Aruba’s nightlife is dynamic and diverse, but lately the focus has shifted to behind the pine – or pool bar – to the extraordinary talent of island mixologists crafting up incredible cocktails.
As soon as the sun begins to set, it’s easy to find where the parties are. Just follow your ears to where the music has become noticeably louder to announce the fact that happy hour has arrived. And once the moon is high in the tropical sky, the sounds of rollicking live music and DJ-driven beats will lure you out in the streets as well. But sleuthing out the island’s best barkeeps and craftiest cocktails can be a tad more difficult as they can be secreted away in fine dining establishments or in local watering holes, or they might be hiding in plain sight in a hotel lobby bar or lounge. But they are legion, and well worth seeking out too. So, let’s go see where the night moves and the best mixologists are hiding.
Palm Beach’s hot spots and cool lounges
On Palm Beach your best bet to begin is happy hour at outdoor party spots like Pelican Pier Bar, an entertaining overwater hangout offering live music and creative drinks. As the sun sinks into the sea, head to Ritz-Carlton Aruba’s Divi Sushi Bar & Lounge for their sunset celebration each day when they offer complimentary samples of their signature cocktail The Cadushy made with local cactus juice puree. Hyatt’s Alfresco Bar and Hilton’s Mira Solo Bar both offer an elegant outdoor oasis to start the evening in style; both are known for their inventive cocktails as well. And for the best selection of fine rums head to the Palm Bar at Holiday Inn E Resort. For trendy tapas, live music, and great cocktails with comfy couches right in the sand, Purebeach at Divi Aruba Phoenix Resort always delivers a wonderful experience. Try their Pink Snap, one of their award-wining signature drinks.
Later, sashay across the street from the highrise hotels to “The Strip” – over a mile of shops, malls, dining venues, bars, and cafés lining J.E. Irausquin Blvd. Start at the new Cove Mall for an eclectic combination of nightlife options all flanked and Nikkei Sushi Bar, a refreshing indoor/outdoor lounge and dining spot with multiple kinds of sake. Then head to Paseo Herencia to witness the fabulous lit up waterworks show set to music. A great spot to view it from, and enjoy fine wines and decadent cheese delights, is in their courtyard at Melt Away Aruba. After, enjoy the crowds of party people at The Bulldog with DJs and an alfresco disco-style dance floor.
Back on the strip, follow your ears again to find the kind of music that suits your mood. Stop into Sopranos Piano Bar for a sing-along. And though Dushi Bagels & Burgers is best known for their fine, hearty fare, they also do daily happy hours and have live music from 7 to 10 p.m. You can find late-night partying at Gusto or go local off the beaten path to Bingo! Café & Restaurant where Dutch expats gather and it’s the only place to try Schrobbeler, a unique Dutch herbal liqueur.
Eagle Beach’s eclectic venues
Not known for having a central nightlife area, you’ll find interesting places scattered about this region if you know where to look. Start early at Delia’s Terrace Pool Bar, at the new Courtyard by Marriott Aruba Resort, and ask for their refreshing special Cucu Island cocktail. Screaming Eagle’s stand-alone lounge bar has wonderfully talented bartenders as well. Or look for party emporium Rock’n’Rock that dishes out the best music for those who never stopped believing. Then there’s The Beach Bar with cool cocktails and frequent entertainment on Druif Beach. At Alhambra Casino and Shops, you’ll find the classy Fusion Wine & Piano Bar with live lounge music and great vintages by the glass, and the excellent casino there is open until the cows come home. Although Quinta Del Carmen, in the Bubali interior is best known for fine dining, their stand-alone bar is also very cool, and their signature cocktails are out of this world.
Oranjestad has an exciting new undercurrent of hip when it comes to nightlife these days. Trendy festivals and hot, happening outdoor events are popping up often. Keep your eyes peeled for the latest spots like the Apotheek Remedy Cocktail Bar for ideal creative spirits to cure whatever ails you. Their mixologists are multi-award winners! Also new, is brightly colored umbrella-covered emporium HP Bar & Grill that will bring the quieter quarter near Fort Zoutman to life with live music, DJs, and special events. And do find Garufa Cocktail Lounge Aruba for its excellent collection of top-shelf spirits and exclusive brand cigars. But you’ll have to hit the backstreets to find Alfie’s in Aruba, a warm and welcoming bar for rocking live band Friday nights and acoustic Thursdays.
You can always be sure to find lots of live entertainment and a varied choice of tippling spots at the Renaissance Marketplace. Enjoy sultry live Latin music and watch barkeeps muddle up the best mojitos in town at Cuba’s Cookin’. Try their Cigar Bar to enjoy first-rate rums and Cuban stogies. Or escape the crowds and head for an intimate romantic atmosphere at NextDoor, literally next door to Sushi-Ya.
You must not miss Eetcafé The Paddock, a legendary rowdy watering hole frequented by Dutch expats. Drink specials happen frequently during the night, so prepare for many impromptu parties! If you want to head downtown early to start the night right by catching a stellar sunset, head to The West Deck where you can enjoy very creative margaritas. Later, there’s no better place for a romantic nightcap than the magically lit pier of Pinchos Grill & Bar; you’ll see it twinkling in the distance just past the Plaza Turismo.
Hit the road or get outta town
The crazy, colorful party buses of Kukoo Kunuku take it to the streets to show you
how to paint the town red with a superb choice of evening island adventures; they truly are the party hearty experts of Aruba. You can also head to the recently revitalized San Nicolas for superb parties in the streets like Island Festival and the Meet San Nicolas Festival. And do stop by legendary Charlie’s Bar while you are there for a famous Boozer Colada.
Go glitzy and get lucky!
Of course, there are Aruba’s glitzy casinos for excellent nightlife and a chance to seduce Lady Luck, and maybe win big! Some have live entertainment, on-site snacks, or in-house dining as well. All of your favorite games are waiting: poker, roulette, sports bets, and big rooms full of today’s most modern slot machines. Imbibe for free while you play the games (complimentary cocktails are common), and do get a VIP loyalty card to garner points for all kinds of cool extras. Downtown, you have Wind Creek Crystal and Wind Creek Seaport Casino within easy steps of each other, and off Eagle Beach you have legendary Alhambra Casino and Shops, one of the island’s best-known gaming playgrounds, and nearby new Eagle Aruba Casino welcomes the timeshare crowd. Palm Beach resorts are also famous for their dazzling, modern try-your-luck emporiums like the Stellaris Casino, The Casino at the Ritz-Carlton, The Casino Hilton Aruba, and the Hyatt Regency Casino. Most are open very late, and many offer gala big bingos during the day on weekends where you can also win fabulous prizes. And don’t forget to bring the valuable coupons from our magazines for some great offers. Good luck and cheers!
by Susan Campbell