Best of Aruba: Your 6-Day Itinerary for a Memorable Experience
Hey travel lovers! I’m back from six glorious full days in seriously sunny Aruba, and can’t wait to share all of the details with you. Having just visited Mexico and the Bahamas earlier this year, I wondered if this destination would be all that different.
The short answer? Yes, it would be. In fact, it was better!
For starters, the area’s well-built infrastructure and the strong economy made a big difference in our overall experience. We felt very safe and comfortable everywhere we went in our rental car. The ocean was an even more spectacular shade of blue than in the Bahamas and, overall, more conducive to swimming throughout the island.
Not to mention, Aruba is considered one of the most temperate climates in the Caribbean, and I could totally understand why. The easterly winds made for absolutely perfect weather without the humidity. I will warn, however, there were an awful lot of sunburns. I chalk that up to all of us getting on our swimsuits after a long, cold winter and the proximity to the equator.
So, all that to say, just how exactly did my family and I spend our days in paradise? Sit back and relax as you read through our itinerary!
For starters, we left at the crack of dawn on Easter Sunday out of Washington Dulles International Airport. This just came down to cost. By leaving on the holiday and out of a major hub, we saved as much as $300 per ticket and enjoyed a relatively painless four-hour non-stop flight.
We were in Aruba shortly after lunchtime, breezed through the tiny airport, and hopped in our not-so-luxurious rental car in no time. I recommend researching street signs before jumping behind the wheel. And, be prepared for a lot of roundabouts and the occasional goat crossing. Otherwise, driving around the 20-mile-long island was fairly straightforward.
We checked in at Renaissance Ocean Suites for our first three nights. This resort is right in the heart of Aruba’s capital—Oranjestad—and close to shopping, dining, casinos, the marina, and nightlife.
We chose this resort because it’s also home to the privately-owned Flamingo Island where you can—get this—feed and take selfies with flamingos! If you aren’t staying at the resort, you can take your chances on possible day passes. But, I didn’t want to gamble on missing this bucket list hotspot.
We then spent the rest of the day getting settled in and relaxing poolside. There were good onsite dining options, which made logistics super easy. We just ordered food and fruity drinks poolside so our daughter could keep playing the day away with her newfound friends.
Dinner was super easy, too. There’s a marketplace a few feet from the front of the resort with several great restaurants (and a Starbucks—how could you go wrong?). We ate at Casa Tua, which had live music. Mallory loved dancing in front of the stage while we took our time finishing up dinner.
We got up first thing to see the flamingos! We wanted to be on the first boat over to the private island at 7:30 am to avoid crowds and grab some epic photos. Kids are also only allowed to explore this area from 9-10 am daily.
The 20-minute boat ride was an event in and of itself—driving right into the lobby of the other Renaissance tower to pick up the other guests! Once we arrived, we were quickly relieved we had brought over everything we needed to spend the day at the beach.
It was stunning, and truly one of the most peaceful, beautiful beach settings I’ve ever seen. Best of all, the family beach is perfect for kids! There’s also a really great restaurant on the island with fresh craft cocktails (my favorite!) and oceanfront views.
Flamingos or not, this beach (and the drinks) made it worth the stay alone. And, you better believe I didn’t waste any time renting a $6 float and making myself at home.
Tripbound Tip: The flamingos are absolutely beautiful. But, the number of people crowded around taking photos kills a little bit of the magic. For that reason, just come early and remember to bring change for flamingo feed (a la gumball machine).
This was the day I was both excited for and dreading the most—horseback riding! I knew my daughter would love this, and that it would be a memory etched in our minds forever. But, I was also keenly aware that this could be dangerous, and I’m a helicopter parent (#sorrynotsorry!).
Nonetheless, we were out and about first-thing, and on our way over to the other side of the island to The Gold Mine Ranch. Well, after we ate pancakes covered in Nutella at The Dutch Pancake House that is.
The horseback riding experience was at an authentic ranch, and offered a trail ride! So, you can only imagine there were lots of cool, historical and natural stops along the way.
All in all, it was equal parts terrifying and wonderful. Of course, not terrifying for my daughter who was completely fearless and rode through the ocean like a champ while I practiced “not showing my fear” to my surely-suspecting horse.
And, we spent the remainder of day three drinking victory cocktails and calming my nerves.
Day four = wrapping up our stay at Renaissance Ocean Suites. We were sad to leave because it really was a great little resort—not too big, not too small, a beautiful setting, and everything was really convenient. On the other hand, the food and drinks in Aruba can get pricey, and I was ready to get to the all-inclusive resort. Finally, some end to the vacation spending!
We chose Hotel Riu Palace Aruba for the last few nights of our stay for the price and reviews. And, again, because it was all inclusive! It seemed as if it would provide the best bang for our buck.
So, after a super friendly and smooth check-in process, it exceeded my expectations. Don’t get me wrong. The lobby is covered in hot pink and zebra print straight out of the 1980s. But, the resort quality, service, and food were all really good for the price.
We spent the day getting settled and headed over to the Butterfly Farm (within walking distance) to check out this top-ranked attraction. It does a nice job trying to add value for the $15 per adult / $6 per kid ticket price with guided tours and the ability to come back again anytime during your stay.
We’d intended to go back for the 6:45 am daily tour when more than 100 butterflies are born and fly into the air at the same time. But, let’s be real. 6:45 AM on vacation, y’all. That’s less than ideal.
Ah… day five. Plans involved nothing but a trip to the spa. This is my kind of day, friends! We even slept in until 8:30 am. That’s a big deal for us. We usually wake up early on vacation. That’s mainly because all three of us feel like every day is Christmas morning, so we wake up with the sun. Not on day five, however.
We mosied over to the enormous breakfast buffet to carb load, put on our swimsuits, and then plant ourselves at the pool.
Our daughter never stays planted anywhere, so she led the resort’s in-water aerobics (true story), popped in for arts and crafts at the kids club, and played soccer with the activities team in between swimming at the pool.
We were all falling in love with the resort by dinnertime, and head over heels as we watched our 8-year-old perform on the stage in her very first kids’ fashion show as part of the evening’s entertainment.
Hotel Riu Aruba is located on Palm Beach, which is a mecca of watersports. There’s tubing, jet skiing, parasailing, sunset cruises, and even stand up paddleboarding everywhere. So, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try jet skiing as a family. Besides, my husband had met someone by the pool who said the jet skis were super fast and that you could ride them in a big wide open area, so he was sold.
Needless to say, we lasted seven terrifying minutes going four miles an hour before my daughter and I called it quits. And, after dropping us off safely on shore, my husband did get to have a thrilling good time, which, of course, made it all worth it.
That afternoon, we walked across the street to the market area for some local culture and souvenirs for our goldfish sitter. But, my absolute favorite part of this day was just hanging on the beach at sunset—taking family pictures, drinking pina coladas, being grateful, and reflecting on a truly great vacation before heading home the next morning.
I also made a secret promise to myself (and Aruba) that I would be back soon. That’s a promise I plan on keeping.
Did I leave you feeling inspired to book a family getaway to Aruba? It’s not difficult to fall in love with this destination, which gives you a taste of the Caribbean and leaves you wanting more. Give your travel BFFs at Tripbound a call today at 1-888-816-5214. We’d love to match you with the perfect, stress-free vacation.
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