2023 Aruba Visitors Guide
Aruba is more like Las Vegas than any of its neighboring islands in the Caribbean. It has a desert climate, big casinos, glitzy shows, glamorous hotels, good restaurants, a lively atmosphere, and even a Vegas-like strip glowing in the night. The difference is, it is always sunny and 80 degrees in Aruba.
And like Vegas, Aruba can fit any budget. Whether you are looking for a luxurious high-rise on a glorious stretch of beach or a charming low-rise with warm staff and casual restaurants, Aruba has it all. Aruba is a tiny island only 20 miles long and 6 miles across at its widest point. Most of the major hotels, restaurants, casinos, and shops are gathered on a single strip of shoreline known as Eagle Beach and Palm Beach, which is a couple of miles west of Oranjestad, the capital.
Aruba’s interior is a desert island full of cacti, iguanas, and boulder formations. The north coast, unlike the wide, sandy stretch of beach on the south, features craggy limestone cliffs, sand dunes, and crashing breakers.
Aruba’s climate is tropical but not extreme, with an average temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainfall averages about eighteen inches a year, with October, November, December, and January being the rainy season. But even then rains tend to be short bursts and the sun usually stays shining. Aruba lies outside the hurricane belt and usually only experiences minor effects of nearby heavy tropical storms.
Getting To Aruba
American Airlines offers non-stop flights to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix Airport in Oranjestad from certain US cities. Delta and Continental fly to Aruba as well but may include a stop. The International Airport can accommodate commercial jet aircraft as large as the Boeing 747.
The minimum age to rent a car on the island is 21-25 and the maximum age is 65-70. A current driver’s license from your home country is valid here. Budget and Thrifty have offices, as well as many local agencies.
It is necessary to call for a cab in Aruba, you will not be able to hail one off the street. Hotels and restaurants can call dispatch for you. Taxi rates in Aruba are based on the destination rather than mileage and are set by the Aruba Department of Public Traffic. A typical fare from the airport to a beach resort is between $10 and $17 US.
Palm Beach is home to the high-rises and tends to be more crowded, while Eagle Beach has more low-rises and less commotion. Aruba is far south of the tropical storm belt so you never have to worry about the weather changing drastically and getting in the way of windsurfing, snorkeling, kayaking, golfing or horseback riding.
Palm Beach has the best swimming, sailing, and water sports. It runs from the Wyndham Aruba Beach Resort to the Aruba Marriott Resort.
Eagle Beach (more than a mile long) has been designated one of the 10 best beaches in the world by Travel & Leisure magazine.
Manchebo Beach (Punta Brabo) (also known as Punta Brabo), in front of the Manchebo Beach Resort, is a wonderfully wide beach where you may encounter nude sunbathers.
Malmok Beach on the northwest shore has shallow waters that make it a good spot for diving, snorkeling, and learning to windsurf. Off the coast is the wreck of the German ship Antilla from 1940.
Barracuda, kingfish, bonito, and black and yellow tuna are all caught off Aruba in deeper waters. Deep-sea fishing is a popular sport on Aruba and many charter boats are available for half- or full-day sails.
- De Palm Tours (800/766-6016) runs deep-sea fishing tours seven days a week. It costs $275 to charter a boat for four hours.
- Pelican Tours & Watersports (297/8-72302) offers daily boat charters from 8 AM to noon for deep-sea fishing, mostly on the south coast.
- Red Sail Sports (297/8-61603; 877/REDSAIL) offers half-day fishing trips for $300 and full-day trips for $600.
Aruba Golf Club (San Nicolas; 297/8-42006), is a 9-hole course with caddies and club rentals available.
Brown Golf & Leisure (Oranjestad; 297/8-64589), offers putting greens, a chipping area, driving range and golf clinics.
The Tierra del Sol (Malmokweg; 297/8-60978), is a championship course on the northwest course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The18-hole, par-71, 6,811-yard course has $130 greens fees which include a golf cart.
The Arikok National Wildlife Park has more than 20 miles of trails around Aruba’s second-highest mountain, the 577-ft Mt. Arikok.
De Palm Tours (297/8-24400 or 800/766-6016), offers guided excursions on the island.
Ranches off beach rides or trail rides through the Arikok Park.
- Rancho del Campo (297/8-50290)
- Rancho Daimari (297/8-60239)
- Rancho Notorious (297/8-60508)
You’ll find motorboats pulling parasailers up and down from Palm and Eagle beaches. There’s no official center where you can make arrangements, so look for operators on the beaches.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
Aruba is great for diving and seeing marine life with visibility up to 90 ft. You will see sponge tubes, gliding manta rays, sea turtles, lobsters, octopuses, and green moray eels. The best shore diving is at Baby Beach.
- Mangel Halto Reef (also known as Pos Chiquito Reef or Bao Barranca) is excellent for night diving.
- De Palm Tours (800/766-6016)
- Mi Dushi (297/8-28919)
- Pelican Tours & Watersports (297/586-3271)
- Red Sail Sports (297/8-61603; 877/REDSAIL in the U.S.)
- Aruba Pro Dive (297/8-25520)
Oranjestad’s downtown area has a wide variety of shops, many stores are located on Caya G.F. (Betico) Croes and nearby streets. Other spots for shopping include the Seaport Village Mall, Seaport Market Place, the Royal Plaza, Port of Call Market Place, Aventura Mall, the Holland Aruba Mall, the Sun Plaza, and the Atrium Mall.
Where to Stay in Aruba
Aruba has about 28 major hotels from Eagle Beach to Palm Beach. If you are looking for a luxurious resort with shopping, restaurants, and casinos all around, then you’ll want to stay in Palm Beach. If you would like a more relaxing vacation with little distraction and fewer people, look for a low-rise in the Eagle Beach area.
Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino
(297/586-1234; hyatt.com; $220 and up), has 360 rooms in this Spanish-style resort. The multi-level pool has waterfalls, whirlpools, a two-story water slide and a lagoon stocked with fish. There are water sports, health and fitness facilities, tennis and golf, four restaurants, and five lounges as well as the Casino Copacabana.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
(297/586-9000; www.marriottaruba.com; $350), is a high-rise hotel on Palm Beach with Caribbean-style ocean-front rooms with balconies, walk-in closets, and all the amenities. The resort has swimming pools, a fitness facility, and tennis, as well as a casino, and is close to golf.
Bucuti Beach Resort
(297/583-1100; bucuti.com; $150 – $350), is a European-style complex on the most secluded section of Eagle Beach. Rooms are bright and sunny with cherry furnishings, tile floors, and ocean-view terraces. The brand-new oceanfront Tara Wing houses the spa. The fitness center is an open-air room surrounded by gardens, and the entire resort – even the beach is wireless in case you are working. The resort has a restaurant, grocery, minibars, microwaves, refrigerators, cable TV, pool, beach, bicycle two bars, shop, and breakfast.
Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino
(297/586-6555; Radisson.com/aruba; $250 and up), is one of the largest and most opulent resorts on the island with 14 acres of lush surroundings. Rare tropical birds greet guests in the lobby, the rooms have mahogany four-poster beds, balconies, and plantation shutters. The resort has a spa, restaurant, and fitness facilities, as well as water sports.
Wyndham Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino
(297/586-4466; arubawyndham.com), offers 480 spacious rooms with private balconies and ocean views. The staff caters to your every whim at the pool, offering magazines and CD players, an Evian spritz or chilled towels. The resort has four restaurants, four bars, evening shows, a fitness center, a spa, tennis courts, and a water sports center.
(800/932-6509; amsterdammanor.com; $150 – $250), is just across the street from Eagle Beach. Rooms range from small studios to two-bedroom suites with full kitchens and hot tubs and some have ocean views. The pool features a waterfall.
Where to Eat in Aruba
Aruba’s growth has brought a surge of great restaurants. Cuisine from around the world is represented here and the variety will feed any craving you might have.
Valentino’s is the finest Italian Restaurant in Aruba with great service and authentic food.
Chez Mathilde is an excellent restaurant with a large menu of French specialties. Try the Tartelette au Ragoût de Fruits de Mer for an appetizer, and the traditional French Coq-au-Vin for an entrée.
Flying Fishbone is in Savaneta, Aruba’s first capital, and offers beach-front dining. Chefs serve various preparations of fresh seafood and a variety of meat cooked to perfection.
L.G. Smith’s Steak & Chop House
L.G. Smith’s Steak & Chop House at the Renaissance Marina Hotel, features a great wine list and a menu of aged-prime steaks, rack of lamb and fresh Caribbean seafood.
Le Dôme is an award-winning Belgian/French restaurant with a beautiful space. Specialties include Grilled Rosemary Veal Chop with Garlic and Walnut Crusted Rack of Lamb with oven-roasted potatoes and honey-thyme sauce.
Ventanas del Mar Restaurant at the Clubhouse
tierradelsol.com; 297/5860 879
Ventanas del Mar Restaurant at the Clubhouse is a fantastic restaurant sitting on the beautiful Tierra del Sol golf course. Terrific views of both the sea and the course make it worth the visit.