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Gay Aruba: The Complete LGBTQ+ Travel Guide 2024

When it comes to travelling to the Caribbean as a gay couple, it can be a bit of a challenge given the overall regions conservative views, and even anti-gay laws on some islands.

But the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the Caribbean and as a result are some of the most popular choices of Caribbean islands for gay travellers.

We first visited Aruba for a day during our last Atlantis gay cruise and immediately fell in love with the island vibe, the white beaches, crystal clear sea and colourful houses. We knew we wanted to return so jumped at the chance for a longer visit later that same year. We were very excited to explore just how gay friendly Aruba was!

Is Aruba Gay Friendly?

Quite simply – when visiting the island of Aruba as a tourist, yes!

Aruba welcomed us with open arms as gay travellers when we visited, and we felt very safe and comfortable during our time there.

Along with its neighbours Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba is one of the most popular choices for gay travellers visiting the Caribbean – no wonder it was a stop during the biggest gay cruise in the world.

However, it is worth noting that as with many other places around the globe, the experience of a gay tourist can be quite different to that of a gay local. We spoke to many locals whilst on the island, and the general consensus was that whilst still safe, and whilst crimes towards local LGBTQ+ people are unheard of, public opinion regarding LGBTQ+ people does vary – particularly amongst the older generation.

That being said, great progress is being made in Aruba when it comes to making the island more LGBTQ+ friendly…see the next section for more details!

Gay Rights in Aruba

aruba gay guide

LGBTQ+ rights have progressed a lot in the past few decades – although there is still a lot to be done.

Whilst both male and female same-s3x activity is legal, same-s3x marriage is still to be legalised. However, as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba does recognise same-s3x marriages that are performed and registered in the Netherlands. So, whilst they cannot legally marry on the island itself – yet! – travelling to the Netherlands to get married is an option for same-s3x couples that have Dutch nationality.

Whilst marriage is still to be legalised, a bill was introduced in 2016 that legalised registered partnerships – both same and opposite s3x. This is the equivalent of a same-s3x civil union, granting many of the same rights as marriage. This bill was passed and came into effect in 2021. And interestingly, when the Aruban parliament voted to legalise the bill, this was the first time a Caribbean parliament had done so.

It does look like same-s3x marriage legalisation is on the horizon though! In November 2023, the legalisation of same-s3x marriage in both Aruba and Curaçao went to a hearing at the Supreme Court in the Netherlands, with a decision due to be made around June this year. Fingers crossed!

Aruba also has anti-discrimination laws in place – both in employment, in the provision of goods, services, when it comes to LGBTQ+ persons serving in the military, as well as across other areas.

Things to do in Aruba for Gay Travellers

One of the first things that struck us about Aruba was that, whilst the island is the epitome of the iconic white sand, blue sea, palm tree lined beaches that spring to mind when you picture the Caribbean and it would be so easy to laze on the beach all day – there is SO much to do on the island!

We spent 11 nights on the island, and had the perfect balance between taking part in activities and exploring, as well as relaxing and topping up our tans.

Explore Arikok National Park

gay guide aruba

The beautiful Arikok National Park in Aruba is located to the east of the island, and actually makes up around 20% of the islands total land area.

The park is an ideal location for seeing Aruba’s varying landscapes and natural wonders. Exploring the park, you will find a diverse range of plant and animal species that are indigenous to the island.

The terrain varies from sand dunes to beaches, volcanic rock formations, and more cacti than you can imagine. And there is no shortage of natural wonders either – a natural pool, caves containing original Indian drawings, stunning beaches, – you could easily spend a whole day here seeing something different every hour!

Visitors to the park do need to purchase a ticket to enter Arikok National Park, the cost of which goes towards the preservation of the park as well as various educational programs that the park runs.

Once inside the park, visitors can freely explore, either driving through the park, or you can explore on foot on one of the many hiking trails.

However, for the best experience we strongly recommend booking a guided tour, escorted by a Park Ranger who will point out many things you will likely miss otherwise.

We hiked through the park for about 90 minutes with one of the rangers and were so grateful for all the in-depth information we received about the things we were seeing.

Key areas of interest within the park:

  • Quadirikiri and Fontein Caves: Both of these caves have beautiful stalagmites and stalactites, some of which have formed pillars. Both caves also contain drawings going back thousands of years from the Indians.
  • Dos Playas: This is one of the most stunning views out to the Caribbean Sea from within the park, if not from the whole island. Not a beach for swimming due to the strong winds and current, but it is popular with windsurfers. It is also the spot where Aruba’s leatherback turtles come to nest and lay their eggs.
  • Conchi – The Natural Pool: The Natural Pool has become one of Aruba’s top attractions, and is a must visit for anyone exploring Arikok National Park. The Natural Pool is a seawater pool, separated from the open ocean by the surrounding lava rocks. It is quite a way from the entrance to Arikok, and so a vehicle is needed.

For more information, such as how to get to the park, or to book a guided hike visit their website here.

Scuba Diving

gay travel aruba

We are both avid scuba divers, and if we are visiting a destination known for its diving, we are absolutely going to do it!

Aruba has some incredible diving sites, and is the perfect location for both qualified experts as well as new divers.

The coral reefs and beds of seagrass are home to a diverse range of marine life – rays, eels, the invasive lionfish, and Aruba is home to four species of sea-turtles which we always love seeing!

Aruba is also well known for wreck-diving, and one of our dives was around one of the shipwrecks, where we were very lucky to spot a nesting octopus in one of the wrecks former portholes!

We used Jads Dive Center for our two-tank dive, a PADI 5-star IDC resort.

Rum tasting at Pepe Margo Distillery

gay travel guide aruba

The Pepe Margo Distillery is Aruba’s first ever craft distillery, and is located in a fully restored traditional Aruban home in the historical district of downtown Aruba.

The name of the distillery comes from one of the former residents of the home, Catarina Margarita (Margo) Arends, who was nicknamed ‘Pepe Margo,’ (‘pepe’ meaning godmother in the Papiamento language) by the local community.

Pepe Margo Distillery offers distillery tours, where you will find them making rum, gin and more onsite at the historical house, as well as of course – tasting the spirits themselves!

We are both gin drinkers and we thoroughly enjoyed what we tried!

You can read more about the history of the distillery and book your own tour via their website.

Address: Wilhelminastraat 46, Oranjestad, Aruba

Island Jeep Tour with Isla Aruba

aruba gay travel guide

Our island jeep tour was one of our most enjoyable experiences on the island, and was the best way of us experiencing just how diverse and beautiful the island of Aruba is.

Isla Aruba jeep tours are run by locals, who have extensive knowledge and first-hand experience of what Aruba has to offer for visitors – both the popular tourist attractions also off the beaten track hidden gems.

The off-road safari jeeps were a really cool and unique way to travel around the island, and the perfect choice of vehicle for when we were travelling across the rugged landscape of Arikok National Park!

Isla Aruba offer a variety of tours, all of which are private, making sure you tick off the popular attractions, but also give the option of a fully customised private tour which they can help with customising and creating for you.

Popular attractions that Isla Aruba take you to include:

  • Gold Mill Ruins: Learn about the history of gold mining in the area, and explore the ruins of a historic former gold mill
  • Arikok National Park – including the Natural Pool, Fontein Cave and Quadirikiri Cave
  • Various beaches around the island – including the beautiful Baby Beach – more on Baby Beach below!

Check out more of their tour options here.

Wine tour at Alto Vista Winery

gay travel aruba

We love a wine tour and equally love drinking wine – so this was a perfect activity choice for us whilst on the island, and also something we actually were not expecting to find!

Alto Vista Winery is the first and only boutique winery on the island, and is an estate winery meaning that the wines are produced with the grapes grown on its own vineyard – quite an impressive feat considering the islands desert climate!

The wine tour at Alto Vista is a bit different to the usual – instead of heading straight indoors to the production site and the distillery, the tour starts by walking through the farm itself – including across the natural terrain of what the farm used to be before the vineyards were planted, and then we walked through the vineyards themselves.

We then visited the distillery where Alto Vista also produces rum, which we sampled, before finishing in the winery and the tasting room which we were definitely ready for. The wine tasting includes sampling the five wines they produce, and also includes a small charcuterie snack platter to be paired with the wines.

This was definitely a highlight!

Read more about Alto Vista and book your own wine tour at their website.

Address: Alto Vista ZN, Oranjestad, Aruba

Go on a luxury sailing cruise with Pelican Adventures

gay travel guide aruba

We absolutely love a boat trip! And when in the Caribbean, how could we not – sailing on crystal clear waters, a tropical sea breeze, Caribbean cocktail in hand, music, the opportunity to swim and snorkel – this is a must do for anyone visiting Aruba!

We travelled with Pelican Adventures who run a number of different sailing and snorkelling trips, but we enjoyed the half day Monforte Luxury Cruise, onboard their luxury schooner ship.

We sailed to the southern coast of the island, past the gorgeous Eagle Beach, down to the crystal waters of the Spanish Lagoon where we spent a couple of hours anchored to enjoy swimming, snorkelling the reef, and lunch onboard.

This was an absolutely perfect way to spend a day. Our cruise included:

  • 5-hour cruise to the Spanish Lagoon
  • Open bar onboard including hand-crafted cocktails
  • Lunch grilled onboard
  • Snorkelling the Spanish Lagoon Barrier Reef
  • Rope swinging from the boat out to sea

Book your own tour with Pelican Adventures here.

Try glass blowing at Studio Murano Art

Studio Murano Art is a family run glass-blowing studio – in fact, their current master artisan is the third generation!

Every day they offer a free glass blowing demonstration from 10:00 – 13:00, so visitors in the area who may have just stopped for a bite to eat at the onsite bar and restaurant, or to browse the store can actually enjoy the glass-blowing process from start to finish.

However, should you actually wish to try this for yourself, Studio Murano Art offer workshops – a hands on experience where you can make your own one-of-a-kind glass item. The lesson is taught by the expert who has over 35 years’ experience glass blowing!

Of course, we had to try this for ourselves – where we each made a little glass bird of our own, currently displayed on our living room windowsill!

Address: Ayo 22, Aruba

Get Up Close with Flamingos on Renaissance Island

gay friendly aruba
Photo credit: Edrick Krozendijk / @edrxckk

Do a Google image search for ‘Aruba’ and it’s guaranteed that over half of the top results will be from Flamingo Beach, on Renaissance Island – showing the graceful pink birds walking on the powdery white sands, with the backdrop of palm trees and blue sea.

Visiting these residents of Renaissance Island is one of the most popular tourist attractions for many people, and after experiencing it for ourselves we can see why.

Unlike its neighbours Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba has no wild flamingos, and so the flamingos that are resident on Renaissance Island are captive flamingos from Bonaire – although they have the run of the entire island and are very much at home with the tourists visiting each day!

You can even purchase flamingo food on the island, the best way to coax the birds to come up close and personal with you to grab that perfect Instagram shot. We were so grateful that we had to chance to do this – and our top tip is head over on the first water taxi of the day, when the flamingos are still hungry!

However, the island isn’t all about the flamingos – it is a day out in its own right. There are two beaches on the island – Flamingo Beach of course which is an adult-only beach and has cabanas to rent, and Iguana Beach which is family-friendly. These are actually the only private beaches found within Aruba.

There is a spa onsite, uniquely located on a pier above the water. You can go for a little stroll through the mangroves, enjoy a meal at the on-island bar and grill, or just sit at the beach bar admiring the views. It’s a tropical island paradise away from the main island itself.

It is very important to mention however that Renaissance Island is a private island. Visiting is technically only available to guests of the Renaissance hotel, and so if you want to guarantee a chance to visit, the best way is to book an overnight stay at the hotel. It is such a popular attraction that most visitors to Aruba book at least a one-night stay at the beginning or end of their vacation to ensure they have to chance to go.

That being said, when hotel occupancy is low, they do offer a day pass to non-residents, so it is always worth emailing or double checking with the hotel directly to see if this is an option, as we highly recommend visiting.

Should a day pass be available, these are approx. $130 per person, which does include a food and beverage credit of $25 to be used at Papagayo Bar and Grill, or the Mangrove Beach Bar.

You can use this website here to check if any day passes are available.

Gay Hotels in Aruba

Being such an LGBTQ+ friendly island for tourists, you will be welcomed with open arms at pretty much any of the islands many properties.

We have included the below as gay-friendly hotels in Aruba, based on our personal experiences staying there and how comfortable and welcomed we felt.

Gay Friendly Hotels in Aruba

Courtyard by Marriott Aruba Resort

gay hotel aruba

We spent our first four nights in Aruba at the beautiful Courtyard Aruba Resort, and what a welcome to the island!

Courtyard Aruba Resort is a gorgeous property, with the rooms and suites located in low-rise two-storey white-washed units built around two beautiful lagoon style pools – one complete with a swim-up bar.

The hotel is located in the heart of Palm Beach, walking distance to both the beach itself and also the Palm Beach Strip, with various shops, bars, casinos and restaurants. The hotel also provides a shuttle service to nearby Palm Beach, where there is a dedicated section with sun loungers and umbrellas for hotel guests.

There is also a 24-hour fitness gym onsite, which we made good use of everyday thanks to the jetlag causing us to wake at 5am! But it was a great way to build an appetite for the complimentary breakfast buffet each morning!

Address: J.E. Irausquin Blvd 330, Noord, Aruba

Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort and Casino

gay hotel aruba

Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort and Casino is a beautiful, ocean-front 4-star property, located in the heart of the Palm Beach hotel zone, with direct access to a private section of the beach.

The hotel has two swimming areas, one a family-friendly activity pool with waterslide and a swim-up bar, the other an adults-only pool surrounded by private cabanas that are available to book. We spent a lovely afternoon relaxing in the cabana after our morning hike around the national park!

There are also two restaurants onsite at the Hyatt – Palms Beachside Grill for breakfast and lunch, and the Ruinas del Mar a la carte restaurant for dinner, which specialises in seafood and fresh fish. We had a gorgeous meal here – after we had tried multiple cocktails and watched the stunning Aruban sunset at the Alfresco cocktail bar of course!

Address: J.E. Irausquin Blvd 85, Noord, Aruba

Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort

gay friendly hotel aruba

The Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort is made up of two properties – the adult only Renaissance Marina Hotel, and the family friendly Renaissance Ocean Suites.

The two hotels are only about a five-minute walk from each other, on opposite sides of the marina, but both properties are located in the heart of downtown Oranjestad, the vibrant island capital.

You can easily stroll along the boardwalk past the marina, admiring the luxury yachts, or walk into the city centre where you will find great bars, restaurants and shops. The Renaissance Marina hotel even backs onto Renaissance Mall – home to some high-end designer outlets!

The adults only property has a beautiful pool, onsite spa and a casino, and many of their rooms have an incredible ocean view.

The facilities of the Ocean Suites are also available to guests of the Marina. We spent a very lazy afternoon at the man-made beach lagoon drinking cocktails!

However, whilst both properties are beautiful in their own right, the main highlight of the Renaissance Aruba Resort has to be Renaissance Island – the 40-acre private island, home to the amazing Flamingo Beach, as we mentioned above.

Address: L.G. Smith Blvd 82, Oranjestad, Aruba

Radisson Blu

gay friendly hotel aruba

Radisson Blu Aruba was the perfect hotel to spend our final few nights in Aruba. Located at the end of the Palm Beach Strip, there is so much to do in the immediate area.

The hotel is walking distance to many restaurants, shops and bars, and also walking distance to the beach itself. But should you need it, there is a complimentary beach shuttle.

Radisson Blu Aruba also has multiple pools to choose from – a large lagoon style free-form pool surrounded by the garden, a smaller family friendly kids pool, a very spacious hot tub, and our personal favourite – the adults only rooftop infinity pool with incredible views of the ocean and the nearby islands!

On our final night on the island, we also indulged in one of the best meals we had on the island, at the onsite restaurant, Senses Fine Dining, where we were able to try various dishes from the 8-course Chefs Table menu with a wine pairing – see more on Senses below!

Address: J.E. Irausquin Blvd 97-A, Noord, Aruba

Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort

aruba gay hotel

Whilst we didn’t actually stay here ourselves during our visit, we have included Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort as a gay-friendly hotel due to the fact that it is an adult-only property – quite often a big selling point when gay couples are looking for where to stay!

Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort is located on the award-winning Eagle Beach, which also tends to be the most popular choice for gay travellers.

This boutique resort is for guests aged 18+, and features an ocean-front restaurant with incredible sea views, as well as a fitness centre, spa and of course a beautiful pool area.

The hotel also puts on a free movie night on the beach twice a week for hotel guests.

Address: L.G. Smith Boulevard 55B, Oranjestad, Aruba

Gay Bars in Aruba

gay bar aruba

Despite being a small island, there is a gay bar / nightclub in Aruba – Cage Night Club!

Cage Nightclub is open Thursday – Saturday, and whilst small is an authentic local bar, that really comes to life with happy hours, entertainment, top class drag shows, and it becomes a lively dance club on a weekend!

Address: King Plaza Mall, Calla Harmonia, Oranjestad, Aruba

Aruba Gay Beach

gay beach aruba

Aruba doesn’t technically have its own gay beach, or even an official gay section of a beach like you will find in other larger mass-tourist destinations – Miami, Puerto Vallarta and the like.

However, Eagle Beach does tend to be the most popular beach for gay travellers, and whilst it doesn’t have an official gay section as such, you will likely find that there will be a particular part of the beach where the gays congregate.

As we always advise – go for a casual stroll up and down until you see the gay couples in their speedos and then pick your spot!

And whilst we haven’t seen it for ourselves – we have seen photos of a pride flag being flown on Eagle Beach, so you never know!

Eagle Beach is consistently ranked amongst the top ten beaches in the world, and is the best beach in the Caribbean so it’s hardly surprising that this will be the beach of choice for gay travellers. It is stunning!

Other Beaches Worth a Mention

aruba bay beach

Baby Beach was without a doubt our favourite beach on the entire island! It was just stunning – there was no other word to describe it!

Baby Beach is a little out of the way, located in the very southern-most tip of the island, close to the quaint town of San Nicolas, and so is about a 45-minute drive from the hotel zone, however it is well worth the trip to get here.

Baby Beach is a beautiful half-moon shaped sandy cove / lagoon, with crystal clear shallow waters perfect for swimming and snorkelling. The great thing is, being that little further out, it tends to be much more popular with local families as opposed to being overrun with tourists!

We visited Baby Beach as a stop on our island jeep tour, and only wished we could have stayed longer, but it was a great way of getting here and at least ticking it off. You can of course also take a taxi, or even use the local buses.

Places to Eat in Aruba

CAYA House Restaurant

Caya House is located in Palm Beach, literally across the road from the Hyatt Regency hotel, and is set inside a fully renovated traditional Aruban house.

The setting is beautiful – as well as the indoor modern dining room, the restaurant also features an outdoor courtyard for open air dining.

Caya is also not just a restaurant – they also provide entertainment, such as live performances, or featuring a DJ on a weekend.

The menu is authentic Aruban cuisine, with lots of fish and seafood options.

Address: J.E. Irausquin Blvd 372, Noord, Aruba

Olivia Mediterranean Restaurant

Olivia is an authentic Mediterranean restaurant located in downtown Oranjestad.

The menu features a real mix of Mediterranean cuisine with dishes inspired from Greece, Italy, Morocco, Lebanon…we were spoilt for choice!

The courtyard setting was also very trendy and romantic!

Address: Wilhelminastraat 74, lokaal 2 Oranjestad, Aruba, Aruba

Azia Restaurant and Lounge

Azia Restaurant and Lounge is a beautiful, elegant restaurant that as its name suggests specialises in Asian cuisine – think dim sum, sushi, and of course, being a restaurant on an island, some amazing seafood options.

The décor inside was incredible, we really felt like we were in a restaurant in the Far East. The food was absolutely delicious – paired with some speciality cocktails, it was one of our favourite meals on the island.

Highly recommend the lychee martini!

Address: Piazza, J.E. Irausquin Blvd 348, Palm Beach, Aruba

Papiamento

Papiamento is one of the most high-end restaurants on the island, located inside a historical Aruban house.

The setting of the restaurant spans inside the house itself, as well as tables set within the lush, tropical gardens by the pool for a stunning al fresco dining experience.

The menu is typical Aruban cuisine – meat and seafood dishes cooked in clay pots, fresh fish, steak – everything we had was delicious!

Address: Washington 61, Noord, Aruba

Senses Fine Dining Aruba

Senses Fine Dining is an award-winning restaurant, inside the Radisson Blu hotel at Palm Beach. It is so highly ranked that in 2022 it was actually named the #2 best fine-dining restaurant in the entire Caribbean!

We dined here on our final night on the island, and had one of the best meals we have ever had. The restaurant serves a la carte, but is more widely known for their chefs table experience, consisting of eight courses along with a welcome glass of prosecco.

Address:

Address: J.E. Irausquin Blvd 97-A, Noord, Aruba

Faro Blanco

The food here was great – but what really sold this restaurant was the spectacular location!

Faro Blanco Restaurant is located next to the lighthouse, in the former home of the lighthouse keeper, and being up on a cliff top we were dining with the most breath-taking sea views.

We went for lunch, on a perfectly clear day and had views across both the island and out to sea, and almost couldn’t focus on eating as we just wanted to admire the scenery! We could only imagine what it would be like dining there at sunset!

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and specialises in Italian cuisine, with plenty of pizza and pasta options.

Address: California Lighthouse Z/N, Noord, Aruba

West Deck, Beach Bar and Island Grill

West Deck is located just minutes from central Oranjestad. Open for both lunch and dinner, the setting is everything – the restaurant itself is built on a large wooden deck over the beach itself, right by the waters edge and all tables have the most incredible sea views.

This is a casual and informal venue – and whilst clearly a popular choice with both locals and tourists, the setting is very peaceful with its authentic Caribbean atmosphere.

This is the perfect location to enjoy typical Caribbean cuisine, a local beer or rum cocktail and enjoy the views.

Address: Lloyd G. Smith Blvd, Oranjestad, Aruba

Huchada

Huchada is a friendly neighbourhood bakery & lunchroom located in the centre of the island.

We stopped off for a local breakfast here to fuel up before we went for our hike in Arikok National Park, and loved how local it was!

Set inside a traditional Cunucu Aruban house, the vibe inside was very authentic. Locals were sat having coffee with their friends and family, schoolkids were sat having breakfast, and other than us there were no other tourists in sight!

Huchada offers sandwiches, fresh juices, cakes and sweets and of course – pastechi, the local speciality. Pastechi are a traditional Aruban breakfast or snack, and are crescent shaped, deep fried savoury pastry with a filling. We tried both the chicken and the meat, and they are delicious!

Address: 4 328, Santa Cruz, Aruba

Practical tips for visiting Aruba

  • Aruba has a tropical climate year-round, with temperatures rarely dropping below 25°C – so pack plenty of beach wear and high SPF sun lotion!
  • The local currency is the Aruban Florin; however, US dollars are widely accepted.
  • The official main language on the island is Papiamento, however Dutch and English are also widely spoken.
  • There are a LOT of mosquitoes on the island – make sure you pack bug spray, and on an evening long sleeves and trousers are recommended, especially with a lot of the restaurants offering open air dining.
  • The tap water is perfectly safe to drink.
  • Power outlets are the same as US and Canada, so make sure you bring an adaptor.

Wrap Up

And there you have it – our complete LGBTQ+ travel guide to gay Aruba! We know that gay travel to the Caribbean can be difficult but rest assured that in Aruba you will be welcomed with open arms, and you can just kick back, relax, and enjoy the island.

 We hope you love it as much as we did!