Next Stop - Happy Island: Flights with Feeling featuring Zhané Simmonds
Updated: May 29
As a flight attendant, my schedule can be extremely hectic and unpredictable. It was a Saturday morning when I realized I would have not only two days off, but an additional half-day off. With that info, I decided this would be enough time for a trip. But, where to? I went back on my list of things to do and my saved posts on Instagram and decided it would be the perfect time to finally meet a few flamingos. So, I started planning. First things first-How do I get to meet these majestic birds? A quick research led to a website to purchase a $ 125-day pass to Renaissance Island.
And when I say “quick,” I mean after digging through Instagram posts about the place, asking a few bloggers questions they did not want to answer, almost cursing at customer service for Marriott’s Renaissance Hotel for not knowing what their hotel amenities are booking a room in order to access the island or purchasing a day pass-, and having to figure it out myself.) The passed were available for purchase at 7 am for the day prior to when you wanted to go so, you can imagine, it was an early morning for me. Next, I had to figure out lodging. Mind you, this was an hour or so before my plane to Aruba started boarding. I had to answer a vital question fast-was luxury accommodation more important than a full experience? No, so I opted to stay at my first hostel. I finished work at 9 and by 11, I was on a plane to Oranjestad Aruba. Mid-air, I decided a private island wasn’t enough to hold my interest for the entire day, so I booked a tour specifically to go see Aruba’s famous Conchi Natural Pool at Arikok National Park for only $76. When I landed, the hostel owner picked me up from the airport for a small additional fee, and within an hour, I was walk to the beach. Aruba is honestly one the safest places, I’ve been too. I didn’t feel eyes on me, and I didn’t have to look over my shoulder when walking around alone-even at midnight. Inconclusively, the private island experience was amazing, uncle Johnny at ABC tours took amazing care of my fellow travelers and myself on our adventure to the Natural Pool and my overall experience in Aruba was phenomenal. Restaurants vary in prices, but I always ask the locals where to eat, and most times this is always the cheaper option. As far as transportation goes, I pretty much walked everywhere. My hostel was purposefully chosen to be within walking distance of the Renaissance Hotel. Even though I’d only spent 31 hours enjoying Aruba, I felt every bit of the culture of the “Happy Island.” I left with a feeling of fulfillment and Rejuvenation. I tell my entire story, to inspire those who believe traveling has to be complicated and unattainable. I spent less than $300 in Aruba and I’m sure, with just a bit of research, reasonable flight fares can be purchased.
Where to stay: Hostel World and Airbnb apps are a great and inexpensive way to stay in Oranjestad, Aruba, however, for a luxury experience with great amenities, I recommend staying at the Renaissance Hotel where the boat to the private island picks up passengers right in the lobby of the hotel. Literally!
Where to eat: I don’t remember the exact names of restaurants; locals are always happy to share their favorite eateries.
What to do: Renaissance Private Island to meet flamingos and large sunbathing Iguanas. ABC Tours: ask for Uncle Johnny.
At the end of this interview, we asked Zhané how she would rate Oranjestad, Aruba, and her response was more than expected - she gave it a 5 out of 5 for solo trips, girls trips as well as for baecations, and a 4 out of 5 for family trips. I mean all these beautiful pictures show the great time she had in the city.
Wanna keep up with Zhané? Follow her on Instagram.