Traveling to Aruba | A 3-4 Day Getaway Itinerary

We all need some escape from our routines here and there, and sometimes, all we want is sun, sea, and sand, right? Yep, there are a lot of beach destinations – but the Caribbean is certainly a popular one – and it’s no difficult to understand why… the water, the weather, the vibes… and, from the East Coast, it is a significant short flight away. And, among all the Caribbean islands, Aruba is among the most popular ones! We were there for 4-5 days last week – it was our first time in the Caribbean, and we fell in love with the place. I don’t know if someone ever got disappointed with the Caribbean (I mean, how is that even possible?) – but, for me, it exceeded all my expectations. Of course, I would love to have stayed for more days – who wouldn’t? – but if you don’t have a lot of time and you are wondering if it’s worth visiting for a few days, don’t worry, you can still visit it and have a great time. With its gorgeous white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and perfect weather, Aruba is a dream destination, and I will share everything we did there, plus useful information!

Getting to Aruba

If you live in New York City, I have great news! There are direct flights from the Big Apple to Aruba! We traveled from JFK to Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA) with JetBlue, and I have no complaints! Our flight departed around 8 am, and the journey took approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes. We landed around 12:45 pm. As you probably noticed, it’s not a long flight. On the way back, our plane took off around 12:30 pm, and we arrived in NYC at 4:40 pm.

Weather in Aruba

Summer all year! Lol, don’t worry about it! In fact, I read that Winter and Spring are the best times to visit Aruba – but the other months are hot as well. Our tour guide explained that it barely rains there. Another thing to remember is that because of the island’s latitude, Aruba experiences constant trade winds – making it a great destination for windsurfing.

I packed bikinis, swimsuits, dresses, shorts, tops, and flip-flops. Trust me; you’re not going to need pants and jackets, even light ones. It’s really hot!

Getting around in Aruba

We decided to listen to some friends’ advice who had been to Aruba before and we decided to rent a car. It gave us more flexibility and freedom to explore the island. The rental process was pretty smooth – we made a reservation online and picked up the car at the airport. All the rental companies are located just in front of the airport.

Driving around is super easy – we didn’t experience heavy traffic. Also, we didn’t have a bad time finding spots to park. As Aruba is a significantly small island, you will not spend much time on the road. All the places we’ve been were short distances. The most distant place we’ve been was Baby Beach – which was a 40-min drive from our hotel.

We spent $196 on the rental + $29 on gas.

But what if I don’t want to rent a car?

Now that I’ve been to Aruba, I can tell that, with some planning, you have options to explore the island without a car. Depending on where you stay, you can take advantage of electric scooters and bikes to go to close beaches and restaurants. You can download the app Bird for electric scooters and use it for short rides. Bikes and scooters are everywhere in popular areas, especially near the beaches.

Aruba also has a bus service – the busses on the island belong to Arubus, the major public transportation company owned by the Government of Aruba. Aruba bus routes cover almost the entire island and stop at all hotels. Bus service is every 15 minutes from 5:45 a.m. until 6 p.m.; buses run every 40 minutes until 11:30 p.m.

You can also use taxis. Just remember that taxis in Aruba do not have meters; rates are fixed and should be checked in advance. All rates must be in Aruban florins (Afl.) as well as in US dollars (US$) – hotels and restaurants can call a taxi for you.

Last but not least, there are tons of private tours that pick you up at your hotel to explore some of the famous destinations in Aruba – I will link some of them on this post. So, it’s not impossible to visit Aruba without a car; it just requires some planning!

Where to stay in Aruba – Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort 

We stayed at Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba – a boutique resort in Eagle Beach – and I couldn’t recommend it better! This resort is located in front of the beach and features a lot of amenities, like free parking, chairs, Wi-Fi, and a pool. Besides that, I love the fact that all the rooms have a kitchenette – our room had a refrigerator, stove, coffee maker, electric kettle, mixer, toaster, and microwave, plus pans, pots, dishes, glasses, etc. We stayed at the Honeymoon suite, which also featured a gorgeous bathtub and living area. The rooms also feature TV and air conditioning.

Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba has two restaurants – Passions on the Beach, which offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and Horizons, a lounge offering drinks, small bites, and dinner. I will talk more about our experience at the restaurants later – but be aware you can dine at any of these places even if you are not staying at the resort (and trust me, you’re going to have an amazing experience!).

We had an amazing time at Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba – I love that it is a boutique resort – so you’re not going to encounter crowds – and our room was just some steps away from the beach. If you’ve done your research about Aruba, you’ve probably noticed that most of the big resorts and hotels are located in Palm Beach – so are the restaurants – but, in my experience, staying in Eagle Beach is better not only because it’s calm but also because the beach is more beautiful. Plus, you can still take advantage of the restaurants in Palm Beach cause it’s a short car ride (or you can use bikes/electric scooters).

Things to do in Aruba

I’m going to list all the activities we did in Aruba plus the restaurants and, in the end, I will share how we organized each day, ok?

Eagle Beach

Let’s start with the most important thing for anyone visiting Aruba: the beaches! And before digging into the topic, remember that all the beaches in Aruba are public! So, feel free to explore. Eagle Beach, where we stayed, consistently ranks among the world’s top beaches and has even been dubbed one of the best in the Caribbean. It’s not crowded, the turquoise waters are crystal clear, and the fact that most tours depart from Palm Beach helps to keep the relaxing vibes at Eagle Beach, with fewer crowds and calm waters. With the chairs and umbrellas provided by Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba, we didn’t feel the urge to go to other beaches in Aruba cause we had everything we needed to relax!

Baby Beach

If there’s one beach you need to visit once in Aruba, this is the one! It’s a 40-minute drive from Eagle Beach and has this name from its unique natural formation, creating a shallow lagoon-like area with gentle waves, making it safe and perfect for young children and inexperienced swimmers – in fact, it was at Baby Beach that I could swim for the first time ever in my life. Believe it or not, I didn’t know how to swim. Baby Beach deserves all the hype; it’s truly beautiful. And you can also do some snorkeling. We got there around 10 am, rented two beach chairs ($10 each), and found a spot underneath some trees. Parking was free.

We stayed there until 1 pm when we decided to have lunch at Rum Reef – one of the two restaurants at the beach. Rum Reef is famous because of it’s infinite pool with views to Baby Beach, but honestly: who needs a pool when you have those turquoise waters? We ordered the Tempura Shrimp, the Taco Salad, and the Fish Sandwich at Rum Reef. The food was ok, not unforgettable. You can check the menus on the website.

Sail + Snorkel Adventure – Aqua Champagne Brunch Cruise

In Aruba, you can either chill and relax at the beach or embark on nature adventures. We did a little bit of everything, and there are a lot of tours offering tons of activities in Aruba! If you like snorkeling, Pelican Adventures offers a lot of cruises with stops to swim and snorkeling. We took the Aqua Champagne Brunch Cruise, departing from Palm Beach. It takes 4 hours, with three stops. The ticket includes breakfast pastries, an open bar, lunch, and National Geographic snorkel equipment and life vests.

The staff is so nice and shares many interesting facts about Aruba. The stops include the famous Catalina Bay, the Caribbean’s largest underwater wreck; the Antilla, a 400-foot-long German freighter sunk during WWII; and the wonderful, shallow Malmok Reef.

But be aware: if you are not into snorkeling and you are not a great swimmer, maybe this tour is not for you. Although you have to wear life vests, the water can be rough sometimes, which is not ideal for an amateur swimmer like me – but my husband enjoyed a lot. Also, if you get seasick, make sure to take some Dramamine before – Thiago usually gets sick and he was fine with the medicine, the boat was very stable.

Aruba: Off-Road Natural Pool Safari with De Palm Tours

This was a great tour to explore the other side of the island – which is pretty different, desertic and wilder than the tourist resort area. This tour takes you to three famous spots in Aruba: the iconic California Lighthouse, the Natural Bridge and the breathtaking Natural Pool. It lasts around 4 hours, aboard an open-air vehicle.

Also, De Palm Tours offers other tours and activities – I was dying to try the UTV tours. Maybe next time!


Where to eat in Aruba

There are a lot of restaurants in Aruba – and the menus are very internationalized. To be honest, I missed spots serving authentic local food – and one of our guides actually shared that it’s difficult to find places like that.

This is one of the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba restaurants, and it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant is located at the beach, so you can dine while looking at the sea. The menu features seafood, vegetarian and vegan dishes, and also quality meats. We tried the restaurant on all occasions, and dinner was definitely our favorite! They set the tables at the beach, in front of the sea, and it’s so romantic – and gorgeous! I highly recommend making a reservation for sunset time, so you can enjoy your meal while appreciating the change of colors. It’s magical! I had the Coconut Grouper with a banana dip mayonnaise, among the best dishes I had in Aruba! The Appetizer Sampler for Two was also delicious – the watermelon salad was very refreshing.

Horizons Lounge

Also part of the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba, this spot opens daily from 4pm – so it’s a great spot for a happy hour or dinner. Besides delicious cocktails, they have a menu with delicious bites and dining options. Here, Thiago and I choose some plates to share: nachos, coconut shrimp, crabcake and shrimp flatbread. The crabcake was so so so good! I also had an Aperol Spritz, which was super refreshing.

Lola Taqueria

Located in Palm Beach, this place was a recommendation from a friend, and it was also among our favorites during this trip. As the name suggests, they are specialized in tacos – and other Mexican-inspired plates. We had the ceviche, the corn, and some tacos (shrimp, Baja fish and al pastor). For dessert, we tried the Oreo Cheesecake. The cocktails were so good! I had the Run Coco Lemonade; it was the best cocktail in Aruba! So good! Plus, the place itself is super cool! They have a promo on Tuesdays – Taco Tuesday, with tacos for $1!

Barefoot Restaurant

One of the most famous spots in Aruba, with tables at the beach and at the deck and incredible views. Unfortunately, I didn’t love the experience – we had the coconut shrimp as an appetizer and it was incredible – but our main dishes (Grouper Romana and Mahi Mahi( were just ok, as well as the dessert. The drinks were not cold enough. But the environment and the views were incredible. It was not our lucky day regarding the food – but since so many people say good things about it, maybe it’s worth it read more reviews and get better recs regarding the dishes.

Amore Mio Pizzeria Napoletana

This Italian restaurant is located near Lola Taqueria, and it is specialized in pizzas. We ordered a delicious Caprese salad, which was so refreshing, and we shared a pizza. The beer we ordered was also really good. We had a great experience, the food was good, and I would definitely get back.

Truck di Mama

You will see some food trucks in Aruba, and this one is an Eagle Beach institution, attracting locals and tourists. It features a small menu with specialties –  you can choose any meat option (steak, pork, fish, shrimp, or chicken), and it comes with sides like french fries, sweet plantain, rice, and pasta. A huge plate was $19, enough for me and Thiago to share.

The Dutch Pancakehouse

Another highly recommended place in Aruba, and it’s definitely worth it! I would recommend coming here for breakfast or brunch. As the name suggests, this place serves Dutch pancakes – which are usually larger and much thinner than the thick and fluffy American pancakes. It’s very different and so delicious. The menu features savory and sweet options, with a lot of different toppings. We had one of each, and we shared everything. Be aware they don’t take reservations – we arrived around 8:40 am on a Sunday and waited around 30 minutes for a table.

Other useful information about Aruba

  • You don’t need to exchange money in Aruba – all the prices were in US Dollars, and we had no problem using credit cards and cash.
  • Everybody speaks English.
  • Tips are expected, and the default amount is 15%.
  • If you live in the US, immigration and customs happen at the airport in Aruba. Your flight lands in the US as a domestic flight. There’s a dedicated terminal for US flights.
  • All the beaches are public.
  • If you need a gym and you are staying for over five days, consider a weekly pass at Bodyzone.
  • For most of the days, we had breakfast at the hotel – we bought some yogurt and had some fruit with coffee. We passed by this huge supermarket called CMart that looked great, didn’t have time to check.

Our day-to-day itinerary in Aruba

  • Day 1 – arrival, car pick-up, lunch at Passions on the Beach, relaxing afternoon at the beach, dinner at Barefoot.
  • Day 2 – Baby Beach, back to the hotel, relaxing time at the beach, dinner at Lola Taqueria.
  • Day 3 – Aqua Champagne Brunch Cruise, lunch at Amore Mio Pizzeria Napoletana, nap time, relaxing time at the beach, dinner at Passions at the Beach.
  • Day 4 – breakfast at Passions at the Beach, relaxing time at the beach, lunch from Truck di Mama, Off-Road Natural Pool Safari with De Palm Tours, dinner at Horizons.
  • Day 5 – checkout, breakfast at The Dutch Pancakehouse, car return, fly to NYC.

Hope you liked this post! I also pinned all the places mentioned on the map below, along with other recommendations of spots and restaurants we didn’t have time to check!

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