This time last month, I was packing up my stuff, getting ready to head back to Boston after another amazing mother/daughter trip. My mom and I started this thing a few years ago, where we take a trip together some time in August (towards the end of summer to savor every last moment!) and this year we decided to head to the Caribbean – our happy place.
After hearing so much about Aruba, we pretty quickly decided that that’s where we’d spend our girls’ trip this year. Once confirmed, we started researching…“things to do in Aruba”. Flamingo Beach? Ok, SOLD.
Flamingo Beach is at the top of the list of must-sees when visiting Aruba. And for good reason! It’s the only travel destination close to the U.S. that has Flamingos roaming free that you can hang with. Thing is, it’s not that easy to do.
Six beautiful Flamingos live on “Flamingo Beach,” a private island owned by the Renaissance Aruba Resort + Casino. Because it’s a private island, the only way on (and off) is via boat, driven by hotel staff. Trips to the island are free for paying guests, but non-hotel guests can purchase day passes (limited passes are available) for a cost ($125/person).
Instead of doing the whole day pass thing and risking the chance of them being sold out before we had a chance to snag one, we decided to book a room at the hotel instead (it was actually slightly cheaper than the day passes in total!). We checked in, had a drink at the hotel bar and went to bed early. The next morning, we woke up to an alarm (6:30am!😱), grabbed a coffee and boarded the boat. Next stop: Flamingo Beach!
The taxi-style boat comes right into the hotel (literally!) to pick you up. It’s sort of like what you see in Venice – with waterways built inside of buildings. A quick :20 seconds and we were cruising out of the hotel and into the harbor. From there, we were on the open water for about 8-10 minutes before arriving at the island.
As we were pulling in, the island looked so peaceful and calm – like a little oasis! We were one of the first people to arrive (around 8am). When you step off the boat, there’s a small walkway with a sign that reads “Flamingo Beach➡️” that leads onto the beach. The walkway is surrounded by lush greenery, so you can’t really see what’s beyond until you get there. The suspense!! And then…there they are. Six beautiful, majestic birds just wading in the beautiful baby blue waters of the secluded beach.
It was totally surreal! Just walking into this mini paradise with the cutest pink birds you’ll ever see. Weirdly, the Flamingos were a bit smaller than I expected. Though as you’ll see, most were taller than me when I was standing up!😄(For reference, I’m 5′.)
Because we were there early, there were only a handful of people there which made photo-taking awesome! Everyone was really great and respectful of one another as we all sat down, stood up, played in the water, laid in the water – you name it – just to get those gorgeous shots.
Was it kinda weird? Yes. Scary? Not really. Cool? Absolutely! I did watch a couple of the birds “nip” at some people when they either saw a string hanging (from a tie on a bathing suit – yikes! 😆) or something coming out of a pocket, like a piece of paper. But that’s normal, wouldn’t you say? I feel like my cats do that!
There’s Flamingo food on the island available for purchase via an old gumball-style machine. For $.25 (U.S.) you can get a small handful of food to feed the birds. We didn’t bother with the food because frankly, we didn’t need to. The birds were super friendly (see below 😆) – and, similar to cats (yes, another reference, haha!) – when they were done being nice, they simply walked away. They’d eventually mosey on back, but on their time.
The island itself also had a lunch spot, a bar, a couple hammocks and private cabanas that you could rent out. But because it’s a small island and secluded (in that, there’s nothing around it), unless you’re really looking for a relaxing, quiet, don’t-bother-me type of experience, spending money on a cabana isn’t necessary. There are plenty of lounge chairs and palapas (bamboo, straw-like umbrellas) lining the beach and along the sides as well.
Overall, an unforgettable experience for sure. It’s one of those moments that you know you’ll probably never experience again, or if you do, while it’ll be special, your first time will always be cherished more than anything. One of my favorite things about checking this off my bucket list though, was experiencing it with my mom. She, by the way, is the photographer for all the shots that you see me in, haha! (thanks, mama!!😘). But really, being with her while experiencing this first was magical. ✨I’m so thankful.
If you’re planning on visiting Flamingo Beach in Aruba (which, I highly recommend!), here are a few quick tips to ensure the best possible experience.
- Book a room for one night, not your entire vacation. The Renaissance is beautiful don’t get me wrong, but it’s located “downtown” and not really near a beach. Granted, the island is the beach, but you can’t just walk to it! You have to rely on the boat (which leaves every 15 minutes or so) to take you there. And once you’re there, you’re there! No walking around to explore other areas, etc. Book a place up north a bit in Palm Beach – where the resorts are. There’s much more of an island vibe up there with tons of beaches, shops, restaurants, etc. But book one night at the Renaissance to ensure your ticket to the island is confirmed.
- Arrive early! If you’re able to get up and around to catch the first boat around 7:30am – do it! After a few hours on the beach, we ended up heading out early so that we could grab lunch and go back to our other hotel for the day, and that was around 11am. At that time, the beach was getting pretty crowded with people trying to snap pics of the Flamingos. We would have never gotten the shots that we did had we waited to go.
- Make sure your phone/camera is fully charged. May seem like a no brainer, but the beauty of these birds (and the island itself!) is unparalleled. Without even knowing it, you’ll take dozens and dozens of photos and videos because you just want to capture it all, so make sure your battery is FULL! I probably ended up deleting 50+ photos, and have another 20-30 more beyond the ones above – I couldn’t get enough! And you won’t either. I promise you that.
Safe and happy travels! 🛫