Aruba is home to powdery white-sand beaches, sparkling teal waters, world-class snorkeling, and a gorgeous desert-like landscape. Travelers come from all over the world to visit this tiny island part of the ABC Island chain, (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao). The waters are typically around 78 degrees all year long making it a perfect escape anytime for couples, friends, and solo trips! If you’re wondering what to do in Aruba, besides lay on the beach, here is your practical and romantic 1 week Aruba Itinerary!
Know Before You Get to Aruba:
Language: Aruba and its neighboring island Curacao are actually owned by the Netherlands, (a tiny country in Europe). Dutch and the native Papiamento are the official languages but English is widely spoken.
Currency: Aruban Florin: but as we were told ‘Cash is king’ and most places wanted and accepted $$ US Dollars.
Best Time To Visit Aruba: The weather is pleasant year-round and the water stays around 78 degrees Farenheight, perfect for swimming!
Closest Airport: Beatrix International
Best Hotels: Hotel Riu, Divi Golf & Beach Resort Aruba
Drinking Water: Aruba’s tap water is drinkable!!
In this guide, we’ll explore how to travel slowly in Aruba. The best part about visiting ‘One Happy Island’ is that it’s not very big. You can accomplish everything there is to see at a leisurely pace!
Day 1 Aruba Itinerary: Arrive in Aruba and Hit The Beach
When you arrive in Aruba, there is only one airport on or off the island. The Queen Beatrix International Airport is located near the central Southwestern portion of the island in Oranjestad. Oranjestad is also Aruba’s biggest city so think of it as your home base for your trip.
As we mentioned, Aruba is a very small island. To put it into perspective – our home city of Louisville, Kentucky is around 400 square miles and Aruba is only about 70 square miles. It would only take you about 45 minutes to drive the perimeter of the island!!
So when we say Oranjestad is your home base, don’t worry if your hotel is further up the coast in Madiki or Burshiri. You’re still only about 20 minutes from the airport!!
TRAVEL TIP FOR FIRST TIMERS: Once you check into your resort – do yourself a favor and unpack immediately. You’re going to want to hit the beach instantly- but you’ll most likely be exhausted after traveling all day and then soaking up a little sun!! Unpack before you head out so you can enjoy the rest of your Arubian vacation without any stress.
If we were to pick what beach to go to the first day – it would be whatever beach is closest to you.
There are plenty of incredible beaches in Aruba, including Eagle Beach, Palm Beach, Baby Beach, and Arashi Beach. Since all beaches are public in Aruba – you can enjoy the one closest to your resort without having to worry about missing out on another beach! There will be plenty of time in your Aruba Itinerary to see other beaches.
Best Hotels & Resorts in Aruba
The best hotels and all-inclusive resorts in Aruba will be the ones right on the water. (Even if you’re trying to stay on a budget!)
Some are larger in scale and some are more boutique – so here is an in-depth look at the best resorts in Aruba and their closest beaches. Most of the hotels are located along the Palm-Eagle Beach stretch in Oranjestad, with high rises in Palm Beach and low rises (boutique hotels) in Eagle Beach.
Palm Beach and Eagle Beach are almost entirely identical – so no matter where you book you’ll get to enjoy those pristine oceanfront views and swaying palm trees!
Luxury stays on Palm Beach:
- Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort – Pet friendly, free snorkel gear, and a low key experience.
- Hilton Aruba Carribean Resort & Casino – Very modern and great for families and couples.
- Hotel Riu – Although we stayed at the Renaisance – we would stay here the next time we went back! This resort is stunning and great for families and couples. It’s what we would consider picturesquely Aruba from a postcard!
Boutique Hotels Near Eagle Beach
If you’re looking to escape the touristy side of Eagle Beach, these resorts will suit you better.
- Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort Aruba – on the edge of Palm Beach (actually called Druif Beach) going towards the high rise section, you’ll find this luxe spa-focused property. Great for couples, especially if you’re looking to play golf.
- Manchebo Beach Resort – A low rise, wellness style resort good for couples looking for a low-key experience.
- The Ritz-Carlton Aruba – A 5-star experience but on the larger side. Good for families and couples.
For your first time in Aruba – we highly recommend that you pick a hotel where you can walk right out onto the beach. The island is small but you don’t want to waste any time figuring out where to go!
**Most of these resorts have chairs and cabanas available as well!
After The Beach
After spending some time on the beach and getting a few drinks – head to one of your resort’s restaurants.
The best part about staying at a resort is that you don’t have to worry about bringing your wallet and getting a ride back to your room! Everything is taken care of for you once you check-in.
Have a couple of drinks as you listen to the sounds of the ocean on your first night in paradise!!
Day 2 Aruba Itinerary: Explore the Island on a tour
Wake up early and prepare yourself for a half-day (or full-day) of exploring the island!
What to Bring With You For Day 2: Water shoes, sunscreen, a handkerchief, sunglasses, swimsuits, and towels.
When we explored Aruba, we did it by renting an ATV and doing our own self-guided exploration of the island. Regardless of whether you do a self-paced tour or a guided ATV or Jeep tour – you can expect to see gorgeous sites all over the island.
ATV Island Tour
One of the major tourist attractions of Aruba, besides their incredible snorkeling, is Arikok National Park. Covering almost 20% of the island, you’ll traverse the beautiful desert landscape full of cacti, colorful birds, and reptiles!
Remember we mentioned bringing a handkerchief? It’s because you’ll want to protect your nose and neck while on the tour. This desert landscape has a habit of kicking up dust, and while you’re zipping around rocky and sandy shores sometimes it gets a little muddy!
Other stops on your itinerary for the ATV island tour of Aruba will be the California Lighthouse, Alto Vista Chapel, and the Bushiriba Goldmill Ruins. All three of these stops would be incredible for photography lovers!!
‘Conchi’ Natural Pool
- In Arikok National Park, visitors will have the option to take their ATV all the way to this stunning volcanic rock formed pool. If you’re not going with a tour – the best way to get to Natural Pool is to approach from Daimari Beach’s dirt path. Once you get to Rancho Daimari above Damari Beach, you’ll have to follow a hiking trail for one mile. (The rugged trail is the reason most people suggest a tour guide to take you straight to the pool!!)
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- For our fellow photographers: We highly recommend having a polarized lens filter if you’re shooting in direct sun at these locations.
If you’re doing a self-guided tour of the island, add Tres Trapi Beach to your Aruba Island ATV Tour Itinerary! This stunning natural cove has steps leading down into one of the most well-preserved pools on the island. Here you’ll find starfish, sea turtles, and shimmering multi-colored fish! (You can rent or bring snorkel gear with you to take full advantage of your swim at Tres Trapi!)
Natural Bridges of Aruba
Another major attraction on the northern shore in Aruba is Natural Bridge and Baby Bridge nearby. Natural Bridge fell in 2005 but these limestone arches formed by volcanic rock are still very much a tourist hotspot with a snack bar nearby.
If it’s your first time traveling to Aruba, or you’re more comfortable with a guided tour of the island, here are a few tours we’d recommend:
Day 2 Afternoon
After you’ve enjoyed your morning of exploring, take a lunch break! Try Cafe Lola or Eduardo’s Beach Shack in Noord for refreshing smoothies and acai bowls!
Spend the rest of your day leisurely enjoying Arashi Beach near the Northern tip of the island! Arashi Beach is the local favorite known for its pristine sands. Not a piece of trash insight, you can take in a spectacular sunset here!! For dinner recommendations, try out Pinchos Bar & Grill over the ocean.
day 3 Aruba Itinerary: Shipwrecks & snorkeling
Your day three is what you may call one of your favorite days on the island. Prepare yourself for snorkeling adventures around famous shipwrecks and a dazzling array of marine life!
What To Bring For Day 3 Adventures: swimsuit, sandals, coverup
Our snorkeling tour met us at our hotel for pickup and then headed out to the catamaran. (Have you ever wanted to be on one of those big boats with nets out over the ocean? Those are catamarans!!) We were met with a lively crew that you can tell truly loves their job of helping others explore the ocean – and unlimited mixed drinks.
If you’re planning on getting some pictures that day – get our guide to GoPro Travel gear here. We loved our day and wanted a risk-free way to grab some photos. The GoPro was awesome and worked all the way down to our snorkeling depths.
There are a few main shipwrecks around Aruba. All of them are pretty awesome to snorkel – so if you’ve never done it – we say just pick a tour time that works for you instead of worrying about a specific shipwreck. Neither of us had ever snorkeled around a shipwreck before and we didn’t realize these spots would attract so much marine life!!
Shipwrecks of Aruba
- SS Antilla – The most famous of Aruba’s shipwrecks is indesputably this German World War II era cargo ship. The captain of the ship set it on fire instead of surrendering it, leaving it’s legacy today as the Ghost Ship of Aruba. With gentle currents swirling around this wreck at 55 feet below the surface, it’s a perfect wreck for divers of all ability levels!
- The Renaissance Airplanes Site – Located near Renaissance Island, there are two planes sitting at around 50-80 feet. Great for more expereinced divers, you can still explore the intereior of both intact planes!
- Jane C Wreck – This wreck is famous for those who want more of a ‘coral reef’ dive experience. Frequented by manta rays, sea turtles and barracudas – this wreck is a diverse breeding ground! Covered in coral, many marine species migrate here and it’s defintiely a less traveled wreck. If you’re looking for more of an off the beaten path expereince – this is the wreck for you!
- Aruba’s population is incredibly diverse and never more evident than when on a tour! Your guides will fire off many different languages throughout the day including Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamento. It only adds to the exotic and dreamy atmosphere of your excursion so don’t be afraid to ask for whatever you need!
Day 3 Afternoon
After you’re done snorkeling for the day, spend a relaxing afternoon on the beach before dinner.
Dinner Recommendation: Flying Fishbone – This Instagram famous spot is where you can enjoy that feet-in-the-water-dreamy scene in the fisherman town of Savaneta. Along with incredible food and drinks, the Flying Fishbone is known for honeymooners and romantic date nights. (Make sure you get reservations!)
Day 4 Aruba Itinerary: Dutch architecture, HIdden Beaches & Island Fresh Fish
Start your day by getting up early and sampling Aruban street food on your way to see downtown Oranjestad. If you have time, you can also ride the Oranjestad Streetcar. Particularly popular with the cruise ship crowd, this double-decker trolley takes you through downtown Aruba with 360 views!
This area is famous not only for its bright pastel-painted Dutch architecture but also for the delicious native foods of Aruba. While walking, you’ll see street vendors selling the best empanadas you’ll have in your life before continuing to the shops!
- Traditional Aruban Street Foods to Try: Keshi yena (a ball of cheese stuffed with spicy meats), pastechi (a fluffy melt-in-your-mouth Gouda-cheese-stuffed pastry), and pan bati (a sweet flat bread that you use to dip soups and savory dishes).
Downtown Oranjestad is where you’ll find the high-end shopping district in Renaissance Mall. Everything you could want from Prada to Louis Vuitton is available!
Day 4 Afternoon
In the afternoon, your main adventure for the day will be exploring the gorgeous Mangel Halto hidden cove. Tucked away behind fairy-tale groves, this beach is one of the most enchanting spots on the island!
Mangel Halto also offers some of the best snorkeling on the island. If you go we highly recommend taking your flippers and dive gear if you want to see a true sense of Caribbean marine life. This is a lesser-known dive spot where past the edge of the reef, people have seen even octopus and moray eels!
If you’re not into diving, Mangel Halto is also a great place to sunbathe and catch a sunset. Known for being a quiet space away from the crowds of Eagle Beach and Palm Beach, this excursion would be a great way to relax midway through your trip!
TIP: If you end up exploring Oranjestad on a Tuesday – you’ll get to see the Bonbini Aruba Festival! Meaning ‘Welcome’ in Papiamento, Bonbini is a folklore music and traditional dance festival held in the Fort Zoutman courtyard. From 6:30 to 8:30 PM every day, see this festival before or after dinner!
Day 5 Aruba Itinerary: See Aruba’s Flamingos
Aruba has long been famous for its flamingos. You’ve seen the photos of semi terrified girls, feeding these stately pink creatures surrounded by turquoise blue waters?
The truth of the matter is – while a really cool experience to get that close to wildlife, you won’t necessarily be overwhelmed with this experience. If it’s your first time in Aruba – do it and snag your pictures. If you’ve been before, you’ve seen all there is to see!!
There are two ways to visit Aruba’s flamingos:
- De Palm Island – The first and most accessible way to see the flamingos is to head to Aruba’s all-inclusive day trip island. Off the western coast, south of your home base Oranjestad – you’ll findthe De Palm Island ferries that run all day. Known for being family friendly, your half day or full day tickets include food, drinks, and many activities. (Great for parents too – you can upgrade your tickets to include private cabanas and conceirge service, and get access to the VIP Beach where the flamingos hang out!)
- Renaissance Island – It used to be possible to buy day tickets to Aruba’s Renaissance Island, but that’s not the case as of 2018 when we went. To visit this wildlife oasis, you must be guests of the hotel. (Your visit and ferry ride to the island are included in your reservation!) This is the most picturesque way to see the flamingos, and worth staying here for a few days of your trip if it’s your first time in Aruba! (See links above for the Renaissance Hotel & Casino.)
The flamingos at De Palm Island and Renaissance Island are both domesticated flocks. You’re allowed to feed them and get close enough to pose for pictures, but that’s where the similarities end.
The flamingos of De Palm Island are from Brazil and are more grey in nature. You also have to pay for VIP access to the beaches to see them, and they don’t have the same pops of pink you might be expecting. On the flip side – this flock is most likely more used to children.
The flock at Renaissance Island is full of the bright pink flamingos you’re probably most familiar with! This flock is from Chile, and it’s much easier to get photos with the flamingos here!! There are no restrictions on what part of the island you can be on once you get to Renaissance Island.
- Visiting Renaissance Island is more of an adults fare. If you have all inclusice with the hotel – you’ll be able to get drinks and some snacks but not a full meal like at De Palm Island, nor do they have childrens activities. Becuase of this – you’ll most likely only spend a few hours here.
P.S. Flamingos aren’t the only wildlife you’ll see on the beaches!! When you’re visiting Renaissance Island, be prepared to be jolted out of your chair by a giant iguana. They JUMP, have sharp claws, and aren’t afraid to crawl all over you or your stuff!! Ev even fed one… we don’t advise it… but it happened. **What happens in Aruba stays in Aruba!**
Day 5: Afternoon
When you’ve had your fill of the flamingos, make sure you spend a relaxing evening getting some dinner or taking an evening sunset cruise! After being on the beach all day – you’re sunburnt skin will feel totally refreshed by the sea spray and ocean breezes as the sun dips down below the horizon.
Dinner Recommendation: Yemanja Woodfired Grill – This is where Shelbs’ love of beef carpaccio was born. It’s basically a thinly sliced raw beef salad – sounds kind of weird but we definitely recommend trying it if it sounds good! Everything you eat here is incredible and they have dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, and vegetarian options available.
Day 6 Aruba Itinerary: Explore San Nicolas Art District
Called the art capital of the Caribbean by Forbes Magazine, San Nicolas is Aruba’s stunning art district on the Southern tip of Aruba.
After you’ve had breakfast at your resort, hail a taxi to the San Nicolas Community Museum. While you may not be up for visiting a museum, the area surrounding the museum is chockful of striking life-like murals that match the island’s colorful heritage. Home to Aruba’s Carnival celebrations, many of the murals depict local customs and their treasured wildlife, including the sea turtles this region of the island is famous for!
- Lunch Reccomendation: Charlie’s Bar, in downtown in San Nicolas, is an Aruban institution since 1941! Famous for their surf and turf, shrimp scampi and many more fresh seafood dishes – it’s an incredible place to stop and rest. One you’ve eaten, make sure to leave something behind as a token for the next travelers to see – the owners have curated pieces from all over the world!
Explore Baby Beach
In the afternoon – take your time exploring the best of Baby Beach. Far away from the tourist havens on Eagle and Palm Beaches, without a cruise ship or high rise in sight, sits this pristine local hangout.
If you have time – you can also stop and grab a photo with the I Love Aruba sign! Located on Sero Colorado, a road close to Baby Beach, you won’t make but a 2-minute detour to snap a picture here!
Baby Beach is in a large cove on the southernmost tip of the island where the waters stay warm and calm. Not only is it a great place for families – but you can wade out incredibly far on the shallow sandbars while still touching the ocean. TIP: If you want to see sea turtles – make sure you bring your snorkel gear with you!
If you feel like doing a little exploring before dinner, the Sero Colorado Lighthouse, and the Seroe Colorado natural bridge are only minutes away. Pack up and get in one last adventure before heading to dinner!
- Dinner Reccomendation: Zeerover’s – We can tell you this was one of the most authentic and amazing dining experiences we had in Aruba. Fresh fish is brought in from the island’s fisherman and you can literally pick out what cut of fish you want! It’s then fried or grilled to perfection and served to you along with your choice of beers. In a mix of locals and tourists, you’ll be able to sit and feel truly at home on the One Happy Island as you look out to the sea. TIP: Try Arubas BRouweij Nacioanl Balashi beers!
Day 7 Aruba Itinerary: Relax & Fly Out
On your last day in Aruba, spend the morning getting ready for your flight and relaxing on the beach. Most flights leave in the afternoon, (ours left around 4 PM), so you’ll have plenty of time to get to the airport.
Your resort will most likely have a breakfast buffet, so we recommend starting there and then grabbing a cabana to soak in those last few rays of Caribbean sun! Mojitos in hand wouldn’t hurt either.
Helpful Budgeting Tips
- Renting A Car: We didn’t rent a car in Aruba and there was really no need to. Taxis are readily available and if you stick out your thumb, all manor of taxis will stop. (If you’re not comfortable with this boho method, almost everywhere will call call you a taxi.) Not to mention that many of your tours willl either pick you up or meet on the main drag close to your resort. We took 6 taxis the whole time we were in Aruba, so just make sure to have your cash on hand!
- Resorts vs. Airbnbs: All inclusives may seem expensive but they really save you money! Food and alcohol is very expensive in Aruba, so if you’re looking for a beach front expereince – you’re better off buying an all inclusive resort package. (Alcohol will be your biggest budget buster!!)
- Restaurants: We ate at local restaurants and had a great time, without breaking our budget. If you ask the locals, they’ll give you a ton of great reccomendations that may not even be in our guide!
- Limit Your Shopping: We 100% support local artists and local shops while we’re traveling. It’s so important to us to stimulate the local economies and make sure our tourism dollars go where they’re most needed! When you’re on an island vacation however, sometimes it’s best to limit your spending in international chains that charge more because they’re conveniently on the island.
- Drinkable Water: Bring a refillable water bottle – you can drink the tap water in Aruba!
What To Bring With You To Aruba
Aruba is a gorgeous island – but remember that you’re in the Caribbean! The biggest thing you need to remember is that it’s very much a resort island.
You’ll want to bring beachwear, comfortable shoes, dinner outfits, and whatever you need to relax!!
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No matter what your pace or ability level is like while traveling, with our guide you’ll leave with the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation. Spend some days on the beach, half days doing excursions, and the other half finding a blissful sense of peace. All the while eating delicious food! (Shelbs learned that one of her favorite dishes in the world was beef carpaccio in Aruba!!!)
P.S. Aruba is special to us because it’s where we went for our honeymoon back in 2018. Every person we’ve ever known to go has a great experience when traveling to Aruba as well! It truly is ‘One Happy Island’!
Are you ready to start planning your honeymoon or a little romantic weekend away? Pin this post to your favorite Pinterest boards so you can come back later.
Until next time friends,