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Where to Stay in Aruba: 7 Best Areas & Fun Neighborhoods

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Aruba is located in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea, southwest of all the Caribbean islands. It’s just north of Venezuela and next to the island of Curacao. Believe it or not, Aruba is part of the Netherlands, with the Dutch settling there as early as the 17th Century.

While this small Dutch island is only twenty miles long, there is a lot to explore, including stunning beaches, colorful architecture, desert-like landscapes, and a vibrant art scene. The beautiful Caribbean Sea is just minutes away in any direction.

You may be greeted by friendly locals, who say “Bon bini,” which means “Welcome,” in their native language of Papiamento. Most Arubans can also speak English, Spanish, and Dutch.

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly vacation at one of Aruba’s all-inclusive resorts, a romantic getaway at one of the island’s luxury hotels, or a group trip at one of the best cheap hotels, you’ll find it all on this tiny island. When you stay in Aruba, you’ll feel the laid-back vibe, taste delicious cuisine, and relax next to the gorgeous water.

We’ve ranked the seven best areas and fun neighborhoods, so you know where to stay in Aruba! While Palm Beach might be the most well-known area, you’ll find that each neighborhood has its draws. We’ve also compiled a list of the Aruba hotels, no matter your budget. So, keep reading to see where to stay in Aruba!

As the locals might say, “Nos ta spera te lihé,” or “We look forward to seeing you soon!”

TL;DR: Best Places to Stay in Aruba

Best Areas to Stay in Aruba

Aruba’s northwest coast includes Arashi Beach, known for snorkeling and calm water, while Eagle Beach and Palm Beach are a little further south. Eagle Beach is the most popular beach on the island, with idyllic turquoise water, white sand beaches, and gentle surf. However, the two-mile Palm Beach area is just as gorgeous and is known for its beachfront high-rise hotels.

On the west coast of Aruba, you’ll find the island’s capital, Oranjestad, while other well-known areas like Santa Cruz, Paradera, and San Nicolas are in the central and southern parts, respectively.

  • Area for first-timers/tourists – Oranjestad
  • Area for budget travelers – San Nicolas
  • Area for luxury travelers – Palm Beach
  • Area for safety – Arashi Beach
  • Area for families – Eagle Beach
  • Area for an active getaway – Santa Cruz
  • Area for avoiding crowds – Paradera

Where to Stay in Aruba

1. Oranjestad – Best Area for First-timers or Tourists

Oranjestad marina and cityscape
dbvirago / Adobe Stock

Oranjestad is the perfect place to stay in Aruba for first-timers and tourists, with its fantastic shopping, colorful colonial houses, and plenty of history. As the capital of Aruba, visitors will notice that much of the city, particularly downtown Oranjestad, still has brightly colored Dutch Colonial architecture, such as second-story balconies and gambrel roofs.

If you’re looking to shop, you’ll love the pedestrian-friendly Caya G. F. Betico Croes, also known as Main Street. If you still want more shopping, head to Lloyd G. Smith Boulevard, which has the Royal Plaza Mall and the Renaissance Mall along the seafront.

Located in downtown Oranjestad is the 18th Century Fort Zoutman, which houses the Museo Historico Aruba. History lovers will enjoy Aruba’s oldest building and the Willem III Tower, which provides a beautiful view of the city! If you’re looking for more history, stop by the National Archaeological Museum Aruba with artifacts from 2500 BCE!

The Butterfly Farm is one of the top attractions in Oranjestad, whether you’re traveling with kids or not. It’s an experience to be had, walking through a large butterfly habitat with butterflies flying around you. These exotic butterflies will delight visitors of all ages!

If you’re hoping to play some golf during your stay in Aruba, you’ll love the gorgeous 9-hole course at the Links at Divi Aruba. You will have access to this course whether you stay at the Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort, Divi Aruba All Inclusive, Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive, or nearby Divi Dutch Village.

One of the best experiences in Aruba is seeing the mystical pink flamingoes. The easiest way is with a stay at the luxury Renaissance Aruba Resort.

As a guest of the resort, you’ll have access to Renaissance Island, the resort’s private island, with two private beaches, Iguana Beach and Flamingo Beach. These are the only private beaches on the island, and guests of all ages will love to see the flamingoes!

To start your day, stop by The Dutch Pancakehouse for some Poffertjes (silver dollar pancakes). Or, if you’ve worked up an appetite after sightseeing, they’ve also got sweet and savory Dutch Pancakes for lunch and dinner.

Want something a little classier? Head to Restaurant Anno 1877, where menu options range from Pan Seared Duck Breast to New Zealand Rack of Lamb.

Some of the top things to do in Oranjestad include:

  • Go shopping on Lloyd G. Smith Boulevard and Main Street
  • Visit the 18th Century Fort Zoutman and the National Archaeological Museum Aruba
  • Walk through the Butterfly Farm
  • Play a round of nine holes at the Links at Divi Aruba
  • See real flamingos on Renaissance Island

Wherever you stay in Oranjestad, you’ll have easy access to all the local restaurants, shopping, and attractions! And the free trolley is a fun way to get from downtown Oranjestad to other parts of the city without a car.

See Related: Incredible Places to Travel Without a Passport

2. San Nicolas – Best Area for Budget Travelers

Beach and skyline in San Nicolas, Aruba
Ricardo Pires / Adobe Stock

Although San Nicolas is only 12 miles from Oranjestad, it provides a different experience than the bustling tourist areas in the north. Referred to as Sint Nicolaas in Dutch, the area is located at the southern tip of Aruba.

The island’s second-largest city has a rich history, with many museums and art galleries showcasing its culture, art, and industry. Located in the historic water tower is the Museum of Industry, which highlights the area’s history of aloe, oil, phosphate, and gold.

To see history through art, head down the main street, Zeppenfeldstraat, to see dozens of hand-painted murals and local art galleries. Or, learn about the area’s culture at the San Nicolas Community Museum.

Be sure to pack your snorkeling gear if you head to Baby Beach, as it’s one of the best beaches in the area! If you want to try out kitesurfing, you may want to head to Boca Grandi, which is on the eastern side of the island, and much windier.

The area’s rich history and culture are apparent in its food, with Caribbean restaurants such as Kamini’s Kitchen, O’Niel Caribbean Kitchen, and Charlie’s Bar and Restaurant. You’ll find menu options ranging from jerk chicken, lamb, pasapalo, and cazuela. Charlie’s Bar has been a staple in San Nicolas since 1941!

Transportation is easy from Oranjestad to San Nicolas on one of the island’s buses. And once you are in San Nicolas, you shouldn’t need a car. Most of the accommodation options in the area are vacation rentals, but if you prefer to stay in a hotel or beach resort, you can stay just a few minutes away in Saveneta.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in San Nicolas, here are some of our top picks:

  • Visit the Museum of Industry
  • Learn more about the area’s culture at the San Nicolas Community Museum
  • Go snorkeling at Baby Beach
  • Stop by Charlie’s Bar for a bite to eat and a beverage
  • Look at the handpainted murals on Zeppenfeldstraat

San Nicolas is a budget-friendly alternative to some other areas in Aruba, but it still has access to beautiful beaches, delicious food, and good accommodation options.

3. Palm Beach – Best Area for Luxury Travelers

Chairs stacked up at the end of the day on Aruba's busy Palm Beach
Jo Ann Snover / Adobe Stock

The two-mile Palm Beach Strip is perfect if you’re looking for large luxury resorts right on the beach. Located just north of Eagle Beach, the Palm Beach area has plenty of casinos, restaurants, bars, and shopping.

You shouldn’t miss the Old Dutch Windmill if you’re in the Palm Beach area. Originally built in the Netherlands in the early 19th Century, it was eventually ruined by storms and abandoned until it was relocated to Aruba in the 1960s. This landmark was recently renovated and now houses restaurants and a popular bar.

While most people enjoy the calm beaches in front of the Palm Beach resorts on the 2-mile strip, you can also hit the north end of Palm Beach for kiteboarding and windsurfing.

If you need a break from the sand and sun, take a trip to the Bubali Bird Sanctuary, a wetland preserve. Visitors can see more than 80 migratory birds from the watchtower. It’s within walking distance of Palm Beach, making it a perfect sightseeing adventure.

Stop by Eduardo’s Beach Shack for one of their delicious smoothies or acai bowls for an afternoon treat. Located at the Playa Linda Beach Resort, this highly-rated smoothie bar will cool you down and quench your sweet tooth. For an upscale dining experience, try Atardi, a pop-up fine dining restaurant meaning “late afternoon” in Papiamento.

Night owls will love the Gusto Night Club Aruba, which has been voted the best nightclub for several years. With bottle service and three dancing areas, you’re sure to dance the night away! If gambling is your scene, try your luck at the Aruba Marriott Resort – Stellaris Casino or the Ritz Carlton!

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Palm Beach, here are some of our top picks:

  • Visit the Old Dutch Windmill
  • Head to the Bubali Bird Sanctuary
  • Have an acai bowl or smoothie at Eduardo’s Beach Shack
  • Try your luck at Blackjack at the Stellaris Casino
  • Dance the night away at Gusto Night Club Aruba

The Palm Beach area has some of the best Aruba hotels and resorts, including Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club and Marriott’s Aruba Ocean Club. These high-end luxury resorts offer a range of amenities, such as a full-service spa, fitness center, free parking, air conditioning, outdoor swimming pools, and hot tubs. Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club is perfect for a family vacation, while Marriott’s Aruba Ocean Club is more suitable for couples.

Whether you stay at one of Palm Beach’s luxury hotels, family-friendly resorts, or boutique hotels, everything is within walking distance!

See Related: Hidden Gems in the Caribbean Sea (You Can’t Miss)

4. Arashi Beach – Best Area for Safety

Arashi Beach ocean view and skyline
Hans / Adobe Stock

Arashi Beach is the destination for those looking for a less touristy, and therefore safer place, than the larger cities. This secluded beach area on Aruba’s northwestern coast is a paradise for relaxation, watersports, and fun.

The number one draw of Arashi Beach is the beautifully clear water, where visitors can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and diving. There are exotic fish, gorgeous reefs to explore, and even the wreck of the German freighter, Antilla, sunk during World War II. The beach is family-friendly, with lounge chair rentals, beach huts, a large parking area, and showers. Another beach option nearby is Malmok Beach, famous for its crystal-clear waters!

For some history, head to the Pilgrims Church, also known as the Alto Vista Chapel. This yellow Catholic church stands out among the desert landscape and shrubs, so you can’t miss it. The missionaries called this village Alto Vista, which means “high view,” as it provides a clear view of the island.

One of the most popular landmarks on Arashi Beach is the California Lighthouse, named after a steamship that wrecked near the island in 1891. For 360-degree views of the northern part of Aruba, climb up to the top of the lighthouse! The California Lighthouse is perfect any time, but sunset is the best time to climb up to the top to witness the sun setting into the Caribbean Sea.

If all of that sightseeing and relaxing makes you hungry, you can stop at the Arashi Beach Shack for food and drinks (if you’re at the beach). If you’re craving a more upscale Italian dinner, you’ll want to make reservations at Faro Blanco Restaurant.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in or near Arashi Beach, here are some of our top picks:

  • Learn more about the Alto Vista Chapel
  • Head to the California Lighthouse for views of the island
  • Explore the wreck of the Antilla, a German freighter sunk during WWII
  • Have a snack at the Arashi Beach Shack
  • Head to the crystal-clear waters of Malmok Beach

Most accommodations near Arashi Beach are vacation rentals unless you stay near Boca Catalina or Malmok Beach, which provide additional options. However, even the budget-friendly vacation rental near Arashi Beach includes amenities like a private balcony, free Wifi, a hot tub, and free parking.

See Related: Things to Do in St. Thomas

5. Eagle Beach – Best Area for Families

Eagle Beach aerial and ocean view
Christian Pausch / Adobe Stock

Eagle Beach is the perfect destination for families, nestled between Manchego Beach and Palm Beach on the western coastline of Aruba. This idyllic area has a laid-back vibe, white sand beaches, perfectly turquoise waters, and more. It’s no surprise why Eagle Beach is routinely rated as one of the best beaches in the world!

Unlike Palm Beach, you’ll find a range of accommodations, from hostels to luxury hotels, in Eagle Beach. Visitors love the vibe at Eagle Beach, with funky bars, eclectic restaurants, cool piers, and beautiful beaches.

Most visitors stay at Eagle Beach for the beach’s water activities, including parasailing, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving. But you can also relax on the beach in one of the many rentable huts.

If you’re feeling sporty, pick up a tennis racket and some balls and head to one of the local tennis courts nearby! On your way to the tennis courts, you may see a famous Divi Divi (or Watapana) tree. This tree is a natural compass, always pointing southwest due to the winds that blow across Aruba.

When you get hungry, there are many restaurant choices available. You can head to Passions on the Beach Restaurant at the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort. This casual yet upscale beachfront restaurant offers fresh seafood and international cuisine with white sand at your feet. For a casual environment, head to Coco Loco Beach Bar & Restaurant, with drinks, good food, and live entertainment.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Eagle Beach, here are some of our top picks:

  • Play tennis at one of the courts along the beach
  • Take a pic of the Divi Divi tree
  • Go swimming at the local beach
  • Look at the marine life during a snorkeling trip
  • Have drinks at the Coco Loco Beach Bar & Resort

There are plenty of accommodation options in Eagle Beach, with swimming pools, beach bars, free parking, air conditioning, and a fitness center. Even the recommended budget-friendly accommodation in the area has free Wifi, an outdoor swimming pool, and free parking!

See Related: Best Honeymoon Destinations in the World

6. Santa Cruz – Best Area for an Active Getaway

People swimming on the natural pool at Santa Cruz, Aruba
Matt Grimaldi / Shutterstock

While the whole island of Aruba is terrific for an active getaway, many visitors find the Santa Cruz area the best! Located in central Aruba, Santa Cruz is known for its proximity to Arikok National Park and Mount Hooiberg. It doesn’t get the high number of visitors that other areas do, making it a laid-back destination.

A trip to Arikok National Park is a must, with sights like the Conchi natural saltwater pool and the Dos Playa and Boca Prins beaches. You can only access the pool by horseback, ATV, or on foot, but it is worthwhile to see it! Take the park’s hiking trails to explore the wildlife, flora, and fauna. 

Andicuri Beach is another beautiful spot in the area (although secluded), with great surfing. Many people visit the beach for its petroglyphs in Quadirikiri Cave and Fontein Cave, created by the indigenous people of Aruba over 1,000 years ago.

Another item to put on your itinerary is the 540ft Mount Hooiberg, which is cone-shaped and offers spectacular views. On a clear day, visitors can see Venezuela!

If you haven’t seen a donkey up close, a trip to The Donkey Sanctuary is a fun item for your itinerary. You may hear a lot of braying, but your visit will help the abused and injured donkeys. It’s a hee-hawing good time!

You can find Caribbean fare at Amistad Takeaway if you’ve worked up an appetite while sightseeing. Or stop by Peking Restaurant Santa Cruz or Santa Cruz Bar and Restaurant for traditional Chinese fare.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Santa Cruz, here are some of our top picks:

  • Head to Arikok National Park
  • Visit the Conchi natural saltwater pool
  • Climb Mount Hooiberg
  • See donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary
  • Order takeout from the Amistad Takeaway

Santa Cruz is the place for you if you’re not looking for instant beach access but want to be near several natural attractions! While you won’t find a beach resort or a boutique hotel here, the following vacation rentals offer many amenities, such as outdoor pools and free Wifi.

7. Paradera – Best Area for Avoiding Crowds

A panoramic view of the Caribbean island of Aruba from the Casibari Rock Formations under blue skies
andreas völkel/EyeEm / Adobe Stock

Near Santa Cruz, Paradera is another inland Aruba town in the northeast part of the island. If you’re looking for something opposite to Palm Beach regarding tourists and crowds, Paradera is it! You won’t find the best luxury hotels or inclusive resorts here, but it’s a fantastic destination and good for avoiding crowds.

You can spend your day on the eastern coastline of Aruba at Wariruri Beach. This rocky coastline is perfect for fishing or surfing, but the ocean is too rough for snorkeling or swimming.

Although you can access Mount Hooiberg from Santa Cruz, it’s closer to Paradera. This mid-size mountain (at 540ft) is perfect for viewing the island!

One of the most popular attractions near Paradera is the Casibari Rock Formations, a large collection of tonalite boulders. These boulders are located near walking trails in a residential area with steps so hikers can reach the top. Once you’re at the top, you’ll get gorgeous 360-degree views!

Another popular attraction is (or was, depending on your perspective) Natural Bridge Aruba, a large chunk of limestone carved by the ocean over centuries. Unfortunately, the 25-foot bridge collapsed in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina, but the bridge’s remains are still a tourist attraction.

Speaking of ruins, a trip to the Bushiribana Ruins is a must-do item for your Aruba itinerary. This former 19th Century gold mill on the eastern coast is free to visit and explore.

You can’t forget the Aruba Ostrich Farm when you’re in the area, with guided tours offered every hour, plus a restaurant and souvenir shop onsite.

If you’ve worked up an appetite after sightseeing, stop by Paradera Restaurant for Chinese food or the LionFish Snack Aruba for seafood.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Paradera, here are some of our top picks:

  • Go fishing at Wariruri Beach
  • Climb Mount Hooiberg
  • Visit the remains of Natural Bridge Aruba
  • See the Bushiribana Ruins
  • Feed the ostriches at the Aruba Ostrich Farm

Paradera is the perfect destination for avoiding crowds, so if you’re wondering where to stay in Aruba, this small town is it! You won’t find allinclusive resorts or fancy hotels here, but the vacation rentals and “condo hotels” below are perfect!

La Casita Torres offers a beautiful outdoor swimming pool and air conditioning and is close to all local attractions. The recommended luxury hotel, Paradera Park Aruba, is one of the best hotels in Aruba, with an outdoor pool and a cooler, and beach chairs available for your beach day!

FAQ

What is the best area to stay in Aruba?

Because the island is small, you can stay anywhere in Aruba and easily drive (or take the bus) from one part of the island to another. However, popular Palm Beach is your best bet if you want to stay in one place and have access to food, nightclubs, bars, casinos, and water sports.

What are the best neighborhoods to stay in Aruba?

All of Aruba’s neighborhoods offer something special, and with the island’s small size, there is no “wrong” place to stay. The most touristy places include Palm Beach, Eagle Beach, and Oranjestad, while the rest of the island is less crowded and more authentic.  

Where is a good place to stay in Aruba near Arikok National Park?

Arikok National Park covers around 20% of the island, so there are many places to stay in Aruba that would provide easy access to the park. However, the closest area to Arikok National Park is Santa Cruz.

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