Marka & Jamesha Manning
How to Spend a Week in Aruba
We decided to go to Aruba to celebrate our 5th anniversary. Aruba is known for the title “One Happy Island” & we can definitely see why it holds that title.
The purpose of this blog is to provide you with a full detailed guide regarding accommodations, transportations, activities etc. Discloser: Since we share valuable travel information, naturally our content does contain affiliate links for travel products and services that we trust and use. If action is taking after clicking one of links, (making a purchasing), we will receive paid commission, which assist us with more travel content. If you’re looking for information on how to enter Aruba during the Covid-19 pandemic, please check out our Entry Process to Aruba blog.
Our first two nights we stayed at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. We decided to stay at this specific resort so we could have access to the private island that the Renaissance owns. Once we arrived at the resort, we were asked for the resort passes that we were given at the airport. If you’re staying at a resort you will need these passes at check in. This lets the resort know that your Covid test was accepted. Afterward, we checked in our room. The Renaissance is a Marriot hotel so we had a nice but basic room with Queen bed and small balcony view of the city and marina.
Private Island Me Please 🌴
Renaissance Private Island is the main reason we stayed at the resort. As mentioned before, the Renaissance resort owns the private island and there are a few ways that someone can access the island. One way to access the private island is to book a stay at the resort. The resort has two sides to the hotel. One side is adults only & one side is a family resort side. We would advise booking a two night stay because on your first night check in is not until 3pm-4pm and the island is only open from 9am-6pm. The two night stay will allow you to check in and have a full day at the private island. A second option is to purchase a day pass for $125.00. Prior to Covid, the resort only issued 5-7 passes a day. During the pandemic, they are currently issuing more passes however it is advised to book your passes a few days in advance. The last option is to book a massage at the Private island and you will have all day access to the private island. These last two options are great options for anyone who do not want to stay at the resort, however you are taking a gamble with accessing the beach. Staying at the Renaissance resort, allows you primary access to the island.
How to access the private island?
The only way to access the Renaissance private island is via water taxi. There is a water taxi
located in the resort. While we were visiting the resort were completing upgrades and the water taxi inside the resort was not available. Therefore, we were told to walk across the street from the resort to a restaurant called Lucy’s . There was a water taxi waiting there. The water taxis run every 15 minutes. There are social distancing signs for where to sit in the taxi, everyone must have on a mask to board, & hand sanitizer is provided before entering the taxi. We highly would advise to wear sunglasses & be prepared to get wet as the water taxi increases in speed.
Pro Tip: The water taxi starts running at 7am and you can board the taxi and head over to the island at 7am. Typically the workers are the only ones on the island during this time. This is the best time to go because you will not have a lot of people in your flamingo photo shot. If you wait until later to board ( 10am or later) you may risk having people in your photo.
Private island, but two beaches?
There are actually two beaches on the private island. One is the famous Flamingo beach 🦩which is an adults only beach, however between the hours of 9am-10am families can come over to Flamingo Beach. The second beach is Iguana 🦎 beach and this has many iguanas that children can feed. Both beaches have cabanas for sale, free lounge chairs & hammocks that anyone can use, & restaurants/bars.
Did you say Cabana’s for sale?
Yes, private cabana’s for sale. Personally, this was one of the highlights of our trip and this was only our second day in Aruba. There are a total of 15 cabanas on the private island, split between both beaches. We decided to book a cabana at Flamingo Beach since it’s an adults only beach after 10am. All of the cabanas are equipped with two couches and portable chairs if you would like to lay out in the sun. The cabanas also have a hammock, steps for enter into the ocean, & includes 1 bottle of champagne, multiple Voss waters, champagne glasses, fruit tray, & nuts. The cabana has its own personalized touch that displays the person who booked the cabanas last name imprinted in the sand. Each beach has one Deluxe Cabana. On Flamingo Beach, the Deluxe Cabana has a swing & at Iguana Beach the Deluxe Cabana has a slide. The price of the standard cabanas are around $370 USD and the Deluxe cabana is $425 USD. The cabanas come with a personalized butler & if you’re wanting a drink or to order food from the bar you can raise a flag that’s on the cabana and your butler will come over and take your order and bring it to you once it’s ready. You will have the cabana booked for 9am-6pm. The link to book the cabana is here.
Living like a local
On our third day of our trip we checked out of the Renaissance Island Resort. We were going to experience living like a local. We had a beautiful Airbnb booked on the other side of the island & booked a rental car through Budget.
Pro tip: When booking a rental car do not book at the airport because the airport has airport fees. Our rental car was 90 dollar cheaper by booking at the local Budget. You can also schedule for the rental car place to pick you up from your resort and bring you to the rental car center for free.
Once we received our rental car, we had scheduled a grocery pick-up for our groceries at the local Superfood Market. Due to Covid, we did not want to have to go inside the grocery store. Aruba Superfood grocery stores can be very crowded. While shopping at The Superfood market each person that enters the store has to have a cart & you have to insert a quarter in the cart to use it. The market has a security officer up front to make sure that everyone uses the sanitation machine to sanitize their hands before going inside of the store. To avoid this we decided to shop online at The Superfood pickup & schedule a pickup for our groceries. When we arrived we parked at a designated pickup spot and called a number that's on the pickup sign. A market representative brought our groceries out and placed them in the car. The grocery store has wine and liquor in it as well so you can add this to your cart. This saved us a substantial amount of time for shopping because we only needed some snacks for the Airbnb.
Once we received our groceries, we checked into our Airbnb. The Airbnb is beyond beautiful. It is a gated two bedroom home in the Saventa area of the island. The home has a pool, outside day bed, and two lounge areas. There is also a beach right in the back of the home. The beach has some rocks so it’s best to wear water shoes. This is the link to the AirBNB.
On our forth day we decided to take a day trip to San Nicholas. San Nicholas is a small city in Aruba. The city is known for its beautiful street art murals. Once arriving in San Nicholas there is a small visitor center. We went inside and was happily greeted. The representatives explained to us that due to Covid they have not received many visitors and they were so happy to have someone to talk to. We briefly learned about San Nicholas culture and was provided with a map of the city. There is a bathroom in the visitors section that is open to the public. We started our self-guided tour around the city and found so many art murals. There is a museum located in San Nicholas. The museum was closed unfortunately due to Covid-19. San Nicholas also has a public library that you can visit. In addition, there are tons of restaurants and bars to visit as well.
Since we were celebrating our 5th anniversary we decided to have a professional photoshoot. Our photographer, Demian Gibbs, was very fun and professional to work with. We were able to select 3 different locations to shoot. We selected the coves, the Aruba Aloe Vera factory, and Divi Trees at Eagle Beach.
Covid Test to Return to the United States
As many of us know on January 26th, the United States government issued a travel restriction to return to the United States if you have traveled internationally. The requirement is that you must have a negative Covid test that has to be completed within 72 hours of your return flight. Therefore, we were scheduled to leave Aruba on February 15th so we had between February 12th-14th to take our Covid test. We decided to take the test as early as we could so we could continue on with our trip. We went to the Aruba Website, to view the different places and prices to receive our test. We decided to go to Horacio Oduber Hospital : Drive-thru location. The location offers the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. You have to schedule an appointment via email. We HIGHLY suggest booking the earliest appointment possible and arriving 30 minutes before your appointment as a long drive thru line can form. Once your appointment is confirmed, download the Aruba Health App. This will be where your results are sent. Your results are also sent via email as well. The Aruba Health app allows you to have multiple users in one app.
Mangel What? Mangel Halto is a beautiful beach that is located in Pos Chiquito, Aruba. This beach was about a one minute drive from our AirBNB. Mangel Halto is a secluded beach that is perfect for snorkeling and kayaking. While exploring, we found some beautiful wooden steps that you can hang off of and step into the ocean. This is a great place for photo ops.
For our Anniversary, we decided to go do a UTV tour. Due to our Airbnb being outside of the tourist and resort area we had to drive to the tour operators location and fill out our waiver forms. The tour operations was located at Philips Animal Sanctuary. Once we were done with the forms we were told by the tour operators that we could walk around the animal sanctuary until our tour started in 30 minutes. We were provided with food to feed the animals. The sanctuary has road runners, horses, donkeys, etc. After feeding the animals , the UTV tour started. We were provided with face bananas to prevent the dirt and dust from getting on your face while driving. We highly recommend you bring sunglasses as well to prevent any dirt from getting in your eyes. During the tour we stopped at the Alto Vista Chapel. The chapel is a Catholic Church and was able to go inside and pray. The next stop was Bushiribana Ruins and the baby bridge. We were able to stop, climb the bridge, and take photos. The views are amazing. While at the Ruins, there is a food truck. The food truck also sells alcohol and has a bathroom that anyone can use for the price or $1,if you do not purchase anything at the food truck. The next stop was the Conchi Natural pool. To get to the natural pool you have to climb down a latter, and walk through the rock formations. It’s best to wear shoes with a great grip because the latter and rocks are extremely slippery due to the splashing of the tide. There is a small natural pool that you can access and we swam for 30 minutes. After swimming, the next step stop was Black Stone Beach. The beach was a private and secluded beach. We stopped here and laid out and swam for 20 minutes. Once we were finished at the beach we ended the tour by viewing the Ayo Rock Formation. We did not go inside of the Rock Formation. The tour operator let us know that the tour was ending and we had a 15 minute ride back to the animal sanctuary. Once you’re done with your tour and if you enjoyed your tour operator, be sure to leave a tip for them! We booked our tour through All Around Aruba, here.
Valentine's Day in Aruba
Valentine’s Day is the next day after our anniversary. We decided to enjoy our Valentine’s Day on a Champagne and Lunch Cruise. Our Cruise was booked through Pelican Adventures. The cruise is a duration of four hours. There is not any transportation offered to the tour, therefore you will have to drive to the pier, which is located in the Palm Beach, Aruba. There is free parking in the area, however you have to find it so I advise arriving earlier. You will then walk into the pier and you will notice Pelican adventure sign. Pelican Adventure is located right behind the Holiday Inn Beach Resort. It is best to purchase your tickets ahead of time to secure your spot on the cruise. The tickets can be purchased here. Once entering the catamaran ship, the instructors will go over some basic housekeeping and itinerary for the day. The itinerary consist of breakfast, 3 different snorkeling locations, snorkeling gear provided, lunch, & a full open bar the entire tour. The team observes Covid-19 protocols, for breakfast and lunch the food is prepackaged and passed out individually in a metal pan for everyone. This helps everyone not to reach over food and having a buffet style breakfast and lunch. The crew members are very fun and play a variety of music on the ship. This was a very fun experience and we met plenty of people.
Until Next Time Aruba ✌🏾
The process of exiting the country was fairly easy. Many of countries are now requiring that passengers download the VeriFLY App. The app is new and allows you to individually store your flight information & Covid test results. This process was developed to have a faster & contactless experience due to Covid-19. Since the app is new, it currently does not have a way to upload multiple users. Therefore, everyone in your party will need a phone to download VeriFLY. Within the app, you will select the country you are trying to return to. In this case it would be USA. The USA has four major requirements to complete.
Flight details-You will enter in all of your returning flight information and passport information into the app.
Covid-19 Test Review- You will need to upload the covid-19 test results. Currently, there is not a way to screenshot the email that Aruba sends with your results. Therefore, the day of the departure we called the drive through hospital and explained to them that we needed our test results printed. They printed them out and we picked them up prior to dropping off our rental car. Once we retrieved them we took a picture & uploaded them to the app. The results go into review and have to be approved. The approval was done within 30 minutes.
Travel Attestation-This allows you to sign and attest that you are healthy and have not had any symptoms of Covid recently.
Airport checklist- This is just a small checklist of the items you will need in the airport such as passport, negative covid test, etc.
Once we arrived to the airport. Our boarding process was quite simple because we had used VeriFLY. While waiting in line there is a representative who made sure everyone had their Covid results prior to entering the line. Once we went to check in our bags the representative asked us for either our Covid-19 test or VeriFLY. We showed her our completed mark on VeriFLY and easily breezed through the process. If you do not want to access the VefiFLY app, you can print out your results and have to fill out some paperwork which may take a little longer to board. The VeriFLY app is new and still has some glitches, however this is a great way to help easily maneuver travelers in the airport. We were not asked for our results anymore and were able to enter the main terminal to board our flight to the United States. Our Aruba trip was well worth it and definitely needed, especially during this pandemic.