Home > Best Places in Aruba
Updated: October 10, 2020
The Best Area to Stay in Aruba
Aruba is a small Caribbean island located a few miles north of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean. It’s a small island: just 20 miles long and 5 miles wide.
The Caribbean archipelago can be subdivided into a few different regions: the Lucayan Archipelago, the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, and the ABC Islands. Aruba is part of the ABC islands that also includes Bonaire and Curaçao. The ABC islands are the 3 western-most islands of the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea and were once part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. To this day, they are often referred to as the Dutch Caribbean.
Dutch and the local language of Papiamento are the official languages of Aruba, but most Arubans speak a minimum of 4 languages, including English. The florin is the currency in Aruba, though the US dollar is widely accepted. It’s possible to pay in either the florin or dollar at most hotels, restaurants, and shops on the island.
Unlike many of the Caribbean islands, Aruba has a dry climate and is more desert-like. This means the island has reliable warm, sunny, clear skies year-round with very little rain. It also sits outside of hurricane alley, so chances of a hurricane or severe weather are slim. One thing Aruba does have is trade winds that blow in from the Atlantic Ocean. The winds are fairly constant, so for those who want to stay coiffed, a hair tie or scarf does come in handy when visiting.
Aruba is a favorite destination with honeymoon couples and older, luxury travelers as well as families. Its beautiful white sand beaches are the main draw for many when choosing a vacation. The beaches on the west side of the island, including Palm Beach and Eagle Beach, are pristine and picture perfect, and while you could spend your entire Aruba vacation lounging on the beach and swimming in the crystal clear Caribbean Sea, there is a lot to do and see on this tiny island. Oranjestad is the capital and largest city in Aruba. Its nickname is “Caribbean Amsterdam” because of its colorful colonial houses. It’s also where you’ll find historical and cultural sights, shopping, Caribbean restaurants, the cruise port, and the starting point for many tours.
Aruba has a desert-like rugged terrain with rough seas on one side and beautiful turquoise waters and white-sand beaches on the other. The west side of the island is where you’ll find the white sand beaches and the north-east side is untamed with rocky volcanic stones, big waves, and mostly unpaved roads. The northside requires an ATV, 4×4, or dune buggies for the best exploration.
Snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, and sailing are popular activities on the island. Aruba has plenty of beachside bars, restaurants (including ones where you can dine on the sand), and casinos. There are also many sightseeing options such as the natural swimming pool (Conchi), California Lighthouse (near Arashi Beach), Aloe Factory, Butterfly Farm, Casibari Rock Formation, and Arikok National Park, to name just a few. Because there is so much to do, renting a car is a great option, especially for those who like to explore at their own pace, but make sure it’s a 4×4 if you want to venture to the northside. There are also a lot of companies to book an organized tour with and many include combinations of the top attractions.
All beaches in Aruba are public and offer a lot of amenities. Many beaches have palapas that can be rented, snack bars, and activity huts. You can get a massage, go jet skiing/parasailing/snorkeling, or even take a catamaran cruise or join a fishing charter. If shopping is one of your favorite activities, Oranjestad or the Palm Beach area are a must as they have all the best shopping spots on the island. Aruba has a fun nightlife scene and is filled with bars, nightclubs, casinos, as well as beach dining. Palm Beach is located along the west coast of Aruba, where the bulk of the nightlife is concentrated.
Like many of the other Caribbean Islands, Aruba is considered expensive, but the reality is that you can have a budget vacation here. When it comes to finding a place to stay in Aruba, all-inclusive resorts are typical, however, there are many other accommodation options like smaller hotels and guesthouses. It’s important to book hotels early to get the best deals, especially if you plan to visit during the winter high season, when finding a good place to stay can be much more difficult.
The Best Places to Stay in Aruba
There are 3 main beach areas in Aruba for lodging: Palm Beach (high rise hotel area), Eagle Beach (low rise hotel area), and the Renaissance hotel area which is located downtown with its own private island.
1. Palm Beach has large American hotels with more people and a lot of activity. There are plenty of restaurants, casinos, shops, and beach activities, and it is very walkable.
2. Eagle Beach has smaller hotels and is more laid back and quiet with fewer people. There is not as much to walk to as the Palm Beach area, but it is easy to get around by taxi or bus.
3. The Renaissance Hotel area which is located downtown has a lot within an easy walk, including the town of Oranjestad, and is also where you’ll find the famous pink flamingos.
- Best Luxury Hotels in Aruba
Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa • Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino • The Ritz-Carlton • Barcelo • Hotel Riu Palace Antillas
- Best Family Friendly Resorts in Aruba
Eagle Aruba Resort & Casino • Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino • Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort • Hotel Riu Palace Aruba
- Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Aruba
Barcelo • Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort • Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa
- Best Adult-Only Hotels in Aruba
Wonders Boutique Hotel • Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino • Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort • Hotel Riu Palace Antillas
- Best Boutique Hotels in Aruba
Ocean Z Boutique Hotel • Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort • Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba • Wonders Boutique Hotel
- Best Cheap Hotels in Aruba
Wonders Boutique Hotel • Dorado Eagle Beach Hotel
- Best Hostel in Aruba
Agua Clara Eco Suite
Where to Stay in Aruba for…
- Best Neighborhood in Aruba to Stay for First Timers: Palm Beach
Staying close to Palm Beach means easy access to the beach, water sports such as snorkeling, and excursions such as catamaran and pirate ship cruises. Palm Beach is a 2-mile section of beach with many high-rise resorts. If you’re looking for a neighborhood where you can find multiple restaurants, casinos, shopping, and activities within easy walking distance, this is your best choice. Palm Beach is known for its calm waters, making it a great location for families.
- Best Neighborhood in Aruba for Sightseeing: Oranjestad
Oranjestad is the capital and largest city in Aruba. If you enjoy history, architecture, and shopping, staying in this downtown area allows easy access to shopping, restaurants, a Historical Museum, the Archaeological Museum, cruise port and, of course, the colorful colonial houses. The city is easily walkable, renting a bike is another great option to get around downtown, and taxis are also available.
The most interesting sightseeing is not just in town though and can be found throughout the island. The California Lighthouse, the Aloe Factory, Butterfly Farm, Casibari Rock Formation, and an ATV tour to Aruba’s north shore to explore Aruba’s rocky, wild side with volcanic stones, big waves, and hidden swimming pools are a few of the highlights.
- Best Neighborhood in Aruba for Nightlife: Palm Beach
Most hotels in Aruba and especially in Palm Beach have casinos. In fact, there are 12 casinos on the island and Aruba is often called ‘Las Vegas of the Caribbean’. The Stellaris Casino located at the Aruba Marriott Resort is Aruba’s biggest casino and one of the few that is open 24 hours. Most of the dance clubs, bars, and casinos are located in Palm Beach, though you’ll also find a fun array in Eagle Beach and around the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino area as well. Another fun option in Aruba is taking a dining and nightlife tour on a hand-painted one-of-a-kind party bus with Kukoo Kunuku.
- Best Neighborhood in Aruba for Food and Restaurants: Oranjestad & Palm Beach
Aruba is known for its resorts with all-inclusive options. In fact, it’s more common to find yourself at an all-inclusive hotel than not. If you aren’t opting for the all-inclusive plan or want to head outside the resort for a few meals, you’ll find the majority of restaurants in the high-rise hotel area of Palm Beach and in downtown Oranjestad. One of the most romantic experiences available in Aruba is dinner served on the sand at sunset such as at Atardi at the Marriott. Because all beaches are public in Aruba and cannot be built on or obstructed, there are several pop-up dinner spots operating nightly. Each afternoon, staff arrive to set up tables and chairs 3 feet from the water in time for sunset. If you are looking for fine dining with a Caribbean flare, The Flying Fishbone, The Kitchen Table, and Wilhelmina Restaurant are top choices. A few renowned local eateries include Zeerovers, Gostoso, King’s BBQ, and Bingo! Cafe and Restaurant. Zeerovers is located on the water and is known for local fresh fish served with plantains, onions in vinegar (pika), and pan bati (Aruban cornbread).
- Best Neighborhood in Aruba for Families: Eagle Beach or Palm Beach
Aruba has a lot of hotels with great water slides, waterfalls, and beautiful pools. If trips down the waterslide make your kids smile, Eagle Aruba Resort & Casino and Bluegreen Vacations La Cabana Resort, An Ascend Collection in Eagle Beach are great choices. In Palm Beach, the Hyatt Regency has a multi-level pool with a waterslide and close to Oranjestad, the Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort are great choices. Choosing by location, Palm Beach truly has it all, and a few choices here are the Aruba Marriott Resort which offers babysitting services and activities to engage kids while the adults can check out the adults-only H2Oasis pool. The Ritz Carlton is another good choice for those who want a posh stay with a bit more seclusion. In the Palm Beach area, you are also close to the Bubali Bird Sanctuary, the Old Dutch Windmill, and the Butterfly Farm. Eagle Beach is famous for its low-rise resorts and wide public beach. It has soft white sand and has been rated one of the best beaches in the world. It isn’t quite as crowded as Palm Beach, and Divi Village is a great choice in this neighborhood for families who love to golf – they even offer beachside golf villas.
- Most Romantic Neighborhood in Aruba: Romantic Hotels
There isn’t necessarily a particular neighborhood that is most romantic, but there are boutique hotels and luxury resorts that offer great spa packages and ultra romance. There are also adults-only hotels such as Wonders Boutique Hotel and the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. Aruba is a popular destination for honeymooners and a very romantic location. Strolling on the beach at sunset or taking a sunset cruise on a sailboat are experiences that shouldn’t be missed. Visit one of the many romantic restaurants such as Atardi at the Marriott or Bohemian Bar And Restaurant, or take it to the next level and dine with your feet in the water at Flying Fishbone located in the fishing village of Savaneta. One of the most popular ways to romance your partner is to enjoy a cocktail at Pinchos on the Pier, one of the most romantic restaurants in Aruba; an episode of ABC’s The Bachelor was even filmed here.
- Best Neighborhood in Aruba for a Local Vibe: Hadicurari Beach and Favorite Local Restaurants
If you want to mingle with the locals, try visiting Hadicurari Beach. You won’t find the tourist crowds there, but instead discover a more authentic feel thanks to the fishermen and their huts. If you want to see where locals go for happy hour and their favorite restaurants, head to Zeerovers, Gostoso, King’s BBQ, and Bingo! Cafe and Restaurant.
- Best Neighborhood in Aruba for Walking: Oranjestad & Palm Beach
The downtown area of Aruba’s capital city Oranjestad is easily walkable. L.G. Smith Boulevard and it’s adjacent streets are filled with restaurants, shopping, and small bars. Palm beach has paved walkways between the hotels and the beach which allows easy access to other hotels and areas. The beaches in Aruba are snow white and a great place for a stroll, especially at sunset.
- Safest Areas of Aruba
Aruba’s safest area is on property at the resorts. The downtown and tourist areas are generally safe, with very little for the tourists to worry about. It’s actually considered to be one of the safest of all the Caribbean islands. Use common sense, and standard precautions apply as they do for all major tourist locations. Watch your bags and purse, don’t walk alone at night, and stay on main streets with good lighting.
- Unsafe Areas of Aruba
As a whole, Aruba is a fairly safe island. Though relatively low in Aruba, crime still exists. Simply stay in the tourist zones, don’t wander far off the beaten path, and you shouldn’t encounter any problems.
The 4 Best Neighborhoods in Aruba for Tourists
1. Palm Beach
Palm Beach is the central location on the island and has the most to offer. It’s known for its calm waters, long sandy strip of beach, and the nearby J.E. Irausquin Boulevard which is lined with bars and restaurants. This is the most popular area for people visiting for a family vacation as well as those looking for a big resort experience. It is a very safe area and a popular choice for families, luxury travelers, and honeymooners.
2. Eagle Beach
Eagle Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island with its wide strip of white powdery sand. There are palapas for rent and a snack hut here. The surf can be rough at times, but it is still good for swimming. The beach is quieter than Palm Beach and there are less activities or gear for rent available, but it is free to the public like all Aruban beaches. The northern end of Eagle Beach is home to 2 iconic Divi-Divi trees and one of the most popular photo ops on the island.
Arashi Beach is located on the northwestern tip of Aruba, in Noord district. The beach is popular for swimming and snorkeling. You’ll find fewer crowds and options for shopping and restaurants here. A popular spot is the Beer Shack serving drinks and snacks. It’s located near the California Lighthouse and an option for those looking for quiet or those who want to spent a good deal of time in the water snorkeling.
One of the major reasons to stay near downtown is access to pink Flamingos. There are lots of great photos out there from Aruba with flamingos but the truth is, these birds are not native to Aruba and you can only find them on one specific beach on a private island that belongs to the Renaissance Hotel where access is very limited. The only way to get there is by a shuttle boat owned by the hotel. Guests of the Renaissance Aruba Resort have free access or you can buy a day pass for $125 and visit the island as a non-guest. Another important thing to note is children can only come to Flamingo Beach to visit the flamingos from 9am-10am.