Aruba is a 33-kilometre (21 mi)-long island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, 27 kilometres (17 mi) north of the Paraguaná Peninsula, Falcón State, Venezuela. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, it forms a group referred to as the ABC islands of the Leeward Antilles, the southern island chain of the Lesser Antilles.
An autonomous region within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba has no administrative subdivisions. Unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape. This climate has helped tourism as visitors to the island can reliably expect warm, sunny weather. It has a land area of 193 square kilometres (75 sq mi) and lies outside the hurricane belt.
Eagle Beach is a beach and neighborhood of Oranjestad, Aruba. The neighborhood is famous for its many low-rise resorts and wide public beach. It has soft white sand and has been rated one of the best beaches in the world.
Palm Beach, Aruba is a city northwest of Oranjestad, capital of Aruba, and is home to the high rise hotels and a new shopping district that would be finished in 2009. Since the boom in the tourism industry several five-star hotels have opened in the area and some upscale malls and shopping centers have been developed as well with at least two being scheduled for opening in late 2009 or early 2010.
Multiple time-share ownership and full-time ownership condos have been or are being built in the area as well.
Boca Prins are massive sand dunes, constantly changing because of the trade winds. 'Dune sliding' is a popular sport. The dunes lie behind a narrow stretch of beach along the coast.
Boca Mahos is a bay known for its strong winds and rough waters. 1km/0.6mi west of the bay is a ruined inn.
Malmok is a small settlement with a pleasant beach. This is a favorite spot for swimming and snorkeling with calm waters much of the time. The wreck of the German freighter "Antilia," run aground at the beginning of WWII, lies just offshore.
Oranjestad is the capital of Aruba. The older buildings are in Dutch Colonial style, but the Spanish influence of balconies and gardens, and the Caribbean influence of bright colors makes them unique to The Netherlands Antilles.
The city has many historic sites and museums, as well as gardens and a busy shopping street.
Archaeological Museum of Aruba
The Aruba Archaeological Museum closed temporarily to the public while relocating to a historic complex.
The Atlantis Submarine takes visitors on a tour through the Barcadera reef to see the marine life, coral formations, and ship wrecks. Although the tour is just under two hours long, guests spend only 45 minutes in the submarine.
The Butterfly Farm in Oranjestad houses butterflies from around the world in an enclosed tropical garden. Displays at the site illustrate each stage of a butterfly's development from larva to adult.
(Local Name: Schooner Markt) From their boats, merchants sell Venezuelan fish, fruits, vegetables and spices along the dock.
The King Willem III Tower stands at Fort Zoutman. It was built as a lighthouse and to sight pirates. On Tuesday evenings from May to December the Bon Bini Festival welcomes guests to enjoy Aruban cuisine and entertainment.
The King Willem III Tower also houses the Historical Museum.
Strea Charters offers cruises and snorkeling excursions out of Oranjestad. A typical trip involves a morning sightseeing cruise with stops for snorkeling, along with a lunch. The company also offers private charters with a captain and crew.
The park is best seen in June, September or October when the tropical foliage is in bloom. The park was created in 1955 in honor of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. There is also a marble sculpture of Wilhelmina, the queen mother, created by Arnoldo Lualdi of Italy.
Alto Vista Chapel
The small Alto Vista Chapel, sometimes called the Pilgrim's Church, was built in 1750 by the Spanish missionary Domingo Antonio Silvestre. The stations of the cross mark the road leading to the chapel.
Aruba Ostrich Farm
The Aruba Ostrich Farm is home to both ostriches and emus. Visitors can tour the farm and get up close and personal with the birds while learning about their habitat and behavior. There is also a gift shop with African art and restaurant on site.
Large boulders adorned with Indian paintings make up this odd rock formation known as Ayó. There is a path for visitors to get around and see the rocks.
Natural Bridge at Anicouri
The 30m/100ft natural bridge stands 7.3m/25ft above sea level. Wave erosion caused the formation of this structure. The area is good for a picnic, but swimming is not recommended.
Diorite boulders weathered by trade winds are strewn throughout this area. At the Casibari Boulders visitors may walk the trails and steps winding through the rocks to reach a good view at the top.
The Bushiribana Ruins are the remains of a 19th C gold smelter. The old stone walls are picturesquely located along the ocean front.
Arikok National Park
The island's best preserved Indian carvings adorn the boulders at Cunuco Arikok near San Fuego. The park is an excellent hiking opportunity and has a small number of jeep routes. Wildlife includes parakeets, goats, butterflies, hares, iguanas, and wara-wara (read-beaked eagle).
The Natural Pool is just that, a protected area, fenced in by rocks but filled by ocean water. Visitors can swim and snorkel here although the area is really not that big. The challenge comes with getting to the natural pool which is accessed by four wheel drive vehicle down a rough road. Visitors can either do this on their own, although the road is not well marked, or hire a guide.
North End of Aruba
The north end of Aruba is best for relaxation. Here is the seven mile stretch of white sandy beach, an 18 hole golf course and a concentration of hotels.
California Dunes and Lighthouse
At the northern tip of the island, is the California lighthouse, a common sight on postcards and brochures of Aruba. This area is rugged and beautiful with sand-dunes, cacti, and even some goats. The spot is a good place to compare the calm waters of the western shore with the rough waves of the east. The lighthouse is closed to the public.
Arashi Beach can be a good spot for swimming and snorkeling and is somewhat secluded. The beach is located at the northwestern end of the island near the California Lighthouse.
South End of Aruba
The south end of Aruba is good for sporting activities. The windward side gives ample challenge to the expert windsurfer, while the leeside offers protected bays for beginners. There are also good hiking routes to historic sites.
Hooiberg is a cone shaped 'mountain' that stands alone in the center of the island and rises 165m/617ft above sea level. After climbing almost 600 steps to the peak, on clear days visitors are able to see the coast of Venezuela from the summit.
At the east end of Aruba is Seroe, once occupied by oil refinery employees but now a ghost town. Today there is a lighthouse with views across the dry landscape, the beach, and the ocean beyond.
St Nicolaas is the second largest city in Aruba. It has been home to the oil refinery since 1929.
These Amerindian Caves were once the dwellings of the Arawak Indians and Caribs. Some caves contain pre-Columbian petroglyphs, stalagmites and stalactites. Nearby is a Chinese garden, as well as a small museum with native wildlife.
This is the site of the 19th C gold mining industry. Nearby, at Frenchman's Pass, are the ruins of the old gold smelters.
The neo-gothic St Anna Church
The neo-gothic St Anna Church was opened in 1776. The carved oak altar, originally made for a church in Curaçao, was mistakenly sent to St Anna. The parish kept the altar, but needed to cut church's roof to accommodate it. The tombs in the neighboring cemetery have been painted pastel colors.
Rancho Daimari offers horseback riding tours, ATV tours, and Paint Ball games. The ranch is located on the site of a former coconut plantation, originally established in the 17th Century. The scenery here is beautiful and visitors can explore the area either on horse or ATV.
Flights arrive and depart at Queen Beatrix International Airport (UAU). Aruban based Tiara AirCuracao, Bonaire and Punto Fijo in Venezuela. Many other airlines serve Aruba from several countries in both North America and Europe. Martinair and KLM have direct flights from the Netherlands, while Condor flies there directly from Frankfurt. Air CanadaToronto, while a number of United States based airlines have flights to cities like Miami and New York. Aruba is well connected with neighbouring islands and countries like Suriname, Dominican Republic and Colombia. has flights from Aruba to has flights to and from
Apart from flying, your only options are to get there by boat. Unfortunately there are no (more) ferry services between Aruba and any other island in the Netherlands Antilles, nor is there any connection with other countries like Venezuela, although there used to be services to both. Yacht and cruise (and maybe cargo) ships are your only option really.
Apart from some helicopter services, there are no options of getting around the island through the air.
Aruba is a perfect island to explore on your own by car. Roads are generally in good condition and there are a dozen or so of international and local car rental agencies located in the airport, Oranjestad or one of the biggers hotels. Your national driver's licence is valid on Aruba, but you have to be 21 years of age (sometimes even 25, and there is a maximum age of 65 to 70) to rent a car. Driving is on the right side of the road.
Arubus is a local busline company which has inexpensive, comfortable and reliable transport to some parts of the island, except the most northern parts and the interior, where you really need your own wheels. The main route runs from San Nicolas to Oranjestad and the major hotels along the beach on the north-west coast. Prices start at around $2 return tickets and make sure you have the right change before you board. The buses run each half hour from Monday to Saturday 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. They also run on Sunday running each hour.
For other destinations, you can arrange a taxi which has fixed rates (Aruba has taxi zones, so you can calculate your price). Some drivers double as guides if you like.
The only regular passenger services are ferries departing daily to De Palm Island from the mainland. Crossings run every half an hour between 9 am and 6 pm.