Aruba is an island located in the southern region of the Caribbean Sea, just north of Venezuela and Curaçao. It is one of the ABC islands that make up the “Dutch Caribbean” which help to make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The ABC islands are Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.
The citizens of Aruba are all Dutch nationals, and as such, Dutch is one their official languages, alongside Papiamento, a creole language spoken amongst the ABC islands. English and Spanish are also extremely popular languages on the island, my tour guide letting me know that most students learn all 4 languages (Dutch, Papiamento, English & Spanish) while in school. As a visitor, if you speak one of these 4 languages, you’ll be able to easily navigate around the island.
A few other facts: unlike most other Caribbean islands, Aruba has a more dry climate and desert-like landscape, having extremely warm weather and sunny, clear skies year round. It is also outside of the hurricane belt- though it does still experience some hurricanes, just not as often as some other islands. The official currency of Aruba is the florin, but the US dollar is widely accepted across the island, I did not exchange any money and mainly paid with my Chase Sapphire Visa credit card or US cash ($1 Aruban Florin=$.56 USD).
Aruba is known as the Happy Island for it’s warm 82 degree days, warm sands and even warmer people! And Aruba Ariba (the title of my series) is also the name of the official drink of Aruba- it is often served as a welcome drink and is quite delicious.
The island is small, taking roughly 45 minutes to drive from one end to the other. The capital, and main area of the island is Oranjestad, which is where you’ll want to stay. So, let’s get into it!
Where to Stay When Visiting Aruba
First things first is planning out your lodging; I recommend selecting your hotel by what’s most important to you, proximity to activities, aesthetics, or price. Aruba is home to some of the best hotels & resorts in the Caribbean. You’ll have your choice of all-inclusive, adult only, family friendly and even hotels called out for being especially welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community.
My friends and I stayed at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino (a Marriott Property) in Oranjestad and we absolutely loved it. There are two sides to this hotel, the adult only side and the side that is family friendly. Both sides have several amenities such as pool and beach access, but the adult only side has additional shops and seemed to be the main location. On my next visit I would stay on the adult only side and recommend this to anyone traveling without kids! Check HERE or check below for a tour of the hotel.
Note, staying at the Renaissance Aruba will allow you access to the infamous Flamingo Beach, forgoing the $125 fee for non-hotel stayers. More on Flamingo Beach below and in another post!
My cab ride from the airport to the hotel was less than 10 minutes door to door, it was $21 USD however. It was super easy to hail a cab to get anywhere we needed and most often, the hotel would either call the cab for us or call for the hotel shuttle.
For Other Hotel Options:
🏨 Adult Only
Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort
Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa
RIU Palace Antillas
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino (Adult Only Side)
🏨 Family Friendly
Divi Aruba All Incluisve
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino (Kid Side)
Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive
Aruba Marriot Resort & Stellaris Casino
🏨 LGBTQ Friendly
Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort
Machebo Beach Resort & Spa
RUI Palace Antillas
RIU Palace Aruba
Talk of the Town
Though small, the island is full of culture and adventure, depending on what you’re up for. We spent 4 days exploring Aruba and seriously contemplated missing our flights to extend our vacation in paradise. See here for a list of my favorite and must-do activities to fill your itinerary:
🤸🏾♂️ First up, have you ever been ATVing? I hadn’t prior to this trip, I was a bit nervous, but I had so much fun! We hooked up with @rockabeachtours_aruba for their 4 hour long “Discover Aruba”. Single ATVs start at $125 USD, Doubles at $160 USD, and UTVS (2-5 passengers) $180 USD. There were 3 in my party, so we did one of the Honda 4×4 UTVs and took turns driving. There were 5 stops throughout the day-Aruba’s Natural Bride, BushiribanGold Millll ruins, Natural Pool Cave w/ Cliff Jumping, California lighthouse and a Secret Beach Stop with more cliff jumping! I’d absolutely say this is a must do when visiting Aruba, it was a great way to see the entire island, sightseeing and having fun along the way! Book on their website (rockabeahtours.com)- the tour came with one light snack and hotel pick-up/drop-off.
🤸🏾♂️ Spend a day (or more) at the Renaissance Private Island where the infamous Flamingo Beach is located. I’ve already written on my IG (see last post) on all things Flamingo Beach and couldn’t rave more about how beautiful the island and water is, how fun capturing pictures with the flamingos are and the other activities that are available on the island! Flamingo Beach is a MUST-Do when visiting Aruba & spring for the cabana 😉!
🤸🏾♂️ Though I skipped out on this, my girlfriends went on the Aruba Champagne Breakfast & Lunch Cruise with snorkeling. For $85 USD you’ll get a luxurious cruise with Champagne cocktails and unlimited drinks & food, with the opportunity to snorkel and swim along Aruba’s coastline! This “half-day” tour lasts about 4 hours and it does not include hotel pick-up/drop-off! Definitely doing this on my next visit!
🤸🏾♂️ & Lastly, ever wanted to spend the evening floating on crystal blue waters watching the sunset over the horizon? Well, if not, dream bigger and experience it in Aruba on a Happy Hour Sunset Sail with food and drinks, for $60 USD!
Having all of this fun will certainly work up a big appetite, thankfully, I had some of the most amazing and delicious meals while here! Below is a list of my favorite eats that you HAVE to check out on your visit.
For a video and little look at the good eats, click here: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CHt4r5clo-p/
Pinchos Grill & Bar Aruba’s Most Romantic Sunset Restaurant
Yemanja My Absolute Fav, get the steak
Dutch Pancake House
The Pastechi House
Rotisserie La Braise Aruba
Agua Grill Restaurant
Le Petit Café
I’ve always been told that Aruba was quite expensive, but maybe living in New York/other Northeast States has my opinion skewed, but I found it quite affordable. Meals averaged $20 USD, I got steaks for most of my dinners which averaged closer to $30 USD. The alcoholic drinks ranged from $9-$15 USD and our hotel, and a few other locations, had happy hour specials where drinks were 1/2 off! Here is a breakdown of my trip expenses:
And finally, COVID-19 protocols. We’ll unfortunately, be dealing with Covid-19 for the foreseeable future and I was very impressed with how the island has been managing the virus and incoming tourists. My first blog post, apart of my Aruba Ariba Series, details all of the necessary steps you must take in order to visit the island, please read all about it HERE.
Follow me on IG and check my Aruba highlights for additional pictures and a full video recap of my Aruba adventures, HERE or searching @fiyflyflournoy.