Culinary Styles

Photo credit: © Garuti |

Long days spent exploring the local shops and museums or soaking up the gorgeous Caribbean surf and sun are bound to give vacationers a formidable appetite. Luckily, Aruba has plenty of options to suit every palate. In fact, Aruba's culinary styles reflect the rich cultural heritage of the area while still managing to incorporate many pleasant yet unexpected international flavors.

Most travelers will be eager to sample the island's local fare. Seafood is a staple, and local fishermen provide a great variety of regional fish including red snapper, dolphin fish (also known as mahi mahi), and grouper. Additionally, shark is a popular regional treat featured on many menus.


Locals enjoy "keshi yena," a soupy brew that combines Gouda cheese, spices, and meat or seafood in a thick brown sauce. This dish is sometimes served with "funchi," a cornmeal pancake, or "pan bati," a corn pudding formed into pies. "Soppi di pisca," a very popular soup, is actually fish chowder flavored with coconut and also, occasionally, meat. For travelers who enjoy seafood, there are several unique ways restaurants have it prepared. "Keri keri" is a dish of shredded barracuda infused with the South American spice annato. Or, simply order your preferred fish "Aruban style," which will arrive pan fried in a Creole sauce or in garlic butter.

Arubans are also known for preparing hearty meals with simple flavors.  Many of the island's specialties will be recognizable to most travelers, though the names are quite different:

  • Bitterballen: Snack-sized meatballs.
  • Fredekel: Seafood meatballs.
  • Friet: French fries.
  • Kroket: Sausages.
  • Nasibal: Rice balls.
  • Pastechi: Empanadas.
  • Raspao: Shaved ice.
  • Roti: Tortilla wraps.
  • Sate: Meat kabobs.
  • Tosti: Grilled cheese sandwich, with additives such as pineapple, ham, and pepperoni.

Not to be outdone, the drinks available on Aruba are also unique and flavorful. Aruba takes a unique approad to water filtration.  At the Tropical Bottling Company, water is filtered through coral rock, which promotes a fresh, clean flavoring.  This is a source of pride for locals, and they refer to the water as a Balashi Cocktail.  The Balashi National Brewery uses this same technique in the creation of some of the island's most popular drinks, such as Balashi Beer and its non-alcoholic counter-part Balashi Malta.  Palmera Quality Products is another company in Aruba that produces beverages such as Palmera Rum, whiskey, gin, vodka, and flavored liqueurs. 

...wide range of foods offered...


Caribbean soft drinks are widely available, including most Desnoes and Geddes flavors such as kola champagne and ginger beer. Mixed drinks are also popular, particularly the island's famous rum punch which is comprised of several types of rum mixed with orange and pineapple juices, sweet and sour mix, and grenadine.

Vacationers are usually pleasantly surprised by the wide range of foods offered throughout the region because the multicultural influences ensure that everyone is able to find something they like. Sampling Aruba's many culinary styles is the perfect way to end fun-filled days spent exploring the island.


Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.