If you made it here, you probably already know what De Palm Island is, but just in case you are still unsure, let’s cover the basics. De Palm Island is a 25-acre private island located less than a half mile off the coast of Aruba. But this isn’t just any private island! This private island has waterslides, flamingoes, snorkeling, banana boat rides, two restaurants, a bar, and did we mention that it’s all-inclusive? That’s right! At the time of writing this (late 2022) for $105-109/adult and $85/child (4-12), you get access to the island’s many activities, restaurants, open bar (legal drinking age is 18), and picturesque Caribbean views! Now, that all sounds amazing, and it is, but it’s not all perfect, so we’ve put together this list of tips, tricks, and things you should know before you visit De Palm Island… The good, the bad, and the ugly!
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*Also, check out our De Palm Island vlog for a closer look at our experience!
1. Purchase tickets ahead of time
Unless you particularly enjoy waiting in lines, I would suggest purchasing your tickets ahead of time. They can be purchased online through the De Palm Island website or many resorts/hotels sell tickets on-site at their concierge desk. Also, when purchasing tickets, know that there are two different tickets offered. One includes roundtrip transportation on one of De Palm Islands shuttle/coach buses, the other is for “walk-ins'' which simply means that you will be providing your own transportation. If you do have a rental car and decide to drive yourself, parking is free and plentiful. There's only a $4 price difference in the tickets, so the biggest difference between the two tickets (other than the transportation) is that the ticket that includes transportation allows you access to the island 1 hour earlier (10 am) than the walk-in ticket (11 am) but also requires that you leave the island one hour earlier (4 pm) that the walk-in ticket (5 pm). While there are benefits to both (which we’ll talk about later), I’m not sure it makes that much of a difference, so I would recommend just purchasing the ticket based on your transportation needs.
2. Arrive early
They sell tickets to access the island all the way up to 2 pm the day of, but if you ask me, $105-109 (or $85 for children) is a lot of money to pay only to have 2-3 hours on the island! That said, in order to get the most bang for your buck, we recommend spending an entire day here (they are open from 10 am-4 pm for bus riders and 11 am-5 pm for walk-ups).
3. Beach Chairs/Umbrellas are first-come, first-serve
Continuing on the topic of arriving early, unless you pay for an upgraded experience like premium seating, a beach cabana, or a private cabana (prices range from $45 to $359 for the day), all beach chairs and palapas (beach umbrellas with a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves) are first-come, first-serve. This is where I think the benefit of arriving one hour early with the bus transportation ticket lies. Regardless of which ticket you book though, you’ll need to arrive as early as possible to secure a good spot on the beach! Once you’ve found your spot, we recommend using these beach chair bands to hold your towel in place (Aruba can get VERY windy) and let others know that the seats are taken. Also, since you’ll likely be up and down and leaving your chair from time to time for drinks and activities, we recommend something like this Master Lock Portable Lock Box to keep any valuables safe.
4. Dress appropriately
Yes, you’ll likely be doing lots of lounging on the beach and sipping on cold drinks while on De Palm Island, but if you want to take advantage of all of the activities offered, you’ll want to make sure that you’re dressed appropriately. Between the banana boat rides and the water slides, we saw quite a few people have some wardrobe malfunctions that turned the, normally, family-friendly activities into risqué business! Lol… That said, make sure you have clothing that can contain everything even in the event of a wild banana boat ride! Also, be sure to bring good water shoes. While the beach at De Palm Island is beautiful, it is quite rocky in the water and a good pair of water shoes will make the experience a lot more enjoyable. We recommend the Aleader Xdrain Water Shoes for women and the Aleader Men's Mesh Slip On Water Shoes for men.
5. Don’t expect amazing food
Like most all-inclusive experiences, De Palm Island takes more of a quantity-over-quality approach when it comes to food. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the worst food we’ve ever had, but it’s definitely nothing to write home about. I mean, what do you expect out of buffet roasted chicken, fish, and rice? In addition to Miramar (their Caribbean buffet restaurant), they also have a grill/snack bar that serves things like hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken tenders. Again… Nothing to write home about, but it’ll get the job done.
6. Expect lines for top attractions
For the most part, we were fortunate with the wait times during our visit. We planned our time at the waterslides during the time that most people were eating lunch, so we never waited for more than 2 minutes. I wish I could say the same for the banana boats. De Palm Island sells the experience as “unlimited banana boat rides”, and while this is technically true, you would have a hard time fitting in more than 3-4 rides in a single day based on our experience. We only rode once because the wait was 45-60 minutes or more and the line was on a pier/dock with no shade. To be quite honest… It wasn’t a pleasant experience… The line that is. The banana boat ride was a blast! Lol… One of the highlights was the snorkeling. Absolutely stunning sea life right off of the snorkeling steps and we opted for the free snorkeling guide who took us WAY out to where the sea shelf drops off to over 50 meters deep!
So, after laying out all of the tips and things to know before visiting De Palm Island, the big question is… Is it worth it? Well… De Palm Island is a wonderful experience if you know what to expect and hopefully, after reading this you have a better idea of that. I’ll leave you with a few thoughts based on our experience. 1) The activities on De Palm Island are by far the selling point. That combined with the all-inclusive food and drinks is what made it worth it in our opinion. That said, if you’re already staying at an all-inclusive resort for your time in Aruba, I think you can skip out on De Palm Island. While the activities are great, I don’t know that they alone are worth the $105-109 ticket price if you already have all-inclusive food and drink amenities at your resort. 2) Our biggest frustrations came from activities being closed. For instance, when we first went to ride the banana boat, they were on a 30-45 minute lunch break. I mean… I understand that everyone has to eat, but when you pay over $100 for 6 hours on an “all-inclusive” island, you expect things to be open for those 6 hours. That same frustration applied to the water slide area. The biggest and best water slide was closed for our entire visit. Apparently, it was due to damage from a storm, but nonetheless, frustrating. 3) While it is all-inclusive, there are lots of “signature experiences” that can add up quickly. We chose to stick with the basic package that comes with admission and were pleased with the experience. 4) At $105-109/adult, I can’t say that De Palm Island is an unbelievable value, however, we did feel like we got our money's worth. So, the big question is… Is De Palm Island worth it? For us, the answer was yes! But that might not be the case for you, so what do you think? Is De Palm Island worth it?
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