Photo: Becca Blond

At the Ritz-Carlton Aruba, a Dog-Friendly Caribbean Getaway Is Just a Flight Away

Aruba Epic Stays
by Becca Blond Dec 29, 2023

Aruba is one of the few Caribbean destinations actively promoting pet-travel, so when looking for a luxury vacation with my chiweenie Poppy, I decided it was time to check out just how dog inclusive One Happy Island really is. Turns out, Aruba is a dushi (the local word for sweet, among other meanings) spot for a mom-and-pup holiday. From the hotels to the restaurants to the activity options, this Dutch Caribbean Isle is also all about making One Happy Dog.

By dogs, I mean dogs under 25 pounds, however. Most of the hotels have weight restrictions, and unless your dog is a service animal, you won’t be able to fly with your pup in the cabin either. Poppy is a psychiatric service animal, trained to assist me with debilitating panic attacks, but for the purpose of this trip, we made sure to only experience places where pet dogs won’t get carded.

Just 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela and outside the hurricane belt, Aruba doesn’t have as intense of a rainy season as most of the Caribbean. The island sees just 15 inches of rain per year (less than anywhere else in the Caribbean), making it ideal to visit year-round. Temperatures are also pretty dushi year-round thanks to near constant trade-winds that keep Aruba warm but not scorching hot and humid.

The Ritz-Carlton Aruba is the ultimate dog-friendly resort on Aruba

dog eating chicken bowl ritz carlton aruba

Photo: Becca Blond

As a working dog, when she’s on vacay, Poppy expects to be pampered, and that’s exactly what the Ritz-Carlton Aruba offers. The five-star resort occupies a prime location on Palm Beach and welcomes pups up to 20 pounds for a one-time extra fee. The vibe of this Ritz is luxe, as to be expected, but also relaxed.

There are two beachfront swimming pools, and you can also book cabanas for the day. The Ritz even has pint-sized pup cabanas for your pooch. Poppy tried one of these out but preferred to share my cabana’s ultra-comfy sun-lounger bed. Here, we ordered lunch (a bowl of chicken for her, fish tacos for me) and then went for a swim.

dog swimming in aruba

Photo: Becca Blond

Poppy is a decent swimmer, but she is not a fan of waves that crash over her ears. She absolutely loved the Caribbean Sea here, because the water is warm, shallow, and incredibly calm. After an ocean paddle, she ran zoomies up and down the white sugar sand beach.

doggy breakfast at the ritz carlton aruba

Photo: Becca Blond

The Ritz-Carlton Aruba also has a doggie room service menu, and Poppy enjoyed the sausage, rice, and veggie combo for breakfast one morning. Other highlights included lounging poolside and winning over other guests who insisted on buying her snacks, much to her delight.

Dog-friendly dining around Aruba

dog eating fliet mignon in aruba

Photo: Becca Blond

Going to Aruba with your dog doesn’t mean staying on the property the whole time. Dogs are welcome on numerous patios at restaurants around the island, and we ate off property most nights. Poppy’s favorite dining experience was at Hadicurari Restaurant. Right on the sand between Marriott’s Surf Club and MooMba Beach, this casual spot has pup friendly tables right on the sand. There isn’t a dog menu, but they are happy to cook your dog anything off the human menu and leave the seasoning off. Poppy had a filet mignon, cooked rare, that she ate every bite of.

Kulture Kafe, on the south-east end of Aruba in the San Nicholas (or Sint Nicolaas in Dutch) neighborhood, is another dog friendly restaurant that is locally owned and serves delicious coffee as well as breakfast, salads, wraps, and vegetarian fare. Poppy enjoyed bacon and sausage in her own bowl.

Entertaining your doggo away from the resort

dog on an art tour san nicholas aruba

Photo: Becca Blond

For off-property activities, hang around the San Nicholas neighborhood, which is filled with more than 50 murals and art installations. While you can stroll on your own, the best way to take in and fully understand the art with on a tour with Aruba Mural Tours. It’s run by the personable Tito, who is extremely passionate about turning Aruba into an art destination. The tours last around two hours and cover the history of art on the island. These are super dog friendly and offer some great photo ops. Tito also does art dinners in a gallery space, which welcome dogs.

dog on the beach in aruba

Photo: Becca Blond

If your dog does enjoy beach time, check out Baby Beach while in San Nicholas. The beach has very shallow and calm turquoise water that make it easy for timid swimmers to feel confident in. Its popular with locals, and less crowded than Palm Beach. It also has good swimming and snorkeling for humans.

How to travel to Aruba with your dog

dog on a beach in aruba

Photo: Becca Blond

With a little advance planning, it’s easy to take your small dog to Aruba from the United States. To enter Aruba, your dog will need an international health certificate from an accredited veterinarian within two weeks of travel to Aruba. Your dog will need to be microchipped and have a valid rabies vaccine. Your vet will do a physical exam of your dog and fill out and sign the international health certificate for Aruba.

The signed form then needs to be sent to the USDA veterinarian’s office in the region your state falls in. That office then will endorse the form and return it to you before departure. The certificate is only valid for 14 days from the date of issue by the official USDA veterinarian, and it can take the USDA vet up to a week to process the certificate, so plan accordingly.

Once you have the endorsed form back, you’ll need to email a copy of it to in Aruba. This office will stamp the form and email it back. I got my form back in about 24 hours. You’ll need to bring the stamped copy of the health certificate with you to the airport.

Your airline will check the form before you board, and you’ll also show it to the customs official at the airport. After passing through immigration and claiming your luggage, you will need to wait in the “items to declare” customs line. This is where you will show the form. The process was easy with the customs official just looking for the government stamp and then welcoming us onto One Happy Island.

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