Ready to use this Aruba travel guide to ensure you have a life-changing trip ahead? These are the top 13 spots you won’t want to miss!
If you are anything like me, Aruba has been on your bucket list since the famous Beach Boys song Kokomo came out. Flash forward to Instagram with all of the amazing shots of gorgeous girls posing next to turquoise water and pink as cotton candy flamingos. It’s enough to make anyone want to book a trip to Aruba tomorrow!
This Aruba travel guide will point you in the right direction to have a perfectly balanced trip filled with adventure as well as plenty of time to swim in the sweet Caribbean sea.
Ready to plan your trip?
For most of the Caribbean, there is an on-season and off-season. This is mostly due to hurricane season and is something to take note of if you love traveling to the tropics. Going during hurricane season (to the wrong destination) can seriously put a damper on your trip if you spend it indoors the entire time.
Aruba is about 15 miles away from Venezuela (you can see it from the beach!) and it sits below the hurricane belt, which makes it a fantastic island to travel to all year round. Even though it was getting into hurricane season the weather in September was absolutely stunning. Pack your favorite swimsuits, a floppy hat to shield the sun, and a cute beach cover-up. You will also want to pack some adventure outfits in case you want to explore, and lots of flowy dresses to wear.
Traveling to Aruba is relatively easy depending on where you are coming from. A flight from LAX to Aruba was around $500 USD and took about 10 hours. You can get a cheaper flight or pay a little more to have a shorter flight time and no layover. You need a passport to visit, but not a visa and it is also recommended to check for any updates on travel requirements before you go. Another great thing is that you don’t have to exchange money in Aruba if you use USD which makes things a bit easier to navigate.
Depending on if you plan to explore the island a bunch or stay in/near your hotel is a good indicator of whether or not to rent a car. Many Aruba blogs say you don’t have to, but we found that we drove our lime green Jeep Wrangler every single day!
Staying at an Airbnb is a great option if you are not looking for a resort-like experience. Because we had the Jeep we were easily able to stock our fridge with food and drinks from the grocery store nearby, The Super Food Plaza. If you like a beer or two on your vacation try the local beer called Magic Mango, they are delicious!
This post is meant to be used as an Aruba travel guide to ensure you have a life-changing trip!
It really depends on what type of vibe you are looking for, but in my opinion, Arashi was the best beach on the island. It was not near any of the hotels so it felt a little less touristy and there were a ton of friendly locals there who let us play with their underwater toys (I have no idea what it was called but you held on to two handles and flew across the water on your belly). There was plenty of parking (for us walking distance from our Airbnb) and had a cute little spot called Arashi Beach Shack to get drinks and food. Get the seafood plate! It had a little bit of everything and was perfect after a day of drinking in the sun.
After parking walk a little way down the beach to avoid the rocky area in the water and find a palapa to set up camp for the day. Our Airbnb had all of the things you might want at the beach such as; towels, chairs, floaty toys, etc. but if you stay at a hotel they might not. It’s always better to have all the things you need as this is a beach you could easily spend all day at. We also packed a cooler for the day to bring our drinks and some snacks in. This is obviously optional, but it was nice to have a few things of our own so we didn’t have to purchase everything there.
Mango Halto is a very unique beach, although there is not much “beach” to lie on. Once you park the car you will see a few picnic benches and then ladders leading you straight into the water. In other words, there is no sand. It is still definitely worth a visit!
The beach is surrounded by giant mangrove trees and if you swim toward them you will find a secret little beach all on its own. Just beware of the mosquitos on that private little beach! This beach is over by Zeerovers (which I will go into detail on later) so you could easily do both on the same day. Some say to check the current before going and/or to go on a tour. I opted out of both options in order to travel at my own pace and had no issue with anything. The water is waist-deep in many places and a great place to snorkel. These are the most recommended waterproof mosquito repellents, which you want to have if you are pretty anywhere tropical.
This beach is a bit of a drive and well worth it if you ask me. I suggest taking a car vs. an ATV as it is at the southeastern end of the island. If you’re looking for picture-perfect tropical vibes this is your best bet. The sand is super soft and the water very calm which makes it a safe place for children to swim. Baby beach is a man-made lagoon rather than a beach with waves rolling in. It is safe to swim and float inside the lagoon but be cautious if you move to either side or further out as the current picks up and there can be kite surfers. Parking is easy and there are restrooms, shade palapas, and food options close by.
Roger Beach is right next to Baby Beach so you might as well check them out on the same day since they are a bit further away. There is a restaurant next to the beach called Rum Reef that has a gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the sea. It is a nice change from saltwater and the drinks were delicious.
Make sure to bring a towel to this pool if you decide to go. We were offered a towel and charged $30 per towel as they are to purchase not rent for the day. This will not be explained to you so just skip the extra bill and bring a travel towel with you. You won’t regret it! these are the top-rated travel towels to bring to any beach outing. This beach also has a dive shop nearby in case you are looking to add that to your trip. Bring a book, a cooler, and some sunscreen and you will be set for the day!
This beach has a lot more going on and is great for those wanting a bit more of a city vibe. the beach itself is still gorgeous but along the coast, you can find hotels, casinos, restaurants, shopping, and more. It is the perfect spot if you like to go out to clubs at night and find a spa to get pampered at during the day. Palm Beach has a little bit of everything. This is the place to be if you’re interested in water sports as well.
This beach has been voted best beach in the Caribbean and I would have a hard time arguing against that. It is simply gorgeous and has everything a tropical traveler could ask for. This beach sits right next to Palm Beach and has many low-rise hotel options if you decide you want to stay here. Similar to Palm Beach there are many options for food, water sports, and always time for R and R. The water is pretty calm as well so bring your floaties to lie out in the sea for the day!
Flamingo Island is a day trip and a must-see on your itinerary while in Aruba. This beach is connected to the Renaissance Marriot hotel and on its own private island. You must purchase tickets beforehand and make reservations, you can do this through the Renaissance Hotel. You can also contact the hotel to purchase a cabana on the island. This is an extra perk with a bit more privacy but definitely not a must. The tickets are included in your stay if you decide to be at the hotel.
Show up a bit early and catch the little speed boat that takes you directly to the island. We didn’t get the cabana reservation in time but found some awesome chairs on the far end of the island. The first thing you will see when you reach Flamingo Beach is the flamingos! They are gorgeous and have a very ancient look in their eyes. Plan to set up and stay for the day, this is definitely the spot to bring your floaties and camera with you.
Zeerovers gets its own section because it is rated one of the (a dutch word for pirate) best spots to eat across the board. They are open from 11-9 and accept cash only. The vibe is super chill and a blend of locals and tourists. When you walk up you are asked what you want in weight. It is either the catch of the day (get the snapper if it’s available) and shrimp. Show up hungry and get a basket of both, some fries, and a bucket of beers to go with it.
Once you order you can find a table on a floating dock directly on top of the water. You are right on the pier and have a gorgeous view of the many boats out for the day. It was so cool! If you love the ocean and don’t mind getting your feet a bit wet sit down at the lowest part of the restaurant, but if this is not for you they have tables a bit higher up. The energy there is amazing. Everyone is on long picnic benches laughing and talking over each other. Again, this would be a great spot to eat after swimming at Mangel Halto Beach as they are right by each other.
The ATVs are a must-try as the island has a desert-type landscape which is perfect for adventuring around for a day. You can easily rent one and take off to explore on your own or you can do a tour. There are some pros and cons to each.
If you decide to be able to stop and go as you please and don’t want to feel the rush of being in a tour group then plan to rent an ATV for an unguided experience. However, if you get lost easily and want to make the most of your time then definitely do a group tour. The map can be a bit confusing as there are these tiny little lines everywhere and it is really easy to follow the wrong one and end up at a dead-end or (almost) stuck in the sand! Avoid this at all costs!
The tours are readily available all over the island. There are many exciting places to explore and find if you choose to venture out on your own. A great spot we came across was TERRAFUSE. This is an amazing glass-blowing shop with such cool artwork and gifts to purchase. The owner of the shop is super kind and a very talented glassblower. This spot is a hidden gem and one you should check out if you have time.
The ostrich farm is another thing you could do on your ATV. It is open every day from 9 am-4 pm. You need a ticket for this place which will cost around $14, so be sure to plan ahead. The ostrich has a spiritual meaning to stand tall in your purity and truth in life. They are magical creatures and look legit like dinosaurs.
The farm is hot and dry and kind of in the middle of nowhere. If you decide to ATV on your own, follow the map they give you, look for the signs and stay the course! It should be relatively easy to find. Bring water, sunscreen, and closed-toe shoes. You could do it in flip-flops, but it is very dusty at the farm so it is up to you! Take the guided tour and learn all about the African native birds, their history, and possibly even get to pet one!
As Aruba is a tropical destination with some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world, snorkeling is a great way to spend the day. Either pack your snorkel with you or purchase for $12-20 a the Superfood Plaza grocery store. We purchased some snorkel gear at the grocery store for less than $20 per person. There are many tours available and have a wide price range to work with most budgets. I recommend booking with Booking.com as they have some of the best available. If you decide not to spend money on a tour there are plenty of free options around the island to explore the ocean floor! You can find turtles, octopuses, many types of fish and so much more!
Moomba Beach Bar and Restaraunt
This is a perfect spot for nightlife. The restaurant/bar is in the sand right next to the water. Cute little crabs crawl around at your feet while a band and live singer plays your favorite tunes. The food and vibes are both delicious. It is a little South of Palm Beach, has free wifi, and sits next to a ton of tennis courts. Post up for a meal, a drink, and a perfect place to see the sun go down.