I’ll be the first to admit I was in a major funk when our honeymoon came to an end. It had been the most fantastic vacation I could have ever imagined. But as they say, don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened…and book another trip for next year!
If you’re thinking about Aruba for your honeymoon or just a tropical vacation, I offer you the following suggestions for your consideration.
And really, how can you resist?!
Passport Required. Although everyone speaks English and US currency is accepted, Aruba is a foreign country and you will need a passport to get there. Also good to note: you go through customs when you leave Aruba (as opposed to when you arrive back in the states), which can sometimes take hours to clear. We made it through in less than an hour, but there are horror stories about it taking nearly 3 hours to make it to the gate during the busy season.
Aruba is a desert, not a rain forest. While the arid climate of Aruba makes for some beautiful white-sand beaches, don’t expect any lush jungles or the wildlife that goes with them. The most exotic critter we spotted was an iguana. The foliage consists mostly of palm trees and cacti.
The resident iguana at Bucuti.
Don’t bother packing hair styling products. The trade winds on the island are the only thing that make the heat of Aruba bearable, but they didn’t do a thing for my hair! Most days (and nights) I used the wind as my styling tool, and didn’t touch my straightener or curling iron.
Bring loads of sunscreen. Aruba is almost on the equator, so the sun is hot-hot-hot. We went through 4 bottles of the spray stuff and a bottle of lotion, and we spent a lot of time in the shade! I still came home with a great tan, though, and was never plagued by sunburn. My recommendation is to purchase before you leave home, because…
Aruba imports everything. It is an island that does not grow or produce products. This means that everything, from the sunscreen to standard grocery store provisions, is going to be 30-50% higher than what you would pay at home. For example, a bag of tortilla chips that would normally run me about $4 at home was $7 in Aruba.
Don’t Plan to go All-Inclusive. While this is a big draw for many brides that are too burnt out on wedding planning to also plan a honeymoon, take my advice: there are way too many incredible restaurants on the island to settle for AI! Some of our favorites included Madame Jeanette (open-air dining and live music), Barefoot (feet-in-the-sand dining), Screaming Eagle (eat in a bed!), and 2 Fools and a Bull (an exclusive dining experience that seats only 14 people nightly and books up months in advance).
Hot dog legs — the ultimate in beach selfies.
Because we didn’t go all-inclusive, I’ll also share a breakdown of our expenses for the week. Since we had a set budget for our honeymoon, it was important for us to have an idea of what we would be spending, so I hope this is helpful in your planning as well.
We flew AirTran round trip, coach class, from Detroit to Aruba, for $1,050, including fees for 2 checked bags.
Our penthouse suite at Bucuti for 7 nights, after a 10% discount from my AAA card, totaled $3,860. The cost of the room also included breakfast each morning. Note that this is definitely (by far) the most expensive room at Bucuti — for our anniversary trip we booked a substantially less pricey option ($335 a night as opposed to $551 a night).
Free wi-fi throughout the resort insured we didn’t miss a moment of college football.
We planned on eating out every night, but we also purchased some snacks at the grocery store to have on hand. All in all, we spent about $1,400 on food and drink. While we did choose to eat dinner at some of the finer dining establishments on the island, lunches mostly consisted of beach-bar food, leftovers, or grocery store items. This total does not factor in breakfasts, as they were included in the price of our room. We also saved some money buy buying a couple bottles of alcohol at the duty-free store at the airport, and participated daily in the resort’s happy hour.
I’ve already mentioned the excursions we booked, including the fishing charter (which we split with 3 other people), the sunset cruise, and the ATV tour. In total, we spent about $550 on these activities.
Finally, we brought about $350 in cash for miscellaneous things like cab fare, souvenirs, tips for the bellhop, concierge, tour guides, etc.
If you’ve been following along with your calculator, that brings us to a grand total of $7,210.
The Airplanes heart Aruba!
Could we have been more frugal on our honeymoon? Absolutely. Could we have saved by booking an all-inclusive. Maybe. Would I change a thing? Not a chance in hell.
As I mentioned, we did all sorts of research while planning our honeymoon, and one of the most difficult aspects of the process was determining a budget. For us, this consisted of a lot of guesswork — I definitely wish we would have had some sort of baseline to work from during our honeymoon budget discussions.
That concludes our trip to Aruba! While Mr. Plane and I have hopes of doing a lot of travelling as a married couple, both of us are already looking forward to returning to the island as soon as possible.
What tips do you have for planning a honeymoon budget?