The Caribbean has been a dream holiday destination for decades.
While many of the former British colonies attract English-speaking Americans, the Dutch also had a presence in the region.
Aruba is a tiny island a short distance off the Coast of Venezuela.
It has an area of less than 200 square kilometers and is fairly flat, without a single river.
It lies outside the hurricane belt and has as many sunny days as any island in the Caribbean.
Aruba is famous for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters and trees swaying in the gentle trade winds; it is a picture-perfect scene.
There are some luxury resorts overlooking what have become private beaches; however, elsewhere on the island, the beaches are open to everyone.
Public transport makes them accessible with little difficulty.
Here are the best beaches in Aruba:
1. Baby Beach, South East
Baby Beach gets its name because it is so child-friendly.
On clear days – which is most of the time – Venezuela can be seen in the distance.
The water lapping onto this crescent-shaped beach is shallow and calm – ideal for youngsters.
Shady areas have been created using dried palm leaves and snorkelers are rewarded by the abundant marine life in the turquoise waters.
There is plenty of parking available, and if you get hungry, local refreshments can be found – trying the seafood is a must; you can find it in a shack that is covered with colorful graffiti.
2. Boca Prins, Arikok
Boca Prins is a secluded beach on the northeast coast of Aruba’s Arikok National Park.
It takes its name from the former plantation, Prins.
Its beautiful white dunes and clear blue waters make a stunning setting and contrast sharply with the typically rocky coastline.
Take note that the currents are strong on this shore and swimming is not advisable for anyone other than the strongest of swimmers.
The beach is reached via wooden stairs and the local restaurant serves any visitors who can drag themselves away from the stunning vistas.
3. Boca Keto, Arikok
Boca Keto is among Aruba’s most beautiful bays.
There is a huge rock – ‘’Moro’’ – which is nicknamed “the small Aruba’’ because of its shape.
The waves are good – ideal for surfers and body boarders.
It is secluded, but worth the effort, whether you go via a 4×4, ride a bike or even reach it on horseback.
The Natural Pool – a naturally-created pool that is around four meters deep – is just a short distance away.
This spot may be too secluded to take the whole family, but as the word spreads, it is certain to attract bigger numbers.
4. Dos Playa, Arikok
Dos Playa translates into “two beaches,” which is exactly what you will find here.
There are coves side by side and few places on the island are better for surfing.
For this reason, there are international surfing events held here regularly.
It is not a place for inexperienced swimmers, but that doesn’t stop you from enjoying the lovely white sands; a suntan is guaranteed.
You can get there by road and there is a lovely local restaurant if you want a break from the action on the waves or the beauty of the sands.
5. Andicuri, Arikok
Andicuri is located just south of the natural limestone bridge that unfortunately has now collapsed.
It is a quiet, sandy cove – sheltered and shaded by the surrounding rocky bluffs.
There is strong surf which attracts locals who enjoy bodyboarding.
However, only strong swimmers should go into the water because of the powerful currents.
There are no facilities here but the compensation is that there are no crowds.
Bring your own picnic and make sure you leave the beach as you found it.
Bring ready-to-eat foods, as you are not allowed to light a BBQ on the beach.
6. Malmok Beach, North West
Aruba has long stretches of rocky coastline.
Malmok Beach – with its white sandy bays – interrupts one section.
It has become one of the top sites in the world for kite and windsurfing, with an annual competition – Aruba Hi-Winds – held here.
Snorkeling is very good and divers can explore a famous shipwreck just offshore – the Antillas.
Because of these pristine conditions and unique underwater landscapes, this is the first place on Aruba where scuba divers head.
The water is so clear the Antillas can even be seen from the surface.
It can be busy, so be prepared for crowds if you visit Malmok Beach.
7. Boca Catalina, North West
Boca Catalina is a small, sandy bay which can be reached via some steps from the nearby parking lot.
It is a lovely place for swimming and snorkeling; during the week, you may have it to yourself.
The marine life keeps snorkelers interested for endless hours.
Weekends can be busy, but that generates a great atmosphere.
It is an ideal spot for families, even those with very young children; beach huts provide some shade to get kids out of the sun.
There is little in the way of infrastructure, which may ensure it is never too busy.
Take your own picnic and leave with your litter to preserve this lovely spot.
8. Surfside Beach, Oranjestad
Despite the proximity of the town of Oranjestad, this beach remains fairly quiet.
It is a two-minute drive from the airport, so is a great place for a last-minute bit of sun before jumping on a plane.
Oranjestad is a 20-minute walk away.
There is a beach club here with loungers and a pool.
Refreshments are on hand and there are few better places on Aruba to watch the sunset.
Local fishing boats and cruise ships provide regular traffic in the waters.
There is fine beachside dining – a romantic setting for couples after a busy day playing in the waves.
9. Iguana Beach, Renaissance Island
Iguana Beach is a family-friendly beach which provides plenty of shade if you feel that the kids are getting a little too much sun.
It is located on Renaissance Island – a short boat ride off Aruba.
Local iguanas are often seen on the shoreline.
There are plenty of water sports to get stuck into, and cold drinks wait for you on the shore.
There is a charge for non-residents of the Renaissance complex and you must decide whether a return boat trip, towels, and lunch are worth the cost.
10. Flamingo Beach, Renaissance Island
Flamingo Beach on Renaissance Island is an adults-only stretch of sand; palms and mangroves hide it away.
Its name comes from the stunning pink birds which scavenge in the shallow waters.
Flamingos are notoriously shy birds, they gather in huge flocks elsewhere in the world but take flight at the first sign of danger.
Not so here.
You can get some stunning shots of these exotic birds with the Caribbean as a backdrop.
Renaissance is accessed by boat with a charge for the day, which includes lunch.
11. Hadicurari Beach, North West
Hadicurari, Fisherman’s Huts, is a great place to learn how to wind and kite surf in the gentle trade winds.
There are other water sports available but the schools concentrate on these surfing skills.
It is close to the Marriott Aruba Resort and formerly a settlement for fishermen.
The biggest windsurfing competition in the Caribbean takes place here each year in June or July.
In fact, the women’s world champion, Sarah Quita Offringa comes from this part of the Island.
The beach is a favorite for local families because the waters are fairly calm and shallow.
12. Palm Beach, West Coast
High-rise hotels have developed behind this three kilometer stretch of beautiful sand, with the result being that Palm Beach has become very popular, especially for those seeking water sports.
Kite-surfers glide elegantly along the water, but the jet skiers make more noise.
While many people just want to spend the day sunbathing, there are cafes and bars to serve drinks and refreshment when you need a spot of shade.
The nearby casinos offer a great late night party atmosphere, so mornings are certainly quieter here before the ‘’night birds’’ rise.
Come happy hour, and everything starts all over again.
13. Eagle Beach, West Coast
This is the broadest and whitest stretch of sand on Aruba.
If you want to spend all day on the beach, this may be the place for you.
The blue waters are tempting by day, and when the sun goes down, you may like a sunset cocktail at one of the restaurants or boutique hotels.
There is plenty of good parking at Eagle Beach, with shaded areas for picnics.
Eagle Beach is popular, but such is its size that it never feels really crowded.
14. Druif, Oranjestad
Druif Beach is a quiet stretch of sand, close to more popular beaches in the area.
Restaurants and accommodation are close by, yet crowds are rare.
The waters are calm and good for swimming, while water sports are also available.
Chairs and beach huts are on offer and if you want some action, try out volleyball with the locals.
The pelicans that hang out on the beach also offer a fantastic photo opportunity.
15. Mangel Halto Beach, South East Coast
The mangroves here have created natural shade for visitors, making Mangel Halto a pleasant place to spend time.
The soft sand and calm waters provide a great spot for a picnic, and locals certainly take advantage.
The marine life is stunning and snorkeling is heavenly.
It is rarely busy here; you can sit on the wooden dock, dangle your feet in the water and watch the world go by.
If you can find yourself a kayak – not rentable on site, unfortunately – Manel Halto is a lovely place to move silently over the waters.
The beach remains largely a secret but surely won’t stay that way too much longer.