Flamingos, Beaches, and Private Cabanas: Staying at the Renaissance Resort in Aruba

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In the past couple of years, pictures of pink flamingos chilling on a perfect turquoise-watered beach have been making the rounds on social media. And I'm not gonna lie: those dreamy Instagram photos definitely influenced me to consider Aruba for a vacation.

Because that beach with flamingos is called Flamingo Beach, and it's located on a private island in Aruba.

Flamingos on Renaissance Private Island in Aruba
Flamingo Beach in Aruba

When my husband Elliot and I were weighing where to go for our first wedding anniversary in early October, we decided somewhere in the Caribbean sounded nice. There was one big problem, though: October is prime hurricane season for most of the Caribbean.

So that left us with the ABC Islands to choose from, a trio of islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao) located in the far south Caribbean outside of the main hurricane belt.

Thanks to those photogenic flamingos, it's probably no surprise that we chose Aruba.

Flamingos on Renaissance Private Island in Aruba

Where to stay in Aruba

After deciding that Aruba would be our anniversary getaway destination, we then had to figure out where we wanted to stay. There are lots of all-inclusive resorts and nice hotels in Aruba (the island's economy revolves around tourism these days, after all).

But because I had read up on those Aruba flamingos, I knew there was really only one place to stay: the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino.

You see, the flamingos in Aruba live on a private island owned by the Renaissance Resort. You *can* technically get a day pass to visit the island even if you aren't staying at one of the Renaissance hotels, but this requires some luck (the hotel only sells passes when they're under 80% capacity), and an early morning (a couple we met was at the hotel at 6 a.m. to get passes).

Plus, with passes running $99 per person, you may as well just stay a night at the Renaissance and be guaranteed a free visit to the private island.

Private cabanas on Iguana Beach in Aruba
I mean, you definitely want to go here, right?

We decided to stay at the Renaissance Aruba for our whole trip, mostly because we're kind of lazy and didn't want to have to switch hotels after one or two nights. It ended up being a great idea!

Staying at Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino

The Renaissance Aruba Resort consists of two separate hotels, both located in downtown Oranjestad, a few miles south of where most of the island's high-rise hotels are on Eagle and Palm beaches.

The two hotels are the Renaissance Marina Hotel and the Renaissance Ocean Suites. They're both included under the “Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino” umbrella, but you'll want to know which one you've booked at since they're located in separate buildings.

(They're also both Marriott properties, which was an added bonus since I'm a Marriott rewards member!)

I Love Aruba sign in Oranjestad
Both Renaissance hotels are close to this fun sign in Oranjestad.

Renaissance Marina Hotel

We stayed at the Renaissance Marina Hotel, which is a contemporary, upscale hotel that is strictly adults-only. With almost 300 guest rooms, the hotel isn't small – but it didn't feel crowded when we visited. (Though I'll note that we visited in October, which is low season in Aruba!)

The Marina Hotel has on-site restaurants including L.G. Smith's Steak & Chop House and Aquarius, the latter of which has an excellent seafood buffet. There's also a Starbucks on the lower level of the hotel, and a bar called Blue next to the pool in the open-air hotel lobby.

This is also the hotel where you'll find a fitness center, as well as the Okeanos Spa. It's also connected to an upscale shopping center and the casino.

Royal Plaza Mall in Aruba
The Royal Plaza Mall is also just a short walk away.

The rooms at the Marina Hotel have undergone renovations recently and are sleek and clean, with lots of blue and white tones making them feel extra beachy. We booked an “Island Room” with a king bed, and ended up having a nice view of the city, as a well as a partial view of the marina.

Renaissance Aruba Resort Marina Hotel
Our comfy Island Room
Oranjestad, Aruba
Our view of Oranjestad

Lastly, the Marina Hotel pool is a small infinity-style pool that overlooks the marina and one of the main roads in the city. There are some sun loungers around the pool, but it's not a huge pool area. I would actually recommend going over to the Ocean Suites hotel if you want to have a pool day.

Marina Hotel pricing

Their “Resort Rooms,” which only offer views into the hotel atrium, start at $179 per night. We booked the next class up, the “Island Room,” and actually had views of both the city and the harbor; these rooms start at $197. Their “Ocean King” rooms with sea/pool views start at $245 per night. (Expect these prices to be quite a bit higher in high season, though!)

Oranjestad, Aruba Marina
The marina, as seen from our balcony

Renaissance Ocean Suites

A 5-minute walk down the street will bring you to the Renaissance Ocean Suites, the family-friendly hotel of the Renaissance Resort. Here they offer 259 one-bedroom suites, which are perfect for both couples and families.

Restaurant options here include Fresco, an outdoor dining option serving up a breakfast buffet and an Italian menu, and the Solé bar. There's also a swim-up bar in one of the hotel's pools.

Renaissance Ocean Suites pool
The swim-up bar and main pool at Ocean Suites

Rooms at Ocean Suites are larger (after all, they're suites!), but I can't personally tell you what they're like since we didn't stay at this hotel. (Reviews on TripAdvisor are pretty favorable of the Ocean Suites rooms, too, though.)

The pool area at Ocean Suites is large and very nice. There are two proper pools, plus a saltwater lagoon right on the beach. This is definitely the better of the two pool areas!

Renaissance Aruba Ocean Suites beach
The beach and lagoon at Ocean Suites

Ocean Suites pricing

The Ocean Suites rooms are a little more pricey – but that's because they're suites and are designed to fit more people. An “Island Suite” starts at $225 per night and an “Ocean Suite” starts at $259 per night. An “Ocean Front Suite” (with full ocean views) starts at $295 per night.

Renaissance Aruba all-inclusive

You *can* get an all-inclusive package at the Renaissance (which covers restaurants and bars at both hotels), but we opted to go with a special package that gave us a $50 credit each day instead. Since these hotels are so close to downtown Oranjestad, we knew we wanted to eat off-property at least a few times. (Plus, we don't drink enough to make an open bar tab worth it!)

The best part is, though, that any package you purchase is good at both the Marina Hotel and Ocean Suites. Staying at one gets you access to the other, as well, whether its swimming at the pool or charging a meal to your room. This is definitely a nice added bonus.

At the Renaissance Marina Hotel
Cool swings inside the Marina Hotel lobby

Visiting Renaissance Private Island and Flamingo Beach

Okay, okay, so now for the part that I know you're most curious about: the flamingos!

Like I mentioned above, the Aruba flamingos live on a private island owned by the Renaissance Resort. You can access this island for free if you're a guest at either the Renaissance Marina Hotel or Renaissance Ocean Suites.

Flamingo Beach in Aruba

How to get there

Free shuttle boats run from both Renaissance hotels from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, usually running at 15-minute intervals. There's one pickup for the Marina Hotel, and another for the Ocean Suites. When the tides cooperate, the boats pick up from right inside the Marina Hotel atrium, which is pretty cool.

The ride out to Renaissance Private Island takes about 10 minutes. The route takes you right past the airport, and if you're lucky you might even have a plane fly right over your head!

Renaissance Private Island

Once on the island, you have two separate beaches to choose from: Flamingo Beach to the right of the dock, and Iguana Beach to the left of the dock.

Also near the boat dock are restrooms, a small shop, and the stand where you can get free towels and rent water gear like snorkel masks, floats, paddleboards, and even kayaks.

Flamingo Beach

Flamingo Beach is the adults-only beach on Renaissance Private Island. This is where you'll find the private island spa services, a mangrove nature walk, a small beach bar, and a smattering of sun loungers in the sand. This is also where the Renaissance's 6 flamingos live.

Flamingo Beach in Aruba
Flamingo Beach
Flamingo Beach in Aruba
We named this one Kenneth (though I don't actually have any clue whether the flamingos are male or female!)

Flamingos are NOT native to Aruba, and these domesticated ones have been brought in specifically by the Renaissance Resort. (So yes, they're a bit like zoo animals, so there's the ethics of that to think about.) The flamingos have free reign on the island, though, and seem well-cared-for. They honestly don't seem super bothered by all the people, either (and, when they are, they simply squawk a bit and walk away).

If you want to feed the flamingos, there's a small flamingo food dispenser on the bridge before you reach the beach, but you'll need USD quarters to use it.

Flamingo Beach in Aruba
Feeding flamingos is pure joy

If you want the best photos of the flamingos (or especially YOU and the flamingos), I recommend going early in the morning for both the best light AND the least amount of people. Elliot and I got there before 8 a.m., and there were still a dozen other people vying for the flamingos' attention.

Pro tip: Don't chase the flamingos around. Pick a spot on the beach and just wait – the flamingos meander around (and sometimes move to get away from pushier selfie-seekers), and are bound to wander your way eventually, even if you don't have any food. All my best photos were taken when I went and stood on my own out of the way and waited for the flamingos to come to me.

Flamingo Beach in Aruba

Flamingo Beach in Aruba
If you are patient, they will come.

If you have kids and want to see the flamingos, kids are only allowed on Flamingo Beach from 9-10 a.m. every morning.

Iguana Beach

The other beach on Renaissance Private Island is Iguana Beach, the family-friendly beach. This beach is slightly bigger with more sun loungers (and slightly more shade!), as well as a waterfront lounge area where you can sit and watch planes landing and taking off at the airport.

Iguana Beach in Aruba
Iguana Beach
Plane landing in Aruba
Watching planes land was cool! (Check out the Aruba airport website for all expected arrival times)

You'll also find the new Papagoyo Bar and Grill at Iguana Beach, which serves drinks and light bites. Their wood-fired pizza is actually really good!

Oh and yes, there are iguanas all over this beach, too!

Iguanas on Renaissance Private Island in Aruba
Yes, those are 100% real.

Renaissance Private Island day passes

Like I mentioned before, you CAN get a day pass to visit Renaissance Private Island if you aren't staying at the hotel. If you're going this route, I recommend calling the hotel a day or two before you're thinking of going, to see if they have an idea of whether or not they'll be offering guest passes. They only offer 30 passes per day on days when they are below 80% occupancy.

And you can only get these passes in-person on the day you'd like to visit – so you'll want to get to hotel reception at the Marina Hotel as early as possible.

Passes are $99 per person, and include lunch on the island.

But honestly, if you want to be *guaranteed* a visit to Flamingo Beach, I would just book a room at the Renaissance Resort for at least one night. That way you don't have to stress about whether you'll get passes or not!

Renting a private cabana on Renaissance Island

Since Elliot and I were visiting Aruba for our wedding anniversary, we wanted to do something special; splurge a little bit. So we decided to book ourselves a private cabana.

Private cabanas on Flamingo Beach in Aruba
Private cabanas on Flamingo Beach

Renaissance Private Island offers a handful of private cabanas – 4 on Flamingo Beach and 5 on Iguana Beach – that can be rented out for the day. Seven of the cabanas can hold 4 people, which the other two are slightly bigger and can accommodate 6 people.

All of the cabanas come with a cooler filled with water and a bottle of sparkling wine; free towels; snorkel masks and water floats to use; a fruit plate; an over-water hammock; and butler service throughout the day so you don't have to walk to the bar to order drinks or food.

And they're all shaded and usually breezy all day long.

Private cabanas on Flamingo Beach in Aruba
And the water is amazing, too!
Private cabana on Flamingo Beach in Aruba
Inside our cabana
Private cabana hammock in Aruba
Pick up this cute travel shirt for yourself here.
Private cabana treats on Renaissance Private Island in Aruba
Cabana treats

We booked one of the smaller cabanas on Flamingo Beach, and whiled away our anniversary day by swimming, sipping bubbly, enjoying cool breezes, and watching the flamingos further down the beach.

This is the ULTIMATE way to relax on Renaissance Private Island, and I think it was worth every penny.

Renaissance Private Island in Aruba
10/10 would do again

Private cabana hammock in Aruba

(Speaking of pennies, the cabana we rented runs $200+ tax during the low season, which I think is great value. In high season, though, prices will be going up to close to $500 for some of the cabanas, which may only be worth it if you're traveling with friends and can split the cost.)

Private cabana tip

Here's an important detail: The private cabanas can ONLY be rented by Renaissance hotel guests. In order to inquire about renting one, you need to have your hotel confirmation number and then email navigator@arubarenaissance.com to see if there's availability for the day you want.

These cabanas do sell out in advance, so I recommend booking as early as you can!

Start by booking your Renaissance Aruba Resort room here.

All in all, we enjoyed our stay at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. The hotels are laid-back and clean, and the service is good. The on-site restaurants are quality (though I do recommend exploring a bit of Oranjestad for food, too!), the beds are comfy, and the pool areas at both hotels are nicely laid out and clean.

I like that the hotels offer an experience for everyone, whether you're traveling with kids, friends, or maybe on a honeymoon or anniversary trip.

And the private island is wonderful in so many ways; the flamingos alone would convince me to stay at this hotel again!

Have I (and the flamingos) convinced you? Would you stay at the Renaissance Aruba Resort?

 

Pin it for later:

Renaissance Aruba Resort review + visiting Flamingo Beach

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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18 Comments on “Flamingos, Beaches, and Private Cabanas: Staying at the Renaissance Resort in Aruba

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  1. Adding to bucket list – go to Aruba, sit on beach, feed flamingos! It does look like pure joy!

    My wife and I have been there twice in the past few years . We stayed at both Marriott hotels and it’s just like you said the marina is nice and a little more quieter due to the fact that it is an adult only Resort. They are both nice hotels and the other one does have the nicer pools.You also forgot to mention the fact of how clean Aruba is and it appears to be a very safe Island considering all their business is from tourism.I would definitely feel safe sending my wife there with a few of her girlfriends.and there isn’t anybody bothering you trying to sell your trinkets when you’re on the beach. When you are on Flamingo Island if you walk the path on the flamingo side through the mangroves all the way to the end you could hang out there and have the planes fly over you that’s a pretty neat experience also . California lighthouse also is a very nice restaurant to go on the other end of the island the unfortunate part that my wife and I had experienced about our first few days in Aruba was our luggage did not make it there with us so I had to keep canceling my reservations for the lighthouse because we did not have any dinner close with us all in all Aruba is a great place to visit it is probably one of the more costly of Islands to visit in the Caribbean our first trip was for 7 days and our second trip was for 11 days the 11 days made it really nice looking forward to our next visit there again and eating some puffertgees which would be like a dutch pancake but they are small about the size of a half dollar and are puffy and having a Balashi beer with my dinner

      Yes, Aruba is definitely a very clean and safe island – evident when walking around and when out on the water, which is so clear and clean! It’s nice to see an island where tourism has developed in a positive way. I would definitely visit again!

    Nice you came to Aruba. I live on this island and I love it here, but… I must say its not a good thing to promote that flamingos live on this island. They dont live here, they were brought to the rennaissance island like a zoo would do to their park. They cant fly because their wings are cut when they are born. Everyone thinks Aruba has flamingos now, but truth is, we dont. Its a false image that is being spread around the world now. Hope you had a wonderful stay. Regards from a local.

      Thanks for the input! I do mention in the post that flamingos are not native to Aruba, and that they were brought in specifically by the resort.

    Thanks for the great review. For the price I pay at the Marriot and Hilton I would consider staying at the renaissance for the price and flamingo beach. The private cabana looks awesome. Lisa

      It’s definitely worth it at least once, I think! And yes, the cabana was amazing!

    Thank you for your review and input on this hotel. My wife and I will be traveling there next week and I was hoping for good things now I expect them. I was concerned about the private island being taken over by people with guest passes however after reading this, you have taken that concern away. This is our first time out of the country (besides Canada, we are from Detroit) so you have eased some concerns. Now I just hope the flights and airports cooperate and we will enjoy our anniversary trip!

      Congrats on your anniversary! Both my husband and I really enjoyed our time in Aruba. The private island did not feel too crowded (but I do recommend going early in the day to have your pick of beach chairs!), and Aruba itself is a very safe and friendly island. I hope you have a great time!

        Amanda,
        Thank you for that beautiful review.
        I am an Aruban currently living in Europe and it’s nice to see people enjoying my island. I will be there this December. you should try the Aruban new years eve.
        friendly greetings

          I enjoyed your island very much – I imagine it’s a great place to celebrate the new year!

    Oh I didn’t know flamingoes are not native to Aruba. They are native to Bonaire at least, so I assumed they live on all three islands. I’ve never seen them from that close up though. I adored Curacao & Bonaire! 🙂

      And I had no clue that they actually lived on Bonaire! I guess that makes me feel a bit better about them in Aruba – at least there ARE Caribbean flamingos!

    Yes, I would go! Thanks for this great post Amanda. I’ve seen changes going on your site and I can definitely tell you are making sure that readers stay engaged and interested. Thanks and yeah, I’m jealous xD. It looks wonderful.

      Thanks, Ana! I’m trying to provide the most interesting and useful content that I can!

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