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Aruba's Nightlife:Rhythm of The Night

Anything goes when the sun sets on Aruba – relaxed and chilled out, amped-up and full-on, or a bit of both – the choice is yours. Start out with easy cocktails as the sun sets over a perfect sea, then let yourself be carried away as dance floors beckon and musical vibes of all types waft out into the streets and into the wee hours.  Whether you choose to pop in and out of hotspots in downtown Oranjestad, join the parties at surfside venues on our famous beaches, or traipse all along the lively strip in front of the island’s gorgeous resorts… there’s something for every party mood and style.

Here’s our guide to help you follow the rhythms of a magical Aruban night.

Kick off an enchanted evening in style at some of the island’s most sophisticated resort lounges, the lobby bar in the Aruba Marriott and the Aruba Ritz-Carlton are ideal spots to start. And the Holiday Inn’s Palm Bar has the island’s largest selection of fine rums. Or head over the Fusions Wine & Piano Bar at the Alhambra Mall for some lounge style entertainment, fine wine by the glass, and great tapas.

There’s always something special happening in Oranjestad, the island’s capital city, where you’ll find legendary Cuba’s Cookin’ at their new location in the Renaissance Marketplace complete with stage, dance floor, and the best mojitos on the island. The food is delicious, too, but it’s the Latin sounds and rhythms that earn this spot a place on our list of favorites.  It’s a warm and welcoming spot for locals and visitors alike, with vibrant Cuban art and even regular poetry nights. And the new SideBar also in in the marketplace sometimes has live music, and they specialize in a super selection of handcrafted barrel-aged bourbon cocktails.

Right around the corner, the twinkling lights of the yachts in the marina beckon from the terrace of CILO City Lounge where frozen cocktails are a specialty and live music and tapas Thursdays add to the allure.  Next, try a trendy martini at connecting Next-Door, a cosmopolitan lounge that also serves late-night tapas. In the same area, Café the Plaza at Renaissance Marketplace and Casa Tua  both offer a relaxed atmosphere and a wide variety of coffees and after-dinner digestifs. Or you can rub elbows with the beautiful people at the hip Blue Bar at the Renaissance Marina Hotel. Enjoy the island’s best DJs, a video wall, and superb signature cocktails there. Then check out 7 West after dinner when they morph into a party emporium and their new Chipotz sister bar there specializes in shooters and late night revelry

Just across the street from the Marketplace is a perennial local and tourist favorite: Café Chaos, a relaxed Dutch-style bar with draft beer, live music, and a great happy hour. Further along the harbor and you can’t miss the crazy rooftop décor (a cow, a dinosaur, and a car) of Eetcafé The Paddock, famous for their zany style and friendly service and a favored place for  hearty snack platters and cheering on Dutch “futball”.

Across the street, on the second floor at Royal Plaza Mall, Mojito’s Cantina & Grill is a popular spot for dancing and late night eats. Live music and local DJs keep the mood caliente, while their signature mojitos and tasty Cuban fare keep everyone smiling.

If you’re looking for an extremely LGBT friendly spot then Jimmy’s Place is it. Downtown on Windstraat, this gay bar serves delicious cocktails and drinks either inside or outside in their tropical garden. The perfect combination of fun people and great atmosphere attracts a lively and eclectic crowd.

A little outside of town, white fairy lights reaching over a private pier call romantics out to play in a dreamy location at Pinchos Grill & Bar.  Enjoy creative cocktails or champagne by candlelight, and there’s even a lover’s swing where you can snuggle and see the tropical fish lit up beneath the dock at night. And on the new the Linear Park closer to Oranjestad, you’ll find its sister operation The West Deck, a fun and friendly surfside bar and resto specializing in fresh grilled fare and “Beer-a-Ritas’! And ArubaVille on Laguna Bay is a colorful new and inviting oasis just out of town that often has live music nights as well as happening theme parties.

Pinchos Aruba 

Or if you really want to party like the Dutch, head north out to Café 080, a local bar that serves snacks and a wide variety of beer late into the night. And continuing on in “Noord” another authentic Dutch bar is Bingo! It’s fun and casual with a pub-like ambience that’s welcoming to everyone.

If toes-in-the-sand surfside revelry is your mood, Bugaloe Beach bar and MooMba Beach are   happening spots. Lively happy-hours accompanied by live music, gorgeous sunsets and late night blow-outs abound. And late-night games of beach tennis – the cool new sport that’s all the rage on Aruba- happen there as well.

Moomba Beach Bar & Grill 

Then there’s Pure Beach the Aruba Divi Phoenix Resort- where South Beach meets Aruba with tiki-torches, cool couches in the sand, and the latest music driving the night. Superb small bites there, too. And for seriously hip surfside lounging with VIP bottle service and late night DJ-driven blow-outs, stop into Reflextions on its own strip of soft white sand in Oranjestad.  Also with that same South beach vibe with private cabanas, bottle service and gala surfside theme parties is the new Sand Beach Lounge at Brickell Bay Resort. They also have sports nights and beach tennis tournaments as well.

Or if you’re looking for classic style sing-along fun then The Sopranos Piano Bar in Arawak Garden in the high-rise hotel area is the where you can enjoy exquisite cocktails, and timeless tunes played by talented pianists. Then there’s the lovely music surrounding the waltzing waters at Paseo Herencia Mall with its nightly liquid fireworks display. A great spot to watch it from is SkyBar there with its own great music and cool color changing chairs.

Sorpranos Aruba 

Another fiesta atmosphere prevails at Kalin’s Lounge Bar at the Palm Beach Plaza with palm trees growing right through the bar. Their Mexican fare is the perfect foil for frosty margaritas and tequila. There are two happy hours each night, plus DJs, live music, and mariachi bands.

For those who need high-octane late night action and pumping beats, we’ve got those, too. The first is Gusto a new, trendy bar where skilled barkeeps show off their moves and techno light shows and the island’s hottest DJ’s keep the dance floor jam-packed. Their happy hours start at 9pm and Dutch sailors love this spot, too! Then there’s the Hard Rock Cafe, where there are always live bands and the place is always buzzing with both tourists and locals alike.  And new to the South Beach Centre is Sandbar, an exciting new eclectic watering hole, restaurant, and entertainment mecca. And if you really want to go full-on loco, then you are Señor Frog’s always delivers. But beware; you might end up entering a wet T-shirt contest with a balloon hat on your head, holding a yard of beer, in true spring-break fashion! 

If all that imbibing makes you hungry, late-night snacks are available from the South Beach Centre’s neighboring eateries like Café Rembrandt where you’re also likely to find a great band on stage. 

Or you could take the celebration to the streets on wheels! Hop aboard the Kukoo Kunuku party bus for another kind of crazy on-the-road style revelry. They stop at popular bars, too and also have a special barhop and dinner combo trip that ends in Aruba’s unique outback among the cool rock formations at Casibari Café.

And of course, there are all the glitzy casinos that also often have entertainment like Lounge 101 at Stellaris Casino that has live bands on weekends that get the gamblers off the tables and on to the dance floor for a change.

And brand new in Oranjestad as of February 2015, is a wonderful new multi-level bar and massive live music emporium- Paradiso Aruba.  It’s about to become the island’s premier concert and event venue with great live music acts from all over the world.

Dressed-up or dressed-down, high-energy or laid-back, uptown or downtown, on a beach or even on a bus, a night out on Aruba is always a night to remember. Just follow the music…

About the blogger: Susan Campbell
Susan is an award-winning travel writer based in Montreal specializing in the Caribbean, and more specifically the Dutch Caribbean, for over 15 years. She has published hundreds of articles on Aruba for dozens of major North American print and web outlets and is currently Senior Writer and blogger for Aruba Nights magazine and Aruba Island Gourmet. She is also the current author of Fodor’s Aruba In-Focus Guide and contributor to the Fodor’s Complete Guide to the Caribbean.