Finally! It’s time for you to cash in those hard-earned vacation days! You’re looking to book a perfect Caribbean vacation with the works: great weather, beautiful beaches and lots of fun activities. We’re happy to share that Aruba has all of that and then some!
You’re not quite ready to book yet, though, because you’ve still got to pick just where in Aruba you’re going to stay. Aruba may be a small island, but it’s divided in several different districts and neighborhoods. Each area has an appeal of its own, which makes picking the perfect one a bit challenging.
It is important to remember that finding your perfect vacation spot depends largely on personal preference. Your personality, previous travel experience and reasons for travel all influence what your top vacation spots in the Caribbean may be.
However, in order to help you make an educated decision on where to stay and what to do while visiting the One happy island, we’ll break down the different districts of Aruba, so you can see exactly what makes them the best places to vacation in the Caribbean!
Determining the Top Caribbean Vacation Spots
As mentioned above, everyone has different criteria when it comes to selecting their perfect Caribbean vacation spots. Great weather and friendly people can be found all over the island of Aruba, so there’s no need to worry about that, but we have selected 5 criteria we believe many travelers would find most helpful to get a feel for which part of Aruba would be best for them, including:
If you’re planning a Caribbean dream vacation, chances are you’re going to want to spend some time on the beaches. Aruba has a very wide selection of beautiful beaches. From award-winning white sand beaches, to snorkeling spots with clear turquoise waters. Each of Aruba’s top vacation spots has beaches with different appeals.
Things to Do
Kids windsurfing in Aruba
Some travelers meticulously schedule their activities before the vacation, while others would rather decide as they go. Regardless of how you plan, it is always great to have an overview of the options. Each area has a unique selection of special activities to enjoy. From extreme sports to bowling and everything in between!
Arubans have a deep appreciation for everything culinary. It is for this reason that you can find a restaurant or eatery on every corner. Culture is largely expressed through food, and since our community is a big melting pot of people from all around the world, you will find that the selection of restaurants in Aruba clearly reflects that.
Each area has a selection of different accommodation types. From lavish high-rise resorts to cozy villas by the sea.
The practical details of getting around the area are outlined in this section, as ease of travel is an important deciding factor when choosing where to stay.
The Best Places To Go in the Caribbean
In the following sections, 4 of the best places to go in the Caribbean will be highlighted and each of the criteria mentioned in the previous sections will be elaborated on.
As one of the most well-known vacation spots in Aruba, it probably does not come as a surprise to you that the Palm Beach area is considered one of the best places to stay in the Caribbean. Palm Beach is located in the district of Noord, which translates to “North” in English and is literally on the north-side of the island.
Naturally, the Palm Beach area is home to beautiful Palm Beach, which offers over 2 miles of soft, pristine white sand and turquoise waters to enjoy. This beach offers the most water sports concessions of any beach in Aruba, allowing you to participate in any water sport you can think of. Palm Beach is also Aruba's beach with the most bars and restaurants, and a good location for having dinner with a great view or partaking in one of the many karaoke nights as the sun sets. Whether you just came to sunbathe or were looking for a spot where you could show off your paddle boarding skills, you will love Palm Beach.
Things to Do
Paseo Herencia Mall
Aside from a wonderful beach, The Palm Beach area also has plenty of fun things to do. There are two major shopping malls in the Palm Beach area, Paseo Herencia Mall and Palm Beach Plaza Mall. Both malls have fun bars, a diverse selection of restaurants, great shopping and a movie theatre. The movie buffs among us won’t have to miss any of the newest releases when in Aruba. Some movies are even released early here!
After sundown, nightlife in Palm Beach is vibrant. From nightclubs and pubs, to sports bars and (many) casinos, you will be entertained well into the night.
Dining options are endless! Palm Beach is packed with so many restaurants that it’s hard to choose just a couple to highlight. From fine a la carte dining, to all you can eat buffets and quaint local spots, Palm Beach has it all. As previously mentioned, culture is very much expressed through cuisine here in Aruba, and Palm Beach offers tons of opportunities to sample the variety of cultural delicacies local to the One Happy Island. Italian restaurants are run by Italians, Colombian restaurants are run by Colombians, restaurants that serve Argentinian food are run by people from Argentina and so on! Feel free to chat with the locals and ask them how their journey has led them to the One happy island.
A popular place to stay while in Palm Beach is the high-rise area. This area boasts a variety of tall luxurious resorts located right on the beach like the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino and Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino. Often ocean view rooms are available! A short distance from the beach, there is a selection of lovely smaller hotels like Caribbean Palm Village Resort and Brickell Bay Beach Club & Spa! There are many vacation rentals available throughout Palm Beach for those who are looking for a little more space, privacy or flexibility.
Getting around Palm Beach is very easy. Public transportation is pretty straightforward. There are several bus stops along the main road of Palm Beach. An Arubus bus will pass by every 20 minutes to take you around the area. Taxis are also very abundant, just hail one or have your concierge call one for you. Certain areas of Palm Beach have nice walking paths so you can take a walk and explore the area. This is especially fun to do in the evening as you decide where to stop and have dinner!
Eagle Beach is another one of Aruba’s most popular beaches, but the area is quite different from Palm Beach. Eagle Beach is a bit quieter and away from the hustle and bustle, but the area still has a lot to offer, keep reading to find out why Eagle Beach is one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean.
Eagle Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Aruba, and was even voted the 3rd Best Beach in the World by TripAdvisor in 2017, but it’s also won many other awards over the years. Those who have been to Eagle Beach understand exactly why; its wide stretch of powdery white sand meeting the crystal clear waters will take your breath away every time. Not just visitors are in awe of the beautiful Eagle Beach. I have lived here for 12 years, and I still have to take a minute to appreciate the view every time I drive by. Much quieter than the nearby Palm Beach, Eagle Beach does not have as many water sports concessions or food and beverage facilities, but it’s perfect for people looking to relax in paradise. Coming to Eagle Beach really is all about enjoying the sun, sea and sand experience.
Things to Do
One of the benefits of staying in the Eagle Beach area is that your location allows you to have the best of both worlds between enjoying the hustle and bustle of Palm Beach while being close to all activities taking place in Aruba’s capital of Oranjestad.
A popular activity to partake in when in the Eagle Beach area is beach tennis. There are some courts dedicated to the sport near the Tropicana Hotel, with a spot to relax and have some snacks and drinks between sets. Aruba’s biggest bowling alley can also be found in the Eagle Beach area. It is appropriately named Eagle Bowling. This is an especially great activity for those traveling with a (small) group!
There are some great restaurants in the Eagle Beach area. From toes in the sand casual dining, to fancy restaurants and even pizzerias, there is something to satisfy any appetite. Some of the favorite eateries that come to mind are Chalet Suisse, Passions on the Beach and Screaming Eagle Restaurant Lounge.
The Eagle Beach area is dominated by smaller resorts and boutique hotels like Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, La Cabana Beach Resort and Casino and Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba. While significantly smaller than the high-rise resorts mentioned earlier, these hotels are very popular with repeat visitors. Service is attentive and personalized, getting around the property is quick and easy, and most importantly, Eagle Beach is practically your back yard! There are also many condominiums to choose from that are just steps away from the sand.
Just like in the Palm Beach area, the Arubus passes by every 20 minutes and taxis can be hailed or called at will. If you’re planning a beach day and you drive a rental car, there is ample parking right in front of Eagle Beach.
The capital of our island! Oranjestad is a charming city embracing its history and proudly putting it on display. You will see buildings influenced by colonial architecture and it is the home of many monuments. City hall can be found in Oranjestad as well. Couples traveling to Aruba to get married will have their legal ceremonies there.
The cruise terminal is also located in Oranjestad, so if you’re visiting our port, Oranjestad is the city that will welcome you.
Unlike Palm- and Eagle Beach, Oranjestad’s beach isn’t nearly as big. Many visitors staying in Oranjestad drive a few minutes to the nearby Eagle Beach. Little do they know, the city center has a beach of its own. The majority of the coast in Oranjestad is occupied by the docks and the airport; however, there is a section that is reserved for recreation. Surfside Beach is a 2-minute drive from the airport. It is considered a great relaxing spot after a long afternoon of exploring the city. You will see deep sea fishing boats and cruise ships pass you by in the distance as you lay in the sand.
Things to Do
When in Oranjestad, do yourself a favor and take the time to learn about the history of Aruba. It’s easy! The historical- and archaeological museums are in the city center. You will get to know a completely different side of the One happy island. History is not only found inside the museums, but can be observed and appreciated all throughout the city center through its many monuments. Aruba Walking Tours is an excursion where you can learn about the island and Oranjestad in particular by walking through the city and visiting all the great landmarks.
There is a trolley that runs from the cruise terminal throughout the main street, Oranjestad’s shopping area, and it makes some interesting stops along the way. It’s free, so be sure to hop on at any of the stops.
On Tuesday evenings at 6:30PM the Bon Bini (welcome) Festival is held. It is a folkloric music and dance festival designed to welcome visitors to the island and showcase a little bit of our culture.
There is no shortage of restaurants in Oranjestad. Here you will find eateries that serve local food like Cocoplum, Sea Salt, and The Pastechi House. You will also find many restaurants with Asian, North-American and South-American influences like Hung’s Paradise, L.G. Smith’s Steakhouse, and Que Pasa Restaurant and bar. There are many more, you will have a great time trying flavors from around the world.
Boutique hotels are plentiful and are spread all throughout Oranjestad. Talk of the Town Hotel and Beach Club is a favorite among travelers. It is right across from Surfside beach and not too far from the city center. Vacation rentals can be found all over the city too. Many have expressed that temporarily renting a place to stay in Oranjestad has allowed them to see how the local community lives. Who doesn’t want to be Aruban for a week?
Getting around Oranjestad takes just a little more research, but is still very easy. The Arubus bus station is located here, but there are a few different lines that take you to different places in and around the city. Once you’ve picked a line, feel free to ask the bus driver to give you a heads up when you arrive at your stop. Taxis are easy to hail along the main road near the cruise terminal and bus station. Remember, if you drive a rental car, some parking spots in the city center are paid until 3pm. You will notice a number in your parking spot and there will be a parking meter in the area where you can pay.
Pos Chiquito / Savaneta
Pos Chiquito and Savaneta are two neighboring residential towns. There’s a uniqueness to the atmosphere in these towns. It is a very quiet location, and it would not come to mind as one of the best places to stay in the Caribbean by tourists, because they really are two hidden gems.
Mangel Halto is a great snorkeling beach in Pos Chiquito. You’ve probably seen the pictures of the beautiful clear water surrounded by mangroves, that’s Mangel Halto. On a Sunday, you will find families having picnics here and throughout the week, locals stop by for a quick dip. The area is quiet and there is one bar nearby. Waters are quite shallow so it’s great to visit when traveling with kids.
Many visitors pass on the popular Baby Beach, because they are on the opposite side of the island. If you’re in Savaneta or Pos Chikito you can get to Baby Beach in San Nicolas in no time!
Things to Do
While you’re in San Nicolas, why not stick around for the Carubbian Festival? Held on Thursday evenings, this is a festival showcasing Aruban snacks, song and dance. Locals and visitors alike frequent the festival to enjoy great food and live performances.
Back in Savaneta, you can take lovely morning and evening walks along the coast. Chances are you will see some small fishing boats on the water, fishing for the catch of the day!
Zeerover in Savaneta
There are some great seafood restaurants in Savaneta. Your food is caught, cleaned and prepared right there! A must-try is Zeerover, where you eat right over the ocean. Be sure to get there before sunset, because the views are stunning. At The Flying Fishbone, you can enjoy freshly prepared gourmet seafood and meat dishes with your toes in the sand, which issomething that must be experienced at least once on an Aruba vacation.
There are a couple of bed and breakfast type hotels in Savaneta and Pos Chiquito, but most visitors opt for vacation rentals by the sea. A hidden gem in that area is The Old Man and the Sea Ocean Villas where you stay in luxuriously decorated over-water bungalows and get the privilege to dine at the very exclusive The Old Man and the Sea restaurant.
The public Arubus buses only run through the main roads of Savaneta and Pos Chiquito and taxis are less abundant, though they will come when called. A rental car would be a good option if you plan to stay here. .
Book Your Caribbean Vacation Now!
This was a lot of information to take in, but don’t worry, you’ll have a great time in Aruba, no matter which of the vacation spots you pick. Aruba is a very small island, so keep in mind that wherever you stay, you’ll be able to easily travel around to experience the best of each location. That’s one of the things that makes Aruba one of the Caribbean’s best places to visit! Book your trip today and you will soon be sipping on a cocktail in the warm ocean breeze of Aruba.