The happy island in the Caribbean!
From the airport
There is no public transportation from the Airport to anywhere in the island. I would highly recommend to either cab to your hotel or your Airbnb, or rent a car. I stayed at the Renaissance Aruba. My cab ride was US$21. They accept dollars everywhere in the island.
Where to stay?
Aruba has many options to stay, and I chose to stay at the Renaissance Aruba for many reasons:
1) location, so I could easily walk everywhere for shopping, dinner, etc..
2) hotel quality: one of the hotels with the highest recommendations in the island
3) access to a private island
4) hotel points
The hotel didn't disappoint at all. Rooms were super clean, location was the best and only 5 minutes by car to the airport. Hotel has also an amazing buffet breakfast so I could eat there in the morning and leave the hotel and not worry for hours about what I was going to eat and where. Who has time for that? :)
The hotel has also a small pool, that in the evenings is quite empty... so it's perfect to just relax and grab a bite to eat at the pool bar. It was open until late hours, so I loved it because I could maximize my time outdoors.
The weather is Aruba is usually good, hurricanes never hit the island, and it's always windy, which sometimes can be dangerous, since you don't really feel the sun burning you. So don't forget your sunscreen.
A restaurant very close to the hotel with fresh fish caught everyday is Driftwood.
The food is extremely fresh, delicious and service is very friendly. They have been there for more than 30 years and it's also the favorite by many locals. I did ask around and they would always mention this place. It didn't disappoint.
After the hotel delicious breakfast (book it as part of your package), all you need to do is to go downstairs on the street level still inside your hotel and a boat will take you to the hotel's private island. The boat leaves every 15 min and runs from 7am - 6:45pm. The boat ride is a delight by itself, and after only 10 min you will arrive in this private island. On your right side is the Flamingo Beach and on your left side is the Iguana Beach. Both are absolutely stunning! The island is very comfortable with free beach chairs, towels, water floating mattresses, beautiful cabanas for rental, restaurants, Wi-Fi, and restrooms. It's very easy to spend all day here.
Yes, the Flamingo beach is where you will find about 6 flamingos who love to stay in this beach. They wander around and come close to tourists if they are giving them something to eat (you can purchase food for them for a quarter at the beach entrance). They also like a cold shower, so you won't be surprised if you want a quick shower yourself on the available shower by the beach, that you are suddenly surrounded by them.
I'd highly recommend once coming early in the day, and if you are more than one day at this hotel, to make sure to stay until the very last boat back to the hotel. Being able to experience the sunset with the flamingos is simply priceless.
Keep in mind, this island is private and only for hotel guests and your room key is needed to be able to board the boat. The hotel also offers the option to pay US$ 120 per person for a day pass. Depending on the time that you go, it might be easier and more cost effective to simply stay at the hotel.
Fun exploring beaches
The beautiful island of Aruba is relatively small island: it measures 32 km (20 mi) long from its northwestern to its southeastern end and 10 km (6 mi) across at its widest point.
Heading northwest from Oranjestad, my first stop was not even 5 minutes away at the beautiful Druif Beach. A quick stop for pictures and to admire the beautiful water colors is a must.
Next stop is the Eagle's Beach. Here you will find many hotel chains, but if you go a little further north and still at the same beach, you will find no one and will be able to enjoy the white sand and warm blue waters. It will be hard to leave this place. It's also nice to see the many water sports, especially kite surfing.
Keep heading north and you will arrive at the beautiful Tres Trapi and Boca Catalina. I enjoyed this beach for not being full of tourists but for also being a great place for snorkel. Make sure to bring your snorkeling gear!
From there I kept driving north and decided going all the way north to California Lighthouse. It's less than 5 minutes drive. One of the reasons I loved Aruba. Anywhere you want to go, the distances are never too far. This lighthouse was named for the steamship California, which was wrecked nearby on September 23, 1891. You have the option to climb the lighthouse and/or get a refreshment at the cute and colorful food truck. I'd highly recommend you to certainly get a refreshment. There are also a restaurant on the area, Faro Blanco that has great recommendations, I haven't tried the food there - but it might be an option if you get hungry and are in this side, since I didn't see many food options around there.
We also did a stop at Arashi Beach. The beach was beautiful and the nice thing is that they have already some cabanas build in, so you can get a nice shade for yourself. We got lucky to have one available by the time we got there. I believe they are extremely popular.
My next stop was then on the other side of the island, at Baby Beach, known to have baby turtles. I didn't see any. The beach is beautiful and certainly very popular. We got there pretty much for the sunset, and it was still quite busy. I'd recommend going earlier in the day, and actually start your tour from there and then head north. Because of the position of the beach in the island, the sunset was not the best and we missed seeing how beautiful the water actually is. I was swimming quite a lot - the water is super clear and flat. Who doesn't love that?!?
WIth 3 nights that I spent in the island, I didn't have enough time to explore the other side of the island: for my next time, I'm planning to see the Arikok National Park, with its natural pools and caves.