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Aruba Beach Police Assert Public Access: Palapas and Beaches Free for All

Aruba Beach Police Assert Public Access: Palapas and Beaches Free for All

For years, the issue of beachfront palapas and their perceived exclusivity has been a topic of debate in Aruba. Recently, two vigilant beach police officers stepped in to clarify a long-standing misconception among hotels. The belief that constructing palapas on the beach in front of their property grants exclusive rights to these amenities is a notion that has persisted for years. However, recent events signal a change in this longstanding practice.

Historically, hotels have operated on the assumption that if they invest in building palapas on the beach, it automatically translates to exclusive usage rights. Despite the recognition that beaches are public spaces, tourists from other hotels and locals have often been restricted from utilizing these palapas and beach chairs. The paradigm shift occurred this year, signaling a move towards more inclusive beach access.

The catalyst for this change came when a tourist couple, frequent visitors to Aruba, decided to occupy a palapa in front of the Costa Linda Beach Resort on Eagle Beach. Two security personnel confronted them, arguing that while the beach itself is public, the palapa and chairs are not.

The man, well-versed in the matter, promptly sought assistance from the Beach Police, meeting Chief of Service, Raquel Ras. The police sub-inspector swiftly dispatched two officers to address the situation on-site and provide clarity on the matter.

The officers corrected the Costa Linda Beach Resort staff, emphasizing that the hotel’s construction of palapas doesn’t confer ownership of the land or the beach chairs. The officers stressed that investing in palapas carries a risk, as the land remains public, adhering to the principle of “first come, first serve.”

While hotels can rent out chairs under the palapas, individuals—be they locals or tourists—with their own chairs can freely occupy unclaimed spaces. However, claiming a chair already in use by someone else is not permissible.

This emerging practice reflects a shift from the notion that palapas belong exclusively to hotels, emphasizing the principle of fairness and equal access. Notably, the Beach Police have become instrumental in ensuring the enforcement of these new guidelines.

The tourist couple, pleased with the Beach Police intervention, shared their positive experience. They advocate for clarity regarding the ownership of palapas and chairs on beaches. In a gesture of support, they even posted the work cards of the involved police officers, encouraging other tourists to contact them if faced with security issues at hotels. This development marks a positive step towards fostering a more inclusive and fair beach experience for all in Aruba.

Straw umbrella on Eagle Beach, Aruba on a lovely summer day

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14 Responses

  1. This is wonderful news. Thank you for sharing this information. I’ve stayed at different resorts and they really try and enforce that they own the palapa’s.

    1. its really not wonderful news……….why give tourists who are considering vacationing in Aruba a reason to look elsewhere. Tourists can vacation anywhere, why would any tourist come to Aruba and stay at a hotel than cannot guarantee a hut on the beach in front of their hotel.

      1. Tourists who aren’t comfortable with a palapa being guaranteed are free to go elsewhere in the same way tourists who are comfortable taking the risk are free to come. We wont shed a tear if you vacation elsewhere.

  2. How do hotels have the rights to regulate the time limit for leaving palapas? I stay weekly at a resort on Eagle Beach and if you leave for 1 1/2, they take your items away and let someone else have it.

  3. I understand and respect the “beaches are public property” stance, However, it does not seem fair that the co-op owners such as those at Costa Linda since that is the resort mentioned in the article, are the ones who foot the bill for the construction and upkeep of the palapas on the beach in front of their property by way of their annual maintenance fees. Costa Linda specifically, just last year, built 16 more palapas to allow for enough to accommodate 1 for every room at the resort (combined with the ones at the pool). How does it seem fair that just anyone can utilize a palapa that was paid for by the co-op owners of the resort? As the Aruban government keeps approving more and more construction of hotels and condos, why are they not constructing more “designated public palapas” on the beaches that are not maintained by an individual resort? Or mandate the developers do so as a stipulation to building? When there is storm damage, the gov’t workers are not out cleaning up seaweed and debris from the beaches, the resort staff is! Just seems that there could be a more equitable way for the government to work this out with the individual resorts that build and maintain palapas for their guests to utilize. Also seems like a waste of law enforcement resources for the repeated calls that are going to be made on a daily basis!

    1. It’s very clear palapas always have been public everybody knew it finally it get enforced! Thanks god those discussions will disappear !

    2. It’s a common sense if you build something on land (beach) that does not belong to you, you don’t own it , if you build palapas inside hotel land you can enforce it, but you can’t enforce it on public beach since you don’t own it.
      As government said if you build on their land is your risk…

  4. I’ve been traveling to Aruba for 30 years. Most of that time, I’ve viewed this issue through the lense of timeshare owner at the Marriott. Now I am a property owner in Aruba, and have a better understanding of how the laws and rules have been manipulated by the resorts. Look at it this way; If you were to build a house in the middle of Central Park’s Great Lawn, it would not make that house your property, since you have no right to that land. The same hold true for the beaches in Aruba. They do not belong to the hotels, resorts, timeshares or anyone else. The beaches are public property. The government is liberal enough to have let these entities construct palapas on the public beaches and in many cases, also allow them to store their stacks of lounge chairs overnight. That does not mean that the palapas cannot or should not be used by whomever would like to use them. That was the risk that was taken when they were constructed. This enforcement is long past due for the residents and guests of Aruba!

  5. This is a bit confusing – so we are a timeshare owner at Marriott and we also own a condo in Azure. So if I go to the Marriott and put my chairs under a palapa with a number that Marriott has already assigned to a guest – I won’t get kicked out?

    1. Not if you use your own share and you got there first it clearly says you cannot displace someone who was there before you.

  6. It was my understanding that the Aruba government charged a tax for the Palapas and the chairs on the beach. If so, how can you still make it public while charging the resort. The construction and maintenance is also specific to the resort and doesn’t seem fair to make it available when the expense is being paid by the resort.
    Additionally, I have been going to Aruba for 20 years and the current government is changing the island considerably and moving to Cancun population and over building. Way too many new hotels and resorts are being built with no additional improvement to infrastructure. Waste, sewer and Water are serious concerns the government needs to address. Please don’t ruin this island

  7. Just as the article states, the resorts and timeshares should be aware that constructing palapas carries a risk. Of course they do want to have happy guests and timeshare owners. They are on vacation and just want to be sure they will have shade when they go to the beach. Time will tell but I don’t think there will be huge influxes of people who not staying at a given resort to use them. But as a property owner (not a time share) in Aruba who’s pays Aruban taxes I feel I should be able to use a palapa that no one is using. I don’t think the hotels should be able to put their loungers out bright and early every morning and call them “reserved”. So it’s time for a new system to be worked out within the resorts who are doing this.

  8. I don’t think this will sit well with many. Including myself. The number one dynamic of Arubas guest are older people who love the quiet, beautiful beach and it’s us who keeps Arubas economy thriving. What’s going to happen is the locals will put there stuff in a palapa at 5 am and it’s there’s for the day. I know that when I walk to the beach with my coffee at 6:30 most of the Palapas will be taken. Guaranteed! I’m sure many of the locals have a harbored resentment towards the guest because they’ve been serving them for years. This is one big way for them to get some gratification. The resorts should split in and build a lot more palapas at a beach that locals can call there’s I see the word Liberal a lot in other comments well liberal policies don’t work anywhere. Look what’s happening in America with 10 million ILLEGALS crossing the border. Liberalism destroys everything in its path

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