Start September I finally got to revisit one of my favourite destinations in the Caribbean and the smallest of the ABC islands: the One Happy Island Aruba! It was my second visit in 2 years, but this time I stayed a bit longer to enjoy a proper holiday, besides the campaign workation for Aruba Tourism.
I visited Aruba this year with several colleagues/friends. We were happy to help promote the island, now that traveling there from The Netherlands is allowed again. Of course we made sure to explore the island like a local with locals. And sampled many authentic and unique restaurants in all the best spots, about which you can read more in my previous Aruba restaurants blog!
Traveling to Aruba
Getting to Aruba from my homeland is quite easy as flights go regularly with KLM and TUI. Ranging from direct flights of about 9, to 11 hours if they include a stopover on Bonaire.
Aruba is very diverse with much to explore, and that's exactly what we did through several road trips and lots of unique activities!
During our first week we stayed in a local villa and rented a car, to visit some of the nicest local beaches, which I will all share with you in this blog.
Amigo Car Rental
As the island is not so big and the roads are good, it's easy to discover more in just a few days, providing that you have transportation.
Many of the most stunning beaches are situated along the west coast, near each other, therefore it’s convenient to rent a car to see more and stay flexible.
If you’re looking for a reliable rental company on Aruba I can highly recommend Amigo Car Rental.
When you arrive at the airport you will find their office just across from the arrivals hall. Their cars are quite affordable, starting for $149 a week, inc. aircon. And when you book online their 3 day - weekly rates are discounted 5%.
With a fleet of 151 cars they have a wide range of 10 different models to choose from.
They also have an office near Oranjestad and offer free pick-up and drop-off to and from your hotel. I always prefer renting a car, as it gives you the freedom to see so much more of a destination whenever you want.
On Aruba that means you can easily look for the best quiet beaches and drive all the way up north to watch the sun go down over the sand dunes and see the lighthouse light up.
Or all the way south to Baby Beach, enjoy snacks at Big Mama's Grill and marvel over the colorful murals of San Nicolas, all located a bit further away from most hotels. And that’s exactly what we did!
Where to stay?
But first, which accommodation to choose from? As the hotel, apartment and villa offering on Aruba is very diverse, it can be hard to choose between a famous high-rise hotel, cute low-rise boutique hotel, the privacy of an apartment or the luxury of a villa with your own pool.
I tried several options so far and can tell you with certainty that this local villa should not be missed:
Monchi Casa Palmitas Private Villa
This authentic chic 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom villa with private pool in Washington, near Palm and Eagle Beach, was one of my favourite accommodations so far! We stayed here for 5 nights, which was an absolute delight. The rooms are clean and atmospheric. The living room and kitchen spacious and I love how relaxed it was, with so much privacy and comfort.
Casa Palmitas is situated in a quiet local neighborhood just a few minutes’ drive from the big grocery stores and the most beautiful beaches! Perfectly located, yet tranquil with a nice walled garden and enough parking space.
The villa is perfect for couples or a family of 4 who like privacy and comfort, but still want to stay centrally on the island. Also suitable for workations as the Wifi worked well, both inside, as on the terrace and by the pool! They also provide you with a BBQ, several pool lounge chairs and even portable beachchairs, accessories and a coolbox to bring along to the beach.
Get an impression in this gallery, and don't forget to slide:
Just last year this villa was lovingly renovated by a Dutch-Aruban couple, who ensured it has all the amenities you need. On location it’s hosted by Vacation Aruba who will welcome you upon arrival and provide you with all the services and facilities you wish for.
They even arranged a 4-course dinner by the pool, prepared in our villa by a local private chef!
I can highly recommend this home away from home if you’re looking for an affordable villa on Aruba, with space for up to 2 couples or a small family.
Find out more and book directly for the best rates on At Monchi-Private Villas Aruba.
Top 11 beaches on Aruba
Of course we really enjoyed the luxury and tranquility of our pool villa, but we also tried to see much of Aruba through several road trips. If tropical beaches make you happy too, then you will soon find out where the name One Happy Island came from!
There are about 30 sand beaches on the island, lined up from north to south, of which I visited about 8 so far.
In this blog I will share my top 11 beaches on Aruba in random order, through many of my own and Remke Vet's pictures of Bold_SL, to make sure you will not miss any of these slices of paradise:
1. Arashi Beach
I love the more quiet beaches, preferably with white sand, palm trees, some shade and facilities. Arashi in the north has all that and is the last beach before the rugged northern tip of Aruba. Therefore it’s much more quiet and local-oriented than the touristic Palm Beach for example.
With its atmospheric Beach Shack, many wooden umbrellas, also known as palapas, stunning sunsets and very wide and diverse stretch of sand to choose from, it’s a must-visit in my opinion!
2. Eagle Beach & Fofoti Trees
But of course the beach with the famous Aruba postcard trees should not be missed either. It's one of the most popular beaches, located near the low-rise hotels, with the 2 fofoti trees right in front of the Amsterdam Manor beach resort.
Eagle beach is one of the whitest and widest beaches on the island, top-rated worldwide and even named 3rd best beach in the world. It's also home to many turtle nests every year.
3. Dos Playa
And even though Aruba is known for tropical and white beaches, the east side is much more rugged and wild! However no less photogenic, as you can see here:
Along the north and east coast there are 10 more beaches, most only accessible from Arikok National Park. We visited 2 of the most remote on the island, both accessible on foot when you visit the National Park. Dos Playa is literally made up of 2 separated coves with sand beaches and high waves. Not suitable for swimming due to the strong undertow, but perfect for the more experienced surfer.
4. Boca Prins
And neighboring Dos Playa is another spectacular deserted beach, amidst the sand dunes of Aruba. Also not advised to swim here, but perfect to chill with with nothing but nature all around!
Nearby you can also have some drinks and snacks with a view at Boca Prins Restaurant.
5. Baby Beach
All the way to the south this local beach is an oasis of tranquility. And even though the factory in the distance on the right does not look very appealing, the views straight ahead and to the left are nothing but spectacular and even better from above, as you can see here:
With its shallow crystal clear waters and spacious half-moon beach this bay offers plenty of space and is perfect for swimming. For snacks and drinks the local Beach Shack: Big Mama’s Grill is a must! Read all about that and more local hotspots in the Aruba foodie blog.
6. Rodgers Beach
This hidden gem is well-worth visiting too! This small local beach in the south of Aruba, right next Baby Beach, is mostly known to the locals, making it much more quiet, especially during weekdays.
7. Mangel Halto
This unspoilt piece of nature is located just 16 kilometers further north, near Savaneta, among the mangroves. It has a small beach with some umbrellas and a lovely deck over the sea in between the mangrove trees.
8. Hadicurari Beach
Some of my other favourite beaches are all located near each other. Even though Hadicurari Beach is more touristic and situated in front of the high-rise hotels, it’s also known for its beautiful tall palm trees, stunning sunsets and great kite-surfing conditions.
Also the local Fisherman’s Pier here is an authentic must-see and the beachfront restaurant here is also highly recommended, read all about that in this barefoot restaurant guide!
9. Tres Trapi
This can hardly be called a beach, as it’s actually a rocky coastline with 3 steps carved out leading to a very small beach in crystal clear waters. And although there's not much shade and just a few palapas here, the vibe is good and it’s the best spot for spotting sea turtles near the sea grass!
10. Boca Catalina
Drive on a bit further north from Tres Trapi and you will find this beautiful sand beach with more palapas and trees for shade, yet still quiet with a nice atmosphere. Also perfect for snorkeling and sea turtle spotting.
11. Manchebo Beach
During my visit to Aruba 2 years ago I stayed at the Manchebo Beach Resort, about which you can read more in this top 9 Aruba blog.
Bordering Eagle Beach this stunning hotel beach also has the whitest sand, an abundance of palapas and beautiful tall palm trees. Manchebo Beach is spacious, quiet and also publicly accessible with free parking nearby, as most beaches on the island.
Get inspired on my Caribbean page for even more foodie hotspots, Instagrammable things to do, and unique accommodations on Aruba or the Dominican Republic, all based on my own experiences.
I hope this blog was inspiring and useful to help plan your own visit! But feel free to let me know here or via social media if you have any more questions.
When you're going to Aruba don't forget to check my Aruba guide + practical map and do follow me on social media for daily pics & videos of this Caribbean paradise!