The Northern tip of Aruba from an airplane window. Thanks to Michelle for the photo!

The Northern tip of Aruba from an airplane window. Thanks to Michelle for the photo!

Located 15 miles from Venezuela, Aruba is a 19-mile-long speck of a Caribbean island. A popular tourist destination, Aruba’s beaches are dotted with tiki hut-esque umbrellas constructed of palms and straw.

They’re called palapas and everyone wants them.

The palapas are concentrated near hotels like the Marriott and the Radisson. But since the beaches are public property, these tiki huts can be used by everyone – from neighborhood kids to guests shelling out $200-plus per night.

This public access has caused a bit of a stir in the local hotel scene.

Gabriel, who runs the site ArubaBeaches.net, was inspired to write a post outlining “palapa rules and rights.”

Palapas like this dot Aruba's  beaches. Image care of TooFarNorth

Palapas like this one dot Aruba’s beaches. Image care of TooFarNorth

Here, he gave hotels a piece of his mind.

“You build the palapas illegally on public land,” he wrote. “Universal usage is permitted.”

“You do not own the palapas, nor the beach.”

At the Bucuti Beach Resort, currently the island’s highest-rated hotel on Tripadvisor, some staff members are assigned the difficult task of sitting in palapas to reserve them for guests’ use.

These hard-working individuals may be able to keep non-hotel-guests off the palapas, but not the beach itself.

Bucuti CEO Ewald K. Biemans warned visitors that “some youth” like to surf in the waters near the resort.

Because the beaches are public property there’s nothing Biemans can do about the surfers.

“We must welcome them as well,” he said.

Your turn. Are hotels right to reserve public beachfront for guests? Or should guests who don’t want to encounter “some youth” stick to the hotel pool?

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