Where to Stay in Aruba for the Best Island Adventures, Beach Life and Relaxation

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Aruba Sign
Welcome to Aruba, otherwise known as “One Happy Island” (and rightfully so)! Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

Located off the coast of Venezuela in the Dutch Caribbean, Aruba is an absolute paradise. It is one of the ABC islands: Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, and by far one of the most beautiful islands I have ever visited. From touristy beaches and all-inclusive resorts to secluded sandy spots with boutique hotels and vacation rentals, Aruba’s got all kinds of accommodation options. This guide will help you decide exactly where to stay in Aruba for your tropical getaway.

Where to Stay in Aruba - Downtown Oranjestad
Downtown Oranjestad puts you within walking distance of shopping and sightseeing in Aruba. Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

1. Downtown Oranjestad

For first-timers, Oranjestad a/k/a Orange City is one of the best areas to consider when choosing where to stay in Aruba. As the capital of Aruba and its largest city, it is where you will find all of Aruba’s best shopping, museums, and restaurants (such as the #1 rated Fred Royal Aruba, one of the best dining experiences I have ever had)! You will also find accommodations in all price ranges, from budget hostels to upscale luxury hotels.

Located on the western side of the island, Oranjestad is where you will find the island’s airport. Needless to say, the city is pretty busy with both locals and visitors. It is one of the best places to go in Aruba for nightlife, with a variety of lounges, bars, clubs, and casinos to choose from. If you’re into history and architecture, you’ll love the historic Dutch colonial buildings and museums. While much is within walking distance, free trolleys make it easy to get around.

Best Places to Stay in Downtown Oranjestad:

Where to Stay in Aruba - The California Lighthouse is one of the most popular attractions in the town of Noord
The California Lighthouse is one of the most popular attractions in Noord. Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

2. Noord

Located on the northern end of the island, Noord is a town spanning 13.8 miles. It is where you will find the iconic California Lighthouse as well as the popular Palm Beach and the low-key Arashi Beach (you’ll learn more about these areas next). It is also where to stay in Aruba if you are traveling in a larger group or prefer to stay away from the crowds, as there are many rental apartments and villas available. I stayed in two residential Airbnbs in Noord during my two visits to Aruba and found it quite nice to get away from the crowds when it was time to retire from a busy day exploring.

Most who stay in Noord are there for the shopping and nightlife. If you’re traveling with little ones, it may not be the best place to stay. As home to the most visited beach in Aruba, it can be quite crowded with tourists day and night. In the main commercial strip, you will find all kinds of restaurants, shops, bars, and clubs.

Best Places to Stay in Noord:

Where to Stay in Aruba - A stunning sunset on Palm Beach
A stunning sunset on Palm Beach. Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

3. Palm Beach

Located within the town of Noord, Palm Beach is where you will find many of the larger, high-rise Aruba hotels such as luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts. It is also the most popular area to stay in Aruba with a beautiful beach, several casinos, restaurants, nightlife, entertainment, and watersports. If you’re a first-time visitor to Aruba, you will also want to add this area to your list of places to stay.

There isn’t a time of day that Palm Beach isn’t bustling with visitors, whether it be day or night. If you’re into watersports, head to Fisherman’s Huts where you’ll find shallow waters great for kitesurfing, windsurfing, and other fun activities. The Pelican Pier restaurant was one of my favorite spots to relax and sip on a cocktail while people-watching or observing the beautiful sunsets. It was also a great place to take a dive off the pier into the refreshing waters on a hot day! At night, there were plenty of options to choose from to dance the night away.

Best Places to Stay in Palm Beach:

Where to Stay in Aruba - Eagle Beach is where you will find Aruba’s iconic Divi and Fofoti trees
Eagle Beach is where you will find Aruba’s iconic Divi and Fofoti trees. Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

4. Eagle Beach

If you’re wondering where to stay in Aruba with its pristine white sand beaches and turquoise waters, make sure you add Eagle Beach to your list. Located just south of Palm Beach between Noord and Oranjestad, Eagle Beach is the second most popular area to stay in Aruba. It is another area popular for its shopping, restaurants, nightlife, and watersports. Believe me when I say that this beach area looks like something you would see on a postcard!

Eagle Beach is where you will find cute boutique resorts and upscale condos just a short walk from the beach (which, if you ask me, is one of the best beaches on the island). It is also where you will find the popular Divi Divi and Fofoti trees that appear in many of the Aruban advertisements and Instagram feeds.

But besides its visual beauty, Eagle Beach is an ideal place for those who love nature. The beach itself is a popular nesting place for sea turtles. Families traveling together will want to pay a visit to the Butterfly Farm. It is also home to the Bubali Bird Sanctuary, a wetland preserve housing over 80 species of birds. While you’re there, don’t pass up a visit to the Aruba Aloe Factory Museum to learn about the island’s history of cultivating aloe.

Best Places to Stay in Eagle Beach:

Where to Stay in Aruba - Beautiful Aruban sunset over the calm waters of Arashi Beach
Another beautiful Aruban sunset over the calm waters of Arashi Beach. Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

5. Arashi Beach

Also located within the town of Noord, Arashi Beach is a beautiful, secluded beach area just a 15-minute walk from the California Lighthouse. If you are wondering where to stay in Aruba that will give you more of a feel of the local life, this is where you want to be.

Arashi Beach may be small and quiet, but there is plenty to do. Lounge chairs and bike rentals are available for relaxing or exploring. A visit to the lighthouse gives the opportunity to climb to the top and get 360-degree views of the island. The 8.6-mile West Point hiking trail offers stunning views of the island and the Caribbean Sea, including the Alto Vista Chapel at the halfway point with even more breathtaking views.

If you’re into swimming, snorkeling, and diving, you can do some of the best of it in Arashi Beach. The waters are calm, the water is clear, and the colorful sea life is abundant. This was the first beach I ever snorkeled at, and it was an unforgettable experience! Here you can also explore the WWII shipwreck of the German freighter, Antilla. At the end of a busy day, head to the nearby Arashi Beach Bar for some snacks and cold drinks while listening to live music.

Best Places to Stay in Arashi Beach:

  • Casa Dornasol – A private vacation rental with a year-round pool and a balcony with sea and garden views.
  • Boca Catalina Residences – Family-friendly townhouse rentals conveniently located across from Boca Catalina Beach.
  • Arashi Beachfront Villa – A fully equipped, air-conditioned villa with sea views, free wifi, and free private parking.

6. San Nicolas

Sitting at the southern end of the island, San Nicolas (a/k/a Sunrise City or Sint Nicolaas) is the second largest city in Aruba. Once a key part of the island’s economy due to its oil refinery, this colorful city is now famous for its calypso music, steel bands, street art, and Grand Carnival Parade. However, if you are looking for a lively nightlife scene, you may want to consider other areas.

San Nicolas is where you want to stay in Aruba if you truly want to immerse yourself in the local vibes and culture. It isn’t nearly as touristy as the other areas on the island but still has access to some of the most beautiful beaches including the popular Rodger’s Beach, Boca Grandi, and the family-friendly Bachelor’s Beach and Baby Beach. Baby Beach is especially popular for swimming with sea turtles!

There are also a few museums where you can learn about Aruba’s history and the culture of the town, such as the Museum of Industry, the Community Museum, and the Carnival Euphoria Exhibition. Just a short trip away is the Quadirikiki Caves in Arikok National Park.

While there aren’t an abundant number of accommodation options like the other parts of Aruba, there are a few private rentals with beach views and access.

Best Places to Stay in San Nicolas:

Where to Stay in Aruba - Part of Aruba’s Natural Bridge site in Santa Cruz
Part of Aruba’s Natural Bridge site in Santa Cruz. Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

7. Santa Cruz

Unlike some of the other neighborhoods, Santa Cruz is located further inland in a central location on the island. Because of its convenient location, it is great for keeping a quiet home base while spending time in other nearby towns during the day.

Santa Cruz is the ideal choice of where to stay in Aruba for active visitors who want to do some hiking or explore the rugged parts of the island. Because it borders Arikok National Park, there are plenty of opportunities for sightseeing, observing natural wonders, and truly enjoying the outdoors. One of my favorite parts of visiting this desert-like town was the Natural Bridge. Although the original bridge collapsed in 2005, the remaining structure was still quite impressive to see. Santa Cruz is also home to the Donkey Sanctuary, a haven for abused and injured wild donkeys.

Best Places to Stay in Santa Cruz:

  • Fuego Mio Bed & Breakfast – Conveniently located outside of Arikok National Park, this B&B offers free breakfast, an outdoor pool, sun terrace, and free wifi.
  • Casita Amarillo – A one-bedroom, air-conditioned with a patio, free shuttle service, free wifi, and a terrace with garden views.
  • Picaron Villas – Two-bedroom, two-bath beachfront, air-conditioned accommodations with a private pool, free wifi, and free parking.
Where to Stay in Aruba - Touring the Bushiribana Ruins
Touring the Bushiribana Ruins, approximately 10 minutes from Paradera. Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

8. Paradera

Paradera is an inland town located on the northeastern part of the island. It is mostly known for its popular attractions such as the centrally located Mount Hooiberg and the breathtaking Casibari Rock Formations along the way. Similar to Santa Cruz, Paradera is more for the outdoorsy visitor versus those looking for the party scene.

Also close to Paradera are the Bushiribana Ruins, a former 19th-century gold mill. During my tour, there were plenty of families of all ages, so I would consider it to be a great place to visit with children for a history lesson. The ruins are also just a short walk from the rocky Wariruri Beach and the Aruba Ostrich Farm.

Best Places to Stay in Paradera:

  1. La Casita Torres – Conveniently located to the area’s best local attractions, this comfy accommodation offers a year-round outdoor swimming pool, terrace or patio with garden or pool views, and a barbecue area.
  2. La Felicidad – Fully equipped apartments with a shared outdoor swimming pool, free wifi, and an excellent location near several supermarkets and local attractions.
  3. Paradera Park Aruba – Studios and suites with furnished private balconies or patios, a large outdoor pool with sun terrace, snorkeling equipment rental, and a welcome drink upon arrival!
Where to Stay in Aruba - The Conchi Natural Pool
The Conchi Natural Pool is just a short half-hour drive from Savaneta. Photo credit: Kimberly Miles

9. Savaneta

Formerly the capital of Aruba, Savaneta is another inland town sitting toward the southwestern part of the island. It’s another place to add to your list of where to stay in Aruba if you’d rather experience more of the local life than the touristy areas.

Savaneta is located just 25 minutes from Arikok National Park and the Conchi natural swimming pool, a beautiful place to cool off after a hot day and perhaps do some snorkeling. But if you really want to snorkel or enjoy other non-motorized water sports while in Savaneta, head to the nearby Mangel Halto Beach which is much quieter than some of the other popular snorkeling spots on the island.

Best Places to Stay in Savaneta:

  • EVA Resort – A 5-star hotel with an outdoor pool, concierge service, free wifi, and a beautiful garden and terrace.
  • Blue Sky Residence Aruba – A four-bedroom vacation home with a fully-equipped kitchen, private pool, picnic area, terrace, and garden.
  • Casa Chiquito – Charming accommodations with free airport shuttle service, an outdoor pool, open-air bath, barbeque area, terrace, and garden views.

Final Thoughts

With white sand beaches at every turn, crystal clear waters, and some of the friendliest people you’ve ever met, there’s no wonder it’s coined the nickname “one happy island.” There are also plenty of opportunities for sightseeing and adventures, giving outdoorsy visitors the time of their lives. After just one visit to this stunning Caribbean island, I was booked for a second trip just weeks later.

Aruba isn’t a huge island, and I found it relatively easy to navigate with a rental car. However, there are many diverse areas where you may want to lay your head at night depending on your interests and vacation plans.

Kimberly Miles is a mother of one and an experienced solo and single mom traveler. So far, she has traveled to Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Dubai, Bahamas, Aruba, Mexico, and several places in the U.S. Kimberly was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, but in 2018 she took a leap of faith and made the beautiful beach town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico her home with her young son. In addition to writing for SheBuysTravel, Kimberly ghostwrites blogs on a variety of topics. She also provides marketing consulting services and business guidance to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and corporations via her independent business KNM Virtual Solutions. When she’s not traveling or writing, you can find Kimberly working out, eating tacos, dancing the night away, or spending time at the beach with her son. You can read more of her work at Travel Unapologetically.
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