Greetings from Aruba! Visiting the “one happy island” (as they market it) has been on my to-do list since Southwest started service here a few years back via integration of AirTran’s ops into their own. As luck would have it, my newly minted AvGeek wife was amenable to a honeymoon visit. SXM, the AvGeek Mecca, would have been our first choice, but that island is still in repair mode from extensive damage inflicted by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
While researching PlaneSpotting in Aruba, I was delighted to learn that two local hotels share a private island which runs alongside Aruba’s airport – Oranjestad Queen Beatrix International Airport. While no #MahoBeach, this would certainly fit the bill for running away from the already cold (and falling) Kansas City temps to enjoy some tropical weather, and allowing us to check out some planes. Bonus points for wild iguanas, pelicans, and an occasional flamingo as well.
The island is only accessible via 10-minute boat ride, and is exclusive to guests of one of two Renaissance properties in Aruba. As a sort of deterrent to outsiders, the boat captains ask each passenger for their keycard and insert it into what is almost certainly a phony offline card reader. In any case, should you plan to visit, stay at one of the two properties or call ahead to make other arrangements. We heard twice that non-customers can purchase a day pass to the island depending on availability. Being that this was our honeymoon and I recently achieved lifetime Marriott platinum status, it seemed appropriate to stay at one of the upscale properties.
We spent most of the day on the island, hopping in and out of the ocean between active and inactive arrival periods. For any other relationship or honeymoon, this wouldn’t be tolerated, but thankfully my AvGeek wife was fully on board with my desire to strike a balance between unwinding while on Caribbean vacation and maintaining a healthy dose of plane spotting in Aruba. Click through to see the day’s catch…