Aruba holidays

Experience Aruba

Best Places to Visit

The capital of Aruba, Oranjestad, is the perfect place to begin any holiday. As a city that is well developed for tourists, the capital offers water activities that range from swimming and snorkelling, to boating. Eagle Beach is a popular public beach which is close to Oranjestad and known for its low-rise resorts.

For a country of its size, Aruba is replete with historical and natural landmarks, many of which are considered must-sees for tourists spending their Caribbean holidays here.

The scenic California Lighthouse, located close to the island's north-west tip, stands sentry on top of a hill overlooking the sea. Many tourists come here not only to see the lighthouse but for the marvellous views of the coastline.

Visitors to Aruba can also head to the beautiful Chapel of Alto Vista near Noord. First built in 1750 and reconstructed in 1953, the chapel is the island's first Catholic Church.

The highest points on Aruba are Seroe Jamanota and Arikok, both of which can be ascended in 4x4 vehicles. Look out for the opportunity to book a 4x4 tour, most will offer to take you to the summit of either peak on a clear day. If the weather is good enough - and in Aruba, it usually is - you'll be rewarded with views across to distant Venezuela.

As an alternative to driving to the summits of the two highest peaks, you may instead want to climb the third-highest, the Hooiberg. This is ascended via a flight of 500 steps on foot - a real test for the knees. At the top, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view across Aruba's own Paraguana Peninsula, perfect for a truly breath-taking photo or video.

Take a dive off the leeward coast of Aruba and you can see the equally spectacular SS Antilla, a shipwreck dating back to the Second World War. It was scuttled in 1940 following the German invasion of Holland, and is the largest intact wreck in the Caribbean. An oil tanker wreck, the SS Pedernales, is nearby, and both are popular attractions among divers during a visit to Aruba. You'll not only get to explore the wrecks, but you can also take in the unique contrast of their rusting hulls encrusted with vibrant plants, corals and marine life.

Top Landmarks

With Aruba the top exporter of aloe products in the world, tourists are offered an exploration of the industry at the Aruba Aloe Museum - one of the most visited tourist attractions on the island. Tours of the museum take in the history of aloe processing on the island, as well as the many health benefits of this wonder plant.

As for natural landmarks, tourists can climb and explore the Casibari Rock and Ayo Rock Formations. The presence of these oddly shaped, huge stone boulders adds mystery to the otherwise largely flat and dry island.

Seeing Aruba's trademark tree, the divi-divi, also known as the watapana, is another popular activity in the country. The divi-divi is also known as Aruba's natural compass - it grows oriented towards the south-westerly trade winds, so you always work out your position by taking a look at which way the tree is facing. The winds are also responsible for the distinctive shape of the divi-divi tree, which is like a full-size bonsai tree. This makes for a fantastic photo opportunity, especially when standing alone on vast sand dunes. Visitors can also head to the land of cacti in Cunucu, in the island's north-west.

Combining both history and natural wonder, Guadirikiri Cave, Huliba Cave and Fontein Cave are worthy tourist stops. Here, visitors can explore huge rock chambers full of stalactites and stalagmites. In the case of Fontein Cave, visitors can marvel at the drawings of Aruba's first settlers, the Arawak Indians.

Entertainment

The main areas to sample the island's nightlife are the capital, Oranjestad and the high-rise hotel areas, where venues have sprung up to cater for the local trade. Most of the hotels and resorts in and around the city offer their residents drinks and night-time entertainment in the form of live music of all genres, from jazz to classical. If dancing is more your cup of tea, tourists can head to LG Smith Boulevard near the harbour or South Beach. The coastline of Aruba is the place to go for daytime activities, and water sports are always a popular option in the crystal blue waves. Try your hand at everything from snorkelling and scuba diving, to kite surfing, wind surfing, and traditional board surfing too.

For many people, a visit to Aruba is a chance to relax rather than exert too much energy, and the beaches and swimming pools are enough for some travellers to feel satisfied with their time here. For a low-impact activity that gets you out of the hotel, why not head out on foot? A gentle stroll is a great way to pass a few hours without overdoing it on a hot sunny day. You can stop for refreshments when you need to, and it's a perfect opportunity to combine your walk with some sightseeing and photo opportunities. This makes a great chance to pick up some souvenirs to take home with you, and gifts for friends and family.

Dining Out

Almost nothing is sourced locally. Beef is imported from Argentina while other produce is commonly brought in from the US and Venezuela. This can mean prices are at the high end of the spectrum, but the quality of the food makes dining out here worth every penny.

Tourists staying in the resort areas have a wealth of choice when it comes to dining spots, as do those staying in the city centre of Oranjestad. Apart from the usual international fast food chains which are widely available, there are Caribbean, Argentinean, Mexican, Cuban, Asian, French and naturally, local Aruban restaurants. The roads backing the beaches are often the best places to look for eateries.

Local snacks and dishes are aplenty and worth a try for any visitor to the country. A famous snack is the pastechi, an Aruban version of the British pasty. The Aruban version is made with flour and filled with spicy meat or fish as well as cheese. A smaller version of this is the empanada, which is instead made with cornmeal and is of Spanish influence.

Keshi yena is another local speciality made with cheese rinds stuffed with meat or seafood along with olives, capers, raisins, bread crumbs and basically anything that is available.

Beach

With at least 19 beaches to choose from on this tiny island, visitors are sure to find something to their liking. Perhaps the most prominent one is Eagle Beach. Located right close to the capital city of Oranjestad, it has often been listed as one of the best beaches in the world. Then there’s Palm Beach with its fine white sand and calm waters to tempt holidaymakers to relax and enjoy the Caribbean sun.

Romance

What could be more perfect for honeymooners or a couple on holiday than a sun-soaked tropical getaway in the Caribbean? Many of Aruba's beach-side resorts provide that romantic luxury experience. Couples can finish their day with a romantic dinner date at one of Aruba's fine restaurants, the majority of which serve excellent food from all over the world.

Family

Baby Beach is where families usually go as the shallow waters and calm waves here are perfect for children. De Palm Island is another beach which is known for its calm waters and nearby water park. As for daytrips, families can head to the Ostrich Farm, the Butterfly Farm or the Donkey Sanctuary for animal fun.

Adventure

The desert-like interior of this dry and windy island is where adventure-seekers can find excitement. Hikers can climb to the Hooiberg or Haystack mountains, located in the centre of Aruba, to get fantastic views of the island. They can also trek around Arikok National Park to see spectacular boulders, crevices and rock formations, as well as plants and animals which are indigenous to Aruba.

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Need to know

Language

With Aruba being a constituent country of the Netherlands, Dutch is the official language. However, the predominant language spoken by the locals in their everyday lives is Papamiento, a Creole based on Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and West African languages. With Aruba having been a British protectorate, English is also widely spoken, especially in tourist areas. As a result of this, especially in the hospitality businesses on the island, you should have no difficulty being understood as an English-speaker.

Currency

The currency used in Aruba is the Aruban florin (AWG). However, US dollars can be used in many establishments. Travellers' cheques are a good form of payment as they are accepted in hotels, shops and restaurants without any additional charges. ATMs are widely available and accept Cirrus or Visa Plus cards. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most widely accepted credit cards in the country. Be wary when using US dollars, as the exchange rate applied between the dollar and the florin may be poor, and can be inconsistent between different venues too. Likewise, when exchanging cash into the local currency, it's worth looking around for the best exchange rate you can find.

Visas

Citizens of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia and EU countries do not need to obtain a visa to enter Aruba. Presenting a valid passport along with a return or onward ticket is enough to gain entry to the island visa-free for up to 30 days. Just make sure that your return ticket is handy when you need to present it, and that your passport will still be in date by the time you leave Aruba - you don't want to be left with expired documentation when it's time to return home.

Climate

The climate in Aruba is tropical and because it lies south of the hurricane belt of the Caribbean, the country experiences sunshine throughout the year, with constant trade winds keeping the climate cool. There is no monsoon season in Aruba but some rain occurs from October to January. The average year-round temperature is a balmy 28 degrees.

Main Airports

The main gateway to Aruba is Queen Beatrix International Airport. Travellers can rest assured that the airport is modern, clean and organised. Passengers are processed quickly, although the airport may be busier at weekends.

Flight Options

Thomson Airways has seasonal direct flights from London-Gatwick to Queen Beatrix International Airport. A number of major carriers from continental US fly to Aruba. American Airlines flies from Miami, Delta flies from Atlanta and New York-JFK, JetBlue flies from Boston and New York-JFK, and United flies from Chicago-O’Hare, Newark, Houston-Intercontinental and Washington-Dulles. Typical flight time from London to Aruba is around 9.5hours.

Travel Advice

From August to September, temperatures are at their highest in Aruba as the trade winds die down slightly during this time. However, this period is still technically the low season and prices are about 20 to 50 percent lower, including air fares. Plus, tourist spots in the country are less crowded. Therefore, those who do not mind the heat will be able to save up on fares when travelling in the low season. Taxi fares from the airport to the capital, Oranjestad, and resorts are reasonable.

Other Transport Options

Flights are the only way to reach Aruba. However, Caribbean cruise ships often include the Aruban capital of Oranjestad as a port of call. The dock is close to the commercial centre of the city but those heading to the beach may want to take a taxi from the port area.

Getting Around

Aruba has no airport other than Queen Beatrix International Airport. Neither does it have a railway system. However, the island is small enough to cover by land. Buses are an excellent and affordable way of getting between tourist destinations.

Bus

The main bus line in Aruba is Arubus, whose services are excellent, reliable and cheap. Buses run roughly every 20 minutes and have stops next to most large hotels. The central station is at Zoutmanstraat in Oranjestad. It is best to check with your hotel reception desk as to bus times and schedules.

Car

Renting a car is easy in Aruba. Major international companies are well represented, while local companies are available too. Roads in and around tourist areas are generally in good condition. Plus, the major car hire companies honour valid driver's licenses issued in the UK, the US, Canada and Australia.

Taxis

Taxis are a popular way of getting around as they are widely available outside most hotels. However, it is difficult to hail them on the street. It is best that you arrange a pick-up in advance if you travel to an area outside of the usual tourist districts.

MAP

ARUBA`S WEATHER TODAY

Mostly cloudy °C

AVERAGE TEMPERATURE (°C)

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MONTHS

AVERAGE RAINFALL (mm)

  • 31

    J

  • 26

    F

  • 22

    M

  • 47

    A

  • 98

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MONTHS

FACTS

  1. Aruba has a very diverse population, with around 100 different ethnicities and national backgrounds represented among its residents - accounting for around 112,000 in total.
  2. The sand is made of crushed coral and shells - and this unique mixture produces beaches that stay cool underfoot even in the middle of the day, so you can walk barefoot without suffering scorched soles.
  3. Since the 1930s, much of Aruba's drinking water has been provided by purifying seawater to a careful mineral recipe for a fresh flavour - it also means soaps produce even more bubbles when used during bathing.

FACTS

  1. Aruba has a very diverse population, with around 100 different ethnicities and national backgrounds represented among its residents - accounting for around 112,000 in total.
  2. The sand is made of crushed coral and shells - and this unique mixture produces beaches that stay cool underfoot even in the middle of the day, so you can walk barefoot without suffering scorched soles.
  3. Since the 1930s, much of Aruba's drinking water has been provided by purifying seawater to a careful mineral recipe for a fresh flavour - it also means soaps produce even more bubbles when used during bathing.

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