Aruba’s Party Bus

Hop aboard the Kukoo Kunuku for a fun-filled night on the town


The Dutch island of Aruba, just off the Venezuelan coast, is known for a lot of things: an avid windsurfing crowd, a striking desert landscape, gorgeous beaches and a steady flow of mainlanders who come to unwind and celebrate. One of the best ways to do so is to join the Kukoo Kunuku tour company for their six-hour bus pub crawl. You’ll see more of the island, and get a little buzzed and a little rowdy with fellow fun-loving travelers.

It’s red and white and covered with graffiti. The moment the open-air Kukoo Kunuku party bus pulls up at your Aruba hotel for a 6 p.m. pickup, you know it’s going to be a good night. Climb aboard and the other guests cheer and shout. Before you find a seat, your evening’s host hands you maracas to shake things up and get you in the party spirit. With all revelers gathered, the bus stops first at a beach in the shadow of the iconic California Lighthouse. You’re poured a plastic cup or two of champagne to toast the sunset while meeting the other guests.

Then it’s on to dinner at Casibari Grill, located next to the massive boulder formations of the same name. Everyone is served a heaping plate of barbecue: ribs and a skewer of chicken and peppers, plus salad, rice and bread. If you have any interest in face painting, queue up before the watermelon dessert arrives. An artist from Britain provides the service when she’s in town; otherwise, her son takes over. The next decision should be an easy one. Yes, you want the souvenir water bottle, not for its Ronald McDonald color scheme, but because for six dollars, it saves money on drink specials all night at each bar that the group visits.

Note: The cocktails aren’t overly stiff. They’re strong enough that you taste the rum, but light enough that you won’t be hung-over the next morning, especially if you dance. Throughout the evening, the bus stops at three or four bars for an hour each. The line-up changes nightly, but typically includes neighborhood watering holes like U-Wanna Beer, Tumazu (which has billiards) and La Ronda Cafe. The tour host lives to rile up the crowd, getting you to dance on the bar, wear silly hats and whatever else she’s in the mood for. The bars themselves lean toward the plain side, but the fun is in meeting your fellow revelers, joking with the host and dancing.

Just before midnight, the group stops at one last bar—Mojitos—known for keeping its dance floor hopping. If the music isn’t enough to get you joining the Cupid Shuffle and Macarena, then the company will be. But perhaps the best part is simply riding on the bus. It’s when your mica-wielding host cracks jokes and even the driver seems free- spirited, wheeling ’round the roundabouts several times, making the night feel a little bit wild and full of possibilities.