Aruba City Guide
Aruba is a gorgeous resort island that extends over 19 miles (30 km) in the South Caribbean Sea. Aruba, together, with Bonaire and Curaçao forms a group referred to as the ABC islands of the Leeward Antilles, the southern island chain of the Lesser Antilles. This chain is situated a mere 14 miles (25 km) north of Venezuela and is the smallest and western most island of the Dutch Antilles.
The origins of Aruba can be traced to the Spanish colonizers, who claimed the island for Spain in 1499; though the island was taken over by the Dutch in 1636. Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986 and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Aruba, today, has no administrative subdivisions and forms one of the four constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten. The citizens of Aruba like those of these territories hold Dutch nationality.
Aruba with its miles of golden sand beaches, pristine azure seas and year round sunny weather is a favored vacation spot of cruise ship passengers, honeymooners and sun worshippers. It is estimated that more than a millions flock to Aruba for vacations every year to stay at its many luxury hotels and resorts.
Where to stay in Aruba
Most vacationers to Aruba tend to base themselves in the mega resorts and opulent luxury hotels located in the island’s capital, Oranjestad or at one of the many diverse resort complexes that populates the island’s beach front areas known as the High Rise area.
Recent estimates indicate that Aruba offers more than 8500 hotel rooms at its wide array of accommodation options that range from luxury hotels equipped with casinos to boutique, spa hotels, discount hotels and budget accommodation.
Besides these hotels and resorts, the island doesn’t offer much else as it is covered by cacti and divi-divi trees. Aruba, in fact, is quite arid and dry, though for water sports lovers it offers a huge array of recreational activities like diving, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, windsurfing, beach combing and more. Trips to Aruba are, therefore, ideal for sea sports lovers.
Places to see in Aruba
Arikok National Park
Arikok National Park makes up 18 percent of the island and is a nature preserve located in the center of the island around Mt Arikok. This national park showcases the history, topography and native flora and fauna of Aruba as it features ancient Arawak murals and drawings along with rock formations, native trees and plants like the divi-divi, the kwihi trees and various species of exotic cacti. You can try this park during Aruba vacations if flora and fauna interest you.
Also located within the national park are two of Aruba’s tallest hills namely the Jamanota hill, which rises to a height of188 meters (617 ft) and the Arikok hill, which rises to 176 meters (577 ft).
If you enjoy museums and sight-seeing then Aruba’s many museums are sure to strike a chord with you. The island offers diverse museums that offer a valuable insight into the history of the island. Do visit them during your vacations to Aruba for exploring the various artifacts and bite into the a little bit of history.
Aruba Historical Museum
Aruba’s Historical Museum is housed in the oldest building in Aruba; Fort Zoutman and Willem 111 Tower at Oranjestad.
Its permanent collection features artifacts and objects that range from the island’s earliest times through its Spanish and Dutch colonial periods to current times. Any trip to Aruba is incomplete without a visit to this museum.
Other museums worth visiting in Aruba are Numismatic Museum, which offers a collection of 30,000 historic coins from Aruba and round the world; and Archaeological Museum, which is equipped with five rooms filled with ancient artifacts, pottery tools and art.
This lighthouse is named after a vessel called "California” which ran aground off Aruba on a voyage from England to Venezuela in September 1891. The lighthouse was built and completed after this incident in 1914. The California lighthouse is perched on a seaside elevation and is today one of Aruba’s most scenic landmarks offering glorious views of the island’s western coastline of sandy beaches.
Alto Vista chapel
This chapel is a replica of the original chapel, which was destroyed by a German submarine attack during World War II. The area around the chapel was settled by the Catholic community of Aruba in the early 1700s as it sought to escape from the persecution faced in the other parts of the island. The original Alto Vista Chapel was built in 1750. This replica structure was constructed in 1952 and is today a tourist attraction and the focal point of an annual pilgrimage.
The Protestant Church is the oldest house of worship in Oranjestad. This church was constructed in 1948 and hosts a square tower that rises elegantly above the building’s terra cotta tile roof. It is adorned with stars, hearts and wooden shutters resembling a building in the Pennsylvania Dutch country side. The church offers regular services, which are open to the public along with an added attraction of a bible museum.
The Antilla is an immensely popular dive site in Aruba. This ship wreck site is located 200 yards from the shore and is yet another WWII relic. It belonged to the German Navy and was docked at North Point towards the end of the war. However, the captain of the ship didn’t want to surrender to the allies so he opened the sea cocks and flooded the boiler room, which then caused the ship to explode and kill everyone onboard. All that remains today is the shipwreck of the Antilla.
The Aruba Aloe Balm Museum
The Aruba Aloe Balm Museum commemorates the 160 year history of the island’s most famous plant. The exhibits at this museum highlight the holistic properties of the plant, which grow in abundance on the island. The museum’s gift shop also offers aloe-based body, sun and hair care products for sale.
Best time to visit Aruba
‘The sun always shines in Aruba’ is a tag line that is very appropriate for Aruba since this beautiful island experiences year round warm and sunny days, which are usually characterized with average daytime temperatures of 82° Fahrenheit (27° Celsius).
Aruba hardly receives any rainfall as it lies outside the hurricane belt and is perennially blessed by the cooling effects of the trade winds. All of this renders Aruba vacations an ideal, year round activity. However, it must be mentioned that the peak tourist season in Aruba generally extend between December to April. During this time, rates for hotel rooms go higher.
However, you can still save money and get access to attractive hotel deals if you choose to do flight and hotel booking via our services at Fare Buzz. You can be sure to get the best flight and hotel deals for Aruba at all times.
Getting around in Aruba
Being an island, Aruba offers thrilling cruises as an option to get there. However if time is of essence and you would rather play around the sand than float in waters, it is best you explore the various cheap flight deals on Fare Buzz.
The fun starts the moment you land there. Aruba is equipped with an inexpensive and reliable, daily bus service, which provides transport links between the main hotel areas and other inhabited parts of the island.
The public transport system of Aruba also includes taxis; however taxi fares in Aruba, unlike in other resorts, are determined on a distance basis and not by meters. These rates are set by the Aruba department of Public Traffic and usually include surcharges for public holiday and after midnight travel as well as for luggage.
If you rather not use these public taxis then car rentals are always an option and we at Fare Buzz offer a slew of car rental deals for Aruba as well.
Where to shop in Aruba
Unlike its Caribbean neighbors, Aruba is not truly a duty free port though it offers duty free outlets at its airport. However the island’s many malls and shopping centers are known for their attractive prices, which are nearly 25-35% less than elsewhere.
Aruba’s most popular shopping malls include shopping centers like the Palm Beach Plaza, which is populated with many small boutiques that sell many high fashion products. The Palm Beach Plaza also has an amphitheater that hosts many performances and concerts and provides much entertainment for shoppers and browsers alike.
Other popular shopping joints in Aruba include the Paseo Herencia (upscale shopping and dining at Palm Beach), The Village Mall (souvenirs and local goods at Palm Beach), The Royal Plaza Mall ( popular retail brands, downtown Oranjestad) and the Renaissance Marketplace (a wide range of retail outlets that sell clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, designer sunglasses, gifts and linens along with many dining and entertainment options including a theater and a night club, downtown Oranjestad).
Where to eat in Aruba
The beach side resort town of Aruba offers a decent selection of diverse restaurants; though its dining landscape is somewhat dominated by seafood and Caribbean cuisine restaurants, which are known for their mouth watering preparations that feature ‘the fresh catch of the day.’ Do try them during Aruba vacations to set your taste buds on a highway.
Some of the highly regarded restaurants in Aruba according to recent surveys currently include eateries like the Papillon Restaurant (French cuisine), Windows on Aruba and L.G. Smith’s Steak and Chop House(Steak), Chalet Suisse (Swiss food) Passions on the Beach, Marandi, Mathew’s Beachside restaurant, Yemanja Wood Fired Grill and the Flying Fishbone (all Seafood restaurants that mainly serve Caribbean cuisine).
Nightlife in Aruba
Aruba offers a wide variety of nightlife options that include bars, dance clubs, hotel bars and lounges, happy hour cruises, live shows and entertainment and casinos. The nightlife in Aruba is centered on its two main areas namely the downtown Oranjestad area and the Palm Beach (High Rise area, which is known for its many big, opulent hotels.
Popular nightlife options on the island include establishments like Senor Frogs (a raucous bar popular with young revelers), Bugaloe Beach Bar, Café the Pijp, the Soprano’s Piano Bar and The Tattoo Party Boat which offers a sunset Caribbean party cruise every evening.
The island’s many casinos like the Alhambra Casino, the Casablanca Casino, the Crystal Casino and the Excelsior Casino have their fair share of fansl; who enjoy gaming the night away at their many tables and machines.