One of Aruba’s best assets is its remarkable repertoire of powdery white beaches, rated as some of the best in the world by respected publications. While the leeward fringe of the Island mostly features beaches with wide stretches of sand and calm waters, the windward coast offers a collection of small, secluded coves carved into the craggy limestone cliffs by the rough waters. Of course, the ever-sunny sky, shimmering turquoise water, and refreshing breeze make every day a perfect beach day at any of the following beaches.
Andicuri Beach is tucked along the island’s windward coast a little further south from the collapsed Natural Bridge. The beach draws surfers and bodyboarders as well as island guests looking for a secluded beach getaway for the day. A short walk to Black Stone Beach is a must if you’ve come all the way to Andicuri. Named for its collection of smooth black stones, this beach also features three impressive natural bridges.
Far north along Aruba’s western coastline, Arashi is touted for its crystal-blue water, sugary white sand, well-kept public palapas, and picturesque view of the California Lighthouse. The sea is typically calm at Arashi, but the occasional change in weather brings in a decent swell, prompting local surfers to flock to the break just north of the main beach. At this particular spot, about 150 meters offshore, a coral reef guarantees great snorkeling and diving, while a smaller reef sits just off of the rocky outcropping that separates Arashi from the next beach south, Boca Catalina.
At Aruba’s southern end, famous Baby Beach wraps around a shallow and remarkably calm lagoon, making it a prime destination for families with small children. Decades ago, Lago refinery workers created the lagoon by constructing a protective concrete barrier in the water, giving their families a safe beach to enjoy within the Lago colony. Snorkelers can venture through an opening in the wall to discover an amazing array of marine life—barracuda, parrotfish, blowfish, angelfish, squid, and eels—swimming among the elkhorn coral, but extreme caution should be taken due to waves and a strong current.
Just south of Arashi Beach, the low limestone barranca that characterizes the Malmok coastline yields to the white, sandy stretch of Boca Catalina. This palapa-dotted beach grants access to a popular snorkeling spot with excellent underwater visibility and a close-to-shore reef filled with angelfish, needlefish, goatfish, starfish, and other curiosities. The schools of fish also pique the interest of friendly brown pelicans, frequently found floating in the water or roosting on the rocky outcropping nearby.
Located on the eastern side of Aruba’s southern tip, Boca Grandi has permanently entered into the lexicon of both local and international kitesurfers. The beach, characterized by undulating sand dunes kept in place by low-lying sea grapes, wraps around a bay where steady winds and a small, rolling surf beckon advanced kitesurfers to ply their hobby. The coral reef that protects the bay from bigger surf also attracts snorkelers. The water at Boca Grandi is rough enough, though, to require strong swimming skills.
Remotely located along Aruba’s rugged north coast within Arikok National Park, Boca Keto, which means “Quiet Cove,” is a hidden treasure of a beach, unique for the huge chunk of limestone that sits in the center of the cove. It’s a bit difficult to reach, but your best bet is to make it a side trip when visiting the Natural Pool. A dirt walking path leads from the pool to Boca Keto. Another good option is to park at Daimari Ranch and follow the dirt path that takes you to the right of Daimari Beach. Follow the coast in a southeast direction until you come to the next beach, which is Boca Keto.
Within Arikok National Park, the ocean has carved twin coves out of a limestone cliff and filled them with sparkling white sand to create Dos Playa (Two Beaches), a favorite spot for surfers, sunbathers, and picnickers. The current is strong at this beach, so swimming is not recommended.
In 2005, Eagle Beach was voted the #1 Caribbean beach by a USA Today survey of travel writers, travel agents, and frequent travelers. Its immaculate sand stretches for miles, making long, leisurely walks an ideal activity. Eagle Beach is also a nesting site for leatherback sea turtles, giving some very lucky Eagle Beach visitors the rare opportunity to witness just-hatched baby sea turtles scrambling across the sand and into the gentle surf during the nesting season.
The Fisherman’s Huts, also known as Hadicurari Beach, is aptly named for the handful of time-worn huts perched at the edge of the water. This beach is one of the best flat-water windsurfing locations in the world, with several boardsports operators setting up shop here year-round to accommodate active vacationers and locals. International kiters and windsurfers congregate here every summer to battle it out at the Hi Winds Amateur World Challenge.
This beach, located in the vicinity of the California Lighthouse and the California Dunes at the northern end of the Island, is prized for the quiet seclusion it offers. While characteristically rough waves crash to shore further up the coastline, gentler waves roll to shore at Lighthouse Beach, creating a nice, safe place to wade in and cool off. A collection of massive boulders at the far end of the beach, plus a general scattering of limestone rocks and small tide pools, adds intrigue to the setting. Seashell and driftwood collectors will surely not go home empty-handed after spending some time combing this beach.
Malmok Beach, a little farther south of Boca Catalina, is another narrow pocket of sand that interrupts the jagged limestone terrace along Malmok’s coastline. The snorkeling at this beach is excellent, as evidenced by the catamarans and sailboats that frequently anchor here. Boats also cast their anchors just a few hundred yards offshore from Malmok Beach, allowing divers and snorkelers to explore the famous Antilla shipwreck.
Spanish Lagoon & Mangel Halto
Located along the southwest coast of Aruba, about 10 kilometers southeast of Oranjestad, the Spanish Lagoon is the island’s most significant coastal lagoon and one of the largest natural lagoons in the Caribbean. The lagoon has a narrow coastal inlet lined by well-developed mangroves. Here, developing marine species live safely among the stilt roots of the mangrove trees until they are big enough to venture into the open sea. The Spanish Lagoon is an ideal playground for kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling. In 2017, it officially became part of the protected environs of Arikok National Park.
At the southeastern reaches of the Spanish Lagoon you’ll find Mangel Halto, a gem of a beach named for the dense network of mangroves that make their home here, providing plenty of shade for afternoon picnics. The expanse of shallow, aquamarine water at Mangel Halto is irresistible, and the nearby barrier reef is easily reached by a short swim from shore for some excellent snorkeling and diving.
Several high-rise hotels preside over Palm Beach, home to a variety of diving and watersports operators, piers, restaurants, beach bars, and of course, a throng of majestic palm trees. The sea is usually quite calm here—perfect for swimming, sailing, or just floating—while the sunsets are spectacular, best enjoyed while cruising on a catamaran or dining barefoot on the beach. The strip across the street from Palm Beach boasts a variety of shopping, dining, and entertainment options open until late in the evening.
Although lesser known than nearby Baby Beach at the southern reaches of the island, Rodger’s Beach is equally worthy of a visit. Outfitted with a few shady picnic huts, Rodger’s Beach sweeps around a reef-protected bay that proves ideal for swimming. A handful of colorfully painted traditional fishing boats are docked within the sheltered bay at the far end of the beach, adding a touch of charm to the peaceful setting.
Like Dos Playa, Wariruri is a sandy cove found along the windward coast. The same forces of nature that created Wariruri also sculpted a natural bridge here. Reached by going just a bit further up the coast from the Bushiribana Gold Ruins, Wariruri is a popular place for local surfers to catch some waves. Local fishermen can also be sighted fishing from the low cliffs flanking both sides of the beach.