Welcome to Aruba— or as the locals say, Bon bini. Here Dutch traditions mix with island charm. The capital and port town of Oranjestad, is best known for its colorful Dutch Colonial ‘gingerbread’ houses painted in bright Caribbean hues. While Aruba is only 20 miles from tip to tip, it is packed with incredible contrasts. Visit Aruba and go from relaxing in a tropical paradise to trekking rugged desert in no time. The southern coast is one giant photo op— a bustling port town surrounded by powdery white beaches and crystal-clear aquamarine waters. To the north, waves crash onto a rocky coast, scattered with cliffs, cacti and divi-divi trees. Best of all, you don’t have to choose which spots to hit— just which to hit first.
NATIONAL LANGUAGE DUTCH, PAPIAMENTO
CURRENCY ACCEPTED ARUBAN FLORIN (AWG), U.S. DOLLAR (USD)
THINGS TO DO IN ORANJESTAD
ROADS LESS TRAVELED
Buckle up for an off-road 4X4 ride through the rough and rugged Aruba Arikok National Park. Along the way, you’ll spot the local plants and wildlife of the craggy but beautiful coastline on your way to Conchi, a natural pool created by the ocean’s relentless crashing waves.
Perched on the northwestern tip of the island, you can climb to the top of the recently renovated California Lighthouse for panoramic views of the crashing waves of the windward coast. From 100 feet up, you can even see the tranquil waters of the leeward shore.
SEA FLOOR EXPLORING
The water off Aruba is teeming with marine life and you can see it all up close by riding in a high-tech submarine 150 feet below the sea. As you explore in comfort during your Aruba cruise, you’ll pass schools of tropical fish, huge sponge gardens, colorful coral reefs, wreck sites and even scuba divers.
Taste your way through the multicultural heritage of the island. Sample Argentine meat dishes, Venezuelan empanadas and arepas, and nutty Dutch cheeses. Or for something a little more Caribbean, try a hearty pumpkin soup or gumbo with some pan bati— a pancake made from wheat and corn flour.
The three-story Royal Plaza Mall and Renaissance Mall offer incredible duty-free deals, all within easy walking distance of the port. Here you can snag luxury designer jewelry and watches, but also pick up traditional Dutch items like Delft (blue and white) pottery and locally made aloe products.
Information and photos courtesy of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.