“Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take ya
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama…”
Top Things to See and Do in Aruba (and how to travel during COVID):
The first step after booking your travel dates is to schedule a COVID test up to 72 hours out from your flight departure time.
The Aruba tourism site lists the COVID tests that Aruba will accept (they are a bit particular..no at home tests..), so we went with the RT-PCR test (which has about a 24 hour turnaround time).
Once you get your results, you can complete the Aruba ED-Card requirements by uploading a copy of your negative test results, and purchasing the $15 mandatory travelers insurance (very easy to do– it’s just one of the 7 or so steps in completing the ED Card).
Example of what it will look like when filling out your ED-Card:
Be sure to either download Aruba’s health app, so that you can easily pull up your ED-Card results to show proof of negative test results, or at least screenshot the results. They will be asking to see them before boarding the plane AND once you land. They will also hand you a physical card once you land, to turn into your hotel to further confirm your negative test result, so don’t lose that.
I suggest booking your return travel COVID test with your hotel upon check in. Again, this needs to be scheduled within 72 hours of your return trip home, but you may as well get it on the calendar while checking in, before you’re having too much fun on vacay and possibly forget to do so. The U.S. COVID testing requirements are more lenient than Aruba’s… you can opt for the rapid antigen test, and receive your results within the same day. Be sure to keep an image on your phone or a print-out of your negative test result ready to show authorities.
On to the fun stuff!….
I was absolutely blown away with how gorgeous the beaches are in Aruba!! And how clean the island is!
Where to stay:
- We stayed at La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino (ignore the Casino part ha), because it is by a beautiful beach (perfect white sand, crystal clear blue water), in a great location (I mean, it’s a tiny island, so there’s not exactly a bad location..), and has a full kitchen/ living room area (and surprisingly amazing wifi that even extended to the beach!). We didn’t want to go with the all-inclusive option, and this was great for cooking our own meals and also occasionally eating on site at the resort. The grocery store is just right around the corner, and it’s large and beautiful. There are also a few restaurants across the street. Try out Terraza Italiana— a rooftop terrace with views of the beach (across the road).
- Most of the hotels have a small road between their property and the beach, but it’s easy to cross over to the beach. If you want to stay at an all-inclusive hotel that is right on the beach, take a look at Divi Aruba All Inclusive Resort. We enjoyed drinks at their beach one day, and the water was extra bright blue-green!
- If you’re looking for something a bit more fancy, try the Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort (with free access/transport to the Flamingo Island)
Before traveling, we booked a car through Sunset Car Rental for the week, and their van picked us up from the airport and took us to the rental location. Aruba is a small island, so it’s easy and fun to explore. Certain parts of the island are only accessible by a 4WD vehicle or by booking a tour. I highly recommend renting a jeep for one of the days, to explore the natural cave pool and nature reserve. The jeep rental was much more money than a standard car, and we were there for one week, so we locked in the car and were able to book the one-day jeep rental through our hotel (which also used Sunset Car Rental).
What to do:
- Swim in the newly formed Natural Cave Pool. SO GORG! We visited this on our jeep day, because we don’t like tour groups. BUT– if you aren’t comfortable driving on rugged terrain, then I’d suggest opting for the tour.
- See the historic Bushiribana gold mine ruins
- Explore the Arikok Park (a large nature reserve):
–Conchi (Natural Pool). This was pretty crowded when we went…probably always the case..
–Dos Playa Beach. We enjoyed this beach just after the official park closing time ha, so we were the only ones there.
–Dunes of Boca Prins
–Fontein Cave and Quadirikiri Cave
- Relax at the shallow Baby Beach and grab a drink at Rum Reef Cocktail Bar & Grill
- Climb to the top of the California Lighthouse
- Snorkel at Arashi Beach and Boca Catalina (apparently any snorkel boat tours take you to the same place, so don’t waste your money on a tour)
- Shop at the pretty pink Royal Plaza Mall— Aruba has some pretty ritzy shops around there!
- Swim at Divi Beach (a gorgeous beach, with extra vibrant blue-green water)
- Swim at Eagle Beach (this is actually the beach at La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino, and it’s one of the best) See top of post for pic.
- Say hi to pink flamingos at Flamingo Beach, Renaissance Island — we didn’t end up doing this, since it would have required booking a day pass to the private island. If you are a guest at the Renaissance Resort, they provide free water taxi transfers to Flamingo Beach.
Where to eat:
- Gianni’s Ristorante Italiano at Gianni’s Square
- Passions on the Beach — this is a beautiful setting, right by the water (on Eagle Beach by La Cabana Resort & Casino)
- Faro Blanco Restaurant (Great views; near the California Lighthouse)
- Try out the restaurants, bars and shops in the Noord neighborhood
And more photos, because ugh so many pretties!!