Truth be told, I never heard of Aruba before a friend told me about his home country. It is a small island in the south Caribbean (about 30 km across the ocean from Venezuela) and a constituent country of the Netherlands. As soon as he showed me pictures of this wonderful island, I became determined to go there. If you google Aruba, you will see pictures of glorious white sand beaches, dreamy palm trees, crystal clear water and even a flamingo beach!
So in June 2019, I decided to visit Aruba for a week with my mom - a perfect girls' trip. It was only a 12-hour flight from Billund (Denmark) with KLM at a reasonable price compare to other Caribbean destinations. We stayed at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino close to the capital city, Oranjestad.
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino
This 5-star complex consist of two hotels, shopping mall, market place, casino, cinema and a private island. The first hotel is called Renaissance Marina hotel, which is strictly adults-only and located in the shopping mall. We stayed at the second hotel called Renaissance Ocean Suites, which is family-friendly and first row to the ocean. The rooms at the Ocean Suites are bigger with a tea kitchen. The reason why we chose to stay at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino in Oranjestad rather than in a resort at the more busy Palm Beach is because of their private island (!)
Best things to do in Aruba
Renaissance Private Island
You might ask, why would you go to a private island when you are in Aruba? The answer is.. because there is a flamingo beach at the private island! I mean REAL life flamingos. So basically, the private island have two beaches; a kids-friendly iguana beach and an adults-only flamingo beach. Both beaches are beautiful and not too crowded. The boat trip to the island is also pretty nice and there is a boat every 15 minutes from the hotel dock.
Non-guests can buy access to the private island, but only if the hotel is less than 80% occupied and the ticket is about US$125 per person.
Palm beach is probably one of the most beautiful beaches that I have seen. The beach is 6 km long, where you will find big resorts like Ritz Carlton, Marriott, Hilton etc. The beach has the most beautiful turquoise water. Moreover, you will find plenty of water sport activities on the beach and you will never be too far away from a beach bar serving delicious drinks and snacks. I recommend to go to one of the restaurants on the water. They serve fresh fish and seafood at a reasonable price.
Catamaran Sailing Tour
On Palm Beach you will find many tour operators offering catamaran snorkling tours. We took one with De Palm Tours and I can definitely recommend the Palm Pleasure Snorkel adventure. The 4-hour tour is US$55 which includes snorkel gear, light lunch and open bar. We saw so many colorful fishes, a ship wreck and even a turtle while sailing. The captain and his crew created a nice vibe throughout the whole tour.
The capital city of Aruba is Oranjestad and it's located right next to the airport. The city's buildings are so colorful and you can get everything here. Close to the harbour, you will find a lot of jewelry and high-end watch shops. The Renaissance mall is also located in Oranjestad, but it's a high-end mall with brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Rolex etc. However right outside, you will find more common brands like Zara, Adidas and so on.
Aruba is very close to the equator which means that the UV-index is extremely high. I got a sun rash after a few days, so I went out looking for something that would help my rash. I found a shop called Aruba Aloe, which specialized in aloe vera products and their products are so nice! I found out that Aruba has the finest Aloe Vera due to the weather conditions. I bought a few travel sizes to try the products, and I absolutely love every single product!
Aruba’s slogan is “One Happy Island” and that's something you can really feel. Everyone was so nice and cool. The island is also one of the safest islands in the Caribbean and it's not located in the Hurricane Alley, which means that there is no bad time to visit Aruba.
Aruba is really a magical place, I truly enjoyed my vacation in Aruba.
There's so much more to experience on Aruba and so many other beaches to visit, but we were only there for 7 days so we didn't have time to do everything. I recommend to stay there for 7-10 days. It's definitely a destination that I would go back to again! It's a very vivid island and it's a mixture of tourists and locals, so not completely crowded with tourists like many other islands. Compare to many other Caribbean Islands, I found the price of accommodation to be more affordable.