Traveling during these times can be a highly controversial topic. My husband and I decided on Aruba due to their 72 hour COVID test requirement from all incoming countries. We figured this would reduce the number of travelers and we were right.
Aruba opened August 1st, 2020, and requires a 72 hour negative COVID test from a reputable company. I did a lot of research on which labs provided test results within 72 hours in North Carolina and South Carolina. This was difficult as the standard turnaround time was 4 days. I made an appointment at NextCare Urgent Care and StarMed. Luckily we went to 2 places because only NextCare provided our results within 24 hours. If you aren’t able to get tested within the required timeframe, you can get tested at the airport upon arrival at the airport in Aruba. You just have quarantine at your hotel until your negative results are provided.
We flew American Airlines and used 22,000 British Airways Avios miles roundtrip. These miles were transferred from our Chase and AMEX accounts. It was fewer miles using Avios versus using American Airlines miles for the same flight. Don’t always assume the airline you are flying is the best option for miles.
Insurance is required for all travelers through Aruba Visitors Insurance. The cost is $5 per day, per person. The insurance is purchased per traveler including children and for the number of days, you are in Aruba. This is mandatory and will supplement any travel insurance you have through a credit card or outside travel insurance. It covers expenses incurred if you catch COVID while on the island. Before you leave the Aruba airport, they check for your insurance documents.
We booked the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa. At the time of our stay, Hyatt was running a promotion of 25% points back. The standard room rate is 25,000 points/night. With the promotion, the required points dropped to 18,750 points/night. The hotel was at 20% capacity. There was a separate adult and kids pool that was never more than 10 people in the pool at a time. The beach in front of the hotel was pretty empty as well. There weren’t any issues getting beach or pool chairs. However, I was told during normal times, you must RSVP a chair in advance. We didn’t use many of the hotel services due to them being closed. As a Hyatt Regency property, there is a club lounge but unfortunately, the club lounge was closed during our stay. One nice touch was pink and blue balloons hanging from our room door upon our arrival. We put a note at booking when we made our reservation that this was our anniversary and babymoon trip. It was nice and unexpected.
I’d highly recommend renting a car during your stay in Aruba. Taxis and Ubers can get expensive if you are using them daily. Also, some of the best beaches are 30 mins away from the main hotels. I rented the cheapest car from Hotwire for $20/day. If you want to explore hard to get to attractions, you’ll need to rent a 4x4. This will allow for off-road driving and to get to the Natural Beaches.
There are a few great beaches to visit around the island.
Baby Beach is on the south side and most popular after 3 pm. This beach had the best view with the low tide for miles, making it perfect to swim. Mama’s Restaurant is the only restaurant option on the beach. You definitely need to bring your own chairs and snacks if you plan to spend the day here. There aren’t any other amenities here.
Eagle’s Beach is near the low-rise hotels. This beach has plenty of beach chairs and watersport options. There are a few small restaurants where you can get food and beverages.
Arachi Beach is near the lighthouse and a great place to hang with the locals. You’ll also get some nice views of yachts and windsurfers.
When people speak of Aruba, they are speaking of the gorgeous beaches. It’s hard not to fall in love with the many beaches of Aruba.
For the restaurants that were opened, they required a temperature check upon entry and to sanitize your hands. I also noticed the smaller restaurants having a limited menu. Make sure you check the website or call before going to ensure the restaurant is open. Some are open on certain days if at all due to COVID. Our 2 favorite restaurants were Zeerovers and Wacky Wahoo’s.
Zeerovers offered fresh seafood by weight and cooked how you would like it. This place is crowded no matter the time you go with locals and tourists. If you visit Baby Beach, it’s about 15 minutes away.
Wacky Wahoo’s is in the high-rise area of Aruba. They offered different pan-seared fish options. The portions were large and can definitely be shared.
Currently, there isn’t much nightlife in Aruba. There were only 2 bars opened across from our hotel and they closed at 11 pm. You’ll also be temperature checked prior to ordering.
Aruba isn’t your cheapest destination. This is a Dutch colony and the prices are very similar to Europe. You can easily pay $20 pp for breakfast with no alcohol, $25 pp for lunch, and $30+ pp for dinner. It definitely helps if your hotel provides free breakfast to subsidize your cost.
Make sure you have your test results, register on the required Aruba site, and purchase the required insurance. There was a man in front of us in line at the airport who didn’t do these things, made a scene, and ended up getting arrested.
If you are looking for a secluded vacation, Aruba should be at the top of your list. I definitely want to return in a few years to get the full experience of this gorgeous place when things are back to normal.