Aruba is a 32km long island in the Caribbean sea with a pleasant tropical marine climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape and renowned for it's white sandy beaches. It's located about 27km north of the Paraguaná peninsula (Venezuela) and lies outside the hurricane belt. Aruba is an autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Good to know
Aruba has a population of about a 100.000 people. The two official languages on Aruba are Dutch and Papiamento (a Creole language based on Portuguese with influences from Spanish, Dutch, English and African). Yet English is widely spoken on the island. The official currency is the Aruban Guilder although the US Dollar will be accepted nearly everywhere. ATM machines are widely available in shopping areas, hotels, casinos and petrol stations. Electrical appliances run on 127V/60Hz and the Japanese-style plug with two parallel flat blades is seen most. With 82% Roman Catholic is the main religion on the island although most other main religions are also represented. Most casinos required a jacket for male visitors and some shops pursue a 'no shirt, no shoes, no service' policy. From January 2007, US citizens will need a valid passport to travel to various parts of the Caribbean. For more information visit the Department of State website.
There is a frequent bus service between Malmok in the northwest and San Nicolas in the southeast that runs by Oranjestad and the Reina Beatrix International airport. Taxis are un metered but rates are regulated by the government. Rates are calculated using a zone system and all taxis are required to carry a rate card. Like everywhere in the world, the taxis can be found near tourist spots. But if you are a licensed driver in your own country and are at least 21 years old it might not be a bad idea to rent your own vehicle (motorcycle, car, van, 4x4, quad) from a local or international rental car agency. This way you are free to do some more exploration and independent of bus schedules.
Most beaches on Aruba are located on the western and southern coasts. These coasts are relatively sheltered from fierce ocean currents. Some of our beaches: Playa Hadikurari which is located south of the lighthouse on the north-western coast and popular with snorkelers. Palm Beach which is located in front of the luxurious low-rise hotels is renowned for it's calm waters. Eagle Beach is a public beach and popular with the locals. Under the shadow of the trees you will find picnic tables and there is plenty of parking available. Check out the Eagle Beach webcam. Rodgers Beach is located more to the southwest and is suitable for the more advanced surfers. It offers lots of shade and beach showers. Last but not least, Baby Beach which was named Baby Beach due to it's calm and shallow waters. Great for children and less experienced swimmers.
The western and southern coasts are in contrast to the northern and eastern coasts which are more battered by the sea and largely left untouched by humans. Although these coasts are not very suitable for swimming they are popular with surfers and boogie boarders. You can often find them surfing the waves of Waricuri, Andicuri and Dos Playa on the north coast. Also Boca Grandi offers some nice waves.
Although most tourists visit Aruba to enjoy the sunny weather and white sandy beaches the island has lots more to offer. If you don't want to spent your whole holiday on the beach you might want to check out some of the following places of interest. Oranjestad is the bright, breezy, pastel-coloured capital of Aruba. It was built around Fort Zoutman which still is one of Oranjestad's attractions. Other attractions of the town are the tax-free harbour area where large cruise ships from all around the world anchor, the Numismatic Museum and the Archaeological Museum.
The first Roman Catholic chapel was build by the indigenous Arawak in 1750. It was build with branches on a stone base and unfortunately did not withstand the test of time. In remembrance of this church the Alto Vista Chapel was build in 1952 in exactly the same spot.
Arikok National Park covers about 18% of the island and is located around Arikok mountain in the middle of the island. The park houses a diversity of local species of trees, plants and animals like the divi-divi and kwihi trees, exotic cacti, aloe plants, tropical birds and iguanas.
The seawater desalinization plant on the island, the second largest in the world, flows water into two artificial lakes named the small and big Bubali bird lakes hereby creating an oasis for local and migrating birds. The area became a Bird Sanctuary and is popular with bird watchers.
The Butterfly Farm is a great experience for people of all ages. Here you can see the various life cycles of a diversity of exotic butterfly species.
The California Lighthouse located on the most northern point of Aruba was named after a cargo ship that shipwrecked not far from shore. It offers great photo opportunities and there's a restaurant nearby for those who are hungry.
Pirate stories and legends of lost treasures are well known on the island. The grottos on the south-eastern coast are part of these legends. The two chambers of the Guadirikiri Grotto are illuminated by the occasional beam of sunlight and houses hundreds of bats. The Fountain Grotto is the most popular grotto due to the fact that it houses the only original drawings by the Arawak Indians, the indigenous people of Aruba.
The Natural Bridge, which was one of Aruba's most unique attractions, unfortunately collapsed in 2005. It rose 7.6m above sea level and was one of the largest coral structures in the Caribbean. Although the large Natural Bridge collapsed Aruba still has 7 other natural bridges to offer.
For those who enjoy a more active holiday Aruba also is a great destination. Especially when it comes to water sports! Because there almost never is a lack of wind Aruba is a popular spot for wind- and kite surfers. But as mentioned before also wave surfing and boogie boarding are fun activities on the island. Surfshops- and schools are located on various beaches, some of which also rent out equipment. Other activities you might enjoy above water include jet skiing or wave running, parasailing, taking a ride with a banana boat or a tour on one of the many sailing boats.
Under the surface of the water the beauty of Aruba continues. And there are various ways to explore the underwater flora- and fauna. The least elaborate way is snorkeling. Because the coral and wildlife can be found close to shore on Aruba snorkeling is a good way to explore the under water life. If you feel more adventurous scuba diving probably is a good option. Dive and snorkel equipment can be rented from various dive shops and schools which also offer dive courses. Do you want to explore the underwater life but don't feel like getting wet? Well then maybe a semi submarine or submarine tour might be your thing!
If you have seen enough water after this there are some other great activities that Aruba has to offer. How about a 4x4 or quad bike adventure? Or teeing off on the beautiful 18-hole championship golf course?