Last updated: 12th February 2024
We wanted a gay friendly Caribbean island holiday where we could unwind with friends on a relaxing break so we chose Aruba. It’s a dreamy exotic destination home to beautiful powdery white sandy beaches and clear, warm turquoise waters – a Caribbean paradise! In this Aruba travel guide we’ll show you 7 of Aruba’s best beaches for a week of beach hopping if you’re staying like us for 1 week in Aruba.
Table of Contents
Aruba is located 18 miles from Venezuela in the Southern Caribbean Sea. The island is just 20 miles long by 6 miles across, so Aruba is a tiny island. Its compact size makes it a perfect island to explore for a week. The north and east have dramatic landscapes, whilst the south and west are home to palm fringed pristine beaches – the south west having the best ones. Aruba is quite touristy, especially popular with Americans who enjoy winter holidays staying at luxury casino resorts.
The island escapes hurricanes, as it’s below the belt of ‘Hurricane Alley’ in the Caribbean so you can pretty much visit any month. Aruba has a tropical climate which means year round sunshine and low rainfall. The low humidity is due to the cooling trade winds, which are perfect for keeping cool.
Affectionately known as ‘one happy island’ Aruba is an authentic melting pot of Dutch, Caribbean and Spanish culture. Locals will say, “Bon Bini” (welcome) people are so friendly here and it’s one of the safest Caribbean islands. Locals have Dutch nationality because Aruba is part of the Netherlands, along with neighbouring Bonaire and Curacao, these are referred to as the ABC islands or the Dutch Caribbean.
7 Best Aruba Beaches
1. Baby Beach
Located on the South East of the island is Baby Beach – a local and family favourite. We loved it here, it has a beautiful shallow lagoon with stunning crystal clear water which is not only very picturesque, but very practical for families with young children. It’s also one of the best places in Aruba to snorkel in warm water. Wade out to the reef where the bouys are and you’ll still be waist deep, so simply stick your face in the water to see lots of colourful fish, but not so much coral. We took our own facemasks but you can rent snorkeling kit.
You can also rent a pricey cabana on the beach which offer shade. There’s a beach bar and a restaurant with toilet facilities (get a token from the restaurant). If you find Baby Beach is too busy you can drive to the neighbouring Roger’s Beach which is more peaceful.
2. Rodgers Beach
Rodgers Beach has pillow soft white sand and is quiet and peaceful. We literally had the whole beach to ourselves for a quick dip. It has a narrow strip of beach and is where fishermen come to anchor their colourful boats. The beach is named after the British Captain Rodger who opened Aruba’s first oil refinery in 1928. You can see the refinery from Rodgers Beach, this view makes it less appealing to tourists, we kinda liked the juxtaposition. But look the other way and it’s a palette of Caribbean colours.
3. Flamingo Beach
Our third favourite beach in Aruba is ‘Flamingo Beach’ on Renaissance Island. The best way to see Aruba’s famous Flamingo Beach is to book a session at the Okeanos Spa Cove on the private Renaissance Island which belongs to the Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort. We booked the Seascape Lunch Package for 2 people (£300). The package includes boat transfers, a tropical open air Swedish massage (which was so relaxing), complimentary use of beach towels and lunch at the Papagayo Bar & Grill. You’re not allowed to bring your own food to the island, so this is a great option. Book an early appointment so you can spend all day on the island. After we checked in at the hotel’s spa, we caught a transfer speed boat from the hotel to the island which takes 5 minutes. The first boats leave at 7am and run every 15 minutes. The last boat leaves Renaissance Island at 6.45pm, they hold around 20 people.
Renaissance Island has Aruba’s 2 only private beaches – the adults only Flamingo Beach and the slightly less crowded family friendly Iguana Beach. We thought the Iguana Beach was much prettier and spent our day here.
As soon as we landed on the island we saw iguanas basking in the sun on the boardwalks and in the sand. As we walked to Iguana Beach we caught our first sight of the flamingos in the water! It was amazing to get up close and personal with these friendly flamingos, something that has been on Garth’s bucket list, so it was a big tick!
A lady gave us a handful of pellets which was really kind and some of the curious flamingos ate straight from our hands! You are allowed to feed them, but not pet them. If you want to buy pellets of food from one of the vending machines they cost 50 cents. (so bring some US quarters) They make amazing models for perfect photographs as they gracefully walk on the sugary white sand set against the turquoise water. If you want the best photos do them in the morning as by 1pm the sunlight is directly overhead and nowhere near as good.
We loved watching them from our sun loungers as these beautiful pink flamingos roam around freely, when they get too hot they walked past us to the bushes and into the shade. Oh and you can order cocktails and drinks on your lounger from the waitress service on the beach, talk about being pampered!
If you’re hoping to see flamingos everywhere on Aruba, you’ll be disappointed as they aren’t native to Aruba. On Renaissance Island they’re not held in captivity, opting to live in the mangroves, much to Garth’s relief after reading stories about their wings being clipped, but they have their feet tagged. No wonder they don’t want to leave with all the food on tap. If you want to see wild flamingo colonies you’re best visiting neighbouring Bonaire island.
If you’re feeling really flush you can rent a private cabana, like an overwater bungalow for a day but you’ll need to book these well in advance as they sell out quickly.
Finally there is a nice shady mangrove trail you can walk along, where we saw an unusual teal coloured lizard.
4. Palm Beach
Palm Beach on Aruba’s north coast is the island’s biggest soft sandy beach stretching for 2 miles. Backed by high-rise luxury all inclusive hotels, casinos, seafood restaurants and beach bars. Described by Conde Nast Traveller as one of the world’s best beaches, hmm, yes the beach and water is lovely, but we definitely preferred the much quieter beaches. Palm Beach is a lively place and great for a spot of people watching whilst sipping on a refreshing cocktail. If water-sports are your thing, you can windsurf or hire jet-skis to enjoy on the picture perfect turquoise water. Or you can take one of the many big tour boats and catamarans from Palm Beach or enjoy watching a sunset from the pier.
The must see beach bar located on a pier at Palm Beach is the Bugaloe Beach Bar & Grill – a hotspot for casual food and fun. We enjoyed a lively lunch set amongst the brightly painted Caribbean colours next to the bright turquoise water. We enjoyed a couple of beers listening to some great Caribbean music. Further up Palm Beach you’ll find De Olde Molen – an old Dutch windmill that was built in the Netherlands in 1804 and shipped across the Atlantic and rebuilt in Aruba in 1960. It is now a classy restaurant, bar and museum.
5. Eagle Beach
Next to Aruba’s popular Palm Beach is Eagle Beach. This is the island’s widest beach. It’s a pristine beach and was voted the second best in the world by Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards 2023. Across the island you’ll find Aruba’s iconic Divi Divi trees, but at Eagle Beach you’ll find the only ones that grow in the sand which are called Fofoti trees. They point in a south west direction sculpted by the constant trade winds. There’s just two of them, which you’ll see on countless brochures, paintings and postcards. The beach here has pearly white sandy and is really wide, which means it’s a lot less crowded than Palm Breach and has a more laid back vibe. There’s lots of wildlife including sea turtles who come to lay their eggs here. They are marked out by red and white markers which warn of a possible turtle nest.
Fancy a healthy casual lunch? then head to Eduardo’s Beach Shack Eduardo’s Beach Shack on Eagle Beach. They have great smoothies, coffee and açaí bowls for some cute Instagrammable photo opportunities.
6. Mangel Halto
This beach is lovely and very quiet, also pretty small surrounded by mangroves. Be warned it’s rocky walking out so take jelly shoes and once you get in the water, the current is strong. But you can stand up if you feel yourself getting swept away. It’s definitely one of Aruba’s best beaches for snorkeling.
7. Arashi Beach
Just off the road to the California Lighthouse you’ll find Arashi Beach with its narrow stretch of sand. It’s popular with families and locals and has a large car park, a beach bar and sun loungers to rent. Another great place for snorkeling in Aruba because it only has gentle currents. We ate at the beach bar where the food is pretty basic and the music quite loud, so not the best bar, but it’s ok.
Oranjestad – Aruba’s Capital City
Oranjestad is Aruba’s pastel coloured capital city. Full of pretty Dutch colonial architecture, museums, fancy shops like Gucci and a mix of restaurants. It’s very popular with cruise ship day trippers. So the best time to visit is late afternoon once all the cruise ships have left or Sundays like we did when it’s really quiet as the shops are closed. Take a stroll through the small capital, you only really need to plan an hour or so here. Hop on and off the free tram that loops the city to see it even quicker!
Plaza Daniel Leo is where you see lots of old buildings clustered together. Some are really vivid, slightly garish in colour! Our favourite colonial style buildings are the pastel pink Royal Plaza Mall, the green coloured City Hall and The Ecury Complex – an old export house now a museum.
The harbour is nice for a stroll, make sure to stop at Lucy’s for the best mahi mahi fish tacos we had on Aruba. Garth couldn’t resist buying a fridge magnet for our collection from one of the many souvenir shops located here.
We parked up in the car park next to the Renaissance Marketplace, don’t park between yellow lines otherwise you’ll get a ticket. It’s free after 7pm and on Sundays. However you’ll need Arubian coins not US currency to pay and display from the ticket machines.
2 Best Aruba Restaurants
Barefoot is considered one of the top restaurants in Aruba. It offers a casual and elegant dining experience right on the beach or on the wooden deck under its large palapa thatched roof. It’s located on Surfside Beach in Oranjestad close to the airport. Get ready to take off your sandals and experience the sand in your toes. Expect a laidback ambiance in a beautiful setting, with a tropical breeze but be prepared for the pumping party bass tunes from the bar next door, we didn’t mind the loud ’80s tunes!
For the best experience book a 6pm reservation on the beach to witness a perfect sunset. The food is delicious at reasonable prices with lots of fish options and there’s an extensive wine list from local wine suppliers. We chose Dutch crab cakes, snail stuffed mushrooms to start, Garth chose the blackened Mahi Mahi with pineapple salsa and Phil chose Caribbean grouper covered in cheese sauce for our mains. Finished off with the Snickers Cheesecake which is sickly sweet, Garth loved it 🤣
2. The Flying Fishbone
The Flying Fishbone restaurant is located in the charming fishing village of Savaneta. Here you can experience beachside dining right in the water, yes! dinner is served with the water lapping at your feet, so take your flip-flops. They have a feet wash station when you’re done.
Expect a great atmosphere and a Caribbean menu with a European influence. Lots of fresh seafood and steaks like filet mignon to choose from. The lobster dishes are considered some of the best in Aruba. Garth chose tempura shrimp followed by surf and turf, one said it was one of the best steaks he’d ever had.
Aruba Facts, Information & Useful Advice
Phil and Garth’s Top 5 Aruba Tips
- Tip #1: Don’t visit in August there’s no wind, temperatures are scorching hot and the whole island is smelly from the rubbish tip behind the airport.
- Tip #2: Take a snorkel and reef-safe sunscreen. Buy a waterproof case for your iPhone.
- Tip #3: Book Barefoot and Flying Fish restaurants months in advance.
- Tip #4: Shops are closed on Sundays.
- Tip #5: Tipping is expected between 15% – 20% in restaurants and taxis.
- Aruba Ariba – Aruba’s signature cocktail made of vodka, white rum, Grand Marnier, crème de banana, Coecoei (only found in Aruba), and fruit punch.
- Ponche Crema – Similar to eggnog, this is a rum-based creamy ice-cold drink made with egg yolk and nutmeg, originating from neighbouring Venezuela.
- Balashi – Is the local beer, grab an ice-cold Balashi to watch the sunset.
- Fresh Seafood – Served everywhere in Aruba. Coconut shrimp is especially popular, with Mahi mahi and lobster dishes taking second billing.
- Pastechi – Savoury pastry pie a bit like a Spanish empanada – filled with beef, chicken, tuna or cheese, Traditionally eaten at breakfast.
- Arroz Moro – Traditional Caribbean rice and peas side dish. Red kidney beans mixed with rice and tomato and soy sauce.
- Ayacas – Wrapped in banana leaves – a mix of chicken or pork, spices, olives, raisins, prunes, and cashews. Traditionally served at Christmas.
- Stoba – A hearty stew with chicken, okra etc.
- Argentine Steak – Thanks to Aruba’s close proximity to South America, you’ll find juicy surf and turf options.
How We Did It
We went for one week at the beginning of May, considered low season when the island is less crowded. We booked this great AirBnB in Oranjestad.
- When is the best time to visit Aruba? April to August. High season costs more from December – mid-April.
- When is the worst time to visit Aruba? October to February has the most rain.
- What is the best currency to take to Aruba? Aruban Guilder (AWG). US dollars are accepted throughout the Island.
- What is Aruba’s International Airport? Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA).
- What language is spoken in Aruba? Dutch and Papiamento.
- What’s the flight time from Gatwick to Aruba? 9 hours 35 minutes.
- What’s the flight time from Amsterdam to Aruba? 10 hours 15 minutes.
- Is the tap water safe to drink in Aruba? Yes.
- When is the high season in Aruba? December 1st – Mid April.
- When is the low season in Aruba? Mid April – End of November.
- What is the official Aruba Tourist Board website? www.aruba.com/uk
- Are there sharks in Aruba? Yes, but shark attacks on humans are extremely rare.