Aruba is famous for its blonde beaches and desert landscapes but deciding where to stay in Aruba isn’t always easy. The island has a variety of distinct districts and neighborhoods to explore.
Where to Stay in Aruba
Close to two million people visit Aruba each year to enjoy the warm weather and beaches. Aruba is an island in the Caribbean that lies about 18 miles north of Venezuela. It’s part of the Netherlands and one of the most popular vacation destinations in the region.
You can enjoy a wide range of water activities or simply lounge around on one of the many beautiful beaches. The best time to visit Aruba is the period from April to August. You’re less likely to get stuck indoors due to a tropical storm or hurricane.
January to March is also a pleasant time of the year, but the prices are often higher. Although Aruba is known for its beaches, it’s also home to unique wildlife, rock formations, and historic sites. You’ll also want to try the local cuisine, which includes various meat-based stews and seafood dishes.
Depending on how you plan on spending your vacation, certain areas of Aruba may work better for your itinerary. Learn more about some of the top neighborhoods to decide where to stay in Aruba.
The Best Parts of Aruba
Aruba is divided into eight major districts, which can be further separated into a long list of small cities and neighborhoods. Some of the top places to stay in Aruba include:
- Eagle Beach: Perfect for families and beachgoers
- Oranjestad: Great spot for first-time visitors and nightlife
- Noord: The top destination for nightlife and shopping
- San Nicolas: Best place for culture and fewer crowds
- Santa Cruz: Top choice for hikers and outdoor lovers
- Paradera: Great for families and hiking
Aruba’s Best Areas and Hotels
Want to plan your Aruba itinerary? First, let’s look at Aruba’s best places to stay so you can decide where to start your trip.
1. Eagle Beach
Eagle Beach is a beach and neighborhood on the west coast of the island. The sprawling white-sand beach is one of the top spots for tourists visiting Aruba, as it offers access to a wide array of water sports, restaurants, shops, and resorts.
Eagle Beach is within the city limits of the capital but is about halfway between the center of Oranjestad and Noord. It’s a central location, which allows you to easily plan day trips and explore more of the island.
Although shopping and trips to the beach are the main activities in this neighborhood, Eagle Beach has a few other fun things to do, including visiting the Bubali Bird Sanctuary.
The sanctuary is a wetland preserve with over 80 species of birds. The bird sanctuary is a short walk from the Butterfly Farm, which is home to hundreds of butterflies. The famous Divi Tree is also nearby.
The popular attraction is a tree on the beach with a unique twisting trunk. You can also visit the Aruba Aloe Factory Museum to learn more about the island’s 160-year history of cultivating aloe.
Eagle Beach is also a little less crowded compared to Palm Beach to the north. The low-rise resorts, shopping malls, and lack of large crowds make Eagle Beach a great choice for families. Those wanting to party may want to be closer to the center of the capital or around Palm Beach.
Things to Do
- Spend the day playing in the water or walking the promenade at Eagle Beach.
- View dozens of unique species of birds at the Bubali Bird Sanctuary.
- Watch hundreds of butterflies at the Butterfly Farm.
- Explore the history of aloe production at the Aruba Aloe Factory Museum.
Where to Eat
- Screaming Eagle Restaurant. Mexican restaurant and lounge near the beach.
- Senor Burrito Aruba. Burritos and beer.
- Food Truck Eagle Beach. Fast food restaurant at the north end of the beach.
- Ike’s Bistro. Bar and diner on the beach.
Eagle Beach Budget Hotels
- Coconut Inn. Budget studio units with free breakfast. A short walk from the beach.
- Arubiana Inn Hotel. Affordable, comfortable accommodations. The hotel is about half a mile from the beach and has its own outdoor pool.
Eagle Beach Mid-Range Hotels
- The Mill Resort and Suites. Modern hotel with a bar, restaurant, and private beach area. Guests receive room service, access to a business center, and a fitness room.
- Radisson Blu Aruba. Three-star resort with an onsite restaurant. Some of the rooms include balconies with views of the sea or the pool.
Eagle Beach Luxury Hotels
- Boardwalk Boutique Hotel Aruba. Gorgeous hotel rooms with tropical décor and furnishings. The hotel is just a six-minute walk from the beach, which includes access to beach huts and lounge chairs.
- The Ritz-Carlton – Aruba. A beachfront hotel with free Wi-Fi, outdoor pools, and a spa. The hotel includes three onsite restaurants, a casino, and a watersports facility.
Oranjestad “Orange City” is the capital of Aruba and the island’s largest city. It’s on the western coast of the island and one of the first places visitors travel to thanks to its shopping, restaurants, and museums. Oranjestad is a bustling city.
From the harbor to the malls, public spaces are often full of locals and visitors. You should have no problem finding places to visit, eat, and shop. A public park lines the coastline of the city, which is also home to the main airport on the island.
Depending on where you’re traveling from, you’re likely to arrive in Oranjestad, making it a convenient place to stay. Oranjestad is also one of the best places to enjoy the nightlife.
The numerous lounges, clubs, bars, and casinos provide plenty of options for a night out. The capital may appeal to those who are interested in architecture or history. Oranjestad has some of the island’s oldest and most elaborate buildings.
The island also holds many of its cultural festivals and events in the capital. Overall, Oranjestad is the top place to stay in Aruba for families, first-time visitors, and nightlife. However, if you dislike crowds, some of the other neighborhoods may better suit your needs.
Things to Do
- Spend the day shopping at the malls and boutiques along LG Smith Boulevard.
- Tour an old fort and learn more about the history of the island at the Historical Museum of Aruba.
- Let the kids play in the sand or on the playground at Sand Beach.
- Party on Main Street and LG Smith Boulevard, which offer access to dozens of lounges and clubs.
Where to Eat
- Babyback Grill. BBQ restaurant in the center of Oranjestad.
- Iguana Joe’s Caribbean Bar and Grill. Burgers and beer with views of the beach and harbor.
- La Candela Food Trailer. A roadside restaurant that caters to the bar crowd.
- Ritz Snack. Fast food restaurant with low-priced meals.
Oranjestad Budget Hotels
- Kamerlingh Villa. One of the least expensive places to stay on the island. The rooms are small but include a fridge and a stovetop.
- Wonders Boutique Hotel. Close to the shops, but further from the beach. Great customer service and high ratings from guests.
Oranjestad Mid-Range Hotels
- Hyatt Place Aruba Airport. Comfortable, mid-range accommodations at the airport. The hotel has a fitness center, pools, and a bar.
- Ocean View Condo. Overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Offers large studio units with terraces or balconies at reasonable prices.
Oranjestad Luxury Hotels
- Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort. Inclusive resort on the beach. You can walk out of your hotel room and reach the beach within seconds.
- Guesthouse in Paradise. With few luxury hotels, this villa rental is a great alternative. It includes six bedrooms and six bathrooms.
Noord is a town on the northern end of the island. It’s home to some of the most popular destinations on the island, including Palm Beach and Fisherman’s Huts. Noord is the best place to stay in Aruba for the nightlife.
Most of the action occurs around Palm Beach, which is the most visited beach in Aruba. The area is frequently packed with tourists during peak travel season and full of activity during the day and night. Fisherman’s Huts is one of the best spots for kitesurfing, windsurfing, and other water activities.
It’s a rocky strip with white sand and very shallow water. The area also includes a few smaller beaches that often offer smaller crowds compared to Palm Beach. Travelers also stay in Noord for the variety of restaurants, malls, and beaches.
The main commercial strip is just a couple of blocks east of the main beach. You’ll find a mixture of sit-down restaurants, bars, and clubs. Noord doesn’t have a lot of resorts or hotels. If you’re staying in this area, you’ll most likely need to rent an apartment, villa, or studio.
Noord is the best place to stay in Aruba for those wanting to party or shop. It’s also a short trip to Eagle Beach and other popular attractions. However, families with young kids and those wanting to avoid crowds may want to explore other areas of Aruba.
Things to Do
- Spend the day playing in the sand or water at Palm Beach, which is also surrounded by shops, restaurants, and bars.
- Travel to the top of the California Lighthouse for 360-degree panoramic views of the island.
- Windsurf, kitesurf, or spend time in the water at Fisherman’s Huts.
- Get close to camels, donkeys, cows, and other animals at Philip’s Animal Garden Zoo.
Where to Eat
- Rotisserie La Braise Aruba. Fancy French restaurant for a romantic evening.
- Garden Fresh Café. Healthy meals and snacks on the beach.
- Smokey Joe’s Island Grill. Grilled shrimp and ribs with outdoor seating.
- Chalo Burger Palm Beach. Tasty burgers and hot dogs at low prices.
Noord Budget Hotels
- Little Palm Apartments Aruba. One-bedroom apartment. It’s small, but one of the most affordable options.
- Little Paradise Aruba Vacation Apartments. Affordable apartment rental with a sun terrace and barbeque grill. The apartment also includes a fully equipped kitchen, Wi-Fi, and an outdoor pool.
Noord Mid-Range Hotels
- Aruba’s Life Vacation Residences – BW Signature Collection. Large two-bedroom suites. The suites include a sofa bed, a garden view, and convenient access to the beach.
- Aruba Boutique Apartments – Adults Only. The central location makes this the perfect spot for exploring the rest of the island. It’s near two of the main roads leading to Palm Beach in the north and the capital to the south.
Noord Luxury Hotels
- Villa Marina. Luxurious villa with a large outdoor pool. It also has its own restaurant and garden.
- Villa Encantada. This beautiful villa is a 15-minute walk from the nearest beach, giving you seclusion from other tourists. It has three bedrooms, three baths, and modern amenities, such as Wi-Fi.
4. San Nicolas
San Nicolas is the second-largest city in Aruba. It’s at the southern end of the island but only a 12-mile trip from Oranjestad. San Nicolas, or Sunrise City, was essential to the early economy of the island, thanks to its oil refinery.
It’s now home to a variety of modern developments. However, it’s most famous for its calypso music and steel bands. San Nicolas also hosts several carnivals throughout the year. It’s a colorful, vibrant city and the best place in Aruba for immersing yourself in local culture.
The area tends to receive fewer visitors compared to the northwestern cities, allowing you to get away from the crowds and mix with the locals. San Nicolas is known for its street art. Large murals cover the exteriors of many of the shops, galleries, and restaurants on the main street.
As with other areas of Aruba, San Nicolas includes access to several beaches. Boca Grandi is often used for kitesurfing, whereas Bachelor’s Beach and Baby Beach are often quiet and perfect for families. The Quadirikiri Caves are a short trip from San Nicolas.
The dome-shaped limestone caves feature petroglyphs and large ceilings that provide natural light. San Nicolas is a great place to stay for anyone wanting to escape the more crowded cities in the north and west. But unless you visit during one of the carnivals, it doesn’t always have the liveliest nightlife.
Things to Do
- Walk the main street to see if you can find the more than 50 street murals painted around the downtown area.
- Learn how to kitesurf, go snorkeling, or relax on the beach at Boca Grandi.
- View the petroglyphs inside the dome-shaped Quadirikiri Caves.
- Visit Aruba in late February to experience the festivities during the Grand Carnival Parade.
Where to Eat
- D-Roti Spot. Bar and grill in the entertainment village.
- Baby Beach Snack Bar. The only restaurant near Baby Beach.
- Kamini’s Kitchen. Small restaurant with chicken, goat, lamb, beef, and shrimp.
- Charlie’s Bar and Restaurant. Drinks, food, and fun.
San Nicolas Budget Hotels
- Sun Sand Beach in Nature Apartment. This apartment is a six-minute walk from the beach and is surrounded by nature. It’s a secluded spot with two bedrooms and a single bathroom.
- ConVillas Apartments. Affordable apartment with comfortable furnishings. Each unit has a kitchen, seating area, and private bathroom.
San Nicolas Mid-Range Hotels
- Serene by the Sea. Beachfront accommodations with a private beach area and a garden. The apartments include a shared kitchen and a concierge service.
- Anate Beach Apartments. Another beachfront property located a few minutes away from the center of San Nicolas. The apartment has one bedroom, one bathroom, and a patio.
San Nicolas Luxury Hotels
- Aruba Beachfront Private Villa. One of the most luxurious spots on the island. This villa has clear views of the sea and the beach and high-end furnishings.
- Old Aloe House. It’s hard to miss the bright yellow exterior of this charming rental. The house is over 100 years old but includes modern furnishings and amenities, including a flatscreen TV and a microwave.
5. Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is further inland compared to the previous towns and neighborhoods. It’s in a central spot, allowing you to easily spend the day in nearby cities, such as Oranjestad and San Nicolas.
Santa Cruz doesn’t have a lot of resorts, restaurants, or clubs. It also receives fewer visitors, making it one of the more laidback areas of Aruba. Hikers and adventurers may prefer staying in Santa Cruz, as it connects to several natural attractions.
Santa Cruz borders Arikok National Park, which covers about 20% of the island. It contains rugged terrain and hills with a mixture of desert-like conditions and heavy vegetation. You’ll also find amazing vistas with sweeping views of the island. A short trip northwest of town takes you to Mount Hooiberg.
The 541-foot-tall mountain provides another spot for gazing out over the island. On clear days, you can see neighboring Venezuela. The Donkey Sanctuary is also nearby. The sanctuary offers a haven for abused or injured wild donkeys.
Visitors can feed the donkeys and pick up a few souvenirs from the gift shop. If you mostly want to party, spend the day at the beach, or shop, Santa Cruz isn’t the best choice. However, it’s perfect for those who love the outdoors.
Things to Do
- Spend the day exploring the hiking trails in Arikok National Park.
- Climb to the peak of Mount Hooiberg to see more of the island.
- Visit the Donkey Sanctuary to help support an organization that cares for injured donkeys.
- Travel to Conchi to swim in a natural pool separated from the sea by large rock formations.
Where to Eat
- Amistad Take Away. Low-priced takeout restaurant. No dine-in options.
- Neii’s Kitchen. Snack truck with great food.
- Santa Cruz Bar Restaurant. Chinese food.
- Ritz Santa Cruz. Local fast-food chain with ice cream and doughnuts.
Santa Cruz Budget Hotels
- Hopi Cadushi Studio. Small apartment with colorful décor and furnishings to help you feel at home. Conveniently located near the Ayo Rock Formations.
- LiCe Garden Aruba. This rental is one of the least expensive places to stay in Santa Cruz, which is already the most affordable part of the island. The rental has one bedroom and a small pool.
Santa Cruz Mid-Range Hotels
- Fuego Mio Bed & Breakfast. Low-cost rental with views of a garden. The property is on the main road south of Santa Cruz, allowing you to easily access nearby towns.
- Mammaloe. Colorful, comfortable accommodations with a rustic feel. An affordable choice for those wanting to stay near the national park.
Santa Cruz Luxury Hotels
- Jamanota Happy View. Secluded apartment near the Donkey Sanctuary. The apartment includes a single bedroom, a terrace, a garden, and BBQ facilities.
- Via Monica. This villa is further away from the center of Santa Cruz but offers a little more seclusion. The property is surrounded by plant life, helping to give you more peace and privacy.
Paradera is another inland town. It’s on the northeastern end of the island, but it is easy to reach from the capital. Although tourists visit all parts of the island, Paradera tends to receive a little less traffic.
Most people come to see some of the island’s main attractions, including Mount Hooiberg and the Casibari Rock Formations. You can reach Mount Hooiberg from Santa Cruz, but Paradera is a little closer.
The Casibari Rock Formations are on the way to the mountain and include a large collection of boulders near several hiking trails and scenic viewing spots. Staying in Paradera also places you closer to the Bushiribana Ruins on the eastern coast of the island.
The ruins are what’s left of a 19th-century gold mill. It’s a short walk from the Aruba Ostrich Farm and Wariruri Beach. Natural Bridge Aruba is another nearby natural attraction.
The bridge is a chunk of limestone formed by the waves over hundreds of years. As with Santa Cruz, Paradera isn’t the most popular destination for clubgoers. It’s better suited for those who want to explore the outdoors or avoid throngs of tourists.
Things to Do
- Snap a few pictures of Natural Bridge Aruba after a day in the sand at Wariruri Beach.
- Visit the Bushiribana Ruins to see part of the island’s history and discover great views of the coast.
- Walk the hiking trails around the Casibari Rock Formations.
- Feed the ostriches, grab some refreshments, and buy souvenirs at the Aruba Ostrich Farm.
Where to Eat
- Chichi’s Snack Truck & Catering. BBQ, potato salad, and drinks.
- Ruiz Take Away. Large servings of takeout food at low prices. No dine-in options.
- Glenn’s Restaurant. Neighborhood restaurant with BBQ food and drinks.
- Kikoriko Aruba. Fast-food restaurant with burgers and grilled food.
Paradera Budget Hotels
- Koeriboeri Aruba Lodges. These lodges are east of Paradera, providing convenient access to Hooiberg Mountain. The unit includes a terrace, a garden, and modern amenities with a tropical atmosphere.
- La Casita Torres. Affordable rental on the east side of the capital city and a short walk from the center of Paradera. Includes a small pool and a terrace.
Paradera Mid-Range Hotels
- La Felicidad. One of the only places to stay in the heart of Paradera. This property includes a shared outdoor pool and is a short walk from several supermarkets.
- Aruba Tropic Apartments. Enjoy the comfort of a resort at a fraction of the price. These apartments include a stylish pool, modern furnishings, and private parking.
Paradera Luxury Hotels
- Paradera Park Aruba. Choose from studio apartments and suites. This property has several unique features, including cabanas, hammocks, and a large private balcony.
- Bali Retreat Aruba. This luxurious retreat is in Noord, but it is only a short distance from Paradera. It includes an indoor pool and an outdoor pool, along with a ping-pong table and a fully equipped kitchen.
Where Should You Stay in Aruba?
That covers the best places to stay in Aruba. The island is a breathtaking place to visit with a long list of beaches, shops, and restaurants to explore.
Whether you want to relax on the beach, play in the water, or go hiking, Aruba has something for everyone. Aruba is also easy to travel by car, taxi, or public transportation. Pick a town or neighborhood to start planning your trip to Aruba.