When we went: July 2019
Where we stayed: Renaissance Marriott Ocean Suites and Marina
How long we stayed: 4 nights
We recently visited Aruba for a 10-year anniversary trip. It was a rare trip WITHOUT our children. Aruba seemed like the perfect place because it was somewhere relaxing, affordable, and easy to get to. One of the biggest draws about Aruba, and the Renaissance Marriott specifically, is their private island. It is the only private beach in Aruba. Renaissance Island has so many amenities you can easily go there and comfortably spend your whole day. Here is everything you can expect on a visit to Renaissance Island:
To get to the island you take a motor boat shuttle, which takes about 5 minutes. You can see the island from the hotel (and from the airport, incidentally). It’s very fast and convenient. I thought I would find this process tiresome, but it was really not an issue at all. I never had to wait more than a few minutes for a shuttle to come.
Renaissance Island is divided into two beach areas: Flamingo Beach (where you can literally swim with Flamingos) and Iguana Beach, which is also aptly named for iguanas who enjoy daily feedings on the boardwalk. Flamingo Beach is adults only, and Iguana Beach is a family beach, and is also where you’ll find most of the island’s amenities.
The beaches themselves are great. They’re both sheltered from the open ocean and waves by barrier walls, so the water is calm and fairly shallow. On the beach there are plenty of lounge chairs and hammocks that are free for anyone to claim and use.
Mangrove Beach Bar
Flamingo Beach has a walk-up beach bar, with a menu of many tropical drinks, plus some appetizers and small plates. If you’re hungry, Papagoyo Bar and Grill on Iguana Beach is a better bet, but if all you want is a drink the Mangrove Beach Bar has you covered without needing to walk all the way over to the restaurant.
Flamingo beach also has, well, flamingos! The Flamingos are only located on the adults-only beach, but kids are allowed on the beach 9am-10am. This is one of the big draws of the island, and you can read all about swimming with them here. The flamingos are definitely the most unique part of the island.
Both islands have a set of cabanas that can be rented for the day. The cabanas include bottled water, champagne, chairs and hammocks, food, towels, snorkeling masks, and personal butler service.
There are free towels available on the island, so there’s no need to bring your own from the hotel. There’s also a towel collection bin on the island, so you can drop them off before you leave for the day. The towel rental counter is located at the entrance to Iguana Beach, right past the shuttle docks. At this counter you can also rent water sport equipment, like snorkeling gear or paddle boards, although it’s worth mentioning that I didn’t see anyone doing these activities the whole time I was there. I had expected to do some stand up paddle boarding myself while we were there, but the constant wind on the island made me change my mind.
Iguana Beach also has a small playground which was a nice addition for families needing a break from the beach. There weren’t a lot of kids on the island on the days we were there, but I could see us using this playground if our kids were with us.
There are multiple restrooms available on the island. One set is located at the back of the towel stand/gift shop. The other set is located next to the restaurant. These ones especially were in pretty good shape for beachside restrooms.
There’s a small gift shop on the island, which sells mostly clothes and beach gear that you may have forgotten. The prices here were a little high, I suppose because they know they have a captive audience. I forgot my sunscreen one day and went in there to buy more, but the prices were so high I couldn’t bring myself to spend the money. They do have some nice T-shirts and souvenirs in there, which were not marked up as high as essentials like sunscreen.
There’s also a fitness center on Iguana Beach, It was surprisingly nice and, not surprisingly, empty when we visited it. It was a little hard to find and we almost gave up. To get to the gym, you follow the path from the towel desk along the water, back behind the restaurant. As the path curves you’ll see the fitness center, and also some additional seating areas which are nice for watching the planes take off at the airport. The fitness center is air conditioned, has multiple TVs, and includes all of the machines and equipment you would expect from a hotel gym facility.
The island also has a spa, but since we didn’t use it we can’t say much about it. The entrance to the spa is located at the tip of Flamingo beach, right at the water’s’ edge.
Papagoyo Bar and Grill
The restaurant on the island is a great option for lunch. The vegetarian options were limited, but I managed to find something to eat there each day, usually pizza. As you might expect, they also had an extensive drink and appetizer menu. It’s a really great spot, with good food, live music (occasionally), and beautiful views.
There are lots of other little hidden amenities for you to discover on the island. There are hammocks and lounge chairs in lots of hidden or unexpected places, even out in the water! There’s a nature trail at the far end of Flamingo Beach, just past the cabanas, but we didn’t make it very far before mosquitos caused us to turn back. I would recommend doing this trail only if you have bug spray with you, and at a time of day/year where the mosquitos are less likely to be active. Both beaches have showers available so you can rinse off the sand before returning to the hotel. And one of the best benefits of all is that, since it is owned by the hotel, you can charge everything to your room, which keeps it simple for you, plus earns you more points.
Overall, Renaissance Island exceeded our expectations and we can’t wait to go back. Have you ever visited Renaissance Island? What was your favorite part of the island? Let us know in the comments!