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Darren and I recently had the opportunity to spend a relaxing four days in Aruba. We didn’t explore much while we were there, but have a few notes on our stay that may be of use for those of you contemplating a trip there.

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Getting There: Southwest just began operating direct flights from Baltimore earlier this summer. Using my Southwest Companion Pass, I was able to book flights for both D and myself for 24,000 points + tax. Note that you pay tax for both individuals flying, even if you are using a Companion Pass.

On the island, taxi fare is calculated between districts. From the airport to downtown, where we stayed, the cost is $18. Or you can take the public bus for $2. In the interest of time, we opted for the taxi. All cab drivers (and everyone on the island) speak English, so no worries about any language barriers.

Stay: We were able to stay at the Renaissance Aruba in downtown Oranjestad using D’s Marriott associate rate. The ¬†resort was recently updated on the Marina side (it features two buildings: the Ocean Suites and the Marina Tower) and rooms were relatively spacious, clean, and modern. There are two pools (one for families, one for adults only) and a blocked in lagoon area on the beach, but the real hidden gem of the Renaissance, is the private island located 10 minutes away. The resort operates boat shuttles that run every 15 minutes to the island.

Renaissance Island: We spent the majority of our stay on Renaissance island, soaking in the sun. The island has two beaches: Flamingo Beach (adults only) and Iguana Beach (families). True to their names, the beaches are home to a flock of flamingos and iguanas, both who made their presence known at varying points throughout the day. The beaches are blocked in with rocks, which eliminate any waves. You can rent a floatie for $5 and drift around the beach without fear of floating out to sea. A restaurant and bar are also available on the island.

Eat:¬†We didn’t venture far from downtown Oranjestad, but here are a handful of places to try if you’re in the area:

  • Dutch Pancake House– Savory and sweet crepes, along with poffertjes- silver dollar sized pancakes.
  • Barefoot Aruba– 1 km from the Renaissance. Dining on the beach with a great sunset view. Expensive mediocre food, but still worth it for the view. Restaurant is owned by the Ritz Carlton, so expect top notch service.
  • Cilo City Lounge– Tapas and small plates on Thursday. Try the fried brie. Ahhhmazing.

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