Going Local In Aruba: Balashi & Bugaloe

Joanna has been mentioned in various Traveling for Miles blog posts and has written for this blog under its previous name. She will be guest-writing from time to time for Traveling for Miles. Thanks, Joanna!

I have always been encouraged to ‘Go local’. Having grown up in England in the ‘70s and’80s, I remember my parents growing their own vegetables and, more importantly, brewing their own beer. Bath time was often preceded by vats and tubing being removed from the bathtub to make space for me, and I recall evenings where their friends were invited round to sample the latest experimental brew. My graduation from university was celebrated with a party at my family home, hosted by my parents, and featured the specially made ‘Manchester Moonshine’.

This has clearly stuck with me, insomuch that when I’m on vacation and choosing a drink at a beach bar, I automatically go for the local beer. Banks’ in Barbados, Bikini Blonde in Hawaii and, without hestitation, Balashi in Aruba. Admittedly, anything chilled and in a bottle tastes good when it’s 88 degrees, you’ve just spent the afternoon on the beach and you’re singing along to the music in the bar. Anything other than perhaps the Bud Light that Ziggy insists on drinking and which is, I’m fairly convinced, a cry for help.

Balashi Aruba

And as for that bar?

Palm Beach, where you find the high-rise hotels, including the Marriott, has many bars. The majority of these are extensions of the hotels, edging their way onto the beach, or providing refreshment for guests in the pools. Ziggy has the dispensation of a caged tiger if he doesn’t get to stride around frequently, finding lying on a sun-lounger almost torturous for more than an hour at a time, so we do get to explore places fairly extensively. I’m easily persuaded to have a walk along the beach, cooling off in the water as we go, in the knowledge that an invitation to a smoothie or cocktail is part of the deal. The very casual juice bar on the beach at the Hyatt is good, as is their more upscale bar just beyond the lobby when you’re entering from the street side. And by ‘upscale’ I mean that you’ll need to put something on over your bikini. Aruba is not a place for heels, make up or a blow-dry; it’s sandy, hot and windy. My feet feel overdressed in flip flops and I have to resign myself to my hair giving me the middle finger and reverting to its natural curly state, much to Ziggy’s amusement.

palm beach arubaPalm Beach – Aruba

The bar which is my personal favorite on Aruba is Bugaloe – a low key, all ages welcome, come as you are, friendly bar on a pier over the ocean, with spectacular views of the sunset and really good music. During Happy Hour, the seriously talented bar and wait staff provide the singing, doing duets and solos of all sorts of hits. It’s not cringeworthy karaoke, it’s proper entertainment. The ceviche appetizer has become my private addiction and it’s a prime spot for people watching, particularly those disembarking the Palm Pleasure or Mi Dushi catamarans onto the pier after an afternoon snorkel trip.

Sunset From Bugaloe Palm Beach ArubaSunset from Bugaloe Beach Bar – Palm Beach, Aruba

Here’s the deal: I’ll let you know that to get there you come out of Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club, face the ocean, walk left along the beach. At the end of the third pier you get to, you’ll find Bugaloe. All you have to do is promise to order Balashi.