see + do
Concierge.com's insider take:
Aruba has the sand to stack up against any island in the Caribbean. Fine strands can be found the entire length of the sheltered, leeward shore, beginning with west-end Arashi Beach, a stretch of soft brown sand and calm water where locals and repeat visitors like to head for a late-afternoon swim then hang around for sunset. Approximately two miles south is Hadicurari, usually called Fisherman's Huts for the string of dilapidated shelters along its sand and ironshore coastline. A half-submerged wreck rusts in the shallows, which are considered the island's best site for kiteboarding and windsurfing. Immediately south, a column of high-rise resorts announces Palm Beach, Aruba's most tourist-oriented shore. The powdery, ivory-colored sand is as wide as 50 yards in places—all the better to grab a beach umbrella or thatch-roof palapa and people-watch. Nearly two miles long, the beach is jammed with sun-burned tourists, barefoot restaurants and overwater bars, dive shops, and day-sail charters, as well as water-sports operations that will rent just about anything that floats. Around a rocky outcrop, more laid-back Eagle Beach is punctuated with Aruba's iconic tree, the gnarled divi divi. Development is far more understated here, with low-rise hotels limited to the southern section. Near San Nicolas on the east end, horseshoe-shaped Baby Beach is a local favorite for its shallow, protected waters, though the smoke-belching stacks of Valero oil refinery are a buzz-kill on the view. The bluffs of the rugged, windward side are broken by only a few small beaches. Powerful surf usually renders Boca Prins unsafe for swimming, but the pristine dunes within Arikok National Park are perfect for a picnic.