During our visit to Aruba, our hosts from Aruba Tourism organized visits to a variety of restaurants; from the casual beachfront Big Mama’s at Baby Beach to the exquisite Elements at the privately-owned Bucuti Resort. There is an abundance of fresh fish and seafood; but the island cuisine is also famous for steak and beef from the nearby South American grass-fed herd of beef cattle. With 96 different nationalities making up the population, there are many styles of cuisine available.

I’m going to briefly describe the restaurants that we sampled during our long-weekend visit.

Our lunches

Big Mama’s is located right on Baby Beach near San Nicolas – a fine family destination. Big Mama’s consists of a raised platform structure without walls (except for the kitchen area), a thatched roof and a menu that includes fresh fish, burgers, salads, and a daily non-alcoholic punch. Full bar service, including the locally brewed Balashi Beer and soft drinks. Casual dress, bathing suits allowed and lots of good humour from the entire staff.

MooMba has the advantage of being located between the Beach Tennis centre and the azure-blue Caribbean waters of the MooMba beach, part of the highly popular Palm Beach resort area. Another thatched roof structure with tables and umbrellas directly on the sand beach, surrounding the main restaurant deck. Excellent pizza, burgers, shrimp platters, salads, and several fish dishes. Moderately priced. www.moombabeach.com

La Trattoria is a fine Italian restaurant located high above the sea adjacent to the California Light House. The views of the ocean and the Palm Beach resort area are terrific, but soon eclipsed by the outstanding cuisine if this fine restaurant. Once again, Aruba’s gentle climate is confirmed by the absence of walls in the main dining area. We had a terrific lunch, but I would suggest that a sunset dinner would be a wonderful experience as well. www.aruba-latrattoria.com

Our dinners


is a unique restaurant located directly on the water. It is a highly rated establishment, scoring 4.5 out of 5 on Trip Advisor and rated #7 of 83 restaurants in Aruba’s capitol of Oranjestad. Our experience confirmed these high ratings. The picturesque location directly on the water is unique. The cuisine is superb. As you can imagine – the specialty is fish and seafood – and there is a selection of five different preparations for each fish dish. One of group said that the Saffron soup was so good that she was going to lick the bowl! Try to leave room for desert; the Panna Cotta was as light as air. Marandi exceeded all expectations.

Driftwood is one of those restaurants that will give you a special story for your friends at home. Specializing in fish and seafood, the menu also includes steaks, rack of lamb and chicken. Located on a quiet street behind the discreet ‘Fernando’s Hideaway’ entry opens into a warm and bustling interior. I tried blackened shrimp with a Caribbean peach sauce that had just the right amount of ‘zing’ to make it interesting without dominating the flavor of the shrimp. Two of our group praised their selection of Wahoo. Generous starters and main courses did not leave room for desert. The restaurant has a cheerful ambiance and delicious food that brings locals and visitors back for repeat business. Fish are caught in the afternoon and served the same evening! Owner Herby charters his boat out for deep sea fishing. www.driftwoodaruba.com

Elements is the main restaurant for the boutique resort Bucuti, owned and operated by Ewald Biemans who fell in love with Aruba and emigrated from his native Austria. Located on the tony Eagle Beach, Mr. Biemans’ resort enjoys a 65% rate of repeat business. Part of the restaurant is located on a beachfront terrace. Another reminder of Aruba’s warm and dry climate. Special beach huts for two (used by penthouse guests by day) are available for a memorable candlelight dining experience. The surf and turf main course prepared for our group was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. We agreed that our hosts had saved the best restaurant for the last. The completely renovated Elements has already enjoyed favourable Trip Advisor reviews. Elements is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. www.bucuti.com

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