The Ultimate Aruba Travel Guide

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Advisor - Jamie Padden
Curated By

Jamie Padden

  • Aruba

  • Babymoons

  • Beaches

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Sightseeing

  • Local Food

  • Relaxation

beach sunset
Curator’s statement

Aruba is referred to as “The One Happy Island” best known for stunning white sand beaches with turquoise waters, friendly locals who speak four languages fluently (English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento the native creole), chill vibes and great food! Aruba is the safest island in the Caribbean and is also located outside of the hurricane belt so that means year-round adventures and consistently beautiful weather!

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Where to stay in Aruba

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Things to do in Aruba

A pink flamingo on beach during daytime.

Must Do's in Aruba

  • Head to San Nicholas to check out the art murals, Baby beach, Rodger’s beach and grab a cocktail at Rum Reef. On the way, stop to see and pet the wild donkeys.

  • Rent a car to explore the whole island and all the beautiful beaches!

  • Drive to the California lighthouse to see great views of the island.

  • Get up early to snorkel at Tres Trapi or Boca Catalina to have a good chance of seeing sea turtles.

  • Hike Hooiberg mountain (heads up there are a lot of stairs)!

  • Go to Flamingo Beach aka Renaissance Island.

  • Take a catamaran snorkeling excursion and go on a sunset cruise.

  • Rent a jeep or go with a UTV/Jeep Safari to Arikok National Park to go to the natural pool, Bushiribana Ruins and caves.

  • Try a pastechi and croquette from a local vendor.

  • Go on the Chogogo or Kukoo Kunuku party bus one evening.

  • Go to Philip’s Animal Garden and see all the zoo animals!

Best Beaches

Flamingo Beach: Lovely relaxing beach located on the private Renaissance Island where pink flamingos roam. Cabanas can be rented for the day for a more luxurious experience.

Eagle Beach: Voted #1 beach in the Caribbean in 2023 by TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice. The widest beach on the island and is famous for pristine, soft white sand and endless ocean views. There is a lot of parking here and a variety of water sports are available.

Arashi Beach: Locals love this beach and are often here on Sundays! Located in Noord and near the California lighthouse. Arashi has beautiful turquoise waters and stunning white sand perfect for sunbathing and relaxing. There are waves and gentle currents that make it great for snorkeling or other water activities. Plenty of parking is available and a beach bar on site.

Baby Beach: Located near San Nicolas and a famous beach in the southern part of Aruba. Is half-mooned shaped and like a calm lagoon with turquoise waters. The water is very shallow and perfect for swimming or just hanging out in. Great snorkeling spot as well but be sure to stay within the marked area as the rip currents can be very strong outside of the lagoon/marked area!

Mangel Halto: Located in Savaneta and is known for having Mangroves and being secluded and quiet. This beach is great for snorkeling with calm, shallow turquoise waters filled with a lot of sea life.

Helpful Tips

  • Consistently apply sunscreen, it’s very hot and you will burn!

  • Don’t bother spending a lot of time on doing your hair as it is windy and will be a waste of time.

  • Roundabouts are very common in Aruba and there are very few traffic lights – be sure to understand how roundabouts work before driving in Aruba.

  • Aruba has some of the best drinking water, don’t waste money on bottled water! Bring a reusable water bottle and drink the tap water.

  • Rent a car, taxis can add up especially if you want to explore the whole island and not just be confined to one area like palm beach which is super touristy!

  • Bring cash because it’s great to have for tips.

  • AMEX is not widely accepted on the island so be sure to have a Mastercard or Visa.

  • No need to exchange money since everywhere takes both dollars and the local currency Florins.

  • More “local spots” are cheaper because their food menus are in Florins versus dollars – 1 USD = 1.75 Florins.

  • Some restaurants automatically add 15%-20% service charge to your bill. This service charge is NOT a tip and does not just go directly to your server. The service charge is distributed to all restaurant staff (kitchen, hostess, bussers, etc.) as additional compensation to their salaries. It’s recommended to ask restaurants prior to your visit if they have a service charge so you are not surprised when you get the bill! Please tip your server as receive a small salary and rely on tips to make a decent income.

  • Aruba is not strict about dress codes for restaurants so casual or fancy are both fine!

  • Try the local rum Palmera or some of the local beers like Balashi and Chill. Don’t bother bringing a beach tent as it is too windy and will more than likely break.Recommend putting your phone in airplane mode and using WIFI that is readily accessible across the island.

  • Purchase travel insurance just in case something unexpected happens.

  • Don’t pay anyone on the beach for a palapa (it’s a scam) except for a hotel that may charge you to reserve one if you are staying there.

Places to eat & drink in Aruba

Outdoor restaurant sitting by beach side.

Food Trucks

  • Chalo burger

  • Happy Stop 2 Food Truck

  • Chachi’s Snack Truck

  • Ruiz Take Away

  • Julio’s Corner

  • Candela Food Trailer

Casual Spots

Pika’s Corner Aruban Cuisine: Great Aruban cuisine and other Caribbean food.

Alfie’s in Aruba: Known for having the best burgers on the island.

Local Store: Bar/American food with great wings and beer options.

Wacky Wahoo’s: Locally owned restaurant that has amazing seafood – they do not take reservations and seating is limited so show up early!

O’Niel Caribbean Kitchen: Delicious Caribbean and Jamaican food in San Nicholas. A great option when heading to Baby Beach!

Bingo Café & Restaurant: Delicious food and has a variety of options from local cuisine, American, Dutch and European international.

Bugaloe Beach Bar: Located right on the water in Palm Beach and is a great spot for happy hour and entertainment! Has casual breakfast, lunch and dinner options.

Zeerover: Seafood restaurant located on a fishing pier with an ocean view in Savaneta. The freshly caught fist is served finger food style and straight from the ocean to your personal basket. Note: all seafood is fried here.

Fancier Dining

Flying Fishbone: Popular on-the-beach dining experience where some tables are in the water. Beautiful sunset views. Mix of local cuisine, French, Caribbean and seafood.

Sole Mare Ristorante Italiano: Great option for authentic Italian.

Old Man and the Sea: Located in the old capital city of Aruba, Savaneta at the Aruba Ocean Villas. A great romantic option that has a wonderful ambiance. International/seafood menu.

Wilhelmina Restaurant: Located in a beautiful speakeasy city garden in downtown Oranjestad and close to the Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort. Offers a unique a la carte menu with Caribbean, seafood, European and international fusion options.

Papiamentoi: Located at a 100-year-old Cunucu house with filled with antiques from Europe, accompanied by a beautiful garden and around a pool has trees with lights. Great ambiance. Local cuisine, seafood and Caribbean.

The Old Cunucu House Aruba: Located in a traditional Cunucu house that was built over 150 years ago. Authentic Aruban cuisine with wonderful local hospitality.

Elements Restaurants Aruba: Ranked #2 restaurant in the world for Date night by 2021 Travelers Choice Awards. Adults only restaurant located at the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort. Awesome culinary experience with a beautiful ocean view. European, Caribbean and Seafood.

Barefoot Restaurant: A beautiful dining experience on Surfside beach or under a large palapa. Local cuisine, seafood and Caribbean.

Best Happy Hours

Best Nightlife

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Jimmy Cunningham’s guide, Guide to Adventure & Relaxation in Aruba.

Advisor - Jamie Padden

Travel Advisor

Jamie Padden

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Aruba.