Updated: Jan 2
Aruba is known for its pristine beaches, thrilling watersports and stunning sunsets.
Yet what is there to do once the sun goes down?
Recently I spent a Friday night out in Aruba, and I am happy to report that the island's nightlife is alive and well.
While Oranjestad, Aruba’s capital, is full of exciting restaurants and bars, I decided to explore the busier Palm Beach area, bustling with its high-rise resorts and high-end destinations.
If you are staying at one of the luxury hotels on Palm Beach, you have a prime seat for Friday night action. During my vacation, I was located in Noord, a five-minute drive away from Palm Beach, so I drove and needed a place to park.
Traffic wasn’t too bad on this Friday evening immediately following Thanksgiving Day, and as I turned left onto J.E. Irausquin Boulevard, which runs parallel to Palm Beach, I noticed hordes of tourists strolling past popular destinations such as Soprano’s Piano Bar and Gianni’s Italian Restaurant.
The public parking lot next to Gianni's was full, so I parked my rental car just down the street at the Riu Palace (pictured below).
As I stepped out of my air-conditioned car, I realized the outside temperature was 80 degrees Fahrenheit at 7pm. Congratulating myself for wearing shorts instead of jeans, I made a short walk from the Riu to the hotel property next door, The Hilton Aruba.
I was in search of Lady Luck.
Stop 1: Gambling at the Hilton Aruba Casino
Aruba has many casinos across the island, and on Palm Beach, these include those at the Ritz-Carlton, the Marriott and the Hyatt, amongst others.
This trip I spent my money at the Hilton, the interior of which looks like a planetarium, and whose casino features table games and slot machines.
On the night I was there, The Casino at the Hilton was hosting a World Series of Poker Circuit Event in a separate, roped-off area.
After thirty minutes at the tables, I had fought my back from being down and decided that it was time for a change of scenery.
As I walked out of the casino and up the stairs into the Hilton's open air lobby, I heard live music at the poolside bar. While the crowd was enjoying the music, I was inspired to check out my next destination: Bohemian.
Stop 2: Listening to Live Music at Bohemian
Since I was suddenly in the mood for some live music, I headed over to Bohemian, one of my favorite open air restaurants in Aruba, which is also located on the Hilton premises.
Bohemian offers dining and live music in its legendary courtyard from Wednesday to Sunday; however, Friday and Saturday nights feature DJs playing house music all evening long.
Here is Bohemian's Event Calendar.
Diners were enjoying the upscale courtyard scene and vibing to the sounds of DJ Alex, one of the bigger name DJs on the island.
Bohemian is open until 1am on Friday and Saturday evenings, but I had more stops to make and could not stay for longer than an hour. My favorite gelato place was about to close, and I had to be in line before 9pm.
Stop 3: Enjoying Gelato at Gelatissimo
As I stepped across J.E. Irausquin Boulevard from Bohemian, the Kukoo Kunuku rolled by, a popular party bus / pub crawl tour whose presence officially announces that it is Friday night in Aruba.
After my gambling and listening to live music, I was craving something sweet, and Gelatissimo's two Palm Beach locations in Aruba offer a plethora of gelato options.
My preference is the Gianni's Plaza double decker bus (open daily from 6-9pm), although you can also choose their Palm Pier location on the beach from 11am until 8pm.
On this Friday night in Aruba, there was a long line of visitors waiting to order gelato before closing time.
I would recommend getting your gelato on a waffle cone and eating it while people watching in Gianni's Plaza.
Having satisfied my craving and feeling re-energized, I decided to make one final stop at my favorite club on the island, Gusto.
Stop 4: Dancing at Gusto Nightclub
Gusto Nightclub is the best place to end up on the island. By 11pm, throngs of partiers file into Gusto to enjoy electronic and hip hop music and to watch the bartenders perform like they are in the classic Tom Cruise movie Cocktail.
Gusto is known for dancing on the bar, and sure enough, within an hour, there were several groups of dancers enjoying themselves, urged on by the staff.
Gusto is open until 1am on the weekdays and 3am on Fridays and Saturdays.
If you are still in the mood to party after Gusto closes, the Mill is a great option and offers super late-night parties every night except Friday.
At the end of my Friday night out on Palm Beach in Aruba, I was ready for a good night's sleep before heading to Moomba Beach the next morning, and I even dreamed about enjoying breakfast smoothies the next day at Eduardo's Beach Snack. YUM!
For more of my articles on Aruba and other travel destinations, check out the Travel and Current events section here on the Social Musings by Austin website.
Hope you are having a Happy New Year!
While I was in Aruba in November and December, I wrote a brand new original fiction story called "Trey's Tale."
The story is about a disgruntled delivery robot who embarks on a search for happiness with a group of unlikely friends in this feel-good tale about life, work and redemption.
You can read it on the Social Musings website here.
I also did an audio-book performance of "Trey's Tale" on Apple Podcasts; you can listen to the 40-minute podcast episode here.