A tiny jewel sparkling in the Caribbean Sea just off the coast of Venezuela, the “A” in the ABC Islands—Aruba—is just 69 square miles in area, but every inch is pure paradise. Gentle trade winds keep its famous beaches dry and comfortable, and the waves lap lazily at the soft, white sand.
If that isn’t enough to bring you to Aruba, consider this: its dining scene is one of the best among the Caribbean islands. Exceptional food is augmented by your choice of atmosphere—fun, casual, chic or romantic. Here are five waterfront restaurants worth checking out on your beach vacation.
1. The Pelican Nest Seafood Grill
The Pelican Nest Seafood Grill’s relaxed, casual vibe is only heightened by the fact that the restaurant sits completely over the water. Enjoy a delectable selection of fresh seafood, including fish, shrimp and Caribbean lobster, while taking in the view from Pelican Pier at Palm Beach. It’s a front-row seat to spectacular sunsets each evening, and you can even feed the fish while you eat your meal. Be sure to try the ceviche made by the establishment’s very own Peruvian chef.
2. Gilligan’s Seafood Shack
At the Hilton Aruba, Gilligan’s Seafood Shack has an extensive menu that offers seafood, meat, salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers and a complete kid’s menu. Add a tropical drink and enjoy the view in a laid-back, breezy atmosphere. This open-air beachside restaurant is just a few steps from both the sea and the pool. Try the guest favorites: ahi tuna salad, grouper fingers or crab cake burger. Fast, friendly service, great food and large portions will make this a favorite stop on your vacation.
For a romantic dinner on the beach, you can’t beat Atardi at Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. The restaurant, Atardi—which means “late afternoon” in Papiamento—does not exist all day but pops up closer to sunset, when staff assemble tables on the beach. Sit with your toes right in the warm sand, the waves just a few feet away, and take in the magnificent sunset while you enjoy a delicious seafood dinner. If you try the Macadamian Grouper, be sure to request the melt-in-your-mouth au gratin potatoes. After dinner, try one of the tantalizing coffees, including Aruba Moonlight, Star Chaser and Old Pirate’s Dream. Live music adds a serene vibe to this intimate, beach dining setting.
4. Matthew’s Beachside Restaurant
A unique blend of casual and chic, Matthew’s Beachside Restaurant features upscale Caribbean cuisine. Located in Oranjestad, this beachfront restaurant is considered one of the best on the island. Dance to steel drums, or give karaoke your best shot here. Sports fans are also welcome, especially at the bar, where there are three TVs airing live games. Thursday night is Italian night, and homemade tiramisu is added—for free—to your main entrée. Delizioso!
5. Elements Restaurant
Part of Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort in Eagle Beach, Elements is an adults-only (18+) restaurant. Choose from four separate menus: Organic & Natural, Vegetarian & Vegan, Gluten-Free and World Cuisine. Sit on the outdoor deck without a barrier between you and the ocean, or sit inside and enjoy the view through floor-to-ceiling windows. A romantic, six-course dinner for two, right on the beach under your own private palapa, is available upon request. This restaurant does not accept cash, pay with credit or debit card only.