before going off to explore the rest of Aruba, today we stayed for half the day. After our hour with the flamingos we moved to the family side of the island, which is just as gorgeous and honestly better for swimming since everyone isn’t chasing the flamingos around trying to get a picture. On the island you can rent kayaks, paddle boards, and go on diving trips outside of the enclosed area. There is a restaurant and two bars.
Family side pictured above
Frolicking with the Flamingos
Enjoying Pina Coladas on the family side of the private Renaissance Island<
Leaving Aruba and Clearing Customs
Like the Bahamas you clear U.S. customs prior to boarding your flight. When you arrive at your home airport you will arrive at a domestic terminal and be able to leave the airport immediately. Due to this arrive to the airport a little earlier than you might in case there are long lines.
Money in Aruba
U.S. dollars are widely accepted in Aruba so there is no need to exchange cash. While Visa and Mastercard are also widely accepted we saw quite a few places that do not accept American Express.
Strollers: I didn’t bring a stroller for Jordyn as I knew we’d mostly be at the beach and the little walking we would do she would be able to manage. If you
Carrier: Aruba is hot and it’s very easy to use a stroller here so I would caution using a carrier as you and baby will most likely be sweating a lot.
Carseats: If you will be renting a car I would bring your own car seat. Some of the taxis we got in had missing seat belts in one or all of the seats in the back. You won’t be able to use a carseat on the off-road tour.