On two previous occasions I’ve written about palapas in Aruba and the issues surrounding these seemingly innocent “beach decorations”. Palapas are structures of wood covered with dried, woven palm leaves. It’s also known as grass-hut or tiki-hut. These things are popping out of the ground like mushrooms on Palm Beach, Eagle Beach and Druif Beach.
For some reason palapas create confusion among many, specifically about its ownership and usage. In this piece I’m going to lay out the rules and regulation, taking away all confusion hopefully. This is dedicated to resorts, condos, watersport companies, also for individual users, both local and tourist.
- Resorts/Condos: You build the palapas illegally on public land/beach, universal usage is permitted by locals and tourists (of other hotels) without charge, without limit. You do not own the palapas, nor the beach. If you don’t want others to use your beach chairs, don’t park them under the palapas.
- Watersport companies/beach chair rental companies: You didn’t build the palapas, you don’t own the palapas, universal usage is permitted by locals and tourist without charge, without limit. If you don’t want others to use your beach chairs, don’t park them under the palapas.
- Builders: Because there seems to be a lack of legislation about the construction of palapas, don’t think you own the beach nor the palapas. Aruban building code requires permits for any construction, no exception. If officials turned a blind eye to these activities in the past, this doesn’t give you any rights.
Please take note, that in the past there was little to no control; palapas weren’t seen as a problem. In fact palapas are nice and add to the tropical scene. However, the increase in tourism, followed by the construction of more palapas, this is becoming a major problem (see below picture).
In the old days, the view of the beach was phenomenal. People could actually see it. Now people see each other instead of the beach. Did you know that there are even reports of conflict and fighting between tourists and/or with hotel security?
Conclusion: the rights of the individual (local and tourist) will always prevail above any commercial interest.
Beach near Bucuti Beach Resort [image by Amigoe]
Update: Don’t you think below picture is much better? No palapas, but beach umbrellas instead. Much cleaner and less permanent.
Former Aruba tour guide, trying to provide value to Aruba travelers.