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A popular cruise ship stop-off, Aruba’s brightly colored capital is filled with modern shops, upscale restaurants and colonial-era buildings.
Oranjestad is a small and cheery capital with candy-colored Dutch architecture. Every day, large cruise ships pull into its port and hundreds of passengers flood its street. Oranjestad has plenty of tourist-oriented offerings to keep visitors entertained. Splurge in the malls and diverse shops, stroll the sunny waterfront boulevard and explore its past at interesting museums.
Prior to the arrival of European explorers, Oranjestad was just a small fishing outpost used by the Arawak Indians. Spanish explorers arrived in the late 15th century and it was later colonized by the Dutch in the mid-17th century. With the exception of a brief British interlude, it has remained under Dutch control to this day.
Delve into the past at Fort Zoutman, the oldest building on the island. This defensive fortress was built in 1798 and was designed to protect the city from pirates. Be sure to see the Willem III Tower, once a lighthouse, and the Historical Museum, which houses a permanent exhibit tracing the history of the island. For a look at the island’s pre-colonial history, stop by the National Archaeological Museum of Aruba.
Take a walk down the waterfront L.G. Smith Boulevard, where shops, restaurants and busy marinas dominate the scene. Just a few blocks inland, Main Street offers more shopping opportunities, with everything from independent boutiques to internationally recognized luxury brands. For a shopping experience with more local flavor, go to the Flea Market near the harbor, where locals barter at open-air kiosks selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to fish.
Recharge at the Queen Wilhelmina Park, where manicured lawns look out over fishing boats bobbing in the water. Nearby beaches, including Druif Beach and Manchebo Beach are good for sunbathing and swimming. Wait until evening to check out the elegant Town Hall, also known as Stadhuis, which is lit up after dark.
If you are traveling from the west coast, plan on leaving as early as 7 a.m., or take a red-eye flight to Miami, Atlanta, or New York and connect from there. Coming from New York, you can expect to travel approximately five hours, from Atlanta or Miami it can be approximately three hours and as long as eight hours from Seattle. In any case, plan on leaving early or on a red-eye flight from the West Coast.
- 2.5 hours from Miami
- 3.5 hours from Atlanta
- 4.5 hours from New York City
Fifteen miles off the Venezuelan coast, Aruba draws visitors year-round thanks to its consistently sunny weather, low humidity, and constant tradewinds that sculpt its divi-divi trees. Colorful marine life and coral reefs mesmerize divers while jewelry stores in Oranjestad, the capital, have the same effect on shoppers. After dark, the action shifts to the lively nightclub scene and hotel casinos, with their Vegas-style shows.
Things to do
- Diving: There are 42 major dive sites around the island, showcasing shipwrecks and coral formations.
- Windsurfing: Constant trade winds make Aruba one the world’s best locations.
- Hiking/nature trails: More than 20% of the island is a national park.
We can arrange convenient and comfortable transfers at the time of booking. You will be met at the airport and taken to your hotel via taxi or shared transfer. In some locations, a private car transfer can be arranged to avoid the stops. We can also arrange friendly and fast car-rental service on many of the Caribbean Islands; with an availability of the most popular car rentals, from convertibles to minivans to four-wheel-drive jeeps. Be prepared to drive on the left side of the road on many islands.
While traveling in Aruba we recommend:
- Private transfers at time of booking - Most private transfers include a meet-and-greet by English-speaking drivers, luggage assistance, and bottled water in modern vehicles.
- A valid passport is generally required for entry into the Caribbean and return to the United States.
- Some countries may also require you to present a return airline ticket.
- It is the traveler’s responsibility to obtain the proper documents.
- U.S. currency is accepted nearly everywhere you go in the Caribbean.
- Currency can be exchanged at banks and island hotels (although for slightly more than the standard exchange rate).
- Most major American and European credit cards are accepted throughout the islands.
- ATMs are widely available throughout the Caribbean.
- The islands that make up the Caribbean span several time zones.
- Most Caribbean islands lie in the Atlantic Standard Time zone, but a few are in the Eastern Time Zone.
- Many of the islands do not observe daylight savings time.