Have you heard the song “Kokomo” by the Baha Men?
Aruba, Jamaica, oooh I wanna take ya
To Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty momma
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go
Bodies in the sand
Tropical drink melting in your hand
We’ll be falling in love
To the rhythm of a steel drum band
Down in Kokomo
The very first destination listed in the song is ARUBA! If you are looking for guaranteed hot weather and a relaxing vacation, Aruba is the place for you. With its ideal location below the Hurricane Belt, Aruba is a popular year-round destination.
So why would you choose a Riu Hotel? The biggest draw of a Riu in Aruba is the all-inclusive package. Most resorts in Aruba are not all-inclusive, offering instead a “European plan,” which includes breakfast, but not lunch, dinner, or drinks.
Because food and drinks are not added to the price at other places, your vacation bill can quickly add up, especially if you are there with your family. Some prefer the peace of mind of spending the money up front and not having to carry cash or credit cards or worry about expenses on the trip.
The Riu is also a popular hotel chain around the world. Consistently rated a 5-star resort and easily recognized by its white-domed peaks, Riu Palace and Riu Palace Antillas are two of the best options when visiting the island of Aruba.
There are two Riu’s to choose from: Riu Palace and Riu Palace Antillas. Both are all-inclusive and are located side by side. This is a unique property as the Antillas side was formerly the Westin Hotel, and was acquired by Riu only 4 years ago. It has since undergone an extensive renovation to align more with Riu Palace’s brand.
Riu Palace or Riu Palace Antillas?
So which Riu should you pick?
Let’s start with the simple eliminator: do you plan on bringing kids?
If so, your choice will be easy. Riu Palace in Aruba is for families while Riu Antillas is adults-only. This is also unique to Riu: usually, Riu Palace’s around the world are adults-only and the Riu Hotels allow kids.
Luckily, Riu Palace offers access to other Riu Resorts, so even if you are staying at Riu Palace, you are able to come over and use the services at Riu Antillas! Unfortunately, this is only offered for adults, as Riu Antillas is adults-only.
This is also the case vice versa – guests at Riu Antillas can use all services at Riu Palace, except the specialty restaurants, so if you were hoping for something in particular, be sure to book specifically with that place.
Both Riu Palace and Riu Antillas have a Fusion, an Italian, and a Steakhouse option for Specialty Restaurants. The only difference is that Riu Palace offers a Japanese Restaurant, while Riu Antillas offers an Arubian Restaurant.
Food is consistently good at both resorts, and each offers its own fare. There is a limited amount of seafood choices, but all is delicious nonetheless. Riu Palace offers a more unembellished selection as it caters to kids and families.
If you wish to thoroughly examine the dining options, you can check them out on their respective websites:
There are also separate pools for Riu Palace and Riu Antillas. If you are an adult, you will have access to both, but children under 18 will only be able to use the pool at Riu Palace.
Location & Beach
The benefit of staying at Palm Beach is that you can wander the whole beach – you can have a drink at the boardwalk a long way down or walk to restaurants only five minutes away. This is unlike Cuba for example, where you would have to take the bus into town to go for a drink or a dinner.
Keep in mind that all beaches in Aruba are public, so you will easily find vendors and locals offering water sports and wares.
For adults, a popular activity on Saturday night is the Karaoke night on the DePalm Pier at Palm Beach. The pier is accessed from a public walkway adjacent to the east end of the Riu Palace property. Quality of entertainers varies from week to week…actually minute to minute, so be prepared to laugh and have a good time!
Typically, one night per week is also ‘Karaoke night’ at the Riu Palace. This is a fun event for families, and many children and young adults often get into the karaoke spirit.
One of the benefits and subsequent downfall is that entertainers will usually perform one night at one location and then the next night at the other, so if you’ve already seen them once…it may be a bit of a disappointment.
While Aruba is a desert island, if you travel there in late autumn you will hear the locals refer to it as the ‘rainy season’. But don’t be fooled…you should not expect any of your planned activities to be affected by rain.
Most autumn showers are late in the evening or overnight. Morning showers, when they occur, last less than 20 minutes
The rainy season provides welcome relief to the parched landscape and, while not lush, you will notice a much greener island than if you visit in, for example, June or July.
Aruba is only 19 miles long, and it is easy to get around by bus. We enjoy saving money by doing so, and you can read about how to do that in my post about DIY Travel in Aruba.
However, if you would rather not struggle on the bus with your luggage, you can always take a taxi from the airport to your hotel, which will cost approximately $31 USD.