After more than 1 year of postponement, due to travel restrictions from the Netherlands to the Caribbean, I finally was able to visit Aruba 2 weeks ago for the second time, to experience even more of what this One Happy Island has to offer!
As you could have read in my earlier Aruba blog I fell in love with this laid-back island, not only because of its friendly people, diversity and natural beauty, but also for its big offering of unique restaurants and great food.
I visited Aruba for the first time 2 years ago in June and was amazed to find out that this small piece of paradise houses more than 250 restaurants on just 180 km2!
I already wrote a blog with 10 of my favourite restaurants and foodie hotspots I sampled last time on this Caribbean island and am happy to complete this list now with several more.
With many of my own pics, as always, and several from my photographer friend and travel companion Remke Vet of Bold-sl.
Aruba Foodie heaven
Not only is the gastronomic offering of Aruba very diverse and atmospheric, ranging from casual beach shacks to fancy dining on the beach, with cuisine influenced by over 90 nationalities and cultures. The island also has a big range of options from vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, to Asian, Italian, fusion, haute cuisine and more.
Although grilled and Italian food is my favourite, I noticed that most restaurants on Aruba have several menu options combined, to cater to a wide audience, which is quite convenient. And as an island they have abundant fresh fish, lobster and prawns, that should not be missed! But also interesting local specialties available at some restaurants in this blog.
And as a generally American-oriented island they have exceptional quality steaks and burgers on Aruba too. Beware that the servings are usually quite big, so sharing dishes is a great idea and I personally felt that 2 courses was more than enough for dinner.
Although I do value haute cuisine and quality gastronomy, I appreciate a good location, unique experience and nice views as well. And love simple, yet tasty fried food from time to time.
That’s why I made a list of my favourites based on all these criteria, as for me, the ultimate Aruban food experience is barefoot on the beach😊
The following 5 restaurant recommendations offer just that and I'm happy to convince you through many of our own pictures:
Flying Fishbone in Savaneta
My absolute number 1, as one of the only restaurants where you can literally eat barefoot in the water!
Not only do they have tables set right in the sea, but also several on the beach among the palm trees, on the deck overlooking the sea, or inside, your choice!
We had the best table on the deck with perfect sunset views. One of the most spectacular and colorful sundowns of this trip and one of the best lobsters I tasted so far!
Next to Flying Fishbone there’s another beach restaurant Old Man and the Sea, which is supposed to be very nice and atmospheric too. On my list for next time!
Hadicurari on Palm Beach
I mentioned this restaurant already in my blog 2 years ago, but will again, as I went back and it was even better the second time! Located between the Holiday Inn and Marriott Hotel on Palm Beach, opposite to the Fishermen's Pier, which is worth visiting as well.
With many seating options in-and outside, with great sunset views, it's a very atmospheric setting. With an outdoor terrace situated on the most palm tree abundant beach of the island, lined with lights, need I say more?
The service is great and the menu quite diverse with excellent cocktails and seafood, as well as steaks and pizza’s from a traditional brick oven!
Barefoot on Surfside Beach near Oranjestad
It hardly rains on Aruba, however the night we were supposed to eat here it did. We went somewhere else instead due to limited space inside, but I would love to come back for this restaurant next time!
Barefoot has a casual European-oriented menu and a big fish and wine selection. Everything is served on the beach in between the palm trees or semi-inside, under the palapa.
Arashi Beach Shack in Noord
As the name reveals this casual shack is located on Arashi Beach, one of the best local pieces of paradise. This beach is very wide and mostly used by locals, due to its location way up north, near the light house, and therefore hardly gets crowded.
One of my favourite beaches on One Happy Island and although the shack mostly offer snacks, fried fish and hamburgers, it’s quite good and very atmospheric.
Perfect to enjoy simple food and cocktails while watching the sun set. Although the kitchen does close early, around 6 pm, depending on the time of year!
Big Mama Grill on Baby Beach
Similar to my previous recommendation, this shack is located on a local beach at the other end of the island! This little bay in the south is nothing but spectacular, especially seen from above!
Due to its wideness it doesn't get crowded at all, even in the weekends, when we visited, and the water is that special kind of blue!
At this beach shack they also mainly offer simple food, platters and cocktails by the beach, but the vibe is relaxing and the atmosphere good. When there the kitchen did close at 6 pm, but this really depends on the time of year you visit.
When driving towards Baby Beach you'll pass by the Red Anchor, located on the desolate plains of Seroe Colorado. Make sure to stop here for the views and wild donkeys wandering around.
And if you're lucky you can buy some fresh coconuts at the pop-up stall by the road. Not only is this as local and as pure as it gets, but the vendor also gives a great show!
Get a preview in this Instagram Reel video and wait for it to see him in action:
Local foodie hotspots
I try to eat as local as possible when traveling to support the destination and community. Especially since Aruba has taken such a big hit in tourism due to Covid-19 travel restrictions the past year.
And as there are many more foodie hotspots on this Caribbean island, whether it’s barefoot or not, I'll happily name even more Aruban must-visits, all tried and tested by me personally:)
Open for lunch or dinner, and some even for breakfast, these local restaurants should not be missed:
Zeerover in Savaneta
A must if you like your fish and shrimp straight from the sea. Offering a simple menu with several fried options, local delicacies and catch of the day to take-away, or enjoy at one of the picnic tables with direct sea view.
The West Deck near Oranjestad
Perfect for shared dining and tapas with many local specialties, like my favourite Keshi Yeena and coco shrimps. Here you can have lunch or dinner on the deck or in the garden by the sea.
Open till 11 pm with good cocktails and sunset views. And you can even watch the planes come in, due to its location near the airport.
Craft & Lola Taqueria on Palm Beach
These 2 hotspots on the boulevard of Palm Beach, where all the action is, joined together to serve you the best food and drinks from 8 am until after midnight!
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with great cocktails at happy hour from 6-10 pm and live music on the weekends. Offering the most diverse menu with a range of bowls, waffles, wraps, tacos, salads, burgers, fresh juices and so much more!
I had one of the best Angus burgers in my life here and don't miss their fried Oreos, sounds weird, but turned out to be delicious!
Bugaloe Palm Beach
Another hotspot nearby, located right on De Palm Pier in between the Hilton and Riu Palace Hotel.
Open from 8 am until 11 pm for casual breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks on the sea deck. The place to be for cocktails with sunset views, live music, entertainment and karaoke.
Highly recommended for a fun night out!
Eduardo's Beach Shack on Palm Beach
In front of the Playa Linda Beach Resort you will find this Instagrammable shack. In my opinion not the nicest stretch of Palm Beach, however Eduardo’s is a must for its photogenic and tasty food with many vegan and vegetarian options.
Open for take-away and beach seating from 7 am til 4.30 pm.
Private Aruban food experiences
Another trend, catered well to on Aruba already, is private dining on location. Unique and possible in several ways, of which we experienced 3 during this trip!
The best luxury pop-up picnics on the beach are done by this company. We had a luxury bohemian-styled picnic for lunch under the trees on Surfside Beach, near Oranjestad.
A unique and atmospheric experience I can highly recommend for its perfect set-up and delicious food. See for yourself what I mean:
They have several options to choose from according to your taste and budget: PicnicAruba.com.
Private Dining by a local chef
Our first week on Aruba we stayed in a private villa, about which I will tell you more in my next blog. They arranged a unique private dining experience for us with a local chef: ChefRuben.
Offering a wide range of menu options to choose from in advance, for a 4-course dinner, prepared in our kitchen and served by our villa pool. All very tasty and such a comfortable and unique experience!
Certainly something you should try yourself and the styling and set-up of N'sentials made it even nicer!
Hilton private sunset dinner
Many luxury hotels here offer private dining experiences and for our last nights on Aruba we stayed at the Hilton Hotel, which offers a unique sunset concierge service.
We had a 4-course gourmet dinner directly in the beach, with an amazing sunset and wonderful private table set-up, including atmospheric lights and our own butlers.
A very photogenic culinary experience and perfect to celebrate our last night on this One Happy Island! Find all Hilton's private concierge options on: Hilton Aruba Sunset Concierge.
Unique local boutique hotel
Although I loved our stay at the Hilton for its many pool- and beach seating options, extensive Spa and wellness and perfect tropical setting, I actually prefer more authentic boutique hotels in general.
If you do too I found the perfect one for you:
Boardwalk Boutique Hotel near Palm Beach
Located near all the buzz of the strip this little oasis is perched between the Bird Sanctuary and Palm Beach on a former historic coco plantation.
The boutique hotel is locally-owned and family-run, with 46 authentic and colorful (semi-) standalone casitas forming a small village.
Boardwalk offers 2 spectacular pools, 1 with overwater hammock, and plenty of sunbeds, pool decks and chill corners, spread out between lush tropical vegetation and flowers all around.
And just a short walk across the street on Palm Beach, they also have a nice beach area with complimentary beach huts and lounge chairs.
Boardwalk is eco-friendly and values sustainability, with many unique initatives implemented in their hotel. They also offer wellness, Spa and yoga options at their gym and a healthy breakfast is provided by Eduardo’s Beach Shack, with a take-away window right on the premises for lunch!
Each casita is different, yet similar, with a fully-equipped kitchen, living room and private terrace with bbq and several seating options, such as swing chairs and hammocks, to provide a real Aruban home away from home. All unique and highly photogenic!
Get an impression through this gallery, and don't forget to swipe:
Find more info and the best rates on their own Boardwalk Hotel website.
Of course there are many more local (foodie) hotspots and good breakfast, lunch and dinner options on this Caribbean island and I'll happily come back to sample more of them again personally!
Have you been to Aruba already and agree with my restaurant and foodie selection? Do let me know in the comments here or via social media if you have any to add!