by Michael Blanding
Walking into the Tamarijn Resort in Aruba’s beachside low-rise hotel district, you’d be forgiven for wondering what decade it is. Brightly lit, multicolored squares on the reservation desk call to mind the dance floor on “Saturday Night Fever,” while piped-in classic rock from the ’80s including Bob Seger, The Eagles and A-Ha wafts inescapably throughout the pool area and restaurants of the resorts. That said, there’s a kind of retro charm to the resort, which feels stuck in a Tropicana-era Vegas that’s both literally and figuratively miles away from the flashy new upscale hotels of Aruba’s high-rise hotel district. Arranged around an open-air plaza and pool area, the resort has a laid-back, unpretentious feel, with vendors selling crafts during the afternoons and live music playing at night, giving an authentic Caribbean vibe that lacks at the more polished resorts up the beach.
The relaxed atmosphere is great for families, allowing kids free-run of a safe and spacious resort with an easily accessible pool ringed with comfy couches and Ping Pong and pool tables right off the lobby. Outside the main area, motel-style buildings front a wide and uncrowded beach that stretches for hundreds of yards in every direction. Unlike the beaches at the high-rise resorts, which can be narrow and crowded with beach umbrellas and speedboat vendors, the strand is quiet and boundless, with plenty of room for families to spread out with their easily accessible lounge chairs and thatched roof palapas.
Of course, there is also the draw of all-inclusive rates, which include 10 restaurants and seven bars between the Tamarijn and its sister property, the Divi Aruba All-Inclusive, next door. The Tamarijn does not shirk on the quality of food, which is routinely excellent, and adds a fair amount of extras in the form of water sports and other activities. The resort isn’t the prettiest or most sophisticated in Aruba, but the combination of activities and family-friendly amenities makes it good value for the money and a pleasant mid-range option for families on a budget.
Our Editor Loves
- A wide, beautiful white sand beach with plenty of space
- 10 restaurants included in all-inclusive meal plan
- A laid-back, authentic Caribbean atmosphere
- All Inclusive Rates
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The accommodations at Tamarijn are far from state-of-the-art, consisting of small rooms with a king or two queen beds, a cramped bathroom with an open shower that tends to run water on the floor and thin walls that makes the crying baby next door all too audible. These are solidly three-star accommodations and guests should expect as much. Despite the drawbacks, however, the beds are plush and comfortable, and every one of the 236 rooms includes a balcony or patio with a stunning view or close access to the ocean. Views from the upper story rooms are nothing short of magical, and the first-floor rooms are enviously situated right on the sand.
The guestrooms feature a tropical theme, and are decorated in yellow, blue, and green shades. Every room includes a flat-screen television, refrigerator, ceiling fan and air conditioning. Cribs and roll-away beds are available at no extra charge. Complimentary Wi-Fi access can be found throughout the resort.
Kids ages 17 and under stay, play and eat free.
Activities at the Tamarijn begin and end with the beach. The main draw of this resort is the achingly close proximity to so much sand, sun and water -- all just a short walk from the guestrooms.
Water Sports and Activities
When you get tired of lying on your lounge chair or wading in the bathwater-warm Caribbean, the onsite sports center offers a range of activities, included in the all-inclusive rate, such as snorkeling, Sunfish sailboats, kayaks and windsurfing boards. Particularly popular with kids is a 30-foot high rock-climbing tower on the beach, with staff on hand to belay young climbers.
Of course, just as popular as the ocean is the pool, which is small compared to some other nearby resorts, but includes both a shallow area for kids and a deeper portion for adults. Guests at the Tamarijn also have full use of the two pools at the next-door Divi Aruba All-Inclusive Resort, which features a small wading pool for young children.
Bicycles and Sports
Closer to land, the Tamarijn offers complimentary bikes (it's an easy 20-minute cycle into downtown Oranjestad), lighted tennis courts and pick-up games of beach volleyball.
The Tamarijn also has a kids' club, located in a brightly colored clubhouse. Daily programs for children ages 5 to 12 run from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and again from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Activities might include necklace making, scavenger hunts, kite flying, sandcastle making and sessions on the rock-climbing tower.
Nightly entertainment alternates weeks between the Tamarijn and the Divi Aruba next door. During the Tamarijn's weeks, family-friendly performances include a traditional Caribbean steel drum band or Aruba dance troupe, interactive karaoke nights and a dramatic "limbo fire" performance. Once a week, the resort erects a big screen on the beach for family-friendly movies under the stars.
The Tamarijn's all-inclusive rates includes several restaurants onsite, as well as even more restaurants at the Divi Aruba All-Inclusive resort next door. Eating at these places couldn't be easier; upon arrival, guests receive a wristband, which signifies that they don't need to pay for standard drinks and meals. When a meal is over, guests simply walk out of the restaurant with nothing to sign. All the restaurants are consistently high-quality and family-friendly.
Paparazzi Restaurant is a sophisticated Italian trattoria with white tablecloths and dark leather chairs. Its menu includes such classics as spaghetti Bolognese, fettuccine carbonara and pork saltimbocca, as well as local fusion entrees like grouper with a pesto sauce. The restaurant also offers a surprisingly sophisticated kids' menu, with petit filet mignon, breaded fish filet and spaghetti marinara, along with the inevitable chicken fingers.
The Tamarijn's other, more upscale offering is better, perhaps, for older children: Ginger is a sleek pan-Asian eatery with a fresh menu that includes sushi, wok-stirred chicken dishes and noodle bowls. For a more interactive experience, the Palm Grill features tables with hot stones, where guests choose a type of meat -- steak, shrimp, chicken or fish -- along with vegetables and a sauce for stir-fry.
This oceanfront, Hibachi restaurant offers a menu full of seafood, chicken, beef and vegetables.
Cunucu Terrace and Pizza per Tutti
A causal pair of family restaurants rounds out the dining offerings at the resort. Cunucu Terrace serves a breakfast buffet of hot options, pastries and an omelet station; a lunch buffet of sandwiches and cooked-to-order pastas and stir-fries; and changing dinner buffets of Caribbean, Asian, BBQ and other theme nights. Between meals, the casual Pizza per Tutti offers pool bar fare of onion rings, chicken fingers and club sandwiches, along with crispy pizzas with a range of toppings.
Guests at Tamarijn are also entitled to dine at no extra charge at the Divi Aruba All-Inclusive, which has four restaurants: the upscale Red Parrot (which also offers a kids' menu); Caribbean themed Pelican Terrace; casual Coco Grill and Bar; and beachside Sandpiper Bar. The nearby Divi Village Golf Resort & Spa has several restaurants of its own as well, which are available for a fee.
For the more casual restaurants, Cunucu Terrace, Pizza per Tutti, Coco Grill, and Sandpiper Bar, no reservations are required. For the rest, it's a good idea to make dinner reservations the night before or the morning of the desired date.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Complimentary Wi-Fi access can be found throughout the resort.
A spacious fitness center overlooking the ocean has all the equipment a gym rat could ask for, including free weights, weight machines, cardio equipment and stationary bikes.
Resort staff can help to arrange babysitting services for an additional fee.
The Art of Smart Timing
Aruba's weather is remarkably consistent, varying just a few degrees from the mid-80s over the course of the year. The busiest time of the year is from the December holidays through March, when rates are at their highest. But even in the "low season" from April to November, hotels are often at capacity, especially with European and Latin American tourists.
Flights to Aruba land at the Aeropuerto Internacional Reina Beatrix. It is a 15-minute to half-hour drive from the resort, depending on traffic. The Tamarijn does not provide shuttle service from the airport, but taxis are available for a flat rate to the low-rise hotel district.
Once at the resort, guests can take advantage of regular shuttle service via golf carts between the Tamarijn and the other nearby resorts in the Divi family -- Divi Aruba All-Inclusive, and Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort.
For Mom and Dad
The Tamarijn includes many perks for grown-ups, including a recently expanded spa, Indulgence by the Sea, which offers single and couples massages, both in treatment rooms and in a beachside cabana. Offerings include a rose petal body treatment and a signature facial with local herb and fruit extracts.