The old capital of San Nicolas teems with color on a weekday afternoon, with bold murals popping up all over the city, teeming with artistic energy.
Far on the other side of the island, kitesurfers take a break at the Tortuga Beach Bar, gazing out at the blindingly white expanse of Boca Grandi Beach.
In Oranjestad, the trolley whirs past shoppers as guests lunch on tapas at a sleek lounge straight out of the streets of Marrakech.
Aruba is so many different experiences on one island, and a trip here is filled with moments like these.
There’s a reason, after all, why it’s one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, and one of the happiest, too.
But as you roam around the island, you see that Aruba is also one of the region’s most dynamic tourism hubs — a destination that is constantly evolving, constantly reinventing itself and upping its game.
Here are five reasons to visit Aruba right now.
The Culture When you have jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches, it’s sometimes easy for travelers to overlook a destination’s urban areas. Don’t do that in Aruba. In recent years, the cultural scene here has had a full-fledged renaissance, led by a diverse art movement that’s spread across the island, from the Etnia Nativa museum and gallery near Malmok to the impressive Academy of Fine Arts and Design downtown. The centerpiece is what’s taking place in Aruba’s onetime capital of San Nicolas on the southern tip of the island, now home to a monthly night of art and culture, a booming street art world and the history-rich Museum of Industry.
The Food No visit to Aruba is complete without a stop at the legendary Zeerovers, the oceanfront seafood shack in Savaneta. But that celebrated local spot is just the beginning of a broad culinary offering here. Aruba has become one of the Caribbean’s buzziest culinary scenes, led by Chef Erwin Husken’s Screaming Eagle hotspot in Eagle Beach and a growing portfolio of high-level eateries including Wilhelmina, Maroc, Carte Blanche and the Kitchen Table, to name just a few. And if you’re visiting in October, you can enjoy Eat Local Aruba Restaurant Month, a celebration of the island’s authentic food at spots like The Old Cunucu House.
The Beaches Yes, we mentioned the beaches and, well, they are that good. But they’re all wonderfully diverse too, with a beach for just about every kind of traveler. The watersports lover should head to Fisherman’s Huts; for beach bars and the party scene, it’s Palm Beach. Looking for a far-off, exotic beach? Boca Grandi is for you. And if you’re searching for the perfect all-around beach? It’s Eagle. What they all have in common is sugar-white sand, shimmering turquoise waters and easy access.
The Sports Aruba’s trade winds have long made it a global destination for windsurfing and kitesurfing, part of a broad range of options for active travelers. That includes great golf at Tierra del Sol, the island’s very popular Beach Tennis (with several courts now available across the island) and even a host of cycling and mountain biking tours, too. And if you want to see the island in a new way, Aruba now has electric bike tours.
Oranjestad You can see it as you walk down Wilhelminastraat at night, with Gerrit Rietveld Park lit up and the bars and restaurants packed with local and travelers. Plainly, there’s a new energy in the heart of Aruba’s capital. The city has quietly undergone a large-scale beautification effort that’s turned it into a colorful and, more importantly, walkable destination, with sidewalk cafes, gelaterias, parks and artistic outposts like Cosecha, the design store that puts the spotlight on local artisans in Aruba. (There’s also a Cosecha in San Nicolas).