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 our 10-year anniversary trip. It was a rare trip WITHOUT our children. We wanted to go somewhere relaxing, affordable, and easy to get to, and decided on Aruba. You can read more about how Aruba was all of those things in a later post. I must admit, one of the biggest factors in our decision to visit Aruba was knowing there is a beach there where you can swim with flamingos. So we went to Aruba and did exactly that! Here’s what you need to know so you can do it too!
The most important thing to know about the flamingos is that they live on a private island that is owned by the Renaissance Marriott. It is, in fact, the only private beach in Aruba, but that means you a) can only get to the beach by boat shuttle, and b) need to be a guest at the Marriott or have a day pass. For us this was a no brainer, as we are mostly Marriott loyalists and got a great deal on the room anyway, but if you have your heart set on staying somewhere different AND swimming with flamingos things will be more difficult for you. Day passes are available for a fee, but they are based on availability and are expensive ($125 or more if you don’t have a room). From my perspective, the Renaissance Marriot was fantastic and exceeded my expectations, particularly for the price, so if Flamingos are your goal, my opinion is the Renaissance is the place you want to be.
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. We never had to wait more than a few minutes for a shuttle to come.
When you get to the private island you have two options of beaches you can go to. Iguana beach is slightly larger and is the family beach. This is where the restaurant, bathrooms, towels, shop, and gym are located. Opposite this is Flamingo Beach, which is adults only (except from 9am-10am, as to not stress out the flamingos). Flamingo Beach also has a small beachside bar. Both beaches have plenty of chairs and hammocks.
About the Flamingos
So, there are a few things to know about the flamingos. First, there are six of them. The photos you may have seen of people posing with the flamingos can make you feel like there are tons, but there’s not. It is a flock of six and they live there on the beach. I’ve heard that sometimes others visit, but while we were there it was only the core six the whole time.
The flamingos are pretty friendly. They’ll happily (or indifferently) pose for photos all day long. There is a food dispenser if you want to feed them, but honestly the whole time I was there I never once saw them actually eat the food that was offered to them. My guess is that they have food being pushed on them all day every day, so there’s really no sense of urgency or hunger on their part. Some people had slightly more success when they added some ocean water to their cups of food. But ultimately, the food is not necessary to get them to pose with you, they’ll do it either way.
The flamingos spend their days going back and forth between a rock wall at on end of the beach and a little bird bath on the beach chock full of leftover flamingo food. They basically alternate between these two locations all day long.
I was worried that I might not be able to get a picture of the flamingos on my visit, but that was unnecessary. They are constantly around and very approachable. This is not an elusive, “hope we can grab a photo” flock of flamingos. They’ll patiently stand around for you to do as many poses as you want, and believe me, people do. One thing to keep in mind is that they have a steady stream of photo-happy visitors, so be prepared to wait your turn or to have some strangers in the background. You might have more luck if you get there early in the morning, but I can’t say for sure because early is just not my style. Bottom line, you’ll get your perfect picture and it won’t be that hard to do if you’re a little patient.
Don’t Be a Jerk Though
There are some strict rules regarding the flamingos, and the hotel staff do enforce them. We saw young families try to come out to Flamingo Beach and get sent away. We also saw a girl try to feed them her alcoholic drink (they were not interested, luckily) and get reprimanded, and I’ve seen pictures online of people touching and holding the birds. This is not ok. Don’t be that person who abuses an animal for a picture. The rules are in place to protect the birds. Keeping the flamingos safe and happy will mean they’ll continue to live here for more people to enjoy.
You can’t feed the flamingos anything other than the food from the dispenser, you can’t touch or hold the birds (I would also recommend not getting too close. I was twice given a non-contact warning snap by a bird just for getting a little too close for a selfie), no kids are allowed on the beach except in the morning.
So if you’re dreaming of flamingos, there’s no better place to visit than Flamingo Beach. Have you been there and met the flamingos? Are you planning to go? Let us know in the comments!