Top 13 Things to Eat in Aruba

The Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba is a popular cruise destination, offering tropical beaches, pristine waters, and exciting adventures. What goes best with sun, sand and sea? Eating, of course! A multi-cultural blend of delectable flavors, Aruba cuisine takes influence from Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, South American and Caribbean dishes. So, on your next cruise to the Caribbean, tell your taste buds to get ready for a serious onslaught of tasty sensations.

1. Keshi Yena

Dutch-influenced food is often heavily centered on cheese, and that’s basically what keshi yena stands for. If that’s making your mouth water already, wait until you bite into one of these cheese balls, stuffed with spicy meat and coated in Gouda or Edam cheese. Best of all, you’ll find different variations to try; stuffed with prunes, raisins, cashews, and more. So, if you need one, you’ll have an excuse to sample them all.

2. Fried Plantain

Fried plantain is a popular food in Aruba, mainly served as a side to an array of dishes. A rich sweetness enhances a salty harvest from the ocean, so it’s the perfect accompaniment to seafood feasts. It’s so tasty, though, that you can order it as a main dish to thoroughly enjoy the crispy, caramelized flavor.

plate of fried plantains

3. Cabrito Stoba

When you’re really hungry, you can’t go wrong with local favorite, cabrito stoba. It’s an Aruban goat stew in a tomato-based gravy, served with hearty potatoes, onions, garlic, hot pepper, nutmeg, and sometimes a hint of curry. If you don’t like goat, there’s a beef stew called carni stoba, which is a great alternative.

4. Sopi Mondongo

If you feel like you need a bit of a health kick after enjoying the cocktails on deck last night, order a bowl of sopi mondongo. It’s a traditional tripe or bone marrow soup known for its nourishing qualities, served with bell peppers, potatoes, West Indian pumpkin, celery, and more for a serious nutrient boost.

blue bowl of sopi mondongo made of tripe from aruba

5. Cala

When you’re shopping for souvenirs, there’s nothing better than a tasty snack to keep you going. Cala is basically a snack made of black-eyed peas, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they don’t pack a flavorsome punch. They’re fried with batter and the result is a crispy, golden ball that’s the perfect bite-size to pop in your mouth.

6. Bolita di Keshi

When you’re on a cruise with the kids, you might be wondering what to eat in Aruba, especially if the little ones are fussy. However, you’ll see local children munching on delicious fried cheese balls, called bolita di keshi, so you don’t have to worry about finding a delicious snack that’s perfect for children after you’re off the ship!

plenty of bolitas di keshi on a plate

7. Cool Island Soup

On a hot day, what could be better than the flavors of lime juice, apricot nectar, cantaloupe, papaya and pineapple? Mixed with sparkling water or even a splash of sparkling wine, cool island soup is readily available across the island to cool you down in the tropical heat.

8. Funchi

Funchi, a simple cornmeal staple, is very similar to polenta. It’s served as a side dish to most meals throughout Aruba. However, it often comes with a delectable twist: it’s fried and topped with rich, melted cheese or slathered in creamy butter.

slices of funchi, cornmeal mesh, from aruba

9. Pan Bati

Another side dish you simply must try is pan bati. It’s a slightly sweet, fluffy flatbread that resembles a pancake. Locals eat it with savory dishes like soups and stews, or on its own, as it simply melts in your mouth.

10. Bolo Borracho

For dessert in Aruba, get ready for your first taste of “tipsy rum cake.” Bolo borracho is a decadent cake made with splashes of white rum, then sprinkled with rum again once it’s cooked. As if that’s not delicious enough, it’s coated in whipped cream, sprinkles and maraschino cherries.

bolo borracho, rum cake, on a white plate

11. Cocada

For those with a sweet tooth, you’re never far from satisfaction in Aruba. Cocada is a coconut candy you can buy everywhere and pop in your bag for late-night sugar cravings. Traditionally served on coconut shells, they’re made with fresh, grated coconut, brown sugar and lime juice .

12. Kesio

Fans of creme caramel or flan will love Aruba’s version, called kesio. The sweet, gooey sauce and moist cake is served in bakeries and restaurants as the perfect finish to an island feast.

kesio, aruba version of flan

13. Papaya Hot Sauce

Finally, papaya hot sauce is a tangy dance of flavors you’re likely to find accompanying most food in Aruba. Try it with an array of dishes, including meat and seafood. Best of all, it’s the perfect size to take a bottle back on board your Carnival cruise, so you can treat your friends at home to a spicy taste of the Caribbean.