Nightlife among Aruba’s locals has always been and still is up to this day, the ban dal un bitter (let’s go take a shot) at one of the many modest and inexpensive rum shops (or stores) around the island. In past times, people used to buy and carry their liquor in a brown paper bag at the nearby convenience store, where they would hang out and consume alcohol as discretely as possible. Later on, some of the convenience stores became the more explicit rum shops and modern supermarkets took over the non-alcoholic inventory.
Much has changed over the years with the island’s economic development and growing tourism industry. Nowadays, Aruba is able to offer its visitors and residents a large and diverse selection of nightlife options, including night clubs, cafes, pubs, party buses and boats, festivals, shows, events, and the all-time favorite bar hopping tours.
This following list of Aruba’s best bars is based on the present diversity in age group, taste, preference, budget, culture on the island, without disregarding typical or historical spots like Fermin’s Bar BQ in Noord and Charlie’s Bar and Restaurant in San Nicolas. By adding live entertainment, skillful bartenders, salsa workshops, karaoke nights or a funky interior, this basic concept turns into so much more than just hanging around a counter across which alcoholic drinks are served. Cheers! Salud!
For more than forty years, Fermin’s Bar BQ in Aruba’s Noord district, has been a fixture. First, as a local rum shop on a hot corner, then came the outdoor seating, the parasols, the wood fire smells and grills, and a brand-new (much bigger) sign. Despite of all the changes, the attentiveness of Fermin’s staff, the fair prices and the good quality remains the same. A great find for tourists in search of a friendly and casual atmosphere to have a couple of ice cold beers. They serve beer by the bucket at a very local price, well-made cocktails and incredibly tasty and affordable snacks and barbecue platters.
Recommended for Bars because: Fermin’s Bar BQ is a perfect spot to hang out like and with the locals.
Liliana’s expert tip: Every Wednesday it’s Lady’s Night Out with free shots for the ladies.
This cozy cafe on the corner is a true hot spot in the already buzzing Noord district of Aruba. The secret of Cafe 080 may have to do with the Dutch owners’ idea of combining authentic Dutch specialties like kroket (deep fried beef croquettes), fricandel (sausage specialty) and patat (fresh cut fries) with ice cold Heineken (or any local beer), a totally laid-back atmosphere and – best of all – as-good-as-it-gets local prices! With only three main courses a day, which include three variations on the traditional homemade hotchpotch with meat and gravy, Cafe 080 aims to keep it simple and satisfyingly good.
Recommended for Bars because: Cafe 080 is just a fun-filled, no-fuss, favorite hangout with a small selection of delicious Dutch bites and of course, beer.
Liliana’s expert tip: Every Friday and Saturday from 12pm till 8pm, enjoy delicious fish specialties like Dutch ‘kibbeling’ (fried cod bits).
Looking for a hot place to be cool or a cool place to be hot? Stroll along the postcard perfect Palm Beach and step onto the deck of Bugaloe Beach Bar and Grill at De Palm Pier. It’s never a must, only helpful advice: a Caribbean vacation isn’t an authentic Caribbean vacation without the happy hours, the dancing, the mingling, the savoring and celebration-ing. That’s why Aruba offers the most gorgeous beaches, the sunniest weather and memorable spots like Bugaloe Beach Bar & Grill to welcome its visitors. Colorful cocktails, live entertainment, breathtaking sunsets, perfectly grilled catches and many hours of happiness await you here.
Recommended for Bars because: Bugaloe Beach Bar and Grill has the looks, charming personality and perfect location for sipping, savoring and swinging the night away.
Liliana’s expert tip: Every Wednesday night, there’s a Free Salsa and Merengue Workshop from 7:30 till 8:30pm and a live band for dance couples to show off their hot new moves.
Serene and stylish in blue and white, the Renaissance Resort’s lobby bar is ideal for drinks and conversation from the time it opens up to the time it closes down. The staff are infectiously friendly, the cocktails are well-mixed and the overall vibe is simultaneously upbeat and relaxed. A great place to make some new friends, get in a little people-watching, or catch up on your vacation alcohol allowance! Plus, there’s a nice variety of tapas and light meals if you’ve got the munchies. Casual walk-in tourists, local and international business professionals, all enjoy the surroundings of this sophisticated open-air lobby bar in one of Aruba’s most prestigious resorts.
Recommended for Bars because: Blue is perfectly located in the center of downtown Oranjestad with amazing views of Aruba’s harbor and nightlife.
Liliana’s expert tip: Happy Hours are from 4:30 pm – 6 pm daily.
This trendy piano bar is nestled amongst the high rise hotels, right in the center of the lively Palm Beach scene. Just look for Aruba’s Arawak Garden and visit one of the coolest piano bars in the world. Try a Bikini Martini and kick back with a Cuban cigar while the multi-talented piano players entertain you. Things get hopping when patrons sing along with the musicians who take requests for everything from Frank Sinatra to Elton John. Open-aired and relaxed, this is the place classy enough to wear the stylish dress you packed, “just in case,” or come casual as you like. The only requirement is to obey the motto: “Let’s have fun!”
Recommended for Bars because: The Sopranos Piano Bar Aruba offers live entertainment and a vibrant atmosphere, seven nights a week.
Liliana’s expert tip: The Sopranos Piano Bar Aruba has a Facebook Page and a Facebook Group to keep friends and fans on top of all the latest events.
Not really a store, but definitely local – including local and craft beers, snacks, prices and very friendly people: locals. Souvenir store? Local bar? Or just one happy spot to check out, any day of the week. Start with the Aruban Funchi Fries or an order of fresh fried pickles, and continue with some ice cold beers, hot chicken wings or Triple Chubato Burger. Every Friday, it’s Ambiente (a better word for Party)-time at Aruba’s Local Store, featuring Happy Hour vibes and rates – no matter what day it is. From Tuesday to Sunday: “Yega!” means “arrive!” and “keda!” is “stay!” That’s all you need to know, if you are in the Palm Beach area and ready to mingle with the locals.
Recommended for Bars because: Local Store is an alfresco local bar, known for its large selection of craft beer, delicious Aruban snacks, extensive chicken wings menu and friendly ambiance.
Liliana’s expert tip: Reservations required for parties of six and more.
This bar, founded by Dutch couple Charles and Marie Brouns, has been an island legend for more than 70 years. Many people visit just out of curiosity or to study the outrageous decor: banners, pennants, posters, stickers and bric-a-brac cover the ceiling and walls. Though many come the first time to gawk while they sip on a cold beer, Charlie’s keeps them coming back with surprisingly good seafood, especially Creole squid and “Shrimps Jumbo and Dumbo.” (Dumbo because they got caught!) Chef Charles (the third generation of Charlie’s) and Chef Rosalba also cook a mean Argentine-style steak, and their trademark “honeymoon sauce” is fabulous, and hot, hot, hot! If you’re visiting San Nicolas, on your way to Baby Beach or famished after a day of fun in the Sunrise City of Aruba, drop in at Charlie’s to have something to brag about.
Recommended for Bars because: Charlie’s Bar and Restaurant is one of the main attractions on the island where visitors can see, smell, taste and listen to Aruba’s stories.
Liliana’s expert tip: If you haven’t got any memorabilia at hand to leave behind, there’s always the option to take one with you. Check out Charlie’s Souvenir Shop.
A casual, neighborhood gathering spot located in downtown Oranjestad. This Dutch Pub is the watering hole for many locals, executives, and all of those looking for a drink, a snack and fun times with friends and colleagues. Gezelligheid (pronounced “Ghuh Zel Likh Hide”) – a feeling of coziness in English – and warm Dutch hospitality welcome you to a variety of imported beer, funky music and friendly bartenders. With the best live music, beer and cocktails since 2000, Chaos is about as off the beaten path as it gets, and is a much respected platform for hard-edged, home-grown talent. You’ll hear anything from Blues to Reggae, Funk, Pop or Rock.
Recommended for Bars because: Cafe Chaos is a cozy Dutch pub, across from Wilhelmina Park, where everyone comes together to round off the day or get the evening started.
Liliana’s expert tip: Live music every Saturday night starting at 11:30 p.m.
Casibari Cafe started out small; a couple of drinks, snacks, souvenirs … Tourists browsing around the premises, climbing the stairs, taking photos with huge volcanic rocks. And then, this place brought in local bands and began to host music events, drawing in more and more nightlife-seeking crowds. Their schedule is filled with Reggae festivals, Salsa nights, jam sessions and whatever they can come up with to please their fans. There’s always something happening at Casibari Cafe, so if you’re looking for a quiet spot to meditate, check out the events calender to know at what time to arrive and depart. The ones who are in for a feast, take a seat and own those happy hours.
Recommended for Bars because: Casibari Cafe, surrounded by Aruba’s incredible rock formations and country ambience, has become one of the favorite hangouts of locals and tourists.
Liliana’s expert tip: Check out Casibari Cafe’s barbecue specials, they’re famous attractors.
South Beach Mall has a great-to-know bar scene happening, and the Saloon Bar is a welcoming addition to the Palm Beach nightlife strip. This Wild West Country hub might not conjure Old West gun fights, gambling and outlaws – thank goodness! – but it surely can stir up your party instincts and dance moves. A dive bar to enjoy friendly priced drinks and beers, music to take anyone on a trip down memory lane, and just plain ol’ good times together. Attention nightlife hunters: bar-hoppers wanted! Alive and singing… So saddle up and get ready for a long night of hoedowning at the Saloon.
Recommended for Bars because: Saloon Bar Aruba has a unique country style atmosphere and very affordable beers and cocktails.
Liliana’s expert tip: On Fridays live music till 3 am and happy hours from 9pm till 11pm.