If you ever googled Aruba, you probably stumbled upon lots of flamingo pictures. This might give you the idea that flamingos roam all across the island. Wrong! The famous pink flamingos can only be found on the private island of the Aruba Renaissance hotel. Also known as Flamingo Island Aruba. In this article I will tell you – out of my own experience dating from December 2020 – what it’s like to stay at the Renaissance Aruba resort & casino. Do you just want to take a selfie with the flamingos? But are you traveling on a budget? Keep on reading, because I’ll also tell you what’s the best decision money-wise: Book a room or get a day pass.
The maps below give you a good idea of what the Renaissance Marriott Aruba looks like.
Marina Hotel & Ocean Suites
The first thing you need to know is that the Aruba Renaissance features two seperate hotels: The Aruba Renaissance Marina and the Aruba Renaissance Ocean Suites. Both sites are home to several restaurants. At the Marina Hotel you’ll find BLUE, L.G. Smith’s Steak and Chop House and Aquarius. There’s also an adult exclusive pool where you can order drinks and food, which will be served by BLUE. You’ll also find a spa, casino and mall at the Marina Hotel. At the Ocean Suites you can either grab a bite at Solé or Fresco. There’s a family friendly pool with a swim-up bar, which is part of the Solé café. Right in between the two hotels (slightly closer to the Ocean Suites) there’s the Marketplace where you’ll find even more dining options plus a few shops. The Marketplace didn’t appeal to me though.
Renaissance Island Aruba
Last but absolutely not least is Renaissance Island. It’s a private island only accessible for hotel guests and limited day pass holders.
When you enter the island you can either go left or right. Right will lead you to the famous Flamingo Beach Aruba. This area is adult exclusive. Children are only allowed between 9 and 10 am to interact with the flamingos. Of course children need to be supervised and may not harm or scare the animals. At the right side of the island you’ll also find the Nature Trails. It’s a 10 minute walk through the bushes that leads to a secluded – not very impressive – beach. During your walk you’ll encounter lots of hermit crabs which is nice, but there’s also lots of mosquitos. They’ll eat you ALIVE. So no, I wouldn’t go there if I were you. Just hang out with the flamingos! There’s also a bar called the Mangrove Bar where you can order drinks, bites and lunch. You don’t necessarily have to go to the bar to order. You can simply order from your sunchair and your order will be brought to you.
When you go left when leaving the boat, you’ll go to Iguana Beach. Don’t be fooled by the name. Iguanas roam freely all across the island, so they’re not exclusive to Iguana Beach. Iguana Beach is a family friendly beach. It’s slightly bigger than Flamingo Beach and is home to the Papagayo restaurant. You can go here for breakfast, lunch and (early) dinner. Right in between the two beaches there’s a shed where you can get towels, snorkeling gear, floaties and kayaks. At the back of this shed you’ll find the toilets and showers. The island also features a spa and a gym.
Note: The use of towels and sunbeds is FREE (read: included in the price) for hotel guests and day pass holders. The same goes for snorkeling gear, floaties and kayaks.
Renaissance Aruba Cabanas
The Renaissance Island presents an opportunity to relax in a private cabana for a day.They’re situated at both Flamingo Beach (adult only) and Iguana Beach (geared towards families). Regrettably, these cabanas are not complimentary. The Renaissance Aruba cabana rental cost is $425 for a regular cabana accommodating four people and $500 for a deluxe cabana designed for parties of six. Each cabana package includes 2 bottles of Voss still water, 2 bottles of Voss sparkling water, a bottle of sparkling wine, some refreshing food and personalized cabana butler service. The standard cabanas feature a suspended net to unwind over the water, while the deluxe ones offer an extra feature of a slide.
In order to book a cabana you must be a hotel resident. You can’t book a cabana with a day pass. We did not book a cabana,as we found them to be overly pricey and couldn’t quite grasp their purpose. Of course it would make some great Instagram pictures, but other than that I’m happy to lay on a sunbed on the beach as well. If you are interested in booking a cabana, you can visit the renaissance aruba cabana rental website.
Stay at the Marina Hotel or the Ocean Suites?
So you want to go to the Renaissance, but you’re wondering which part of the hotel suits your needs best? Well, the most important difference is the fact that the Renaissance Marina Hotel Aruba is adults only. So are you traveling with kids? Then the decision is already made for you: You’ll be staying at the Aruba Renaissance Ocean Suites. Couples and friends will most likely stay at the Marina Hotel part. You might want to opt for the Ocean Suites instead, if you’re not a big fan of contemporary design. The pool at the Ocean Suites is more playfully designed with round shapes. Plus it’s bigger ánd features a swim-up bar. If you’re staying at the Ocean Suites you’ll also have direct access to the beach. Keep in mind though, that you can use all facilities of both locations. No matter in which part you stay. This obviously doesn’t apply for children, who’re not allowed at the adult only hotel. Both sites are only a 5-10 minute walk away from each other. You can also hop on a free golf cart, which takes you to the other hotel even quicker.
In a nutshell
- The Marina Hotel is the Renaissance Aruba adults only site.
- Like contemporary design? Opt for the Marina Hotel. More into playful setups? The Ocean Suites will probably suit you better.
- No matter where you stay, you can use the facilities of both locations. (except for children).
Where to go for breakfast?
If you opt for breakfast included, you’ve got three options to go for breakfast. You can try them all or just stick to your favorite.
Are you staying at the Marina Hotel? Then your closest option is Aquarius, a buffet style restaurant. In my opinion the interior felt a bit outdated. Plus the AC was on full blast, which I didn’t like. Another reason why this place wasn’t my favorite option, is the fact that they offer no outside eating. When I’m on vacation, I like to spend as much time outside as possible. The food was good though! You can get anything you like: Pancakes, french toast, potatoes, bacon, eggs, sausages, omelettes, bagels, slices of bread, different kinds of meats and cheeses, spreads, salads, porridge, yoghurt, milk and cereals. There must be something you like!
Do you want to have breakfast oustide without having to take a boat? Fresco is the best choice. This restaurant can be found at the Ocean suites. Judging by the opinions on Tripadvisor Fresco usually offers a really great breakfast buffet. We were there during COVID-19, which probably was the reason they decided to close the buffet. Instead we got handed a menu and the waitress pointed to a ‘breakfast box’. She told us this is what we’d get as ‘breakfast included’ guests. She then started to ask questions about options that weren’t mentioned within the box. When we got our breakfast about half of what was mentioned in the box was missing. Things weren’t running smoothly to say the least. This was probably because of the COVID adjustments. I’m sure we would have really enjoyed this breakfast option during normal times. Being able to sit outside was a big plus to me!
The last – but far from least – breakfast option is Papagayo. This restaurant is situated on Renaissance Island and overlooks the Iguana Beach. We absolutely LOVED this place! We had breakfast at Papagayo almost every day. I loved the tropical styling, the incredible view, the friendly people, peaceful ambiance and of course the food. This is not a buffet style breakfast. Don’t worry though, I promise you’ll leave fully satisfied. You can choose out of 4 options. For example French Toast or Eggs, bacon and sausages. Each option comes with a fruit platter, and assortment of mini pastries, small croissants and tiny jelly jars. Plus you can drink as much coffee, tea and juice as you’d like.
How to get to the private island?
The private island can only be reached by boat. The first boat leaves at 7 am and every 15 minutes after that. The last boat leaves at 6.45 pm. Are you staying at the Marina Hotel? Then you can board inside the mall if the water level is high enough. It’s right next to the Starbucks, hard to miss. When the water level is too low a sign will tell you to go to Lucy’s Dock instead. It’s right across the hotel. You’ll just have to cross the street. During our stay the water level was constantly too low, so we always boarded at Lucy’s Dock. If you’re staying at the Ocean Suites you can also hop aboard at a dock situated at the right corner of the hotel (see map above). People who boarded at the Marina Hotel will already be on board. So if you want the best spot, I advise you to board at the Marine Hotel.
Tip: There’s a ‘wet side’ and a ‘dry side’. And believe me, the wet side can get you completely soaked. If you want to stay dry, sit on the RIGHT side on the way TO the island. On the way FROM the island, sit on the LEFT side. You’re welcome!
Buy a day pass or book a room?
Are you considering buying a renaissance island aruba day pass? Think again. One day pass for one person costs a whopping $125. One lunch and one cocktail is included, but still it’s a lot of money to enter an island. Simply booking a room might be way cheaper. I’ve come across rates of $227,- per night for a 2 persons room. Booking this room for one night will allow both of you to enter the famous Flamingo Beach Aruba for 2 days. This means one day will cost $56,75 per person. Plus you’ll get to actually stay at the Renaissance for one night. Also keep in mind that day passes are very limited. This means you’ll have to be lucky to get your hands on one. So my advice would be to check for (affordable) room availability first. Just check websites like Booking and Expedia. But also check their own website.
Should you rent a car?
It depends. The Renaissance basically offers everything you need. So you don’t NEED to leave the premises. Want to party every now and then? In that case a car is a must. The Renaissance is not a good place to party. The hotel rooms are close to the restaurants/cafes, so to avoid noise complaints the music will stop early. The private island is not a party place either, since the last boats will already leave at 6.45 pm. Palm Beach is the place to be if you like a good party. This is also a great area to grab something to eat. Good to know, parking at the Renaissance is free.
Tip: Looking for a cheap ride? Try Jay’s Car Rental. We rented from them twice and have no complaints. The cars obviously weren’t new (you get what you pay for), but reliable. They don’t ask you for a deposit and don’t desperately look for damages when you turn the car in again. It’s a super relaxed company.
What to do outside of the resort?
Having a car also allows you to do other things Here’s a few tips:
- Party at Palm Beach. I highly recommend Bugaloe!
- Go beach hopping. Try Arashi, Baby Beach and Eagle Beach.
- Snorkel at Tres Trapi, where you’ll find lots of starfish.
- Visit the natural pool at Arikok (you’ll need a jeep to go there)
- Try the famous Jolly Pirates swing and their Pirates Poison.
- Play Golf between the palms and Iguanas at The Links at Divi.
I hope this blog post answered all the questions you might have about Aruba Renaissance resort and flamingo beach. If not, feel free to drop a comment below or send me a DM via Instagram @redreidinghood. I’m happy to answer your questions!
Lots of love,