Let’s face it – you’ve seen a million pictures on Instagram of bikini-clad girls blissfully feeding pink flamingos on a dreamy turquoise beach. Same! It was one of those pictures that inspired me to book a flight to Aruba and find that famous Flamingo Beach. I didn’t know much about it, I just wanted to feed some flamingos because it looked like such a dream experience. But is it really worth it? How does the real-life experience compare to Instagram?
So let me burst your bubble first – flamingos are not found everywhere on this island. You can’t just show up at any beach in Aruba and expect to find wild flamingos roaming around. They inhabit a private island part of the Renaissance Hotel and access is very limited. Visiting it requires careful planning and knowing a few tricks to beat the crowds.
So we’re here to help you do your research! First things first:
How To Get To Flamingo Beach Aruba
Flamingo beach is located on a small private island, part of the Renaissance Hotel in Aruba. The island is not open to the public and the only way to get there is by boat transfer through the hotel.
So to get to Flamingo Beach you have two options: stay at the hotel or get a day pass.
How Much Does Visiting Flamingo Beach Cost?
If you choose to stay at the Renaissance Hotel, you can visit the beach as much as you want for free. If you choose to buy a day pass, the price is $125 per person and includes lunch and a drink.
Option 1: Stay at the hotel:
If you book a room at the Renaissance Hotel you can access the private island by taking a boat from the hotel lobby. You have to use your room key to board the boat so there is no sneaking in. The boat arrives every 15 minutes starting at 7am every day.
The experience itself is a lot of fun. The boat stops right in the middle of the hotel lobby to pick up the passengers, and then makes its way out of the hotel along the narrow canal and into the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Keep in mind about 20 people can board the boat. While that’s not a problem early in the morning, it can get quite crowded after noon and you might have to wait a while before you can get on board.
Depending on the dates the hotel costs between $250 – $500 a night. But this guarantees you access to the island and Flamingo Beach Aruba and you don’t have to worry about the day passes selling out.
Option 2: Get a day pass:
If you don’t want to stay at the hotel, you can purchase a day pass for the private island only.
Tickets used to be only available for purchase in person at the hotel the day of, but thankfully they now have an online system for booking day passes. You can book your day pass to Flamingo Beach Aruba online here. Keep in mind you can only buy a ticket for the following day and they go on sale at 7am the previous day. Make sure you set a reminder as the tickets sell out within minutes.
Typically the hotel decides how many passes to sell each day based on the hotel occupancy rate. If it’s higher than 80%, no passes are available. When occupancy is lower than 80%, the number of passes will vary but we heard it could be just around 20 per day. So, needless to say, day passes for the Renaissance Private Island can be hard to get. Plan early to avoid disappointment.
We recommend you don’t plan to go to Flamingo beach on your last day in Aruba if you are not staying at the hotel. Tickets might sell out so you would want to have at least another day to try again. We have tried to purchase a day pass a few times and it never worked out.
The only way to guarantee you can visit the beach is to stay at the hotel. So every time we visited we ended up booking at least 1 night at the Renaissance Hotel. If you need to buy 2 day passes, you will end up paying $250 so you might as well stay at the hotel – it is a pretty nice one 🙂
What Is Flamingo Beach Really Like?
From the pictures you see online it might look like this is a deserted beach in the Caribbean with not a lot of people around. Well, that’s not exactly true. This is a resort beach. There can actually be quite a lot of people around and trying to interact with the flamingos can be a bit of a circus. Although we’ve been a few times and never saw the beach that crowded, we have heard it can get pretty busy in the early afternoon.
But on the flip side, the fact that this is a well-kept resort beach has its conveniences too. There are two beaches on the private island and they have all the amenities you need to have a very relaxing time. Flamingo beach is to the right when you get off the boat, and Iguana beach is to the left. Needless to say, Iguana beach can be way more relaxed as there are no flamingos there.
There is a towel hut and restrooms near the boat station at the entrance. The beach chairs and umbrellas as well as lots of palm trees provide comfort and shade throughout the beach. And each beach has a cafeteria/restaurant with fresh food and drinks. There are even beach bungalows with overwater hammocks available for rent, although the price was a little steep at $300/day.
Overall if you visit Flamingo Beach Aruba in the morning, you’ll be fine with the crowds. And you will have a pretty relaxing experience, as long as you are not expecting to be all by yourself.
Can You Visit The Island With Kids?
To make sure the flamingos have a quiet and peaceful time, kids are allowed only between 9-10am on Flamingo beach. The good news is they don’t need a day pass and can enter for free. But don’t worry – there are plenty of other nice beaches in Aruba to enjoy with children. Check our list with top beaches in Aruba here.
What Is It Really Like To Feed A Flamingo?
I’ll be honest with you – flamingos DO NOT sound or move the way you expect them to. Maybe I haven’t been around nature enough, but I imagined their voices sweet and cherubic and their movements – graceful. In reality they sound like angry seagulls and seem oddly uncomfortable with their own beaks, as they have to tilt their head sideways to be able to pick anything up with them. Don’t worry though, they are pretty harmless and can’t hurt you with those giant awkward beaks at all.
The best part about the experience is that, although they can look and sound a little intimidating, flamingos actually become quite pleasant once you give them a snack! Don’t expect snuggles, but you can feel them getting happier and happier as you feed them. It’s really quite satisfying and fun. They are also oddly respectful of each other! They never try to steal each other’s food or fight over it. Who knew birds can be this polite?!
Taking Pictures With Flamingos
Let’s face it – you’re really coming to Aruba’s Flamingo Beach mostly for the pictures – and we don’t blame you! It is a dreamy once-in-a-lifetime kind of place. But taking a pretty picture with animals that have their own mind is not as easy as it may look.
Regardless of how many photos you’ve seen online of people interacting with the flamingos, don’t take it for granted that you’ll be able to do the same. We’ve visited a few times and witnessed a few people getting snubbed by the birds who would not get anywhere near them.
Why? Because some people don’t know how to act around animals.
Flamingos, just like any other animal, are not going to blindly trust anyone who comes around with some food. They can be suspicious of you, or get scared if you get too loud, make sharp movements or harass them.
So here are our tips on taking pictures with flamingos like a pro:
- Grab some bird food. There are bird food dispensers at the beach so make sure you bring quarters. There’s also a cafeteria where you might be able to get change. But it might not be open early in the morning.
- Be respectful of their space! Don’t chase the flamingos around, don’t splash water at them or shove food in their face. If you are aggressive you’ll scare them off. They might remember you and not come back to you later. Don’t approach them too fast and don’t hover.
- DO sit down, move slow and just put your hand out. You don’t even need to be too close. If you are at their level, you will seem less intimidating. When they’re hungry they’ll come to you.
- GO EARLY IN THE MORNING! This is our pro tip for pretty much any photo but it’s especially important in any place where feeding animals is the main attraction. Animals can’t eat all day! So if you’re one of the first people to offer them food, they’re more likely to be hungry and play with you. Once they are full they’d rather go hang out under the palm trees and might not want to follow you to the water.
- Be ready to compete with a lot of other picture enthusiasts on the beach and a few inevitable flamingo floaties – some people are just literal like that? But above all, don’t go too crazy for a picture. If you take your time, stay clam and be nice to the animals, you’ll get your turn.
Are The Flamingos Free?
And finally, I couldn’t ignore this question. I’ve seen some reports online that the flamingos have clipped wings so they can’t fly away. Flamingos are actually not native to the island, they most likely come from neighboring Curacao or Bonaire. Of course, it doesn’t sound very humane if the birds are being kept on hotel grounds to entertain guests. But they could also be rescues. Or perhaps there is another explanation for how they got to Aruba.
As much as I tried to find a definitive answer to this question, I was not able to. Other than a few threads on online forums and random articles with unclear sources, I could not find anything solid. If you have any official information, I’d love to find out!
So, Flamingo Beach – Is It Really Worth It?
Although reality might be a little different from what you expect, Flamingo Beach Aruba is really a unique experience. There are few other places in the world where you would be able to get this close to flamingos and interact with them. PLUS you get to do it on a beautiful beach with crystal clear water and powdery white sand. Yes, it’s not exactly a wild experience, and yes, you might have to wait for your turn to feed the birds and take a picture. But in the end, you’ll have some really fun memories from this place either way.