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Aruba beach vacation tips
Aruba is the perfect destination choice for a beach vacation with its most days of sunshine in not only the Caribbean but easily in the entire world. With a year-round pleasant dry climate, stunning beaches and some of the warmest people in the world, it is easy to understand why this heavenly island is often referred to as One Happy Island. It is not only an ultimate tropical honeymoon and family holiday spot, but solo travelers or the elderly also find various things to do on an Aruba beach vacation including adventures and relaxation.
Aruba quick info guide
Language: Papiamento and Dutch
Capital city: Oranjestad
Currency: official currency Aruban Florin (AWG) but USD is accepted everywhere
Visa: Aruba is an autonomous territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Residents of any EU member state, US, Canada, UK, Ireland don’t need a visa to enter the country for short stays. Dutch and US national are allowed to stay in Aruba up to 180 days/year. Cruise ship passengers don’t need a visa if they stay less than 24 hours. If you are not exempted of the visa, than you need to apply for a Caribbean visa, however this will be valid for all Caribbean islands that belong to the Kingdom of Netherland. For the most up-to-date visa requirements, please contact your local embassy or consulate.
Safety: Aruba is one of the safest Caribbean islands. The population is about 115.000 only, the crime rate is very low. However, travelers are advised to take normal safety precautions and use common sense like not leaving valuables in the car and at the beach, or not carrying too much money to avoid thefts.
Why is Aruba perfect for a beach vacation?
If you are in need of some serious rest and relaxation, then you should consider seriously taking an Aruba beach vacation. This small yet adventure-filled island that is part of the Lesser Antilles south of Venezuela is a one-stop-shop destination that has something to offer for any kind of visitor.
People going on their honeymoon love it because it is possibly the most romantic island in the Caribbean. Luxury holidaymakers find it to be a premier destination with its many four- and five-star hotels fronting the legendary Palm Beach and Eagle Beach. Culture vultures adore the thriving capital city Oranjestad where the lively Caribbean vibe meets the Netherlands culture.
Despite the island’s small size, the opportunities here are endless so a vacation in Aruba is everything but boring! Discover the amazing natural beauty of the Arikok National Park, surf at the Hadicurari Beach, hunt down the best Dutch-made cheese in the capital Oranjestad, or just chill out on world-leading powder sand beaches, this all wait for you here. Aruba has a lot to offer for children too: spending the day at the Donkey Sanctuary, visiting the Ostrich Farm or enjoying sheltered bays like Baby Beach. At night, Aruba presents Palm Beach casinos and Oranjestad pubs featuring live music.
Aruba’s best 5 beaches
Aruba beaches are often mentioned among the world’s best beaches with good reason. We could include all beaches in this section because they are all special in a certain way, but let’s start with the 5 most beautiful ones:
The place you just simply cannot miss out on an Aruba beach vacation! Eagle Beach is internationally renowned for its powdery white sand, known as not only the best beach in Aruba but also one of the finest beaches on earth with good reason. The vistas are stunning, the water is incredibly blue, shade is available to ease the hot sun, many water sports beckon, and plenty of parking is at hand here. What else you could wish for?
Arashi Beach is ideal for families who want to swim, snorkel, and sunbathe. This local favorite sandy Aruba beach vacation spot delivers calm waters along with a wealth of submarine life. Found in the island’s north near Malmok Beach en-route to the California Lighthouse, Arashi offers beach huts, ample parking, and even a fun bar. Recently the beach amenities were expanded to include for rent chase loungers, showers, and sometimes live music bar side. Beginning surfers and bodyboarders are able to enjoy the gentle swells here. There is a fantastic snorkeling trail on the left end of the beach, replete with marine plants and animals.
Baby Beach is one of the most idyllic Aruba beaches lying in the southern part of the island near San Nicholas. This beach paradise takes the form of the traditional half-moon stretch of sand along a tranquil lagoon, making it perfect for families with little children. Swimmers enjoy the ability to wade way out still touching the bottom of the sand. Snorkelers find it to be a safe paradise (if you stay in the snorkel marked area).
The beach also features a refreshment stand serving hotdogs and hamburgers you can enjoy while rubbing shoulders with local sunbathers. There is the renowned BBQ restaurant Big Mama’s Grill here that also serves fresh seafood platters for the hungry man.
You can rent beach chase loungers here, snorkel gear, and windscreens at the concession. The huts sprinkled around the beach here protect from the sun and are free to use. A local dive shop makes diving and snorkeling gear available to rent too.
Mangel Halto Beach
Probably the best kayaking, snorkeling, and paddleboarding spot in Aruba is Mangel Halto. The secluded sandy expanse offers shallow and calm waters that are replete with marine life among the mangroves. Sun worshipers enjoy the privacy and solitude of this beach that offers huts for free to better shade your picnic or take in the glorious sunset. There is a wooden sun deck, access for open water that provides great surfing, body boarding, and kayaking opportunities.
Mangel Halto is also a fantastic shore diving site. You can enjoy spectacular yellowtail snapper, parrotfish, sergeant majors, and blue tangs along with anemones, sponges, and gorgonians all the way to the reef’s edge. In deeper depths of the reef, you will see morays, octopus, and barracuda. Also, there is a small shipwreck in the middle of the lagoon that lies not to deep so even snorkelers can observe it.
Palm Beach is the exclusive and high-end bay and beach destination in Aruba. The two-mile expanse of sand is the home to the most luxurious high-rise hotels and low-rise resorts on the island. Appropriately speckled by palm trees, there are also numerous casinos, resorts, piers, restaurants, shops, beach bars, and water sports concessions abounding on Palm Beach.
After the sun sets, Palm Beach starts to hop with casinos and night clubs coming to life in an upbeat celebration of life. Two of the biggest island shopping malls are found here alongside movie theatres, spas, bowling, and even fountain shows. Strolling on this bustling promenade in the evening is certainly a not-to-miss-out activity when on a vacation in Aruba!
Beach activities in Aruba
An Aruba holiday is a lot more than enjoying first-class beaches. As a top water sport paradise, it offers various activities for all types of travelers: families, groups of friends, elderly couples, solo female travelers and of course single guys will find something to do here. The island less windy side provides crystal clear depths full of shipwrecks and reefs that are ideal for snorkeling and diving, while adrenaline junkies will certainly enjoy the east side’s beaches that offer the best windsurfing. Let’s see in detail what the best beach activities are!
Snorkeling: the clear, calm waters provide top conditions no matter you are a newbie or a pro snorkeler, so it is not a surprise that snorkeling is the number one beach activity on an Aruba beach vacation. A good thing is that the reef runs close to the shore making most snorkel spots easily accessible. Put your mask on and enjoy swimming with turtles, floating above colorful corals or observe the Babbo Wreck that lies at Malmok Beach in very shallow water.
Diving: besides the first-class shallow reefs, Aruba has a lot to offer for those who prefer deep-water adventures. There is something here for all levels of divers including vibrant coral gardens, seagrass meadows and excellent wrecks! An absolute must is exploring the Antilla shipwreck which is considered the best wreck in the Caribbean!
Windsurfing/kite surfing: thanks to the constant trade winds, Aruba is a worldwide-known windsurfing paradise that offers suitable conditions for wind- and kite surfers at all levels. Are you a beginner? Then sign up for a course at one of the many superb surfing schools, or schedule your trip for June when the Windsurfing Pro Grand Prix Cup is held if you want to see who the pros ride!
Catamaran cruise: There is no better way to discover the beauty of the Caribbean Sea than a sailing cruise! Join a day trip that will take you around the island’s hot spots while topped up with snorkeling in wonderful coral gardens. Aruba’s sunsets are worldwide famous and they are very enjoyable from a beach too, but to make the most of your Aruba beach holiday we recommend taking a sunset cruise too where you can enjoy the beautiful views from a luxury catamaran!
Best time for an Aruba beach vacation
The truth is that there is no bad time for an Aruba holiday! Thanks to the hot tropical climate and the constantly blowing trade winds that temper the heat, the Aruba weather is pleasant all-year-round. The average daily temperatures are around 82-88F/27.7-31C throughout the year, while the sea is more than perfect for any water activity with temperatures of 79-82F/26-28C.
Despite it is a year-round tourist destination, our opinion is that the best months to go to Aruba are from May to September. This period is considered the hottest therefore it is the off-season in the region, but there are fewer tourists on the island and the prices are lower too. Should you arrive in the main holiday seasons (around Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Eastern), prepare for higher prices. A good thing is that Aruba beaches don’t get crowded even in the main peak season since they are long and wide enough.
Aruba (along with Bonaire and Curacao) lies outside the hurricane belt, so it is a safe choice to go even during the Caribbean Hurricane Season. The island is relatively dry and gets approx. 20 inches of rainfall per year. The months of October, November, December and January are considered the rainy months when rain showers are frequent due to the north-east trade winds, but there are only 7-10 rainy days, so this shouldn’t stop you from vacationing in Aruba during these months.
To check the current water temperatures, visit seatemperature.org.
Average sea temperature:
February to September
October to January
Aruba beach vacation costs
If you are wondering how much does a vacation to Aruba cost, then you need to know that the Dutch Caribbean isn’t considered a budget destination. This Caribbean island is the place to be for honeymooning couples and retired grandparents who wish to relax and enjoy top-notch service when soaking up the sun at one of the best beaches in Aruba. Therefore, most hotels were designed to cater to the higher-end spectrum of tourism so you should anticipate paying high prices for food, drinks, hotels and excursions, especially if you are staying at a resort on Palm Beach or Eagle Beach.
Despite it is not a cheap place to visit, it is still possible to make your Aruba holiday affordable if you stay in a hostel or rent an apartment outside the main tourist zone and skip eating out. There is good public transport and tons of free (or nearly free) activities such as trekking and snorkeling, so don’t skip visiting this lovely island even if you are on a smaller budget.
See below a rough guide on the daily budget per person (including accommodation and meals, but no flights):
Places to stay in Aruba
One can find beach resorts in Aruba both in the affordable and luxury categories. If you look at the map of Aruba, you will see that the best beaches fronting the Caribbean Sea and their accompanying hotel strips lie to the south of the island. This is where you will find the luxurious getaway properties as well as adult and couples-only properties with their compelling vacation packages.
Should you wish to spend your vacation in a place where there is always action, choose a place either on Eagle Beach or Palm Beach in the high-rise/low-rise hotel districts. You can never go wrong with Barceló Aruba and Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort that are known as the best Aruba all-inclusive resorts.
Any budget accommodations to mid-range properties would likely be found outside the main tourist zones and in the west in Oranjestad, the capital where even hostels can be found (Hostel Room Aruba and Harmony Hostel) that can be a good option for those are on a tight budget.
Average accommodation prices per night in Aruba:
Hostel or simple hotel: 40-70 USD
3/4 star hotel: 100-150 USD
5-star resort/holiday home: 250-450 USD
Always choose a reliable booking website with 24/7 customer support to book your accommodation! (We think that Booking.com is one of the best booking sites with the widest selection of hotels and apartments available. We use them regularly and so far, we are 100% satisfied.)
Beach etiquette in Aruba
Being a top vacation destination that is always popular with beachgoers, divers and kite surfers, wearing beachwear or leisure clothing is fully acceptable on the island in almost all situations. However, while walking around Aruba towns and resort areas, you should plan on wearing a wrap or something over your bathing suit to not show off your bikini too much.
Nude sunbathing in public is against the law in Aruba and might insult the locals. Women going topless on the beaches in the resort area are tolerated. This tolerance does not extend to other parts of the resort grounds however, so always be discrete. There are two topless public beaches: one on the De Palm Island and one on the Renaissance Island, moreover, Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort and Manchebo Beach Resort offer topless-areas.
Aruban specialties to eat and drink
Despite it’s a small Caribbean island, the internationally influenced Aruban cuisine is renowned around the region. Here are a handful of not to be missed fresh foods to experience while in Aruba:
Pan Bati: the Aruban version of bread comes pretty standard as a side to your meals here. This slightly sweet and fluffy flat bread will melt in your mouth. It is cooked much like a pancake but served with every soup or savory meal.
Fresh Fish and Seafood: Aruba’s position within the southern Caribbean means that it boasts a wealth of fresh seafood and fish on a daily basis. Grilled red snapper is a particular local specialty in this regard, but it is worth trying out lionfish too! These fish are invasive species, therefore are a big favorite of the local Aruban palette and eating them helps to protect marine life.
Soups and Stews: Stews and soups are a common staple of the Caribbean diet, and Aruba is no exception here. Local restaurants will always have some on offer. Seafood chowders and fish soups are common home and restaurant cooked fare in Aruba. Stews also feature tender cooked meats like chicken or goat meat traditionally. Lamb and beef-based stews are also available. Cabrito Stoba is the commonplace goat-based stew, while the locals call the beloved fish stew Keri Keri.
Keshi Yena: A must try traditional dish on an Aruba beach vacation is Keshi Yena. Picture a big round of cheese that has been overstuffed using spicy chicken meat. The Dutch invented this hearty meal and this makes it commonly covered with Gouda cheese.
Ayaca: Another not to be missed traditional Aruban dish is Ayaca. This banana leaf and meat steamed entree comes with dried fruits and cashews. The island has taken this classical Venezuelan dish and made it its own. With so many wealthy Venezuelans having second homes here, it is not too surprising.
Funchi: Italy’s cornmeal polenta is affectionately known as Funchi in Aruba. This dish is available in every kind of size and shape. You can get it sliced up into soft bits or fried crispy. Covered in Gouda cheese is a truly Dutch Aruban variation of it.
Banana Hasa: fried plantain is often served as a side or even as a main dish. Its sweet, caramelized flavor goes very well with seafood.
Kesio: Arubans have a sweet tooth so you will always find various desserts on the menus. The most popular one is the Aruban version of crème caramel that is called locally Kesio.
Aruba Ariba: it is the signature cocktail of the island so it is definitely something you should try when vacationing on Aruba. This delicious long-drink major ingredients are vodka, rum, crème de banana, Coecoei (this is an agave-rum mix and available only in Aruba, at home can be replaced with passion fruit nectar or with cherry brandy) and different fruit juices.
Useful Aruban Phrases
The official languages in Aruba are Dutch and Papiamento, but most Aruban speak Spanish and English too at a very good level so you certainly won’t have difficulties finding someone to chat with or getting help in case you are lost or need information. However, Papiamento is a very easy-to-learn and fun language, so let’s see some useful phrases that will help you to make new friends!
Bon dia – Good morning!
Bon tardi – Good afternoon!
Bon nochi – Good evening!
Ajo – Goodbye
Bon bini – Welcome!
Con ta bai? – How are you?
Mi ta bon! – I am well!
Danki – Thank you
Con Jamabo – What’s your name?
My nomber ta… – My name is…
Contento di mira bo – Pleased to meet you
Aruba ta dushi! – Aruba is lovely
Pasa un bon dia – Have a good day
Mi tin sed – I’m thirsty
Mi tin hamber – I’m hungry
Ban come – Lets eat
Pica – Spicy Food
Cuanto esaki ta costa? – How much does this cost
Mi ta wak rond – Looking around, browsing
Cuantor tin? – What time is it?