Hey friends! I just got back from the best anniversary trip to Aruba and as promised, I am going to be doing a travel guide for you guys! Joey and I took a trip for our 1 year wedding anniversary and it was amazing! I’m glad to be home because I am the ultimate homebody BUT it was a beautiful place to visit. We had a lot of fun and did some once in a lifetime things that I can’t wait to share with you! I’m going to break down where to stay, eat, and what we did while we were in Aruba. Let’s get started!
Let me tell you a little about Aruba before we jump in. It is located off the coast of Venezuela. The two native languages are Dutch and Papiamento but most people speak English and Spanish. You don’t need to bother exchanging currency before you go because the U.S. Dollar is widely accepted. You will, however, get change back in the local currency, the Aruban Florin. Aruba didn’t seem to have much of their own kind of food. It all seemed to be influenced from other parts of the world. The weather seems to always be about the same. It had a pretty consistent temperature around 82 and there was ALWAYS a breeze so it made it feel not as hot. Aruba is probably one of the most humid places I’ve ever been which was very surprising to me. Anytime I wanted to do my hair, I straightened it because it behaved way better than when I tried to curl it. It is VERY easy to get sunburned there so lather that sunscreen on. I stayed in the shade pretty much the whole time I was there.
This had to be the EASIEST international travel day I have ever had. Our flight was at 6 am and it’s good to be at the airport 2 hours prior to your flight so you can check your bags, go through security, and get to your gate without having to rush. My father-in-law picked us up at 3 am for the airport and the Philly airport is about 40 minutes away. After a little waiting, we checked our bags, breezed through security…but not without Joey having to be patted down and his bag put through again (he forgot his Kindle was in his carry-on). We finally made it to our gate as the sun was coming up. Right before we started boarding who walks over to our gate but Carson Kressley! He is from the original Queer Eye. I leaned over to Joey and told him I thought it was him and he totally agreed. So that was pretty cool to have a celeb on our flight. We had a layover in Atlanta and we actually met up with one of Joey’s friends there who was traveling that day! Then it was 3.5 hours to Aruba! Once in Aruba, it was time for the dreaded customs. Surprisingly, it only took about 10 minutes because they had automated booths that checked your passport. We grabbed our baggage and quickly caught a cab to our resort.
If you’re traveling to Aruba, I highly recommend NOT arranging transport from the airport because it’s definitely unnecessary. We went directly to the taxi stand and only had to wait maybe 10 minutes before we were off to the resort. Also the taxis are very regulated in Aruba so they’re not allowed to overcharge you. It was only a 10 minute ride to our resort from the airport!
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino. We really enjoyed our hotel and we even got our room upgraded while we were there! The main reason we stayed at this resort is because of a little perk that I’ll talk about a little bit later. Our resort was split up into 2 hotels. We stayed at the adults only hotel which was amazing. There is another hotel that is part of the resort that is family friendly and has 2 pools as well as a little beach. That hotel is located across the street and next to the Renaissance Marketplace. I’ll get into the marketplace a little later. Our hotel had a very chill vibe that was super fun. Music was always playing in the lobby/bar area. The hotel was attached to a mall full of luxury shopping including Chopard, Cartier, and Gucci. There was even a Starbucks right downstairs!
We stayed in the Executive Suite which was very nice and we had lots of room to spread out. Our suite overlooked the pool and the Caribbean! The hotel had an open air feel and the lobby had no doors. It was all open to the environment which was so cool! Music was always playing at the pool and the bar was located right beside it. Joey and I worked out a few days while we were there and the gym was a pretty decent size with lots of weight and cardio machines as well as free weights. Everything was great and the people were very nice. If you’re looking for a getaway with your sweetheart, I definitely recommend staying at the adults only hotel.
Where to Eat
This was such a fun part of Aruba. Just a little warning, food in Aruba is pretty pricey because almost everything is imported. Aruba is a desert so a lot of things are imported. I feel like Aruba is very much a melting pot. The food we had there was very mixed. We tried to go to as many of the restaurants as possible. The Renaissance Marketplace is a little shopping area that is between the two hotels in the resort. It has little shops, restaurants, and a movie theater. We ate in the marketplace almost every night. We only ate at our hotel for breakfast (which was included) and our last night at the hotel restaurant, Aquarius. Our favorite restaurant we went to was actually in downtown Aruba. We went to Yemanja for our anniversary dinner. It was definitely a little pricier but so worth it! They had lots of vegan and vegetarian options which was perfect for me and they also had options with meat for Joey. They even brought out a dessert with a firecracker for our anniversary!
We also really liked an Italian restaurant in the marketplace called Casa Tua. We ate there twice during our stay. I think one of my favorite restaurants in the marketplace was called Cuba’s Cookin’. The atmosphere was very fun and they had live music! I also had THE BEST mojito I’ve ever had there. I did have a little bit of a hard time finding vegetarian options in Aruba. I recently decided to reduce the amount of meat in my diet because my dietitian told me it could help my anxiety. So I was trying my very hardest to stick to that because traveling makes me VERY anxious. I found that a lot of the restaurants had a lot of deep fried foods and meat based meals and not a lot of veggie dishes. If that was the case, I usually resorted to a salad. Joey and I also went to the Dutch Pancake House one day for lunch which was super fun! We tried dutch maple syrup and it tasted like molasses! There is a lot of Dutch influence because Aruba used to be a Dutch colony. Overall, we really liked our meals in Aruba.
What to Do
There are a lot of places to visit in Aruba like different beaches, the California Lighthouse, and Renaissance Island. We chose not to visit any other beaches other than the ones included in our resort because they would have been a taxi ride and we didn’t really want to venture out too much. You can also go through De Palm Tours and go on some cool tours throughout the island. We chose to go on a submarine tour! It was so cool! We got to go 132 feet below the surface of the Caribbean Sea and we even touched down on the bottom. Our tour guide told us that if we were in the submarine with our sweetheart when we touched the bottom, we would be together forever. I guess Joey is stuck with me 🙂 We got to see a few shipwrecks as well as a lot of tropical fish! We became part of the 1% of the world population that has gone down in a submarine! How cool!
We picked out hotel mainly because it owns a private island that is home to flamingos! The island is called Renaissance Island and is split up into flamingo beach where flamingos roam around and Iguana beach where Iguanas are welcome. There is a restaurant on Iguana Beach that we ate at one day and loved called Papagayo Beach Bar and Grill.
Renaissance Island was just a short boat ride away from our hotel. The boat came through a little canal into the hotel and picked us up! So cool! They actually started digging up the dock inside the hotel while we were there but we don’t know why. Renaissance Island is only open to guests of the Renaissance resort but they do sell day passes to visitors. They do cost $100 per pass and they only sell about 30 of them per day so it’s best to get there early in the morning if you want to get one. We spent most of our time on Flamingo Beach. It was amazing to see such a rare bird in real life! They do get aggressive if they’re agitated so I tried to be very calm and keep a good distance. It was so funny to see how they sleep too! At one point, they all came up in between the chairs and took a little nap by tucking their head into their feathers and standing on one leg! Doesn’t seem too comfy to me haha They even had little dispensers of food you could get for 25 cents and feed them! It was such a cool experience and one of my favorites from the trip!
We also saw a movie while in Aruba. One night we didn’t have anything to do so we decided to see Aladdin at the movie theater in the Renaissance Marketplace. To be quite honest, we didn’t know if the movie was going to be in Spanish or not but it was going to be an experience either way. The tickets were actually only $8.50 which is a steal in the U.S. The movie ended up being in English with Spanish subtitles. It was so cool to see a movie in another country and see what they do! Oh, and the movie was fantastic! We loved it! I’m hoping to go see it again!
Aruba was such a cool place and we really enjoyed every minute of it. By the end though, I was very ready to come home and get back to my routine. I’m such a homebody. I recommend Aruba to anyone who is looking for a relaxing vacation where everyone is so happy! It is “One Happy Island” after all 🙂