Marriott Surf and Marriott Beach clubs are the furthest north headed toward the lighthouse. Hotels own their own beaches, so unless you want the hotel crowds on the beach go just a little north and there are about 3-4 little public beaches the locals use that are nice and quiet. And the snorkeling is better. Sunset Palm Beach, Sol y Playa Beach, Baby Beach are all local beaches.
Most good restaurants are a short cab ride away. My favorites: Madam Janette, Chalet Suisse, Aqua Grill, El Gaucho (downtown), Sole Mare. Great food, but Aruba is no longer an inexpensive trip. Most of our friends are going to Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Mexican Riviera now while the prices are still good.
The last time we went to Aruba was 2009 and we rented a private villa up near the lighthouse for $7500. 5 couples went, it was a 6 bedroom place and came with a housekeeper and chef, had its own pool and beach. The plane ticket and $1500 for the week was cheaper than our timeshare at the Marriott ever was.
By the way- try going middle of the week to middle of the week instead of traveling on the weekend. The customs lines at Aruba's airport suck huge balls
Thanks for all the good info. I'll most definitely be traveling midweek to midweek because I usually do to avoid crowds plus get cheaper airfare but I've also heard how busy the aruba airport gets on the weekends