Obviously it is the beaches that draws in the crowds, and for very good reason! But how to decide which if the many beaches to go to if you don’t have time to check them all out? We did a decent round around the island, and covered quite a bit of ground including many of the beaches, so here is the goods on Aruba’s beaches:
All of them are public & free – including the shade provided by the parasols & huts
A great thing about the island is that there is no such thing as a ‘private beach’ or a ‘hotel-owned beach’. Every single piece of beach is public and so are all those lovely straw huts that provide the necessary shade. The moment you start using beach chairs and other equipment you may find on the beach for your comfort is when the salespeople come in. Easy fix: Once you get to a place you like that does not have other people’s stuff under it, just pull the chairs/beds aside and claim your shady spot! Parking is free almost everywhere as well and right at the shorefront, beyond some highly commercialized spots and Oranjestad center.
Swimming is at the south and west side
As the wind is continuous and always coming from the same direction (check the Divi trees!), it means that the north (east) side of the island has a very choppy harsh coastline that does not allow for any swimming. This of course means that for a fun day at the beach you are required to go south or west. As the water temperatures are great around the island, some considerations for the swim-ability of a beach are around the drop off and choppiness of the beach. And of course if it is an easy sandy entrance. Along the west coast the drop off is steeper, but better for sport swimmers (mind the boats and jetskis at Eagle beach!) as currents out at sea are less. Along the south, the beaches are shallower and easier to navigate for the recreational swimmer, out at sea currents are to be considered.
If swimming is not at the top of your beach day needs list, then do consider one of the many beautiful coves up north, as they are wildly beautiful and more adventurous. You can still dip your toes in and be impressed by some of the massive waves that roll in!
Snorkeling & other entertainment
Not one to lie around and read a book on the beach while slowly roasting yourself? Need some action? Of course Aruba has you covered here as well. We split the action in 2: First being the ability to snorkel from the beach, and second the availability of other water entertainment such as jetski rental, banana rides, and other types of action. There are fish to be seen at every single beach, but some proper snorkeling is not feasible everywhere. The absolute top spot for snorkeling is Mangel Halto beach, which has an outer reef drift snorkel that is by far the best you will find around the island without needing to take a boat out. It is not for beginners, carefully read this instruction first, but it is VERY rewarding.
Should I take the kids?
The easy answer is: YES to every single beach… Reason being of course that the average kid will already be entertained by simply building sand castles and being outdoors. But some beaches are safer than others to bring the kids to as they may be in a sheltered cove and have shallower water for the kids to stand in. Best beach for kids is most certainly Baby Beach (wonder why it is called this?), but don’t be fooled by the name. As it is remote, it is very relaxing and has plenty to offer but no currents and a clear beach where you can easily keep an eye on your little ones.
Get some wheels to beat the crowds
In order to be as flexible as possible in your beach selection, make sure you rent a car so you can really scout the place and decide if the crowd is OK before taking your gear out on the beach. Some beaches are secluded and can only be reached by car, for others public transport is not ideal. Car rental can be cheap if you opt for the tiniest available (Kia Picanto or similar) which will be more than sufficient for your stay – it was for us with 2 adults and 2 children.
Our verdict: Baby Beach takes home the prizes
Not just because it is a great beach with kids, we would have picked this without them as well. The combination of soft white beaches waiting to be photographed, proper snorkeling in a secure cove (great for beginners and more advanced), good options for proper swimming and NO entertainment (we are not a fan of jetskis and bananaboats, sorry!) makes this the dream destination. Add to it that it is the furthest away you can go, which means chances are low that it will be crowded there. Added bonus: Stop at Zeerovers on the way back for the freshest fish/shrimp & chips you will find to top of a perfect beach day!
|Malmok / Boca Catalina Beach||4/5||4/5||4/5||3/5||12km|
|Mangel Halto Beach||5/5||3/5||3/5||0/5||11km|
|All Northern beaches||0/5||0/5||1/5||0/5||10-23km|
For more on Aruba and its highlights, check our other pages and blogs. Other tips on travel you can find in our blog pages as well.