A Guide to Drinking in Aruba: 10 Things we Learned

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We just got back from our first visit to the Island of Aruba and we can’t even begin to describe how amazing it was. We went for a little rest and relaxation but let’s be honest, we really just went to drink! Along the way we jotted down a few notes to create an easy guide to drinking in Aruba for our readers that should make it easy from the moment you step off the plane to the saddest day ever when you have to leave.

  1. You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning:  In Aruba , you can drink from sunrise to sunset, indoors and outdoors. If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, it’s the same mindset here but with better weather. Drink early, drink often, and feel free to drink openly on the streets. Most liquor stores sell as early as they open (8am) but wont sell anything after 9pm, but don’t worry the bars and restaurants will.
  2. The legal drinking age is 18: If you’re visiting from the states, be prepared to see college age kids drinking freely because the drinking age is 18 instead of 21. This can be great for spring breakers, and a nightmare for families on vacation with older kids. Personally I say if they can enlist in the military they can handle a drink…
  3. The Official drink of Aruba is the “Aruba Ariba”:  We discovered this hidden gem as soon as we stepped off the plane. The Aruba Ariba is best described as a “tropical long island iced tea”. It’s a mixture of several liquors, making it very strong, but it includes one special ingredient that can ONLY be found on the island.
  4. Coecoei (sometimes spelled Koekoei): So that special ingredient we mentioned above, this is it.  Coecoei is exclusively made and consumed on the island, and comes from the agave plant. It’s a mixture of the agave sap, rum, anisette, and cane sugar. You’ll find it in many drinks on the island,  including the official drink as mentioned above.
  5. Gambling: Dont Do it once you’ve been drinking…
  6. Balashi is the official beer: We prefer the hard stuff, but for the beer drinkers visiting Aruba, be sure to try the local brews such as Balashi or Amstel Bright (not to be confused with Amstel Light)
  7. Tropical Vs Dessert Island: The weather is perfect, and I mean perfect. The fact the island is so small means the ocean breeze hits everywhere. But this isn’t a tropical island so don’t expect to see grass and greenery everywhere but there are palm trees and the beaches or amazing. Plus, the lack of rain means no humidity, whatever the temperature is, expect it to feel that way or better with the breeze.
  8. Everywhere you go  seemingly serves hard alcohol: Just about every restaurant we ate at whether it was breakfast lunch or dinner,  offered beer, wine, and spirits at all times. That can be a good thing if you know your limit, and as we mentioned above, you can take alcoholic drinks to go and freely walk the streets and beaches with a drink in hand…
  9. They Speak 4 Languages: Color me impressed, the locals all learn English, Dutch,  Spanish, and their official language of Papiamento. So needless to say they can understand “happy hour” most languages.
  10. Dutch Style Pancakes: If you’ve never had one, imagine a slightly more fluffy crepe.  Most places you go will serve them and offer a rum ponche cream liquor topping in place of traditional syrup and we LOVE it.

They don’t call it one happy island for nothing! With drinking laws and options like these, I’d be happy all the time too! We loved our first visit to Aruba and hopefully with this guide to drinking in Aruba, you will love your first or next visit too!

Alex is a full time consultant with 10+ years experience in the wine & spirits + consumer packaged goods industries. He is not a professional bartender, but is BarSmarts certified and makes a mean caipirinha. When not writing, Alex can be found traveling, spending time with his family, or bar hopping.


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