Here is a simple, fun, 4 day Aruba itinerary perfect for a getaway when you really need to relax and recharge.
We just got back from a fun, relaxing getaway in Aruba. It was our first time visiting the island but I think every person we met there has been coming regularly for awhile. It is a place you fall in love with and commit to coming back over and over again, year after year.
We had a friend getting married at the end of our trip so we booked our tickets without knowing much about the island. We spent our time really relaxing, eating delicious food, and adding in a few fun water activities. I was 6 months pregnant at the time and our dear friends joined us for the trip.
Here are the details and recommendations from our trip to Aruba:
4 Days in Aruba: Itinerary and Tips
Where we stayed: Aruba Marriot and Stellaris Casino
We liked our hotel. Highlights were the pools, the beach huts with food and beverage service, and the beach. There were good food options at the hotel and next door at the Ritz. We had gelato from the lobby at least three times. We enjoyed the spa.
The rooms were fine but nothing spectacular. We booked a king room and upon arrival they put us in a room with two queens because there were no king bed available. Our first room also smelled very musty and so after one night we switched to a cleaner double queen room. The beds were comfortable and everything was clean (with the exception of the smell of that first room).
When we travelled to Aruba: Early May
Why visit Aruba:
- Outside the hurricane belt (great, consistent weather all the time with very low chance of rainfall all year)
- Constant breeze (thanks to cool trade winds)
- Relatively very safe island
- Strong tourism industry (you can use US dollars and get around with English)
- Cool sand (thanks to a fine unique crushed coral and shell composition – the powdery white sand keep beaches cool so you can always walk on the sand barefoot even in the middle of the day).
Day 1 // Wednesday:
- Lunch at the hotel and a short nap to recover from the redeye
- Unwind by the beach
- Fly boarding at the beach
- Dinner at Ruths Chris
We got to the island around 11:30 am after a red eye from LA to Panama and a quick flight from Panama City to Aruba. It was easy to get a cab from the airport to our hotel. The cab drivers spoke English (and told us that by middle school most people on Aruba can speak 4 languages including English, Dutch, and Spanish). The taxi rates in Aruba are set by the government so you can look up exactly what your fare will be (adding in $2 for extra pieces of luggage). Our taxi driver was friendly and knowledgeable and I loved getting a little tour of the downtown and history of the island during the 20ish minute drive.
We dropped our stuff off in our room and headed straight to lunch at La Vista, right next to the pool. We started with calamari (subpar but the sauce was delicious). I ordered the salmon and Ben had the snapper. This was our least favorite meal of the trip (maybe items on the menu besides the seafood were better?). After this we stuck to the poolside menu when we ate at the hotel and everything we ordered off that menu was delicious.
Our friends joined us at the beach that afternoon and the boys tried their hand at fly boarding ($150 for half an hour right on the beach in front of the hotel). It took a second to get a hang of but Ben loved it (and it was really fun to watch). You can also rent paddle boards and set up other excursions right from the beach (although Marriott recommend booking things directly from the tour desk inside the hotel).
We cleaned up for dinner at Ruth’s Chris (inside the Aruba Marriott) which was delicious (the calamari was excellent). Afterwards we played cards inside the hotel before heading to bed.
Day 2 // Thursday:
- Breakfast at the Ritz next door
- Rented a hut on the beach
- Lunch from poolside/cabana service
- Dinner at Atardi during sunset (we had a 6:45 reservation which was perfect)
We started off Thursday with a delicious breakfast at the Ritz next door. The buffet is fantastic and I really liked the omelette I ordered. The avocado toast is great, too.
We rented two thatched huts/cabanas on the beach back at the Aruba Marriott for the day (you can reserve them the day before if you want the best spots). Be sure to order the battered shrimp lettuce wraps. They were fantastic.
We walked over to the spa (which is actually located in the Marriott ocean club next door) for a relaxing afternoon of massages and facials. There are a million massage options but I can only speak to the prenatal massage (which was good).
One of the highlights of our trip was dinner at Atardi during sunset. We made reservations before getting to Aruba and had dinner barefoot in the sand during sunset. The burrata appetizer was our favorite and the macadamian crusted grouper (which was a HUGE portion). If you do one thing from our itinerary, let it be this. The food was great but it is the view and setting that really make this dinner. I was glad I had a light sweater for the breezy evening once the sun set.
Day 3 // Friday
- Breakfast smoothies + bowls from the hotel
- Adult pool for the morning
- Lunch poolside: Order the coconut shrimp lettuce wraps
- Snorkel excursion
- Dinner at steak house at the Ritz
Smoothies and bowls from the lobby are not worth writing home about but we enjoyed our light lunch poolside at the adult pool. The cabanas were sold out for our entire trip (book these early if you want one) and the chairs were first come, first serve. Our friend was up at 7 am and went down to the pool to put towels on chairs for the four of us for the morning. We swam, lounged, and ate (fish tacos, fried chicken sandwich, and more shrimp lettuce wraps).
Friday afternoon we booked a last minute afternoon snorkel excursion on a whim. A tour bus picked us up and drove us to De Palm Pier where we boarded a catamaran with 50 other people. I was a little hesitant (a little crowded on board when everyone sat below deck getting instructions, the promise of unlimited free booze, and some choppy water when we got to our first snorkeling spot) but it turned out to be a really fun experience. Once we were at our first destination people spread out all over the catamaran and it didn’t feel crowded. We had one deeper sea destination where we saw a shipwreck, a sea turtle, and some fish. Our second destination was right along the shore in much calmer water and we saw so many fish.
We had dinner at BLT Steak during sunset (wish we would have sat outside) at the Ritz when we got back. The burrata was great as was my salmon (and everyone else loved their steak). If you need a delicious dinner option, this was our tastiest meal (but I’d still recommend Atardi as my #1 pick because of the experience of eating in the sand at sunset).
Day 4 // Saturday:
- Breakfast at Dutch Pancake House
- Cabana on the beach
- Afternoon (ATV island tour or naps in the room)
We started off our last full day with a quick taxi ride to Willam’s Dutch Pancake House for a decadent breakfast. We shared an omelette and then each ordered our own Dutch pancake. I had nutella, walnuts, and toasted coconut on mine (highly recommend getting the toasted coconut on anything). Ben had some mixture of berries (with a side of cinnamon ice cream) and everything was delicious.
After breakfast we strolled around a little bit, bought some souvenirs for the kids, and then took a taxi back to the hotel.
We spent the rest of the morning of relaxing and swimming at the beach and enjoying another order of shrimp lettuce wraps.
Our friends left for an afternoon tour of the island in off-road vehicles (which they highly recommend). You get to see the whole island (some ruins, a great natural pool, beaches, and more) and drive your own vehicle. It is extremely bumpy (so at 6 months pregnant, I didn’t join) and you get caked in sand. We’ll put this on our list if we’re ever back in Aruba.
After an afternoon nap and a workout (for me and Ben, respectively), we took a taxi over to the Aruba Hilton for the sunset ceremony. Could there be a more beautiful place for a wedding? I’m not sure there could be. Now i’m just trying to convince my one unmarried sibling to have a destination wedding on this beautiful island.
Day 5 // Sunday:
- Brunch back at the Ritz
- Pack up for the airport
For our final breakfast we were back at the Ritz before a long day of traveling back to California. The locals warned us that travel lines at the airport are much longer on Saturdays and Sundays (they were right) so we gave ourselves a little extra time at the airport.
For Aruba we mainly lived in swim suits and loose, breezy clothes for evening dinners. If you plan on exercising (I did and then never wore a single athletic item I packed), add those to your suitcase, too.
- Swimsuits (things take at least a full day to dry to I brought one suit for each day)
- A light sweater (for evening dinners on the beach, eating inside air-conditioned restaurants and eating gelato inside the hotel at night)
- Sandals (casual and a nicer pair for dinner – skip the pumps for this trip)
Have you been to Aruba? Planning a trip? What else you would add to this itinerary?