Aruba is the jewel of the Dutch Caribbean, occupying less than 70 square miles yet blessed with dozens of unique landscapes that complement its eclectic fusion of cultures and year-round perfect weather. Choosing the best beaches in Aruba is no easy task since clear, warm water laps at every inch of the island's sugar-white, palm-fringed sands. Whether you're drawn to this "One Happy Island" for its perpetual sunshine and colorful cityscapes or simply want to take a swim alongside its famous flamingoes, here are 10 beaches you and your friends can't miss on your next Aruba cruise.
The soft, white sands of Eagle Beach are just 15 minutes from the Aruba Cruise Terminal but convenience is only the beginning of why you and your significant other should take a romantic swim here. Boasting the broadest expanse of beach on the island under its iconic Divi-Divi tree, Eagle Beach offers plenty of room for you and everyone you're traveling with to spread out and sunbathe, clink cocktail glasses together or even join a game of beach volleyball. Although you're unlikely to encounter a large number of eagles here, the beach's namesake birds are nonetheless native to Aruba, so it's possible to see them flying overhead.
Want to enjoy an active day on the water? Eagle Beach is one of the best beaches in Aruba to partake in water sports, whether you prefer to jet ski or parasail. If you're cruising to Aruba between May and November and want to see a truly incredible natural phenomenon, get to Eagle Beach around dawn to watch turtle hatchlings make the journey to the sea.
As is the case for a lot of travel, many people plan Aruba vacations based on viral images from social media. In recent years, few sights of Aruba have become more iconic than a paradisiacal beach overrun with pretty pink flamingoes which frolic freely amid sunbathing tourists. Aruba's Flamingo Beach is located on Renaissance Island, a manmade island located just a short boat ride from Renaissance Beach on the Aruban mainland. In addition to its famous birds, it boasts all the elements of an immaculate Aruba beach: sand as soft and white as sugar and water so clear you'll think it came from a bottle.
The island is the property of Aruba's Renaissance Hotel but you needn't be a guest at the hotel in order to create your own Instagram moment on Flamingo Beach. Simply visit the hotel's front desk to purchase a day pass and you and your friends will soon be on your way to one of the most unique beaches in the world and one of the most picturesque spots in Aruba, regardless of whether you share your snaps on social or not.
Palm Beach is perhaps the most famous beach in Aruba as well as one of the best. The reasons for its top ranking are as numerous as the smiling locals and laughing children along this family-friendly beach. Many of Aruba's best hotels are here, which means that Palm Beach is convenient in addition to being beautiful, with dozens of its lanky palms wafting over sand as powdery as (but thankfully much warmer than) fresh-fallen snow.
Another attraction of Palm Beach is the wide variety of restaurants available, whether you want to try Aruban dishes like funchi banana hasa (polenta and fried plantain), a simple filet of grilled fish or something more familiar. Palm Beach boasts adventurous water activities like sailing cruises and snorkeling trips to the outlying waters and is also just steps from Bubali Bird Sanctuary. Marvel at more than 80 species of migratory birds before driving just 20 minutes back to Aruba Cruise Terminal.
When you think of cruises to Aruba, it's difficult not to picture images of perfection, whether you visualize yourself downing a colorful cocktail on a pristine beach or floating on the surface of water so clear you can see starfish in the sands below. Andicuri Beach is stunning and beautiful but this semi-circular bay along Aruba's northeast coast also coasts some of the most unkempt scenery on the island — fascinating, but certainly not flawless. It's not what you expect when you come to Aruba, which is precisely why many travelers fall in love with it.
Just as Andicuri Beach is fascinatingly varied, so too is the variety of activities on offer here. Rent a board and take to the waves for an afternoon of surfing with your significant other or put on a good pair of sneakers and trek along the jagged rocks at the beach's western flank, which lead to a collapsed natural bridge. Andicuri Beach is also just minutes from Aruba Ostrich Farm, whose residents are definitely among the most fascinating locals in Aruba. Visiting them is a quirky and cute way to cap off a perfect afternoon at a delightfully imperfect beach.
Whether you've taken many Aruba vacations or will be visiting for the first time, it's understandable if you want to get off the beaten path as soon as your ship calls here. Make your way to the southeastern tip of the island, where the baby-blue waters lapping at the soft-as-an-infant's-skin sands of Baby Beach will have you feeling as happy and peaceful as a well-rested newborn. Baby Beach is quiet and secluded but is home to several simple eateries and beach bars, so you won't go hungry or thirsty.
It also isn't exclusively for travelers who want to swim, sunbathe and nap in the shade. The clear, calm water here (and the impressive variety of life that swims through it) is perfect for snorkeling with your friends. Simply rent a mask, snorkel and fins and dip your face in the water to see schools of colorful fish — and, if you're lucky, a graceful sea turtle swimming past. Although it feels remote, Baby Beach is just 45 minutes from Aruba Cruise Terminal, which means you can still enjoy a swim or snorkel here even if your ship only docks a few hours.
Grapefield Beach is another of the beaches on the island that isn't perfectly manicured and lined with hotels and eateries. Grapefield Beach, one of the best beaches in Aruba, is a stunning stretch of shoreline located on Aruba's windswept east coast and is perhaps the most stunningly natural spot on the island. The shade of blue the Caribbean gleams in the bright sunshine is practically fluorescent, which provides a beautiful contrast to the dusty-green brush that carpets the rolling dunes and the tufts of rough seaweed that sometimes wash up on shore.
Grapefield Beach is famous as a destination for kite surfers, thanks to being home to some of the most reliably large waves in Aruba. You can also surf or simply sunbathe here, though local officials don't recommend swimming due to the strength of the tides that make Grapefield Beach such an ideal spot for those seeking adventure on the waves. If you get too hot, you can always lounge under one of the billowy sea grape trees from which the beach takes its name or wet your feet in the frothy surf.
Easy to miss but impossible to forget for those who have taken Aruba vacations, Boca Catalina Beach sits along Aruba's picturesque west coast and is not far from many of the other beaches on this list. While other travelers will head north to the wild dunes of Arashi or south to the chic eateries of Palm Beach, take advantage of the quiet sands and calm waters of Boca Catalina. For travelers on cruises to Aruba, Boca Catalina Beach is a treasure hidden in plain sight, just waiting for more curious people to discover it.
This small stretch of beach has got it all: soft sand for sunbathing, warm water for a relaxing swim and a vast array of underwater life that'll have you renting snorkeling gear almost as soon as you arrive. In particular, Boca Catalina is famous for sea turtles, schools of tropical fish and massive starfish, so you might also want to pack a waterproof camera before you depart — your friends back on shore might not believe all the amazing sea life you saw otherwise!
When planning Aruba vacations, most cruise-bound travelers are looking for a beach with clean, soft sand and calm water that's close to the port but also manages to be quiet. It might seem impossible to strike such a perfect balance on an island as small and popular as Aruba but Druif Beach checks all these boxes and more. In fact, it's the closest of the best Aruba Beaches to Aruba Cruise Terminal, located just five minutes by car from where you disembark your ship.
Like a few of the other beaches on this list, Druif Beach is a nesting spot for leatherback turtles, whose life cycle can be a fascinating phenomenon to watch, especially if you're in Aruba during the summer or early autumn. Remember to take care as you enter the water since the impossibly soft sand of Druif Beach can crumble under the weight of a person when it's wet. The fragile coral reefs that sit offshore also have a tendency to break and get buried in the sand, so locals recommend wearing water shoes.
It's natural to imagine hitting the beach at a place convenient to port as you shop cruises to Aruba, but you probably don't imagine being able to do so in peace and quiet as well. Manchebo Beach presents the best of both worlds, located just 10 minutes from Aruba Cruise Terminal but flanked by many luxurious resorts, which means that its sands are never very crowded in spite of the fact that it is technically public. This quality makes Manchebo Beach one of the most romantic spots to have a swim or stroll in Aruba.
Manchebo Beach is simpler than the buildings that rise around it would suggest but there are some basic services, including beach chair rental and roving drink sellers. You can also duck into a simple local eatery, whether you enjoy fresh-caught fish cooked any way you like it or local Aruban snacks like coconut shrimp or doughy pastechi dumplings filled with meat, cheese or tuna. If you happen to be staying on the island overnight, you should also know that Manchebo Beach is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Aruba.
Located at the northwestern tip of Aruba near the famous California Lighthouse, Arashi Beach is not only one of the best beaches in Aruba — it's also among the most unique. That's because it sits just minutes beyond the Arashi Dunes, a wild-looking landscape of towering sand mountains and a potpourri of desert plants that might have you and your friends feeling more like you're on the Arabian Peninsula instead of the Lesser Antilles.
Arashi Beach is relatively secluded by Aruban standards and perfect for spending the time with your significant other so don't be fooled by how far away it seems. It's still just a 20-minute drive from the Aruba Cruise Terminal and a half hour from the capital city of Oranjestad and it's even closer to the restaurants and bars of Palm Beach, where you can follow up your secluded swim or dune trek with a creamy Aruban Blast cocktail or a plate of fresh-grilled lionfish. By the time you make it back to your ship, you'll feel like you've been on an epic adventure, even though you only drove an hour out of your way.