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De Palm Island Aruba excursion review

10 May 2022

For those spending a day in port in Aruba and are looking for an all-inclusive day of fun in the sun, De Palm Tours offers a unique excursion on their own private island.

De Pal Island aerial

Just south of the capital Oranjestad, De Palm Island is just 5 minutes offshore and about 20 minutes from the cruise port.

The all-inclusive day package offers guests the chance to relax on sunny beaches and participate in lots of activities such as snorkeling, a waterpark, banana boat rides, salsa lessons and a friendly visit with the island’s flamingos. Unlimited food and drinks are also included.

I recently spent the day there, and here is how it went.

Before you go

Close up aerial of De Palm

De Palm is one of the island’s top tour providers, operating for more than 60 years. You can book your excursion through Royal Caribbean or online through the company’s website.

I would suggest using their transportation as the dock area is outside of town, in a bit of a remote area. Basic prices start at $119 for ages 13+, $95 for 4-12, and free for 3 and under (all in US dollars). There are some activities that are extras, such as SNUBA, Sea Trek, and cabanas.

What you need to bring:

  • Towels
  • Plenty of sunscreen
  • Sun hat
  • Bathing suit/ cover up
  • Optional snorkeling equipment (although they do provide some)
  • Credit card/ money for extras

There are locker rentals on the island at a cost of $5, and a gift shop that sells souvenirs, towels and such. While I was there, a few people forgot towels, so it was great to have the option to buy a few things.

Getting there

De Palm arranges transportation in an air-conditioned, comfortable bus which takes you from the cruise port, through the capital Oranjestad, on a scenic route.

We were fortunate to have a great driver, Jose, who took the time to tell us about the island, its people, culture and some interesting facts. On the way, we passed a water plant where ocean water is desalinated to provide drinking water for the whole island. I have to say, the water in Aruba is amongst the best I have tasted anywhere.

Once we arrived at the dock, there was a boat waiting for a brief ride to the island.

Seeking shade

Once on land, I quickly found a nice, shaded spot under a palapa. The weather in Aruba is fairly hot, so it is a great idea to secure a covered beach chair. Even with a few clouds in the sky and the frequent breezes, you can burn easily.

The beach is not too large, but there are a number of areas that make up the island, including a kids area by the waterpark and slides as well as basketball and volleyball courts. So lots of seating options.

By 11 am, most of the good spots were taken. If you are worried about shade or have a group you want to secure spots for, a cabana may be a good option.

Private Cabanas

There are private cabanas in various locations on the island, including the adult-only area. It would be a good idea to look at the map ahead of time, to see where you want to be. Most cabanas include:  

  • 6 Luxury Beach beds
  • Towels
  • 1 bottle of prosecco
  • Locker
  • Private shower
  • Private entrance to snorkel area

Some of the cabanas are waterfront, not beachfront, so it is best to ask questions about what you are getting. Prices range from $249 -$379 US dollars, depending upon location and number of people.


After securing a great beachfront spot, I set my sights on the food situation. There are two main eating areas with plenty of shaded seating.

Miramar, the main buffet, opened around 11:30 and offered a nice selection of salads, fresh fruits and soup (for which there seemed to be few takers on such a hot day). They had some appealing entrees such as hot pasta, BBQ chicken, grouper (a popular local fish) and potatoes. The lines went very quickly, and there were plenty of great spots to eat around the deck that encircled many of the main buildings. I started with a plate of mixed salads, which were tasty.

About a half hour later, the grill opened and was popular with its hamburger, hotdogs, chicken nuggets and freshly made fries. I went for a hamburger with fries, perfect for a beach day. Again, the lines moved quickly, and there was lots of food available throughout the day.  


The island provides guests with Coke products, water (fountain, not bottled) and a variety of fruit juices.

There is a selection of alcoholic beverages included with your entry. They offer Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, a variety of popular cocktails, spirits and Aruba's popular Balashi beer.

Pro tip – I was jealous I had not thought of this, but I noticed some guests had brought their own reusable cups for their drinks. This is a real bonus as they don’t have lids, and no one wants blowing sand in their cocktail. There are no straws on island to protect the local wildlife.

Highlights of the day 

  • I really enjoyed seeing the flamingos. They roam freely in the adult only area, but in the morning, guests are allowed to visit the restricted area.

These Chilean flamingos are not native to Aruba but have been imported to the island. They are a pale shade of pink as they are still young and have not developed their full color. Most people seemed to have fun visiting them. If you want to do this, I suggest trying earlier in the day.

  • The man-made cove area of the beach offers stunning views; it was very relaxing to hang out there for the day. Snorkeling was a popular activity, and the clear water let guests enjoy lots of local fish, including parrotfish.
  • The waterslides and small waterpark were also well used, and families seemed to spend lots of time there. Do note that kids need to be 48 inches tall for the slides.
  • Not a pure beach activity, but the complimentary salsa lessons were a real crowd-pleaser.

Around 3:45 pm the boats began to head back to the main island, with buses waiting for a return departure. There are a number of outdoor rain showers, to rinse off before heading back. 


My day at De Palm Island was relaxing, and I particularly enjoyed the wide open ocean views of the beach and sitting area. I did not do any extra activities and enjoyed the day regardless.

The staff were very friendly and well organized, and there was plenty of food and drinks with minimal lineups. The area is well designed so that nothing is far, and the crowds seem to disperse evenly throughout the island so that no one particular area felt really busy. The unlimited banana boat rides were popular though and had a long line in the afternoon.

This is a great option for those who want to access different activities in one spot, which can be hard to find all together on Palm or Eagle Beach.

There are, however, a number of upgrades that can easily add up, especially if you want a nice cabana with a stunning waterfront view—something to keep in mind.

Aruba Sunset Cocktail Cruise excursion review

14 Jan 2020

One of my favorite things to do on any Royal Caribbean cruise is to enjoy the sunset, and if your cruise goes to Aruba, you can go on a short tour that will provide an amazing sunset view.

Royal Caribbean offers the Sunset Cocktail Cruise (AR11) for guests who are in Aruba.  Since many ships that visit Aruba stay late into the evening, there is an opportunity to enjoy the sunset.

The Sunset Cocktail Cruise takes guests aboard a catamaran, where they sail just off the coast of Aruba to enjoy a picturesque sunset.

The two-hour tour starts in the same harbor area as your ship is located, so it is a short walk from the ship to the catamaran.

The crew welcomes you onboard, and provides complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and snacks during the cruise.

As you depart the harbor, you will sail north and past your cruise ship. There were excellent views of not only our ship, but the beaches and countryside of Aruba.

After setting sail, the front of the catamaran opens up with net seating to enjoy not only the views around you, but below you in the ocean.

Music is played over the catamaran's speakers as the vessel finds the perfect spot to take in the sunset.

Of course, the highlight is to witness a beautiful Caribbean sunset, and our tour did not disappoint.

Once the sun sets, the catamaran takes you back to the dock, with some excellent night views of your cruise ship.

Overall, I really enjoyed this tour because it delivered exactly what it advertises: a fantastic view of the sunset.

The included drinks and snacks are a great touch, and there are a surprising amount of options to consider.

Given the fact it is just two hours long, it is a great add-on excursion to your other plans in Aruba. Certainly a great way to cap off a great day in Aruba.

Cost: $53.99 USD per adult / $39.99 per child (4-12yrs). Infants are free.

Excursion Focus: Kukoo Kunuku Palm Beach Tour in Aruba

17 Apr 2017

The island of Aruba is well known for its perfect weather and even prettier beaches. For many Royal Caribbean guests, visiting Aruba might be a one-time opportunity, and for those that want to see some of the cultural and natural highlights of the island, while cruising in an over-the-top fun bus, then the Kukoo Kunuku Palm Beach Tour might be just right for you.

While in Aruba on port stop onboard Navigator of the Seas, we tried out this colorful tour of Aruba to see what it is like to explore Aruba while singing at the top of your lungs.


Kukoo Kunuku is a local tour company that provides bus tours of Aruba that visit some of the island's best known spots. While bus tours tend to be very similar experiences (pile in, go to a spot, pile out, take photos and pile back in, repeat), the folks at Kukoo Kunuku wanted to really change it up.  They took old school buses, painted them all sorts of colors, plastered a ton of funny sayings and metaphors all over the bus, added maracas and blast classic sing-along songs to enjoy as you explore Aruba.

Guests climb aboard the bus (there were three in our tour), and are quickly indoctrinated into the Kukoo Kunuku culture of singing, being loud, and trying to "scare" any bicyclist or person on the street you pass by with hoot and hollering.  The tour is as much about the experience onboard the bus as it is the places you visit.

The Kukoo Kunuku tour visits three spots, but begins with a general tour of Aruba that includes back story of the island and many opportunities to see what life is like in Aruba. 

The first stop is at Alto Vista Chapel, which is a small Catholic chapel that stands on the hills above the north shore of the sea.  It is a beautiful spot that provides some lovely views all around.

Back in the bus, the next stop is the California Lighthouse. The lighthouse was named for a ship that wrecked nearby Aruba in the 19th century.  Guests may not climb to the top of the lighthouse, but like the chapel, the spot provides an excellent vantage point of the surroundings.

The final stop, and bulk of your time in the excursion, is a stop at Palm Beach. 

Palm Beach is one of the two most popular beaches in Aruba (along with Eagle Beach) and the excursion includes the use of a complimentary beach chair. There is food and drink service provided at the beach for an additional fee.

The tour concludes with a fun trip back to the port area, with a good look at the beaches along the way.


Kukoo Kunuku is one of those excursions you have to experience for yourself to truly understand what it offers.  It is more than a typical bus tour, and the fact we were traveling with many friends in a large group made for an even better time onboard.  The tour's approach to encouraging everyone to sing along to classic rock songs set the tone a very fun day.

The driver of each bus serves as your guide, and will talk about various sights you will see along the way.  The tour takes you through the interior of Aruba to begin with, and then concludes with a ride down the coast on the way back.

The tour culminates with a beach stop at one part of Palm Beach.  Unfortunately during our visit, the beach was quite packed by the time we arrived. Personally, I prefer a spot on the beach with shade (my days of seeking a bronzed look are well past me), and there just was nothing to be found.  There were umbrellas for rent, but they were sold out. We ended up sitting at a picnic table underneath a few trees and that served the purpose just fine (plus I had great bar service).  I definitely would have preferred either a less crowded part of the beach, or a beach with more shade options.  All that being said, we ended up having a nice time once we got settled in.

I was skeptical about the zany nature of the tour, but by the end of the 4 hour excursion, I was wanting more.  From singing along to great songs to speeding around traffic circles multiple times, the tour ended up being a lot of fun.

Ultimately, what sets Kukoo Kunuku apart from other tours is the fun you have onboard the bus.  From the moment you sit down, you will notice this is not your typical tour.  Groups, families and anyone who kind of knows a few people on the tour will really enjoy this opportunity to explore Aruba while having a great time. The low cost of the tour (just $34 per adult) made getting a taste of Aruba just what we needed.

Cost: $34.00 per adult or $19.00 per child. Infants are free.

Top 10 Reasons to visit Aruba

10 Oct 2015

Our friend Don from is back again today, with a look at a great Southern Caribbean port, Aruba. Enjoy!

Aruba is a popular vacation spot welcoming over half a million cruise ship passengers each year. Many popular cruise lines have itineraries that visit Aruba, including Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas.

Located just 15 miles north of Venezuela, this Southern Caribbean island is truly one of a kind. Measuring only about 6 miles wide and about 20 miles long, you can see much of the island in a single visit.

Recently, we sailed on Adventure of the Seas, and our itinerary was altered resulting in an impromptu stop at this “one happy island”. After spending a full day exploring the island, we are already looking to return on another cruise.

If you want to know why we are so eager to get back to Aruba, our Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Aruba may have you booking your own trip to the island.  

Top Ten Reasons to Visit Aruba

10. The Weather

While the Caribbean is known for having great weather, Aruba might just be the ideal vacation spot.

Getting only 18 inches of rain a year and having constant temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees, you are almost guaranteed perfect weather.

Situated just 12 degrees north of the Equator, the island is located south of the hurricane belt, and only rarely experiences the effects of tropical storms.  In addition, the favorable trade winds make the feel-like temperatures tolerable; so, as long as you wear plenty of sunscreen, you can enjoy a full day in the sun.

9. The Stunning Views

While there is plenty to do while on the island, take some time to appreciate the magnificent views from both sides of the island.

In the southeastern Arikok National Park, you can get a bird’s eye view of the island from atop the Arikok Hilltop. If you head to the Casibari Rock Formation, you can reportedly see the coastline of Venezuela on a clear day (which is only 15 miles away).

On the island’s northern tip, you can climb the hillside in the area known as “Hudishibana” to get fantastic views of both the rocky coral shoreline to the east and the white sandy beaches to the west, as well as the Championship Golf Course, the Tierra del Sol.

8. The Hotel District

There’s also plenty of grown-up fun to be had for those who want to escape the beach while in Aruba.

Tons of bars and nightclubs, restaurants, and shopping can be found in the northern hotel district. You will find many familiar retail outlets, international cuisine, and upscale hotels resorts, like the Ritz Carlton Aruba.  You can explore this area on foot, do a little shopping, or press your luck at one of the dozens of casinos found in virtually every resort.

You may also want to enjoy a full day of pampering with a day pass, including food and drinks, at the luxurious 5-star Occidental Grand Aruba where you can use the beach, pools, water sports, and other resort facilities.

7. The Historic Sites

Now a Dutch colony, Aruba has a checkered past with its native Indian roots and influences from various European settlers.

Discover this heritage by visiting various historic buildings during your visit to Aruba. Among the locations on your tour, one should be the Alta Vista Chapel, the oldest church on the island dating back to the 1750s.  

For more excitement, you can relive the Aruban gold rush of the mid to late 19th century, in which 3 million pounds of gold were excavated from the island, by visiting the Bushirbana Gold Mill Ruins. This 140 year old smelting plant was built to resemble a fortress to ward off pirates. 

There is also the famous California Lighthouse. This 100 year old lighthouse was built after a steamship sank off the northern coast of the island and now provides stunning vistas of the surrounding areas.

6. Exquisite Cuisine

Indulge in some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean while you are docked in Aruba.  

You can dine in one of the first restaurants to make eating on the beach popular in Aruba, the Flying Fishbone, with its Mediterranean inspired menu. For more adventurous palates, there are several “chef’s table” options providing intimate 4 and 5 course meals at trendy locations like the 2 Fools and a Bull and the popular Carte Blanche, For families, Gostoso offers a casual atmosphere and a menu with traditional Aruban dishes with Portuguese influences.

There is also the well-known La Trattoria El Faro Blanco, located right near the California Lighthouse.

Famous Italian dishes are served in both indoor and outdoor dining rooms offering spectaculars views of the coast and the perfect romantic dinner location.

5. Rock Formations

Unique to Aruba are two Rock Formation sites.

The Casibari Rock Formation, toward the middle of the island, is a cluster of huge tonalite rocks. Appearing to just rise from the ground, you can take the 55 step climb to the top of these boulders for a great photo op.  Walking paths also exist around the formation to let visitors wander the adjacent large rocks and other landscapes near the site.

After your trek, you can get a drink at Casibari Café and perhaps listen to some of the live music.

Further east on the island is the Ayo Rock Formation. 

These diorite rocks were utilized by the native Arawak people for ceremonies and tribal rituals. Ancient cave paintings and carvings dating back thousands of years can be seen in some of the formations.  These large boulders seem like they have been purposely placed next to each other in unique designs. Travelers can transverse this area at their own risk.

4. The Landscape

Unlike your traditional Caribbean islands, with palm trees and lush green vegetation, Aruba offers a quite different landscape. It is mostly a flat, arid, desert with little vegetation. 

You will find several species of cacti that have various uses including fences for keeping out livestock, cooking (the tall Kadushi Cactus is used for making soup), and even Christmas decorations. After admiring the cacti, you can let the awe inspiring divi-divi trees be your guide, literally, as the constant eastern breeze has shaped these trees to all point in the southwest direction.  

Aruba appears to be one of the few locations in the world where these trees thrive, so make sure your camera is fully charged to capture this unique landscape.

3. The Wildlife

Although they are not native to Aruba, donkeys have played an important role in the Aruban economy for close to 500 years.

With the influx of cars on the island, donkeys were nearing extinction until the 1970s when the non-profit Donkey Sanctuary was founded. Visit the sanctuary to learn more about these animals and help support their preservation.

You can also take time to learn more about the mysterious ostrich at the Ostrich Farm on the eastern coast. Interact with over 80 ostriches and emus as guides provide details about the largest living bird species on earth.

Or, you can explore the Butterfly Farm in Aruba, providing you the opportunity to view 100s of different butterfly and moth species. A guided tour comes included with your admission, and it is recommended that you arrive early when butterflies are more active.

2. Natural Water Attractions

If the natural landscape and rock formations are not tantalizing enough, then Aruba’s famous natural water attractions may have you calling your travel agent.  

The most famous of these sites is the island’s Natural Bridge, a 25 foot high and 100 foot long bridge made of coral limestone.  

Even though it partially collapsed in 2005, it is still a popular tourist stop and amazing photo opportunity. For more adventurous swimmers, the Natural Pool (or Conchi) in Arikok National Park is surrounded by rigid rocks and offers excellent snorkeling and scuba diving.

The terrain is rocky so getting to this natural pool requires 4X4 transportation or horseback.

1. The Beaches

Many Caribbean islands are known for their beaches, but of all the islands we have visited, Aruba by far has the most pristine beaches of any island in our opinion.

We relaxed on Eagle Beach during our visit, the widest beach on the island. The white sandy beach and crystal clear water was pure paradise!

This public beach is free to all visitors, and you can rent chairs from seaside vendors. On the southern tip of Aruba is the famous Baby Beach, this lagoon beach has shallow water making it the perfect stop for families.  The calm waters within the lagoon also provide ample opportunity for snorkelers of all skill levels.

If you like your beach break with a little more energy and excitement, then Palm Beach is your destination. This two mile stretch is adjacent to the hotel district with bars, restaurants, and a variety of water sports.

Visiting Aruba

We have only scratched the surface on things you can do and see while in Aruba, but I’m sure you can already see why we can’t wait to plan another cruise stopping at the island.

Aruba truly has a variety of attractions, entertainment, and Caribbean life making it one of our favorite ports of call. So the only question remaining is “When is MY next trip to Aruba?”.

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