Once you’ve decided to go to Aruba and used some of our tips, the hard part is deciding which beach to go to first. There are so many to choose from! Due to the fairly small size of the island, you can just keep driving until you find what appeals to you. Do you want to soak up some sun? Windsurf? Snorkel? Enjoy jetskis? Whatever your preference, there is sure to be a beach perfect for you, and usually with a bar on site! Most of the beaches are located along the South shore of the island which is more developed. The beaches on the North shore are beautiful but the tides are rougher, so most of them have signs warning you not to swim. They looked beautiful but dangerous.
We picked the best beach for our hotel location. Manchebo Beach’s white sands and beautiful blue waters created a postcard perfect combination. The beach was wide and because of its exposure as a bit of land that sticks out into the sea, it was perfectly windy. Enough wind to keep you cooler but without the pain of sand flying up against you constantly! This is considered part of the low rise resort area so most of the palapas and chairs you’ll see belong to a resort. But this is still a public beach so guests or visitors frequented. For evening entertainment, we watched a group of young men skim boarding.
Depending on the day, Eagle Beach is often listed as the number 1 thing to do/see on TripAdvisor.com. And with good reason. This beach, also in the low rise area, is stunning. Manchebo Beach is sometimes included in the Eagle Beach description but for purposes of this blog, I’ve separated it since it is a specific wide point on the beach. Eagle Beach has beautiful white sand and some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen!
Mangel Halto Beach
Our tour guide took us to Mangel Halto to assuage my disappointment in not being able to go to Baby Beach (which we saw another day when we rented a car). I would say this beach is more local and not as many tourists know about it or have explored it yet. Our guide came with his father when he was a boy. There isn’t so much room to lay out except for the occasional alcove. But there are ladders and platforms for guests to enter the water. And it is a beautiful place to snorkel, or if you’re into it, dive. There were no facilities, restaurants or bars here, so bring your own!
Everything about this beach is perfect except for one thing: the view is of the Valero refinery across the way. Which is really a shame! When we went, there was only one family enjoying the quiet under a shade tree and one gentleman fishing. A large, and judging by the crowd popular, restaurant sits between Rodgers and Baby Beaches.
Having heard so much about the wonders of Baby Beach, I did not want to miss this scenic spot. Unfortunately, the word is out and either did anyone else! This was a beautiful white sand beach with a protected swim area that makes it perfect for families. There really is no shade out here, so you are dependent on finding an empty palapa. On the main beach, a restaurant caters to the munchies and thirst. You can also rent a beach chair and a sun cover as well as a float or snorkel equipment. As beautiful as this beach was, I just couldn’t get over how crowded it was and that is not my idea of fun. Plus it is located at the Eastern most tip of the island, making it farther away from most of the resorts.
Palm Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Aruba because it is located in the high rise area. Many of the hotel chains have huge resorts in this area. That means that the palapas fill up quickly in the morning. Yes, the sand is just as pretty and the water just as blue, but as someone who is not a huge fan of crowds, this one did not impress me as much as I hoped. Since we only drove by, I don’t have any photos to share but if you Google resorts like Ritz Carlton or Riu, you’ll see the beautiful beaches.
We happened upon this beach by accident as we left Baby Beach. Hidden behind beach dunes, this beautiful spot is perfect for windsurfing. One of the spots we stopped at had a kitesurfing school as well as a bar. The view is really pretty and the water rougher. There is no shade out here! As long as you don’t mind the prison behind you – and I bet the guards have a beautiful view from the towers!
While driving to our hotel from the airport, we could see splotches of blue from our shuttle van. But when I saw Divi Beach as we rounded a corner, my heart skipped a beat with the thought – if all beaches look like this, we are in heaven! This is one of the more public beaches, and very active as well with a young crowd including families. And easy to get to when coming by cruise or staying downtown.
Hearing so much about this newly more popular beach, I really wanted to check it out. The parking situation seemed a bit tight. There was a bar with some palapas. I saw lots of people snorkeling, which is a good sign. The crowd here seemed younger and more active (although that may have been due to the triathlon). People would use this beach as their base to either run or bike up the hill to the California Lighthouse. It is a pretty place to watch the sunset.
I would describe this beach as located in town. Nestled between the airport and the cruise terminal. If you’re short on time, it would be a good place to go from a cruise for a cheap alternative (you can even walk it in about 15-20 minutes). There were plenty of trees so that you could find a spot to hide from the sun but the beach itself seemed fairly narrow. The downside for me was its location next to the very busy Route 1.
Sitting on the beach with flamingoes? You can absolutely do that here! You can read all about it here.
As long as you love blue waters and white sandy beaches, you really can’t go wrong with any of Aruba’s many options. The beaches attract new travelers and are sufficiently fabulous to have convinced thousands of others that their search for paradise is over (judging on the number of repeat guests!). This truly is heavenly spot for relaxation on the beach.
A final word of caution. Aruba’s latitude takes you quite close to the equator and the sun is very strong. However, the constant breeze makes it feel cooler than it actually is. You don’t realize how much you sweat as it’s quickly whisked away. Be sure to reapply sunscreen often and drink lots of water to remain unburnt and hydrated.
Annick, The Common Traveler