one happy island . . .
More than meets the eye.
Known for its powder-white beaches and warm, temperate climate, Aruba also has a hidden wild side
Aruba is not traditionally a first choice for British holidaymakers, but if you fancy a Caribbean experience with a dash of Salsa, want to stay in a glitzy hotel, enjoy an active beach-life and wish to try your luck casino style, then Aruba is the island for you.
Fifteen miles off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba is just 20 miles long by 6 miles wide – making this wonderful island small enough for you to explore it’s natural and historical riches.
Adding to the island’s appeal is Aruba’s safe, relaxed environment, incredibly warm and hospitable peoples, and the diversity of activities.
Suitable for friends, families and couples, Aruba has something for everyone. If you are a land lover, you can do a jeep safari tour, visit the national park for a unique hiking experience or mountain biking, horseback riding, take a ‘quad racer’ tour, rent a jeep or scooter and go cruising for a day.
If you like the sea, you can swim, snorkel, dive, go fishing, try ‘snuba’ or ‘sea trek’, parasailing, banana boating or any of the many sea activities available. Aruba has its own top championship golf course. The Tierra del Sol 18-hole, par-71 course was designed by Robert Trent Jones II to take full advantage of Aruba’s natural surroundings. Aruba also has the world’s largest miniature golf course, which is popular with families, especially in the evenings.
The capital, Oranjestad is a picturesque harbour town with colourful architecture, fruit and crafts markets and several museums, including Mario’s Worldwide Coin Collection with coins from around the world (over 400 countries). There is a great selection of duty free shops here too.
The west coast of the island is famous for its long stretches of powder-white sand beaches and this is where most of the international hotels are situated.
If you are a windsurfer, Aruba is the place to be, particularly the north east coast. Aruba plays host to the Hi-Winds Amateur World Challenge Windsurfing Tournament, in June and July. Visibility in the waters around Aruba is very good for both snorkelling and diving. A coral reef stretches along the west coast and is ideal for beginners. The east coast is for experienced divers only and there are several wrecks.
Aruba also has a hidden wild side. The north east coast, along the Atlantic shore is more rugged and the rocky landscape is ideal for surfers and windsurfers. Inland walking trails and jeep safaris offer opportunities to explore the craggy rugged dramatic interior. Exploring the island certainly won’t disappoint, the interior is home to a large and colourful range of tropical plants and flowers and over 200 species of birds.
When the sun goes down, Aruba heats up thanks to a thrilling energetic nightlife. The island’s comfortable, star-filled evenings set the stage for an adventure of culinary delights and entertainment extravaganza. Las Vegas style performances, scenes from famous Broadway musicals, and hot Latin dance revues bring the island’s showrooms to life. If you like Salsa and Merengue, you should visit Mambo Jambo, Choose-A-Name and café Bahia. If you like more contemporary sounds like techno, there is Muzika and La Fiesta. For a mix of everything under one roof, Carlos and Charlie’s is the place for you. However, if you just like to relax and enjoy live music, visit Chaos, Scandals, Garuffa, the newly opened Soprano’s or one of the many bars at the resorts.
Checking out the casinos and taking advantage of bar hopping adventures and party bus nightlife tours is essential. There are 11 casinos to choose from on the island.
If you choose to make Aruba your holiday destination you don’t have to hedge your bets, we’re prepared to wager, a vacation in Aruba will be filled unforgettable eclectic experiences.
The Government of Aruba has dedicated approximately 18 percent of the island to this national park. It is an area of unique scenic beauty, flora and fauna, geological formations and cultural resources. Arikok national Park has many walking trails that are well kept and open to the public for exploring. The highest points in Aruba are located in the park and include Arikok and Jamanota hilltops. Some tour companies offer guided tours through this massive protected area that is teeming with unusual plats and wildlife. The park is safe to explore if you stay on the main path. You may find some big green lizards but they are harmless like most of the other animals that inhibit the area.
Located near Mt. Arikok, close to the centre of the island, this natural preserve features some of the oldest Arawak drawings, as well as trails that showcase Aruba’s great variety of plants and animals like the divi-divi and kwihi trees, rare and exotic cacti, aloe, tropical flowers, birds and iguanas.
The second largest city in Aruba, San Nicolas is a modern development that rose with the island’s oil boom. The area has a typical British Caribbean heritage. For years, one of the main reasons that visitors have found their way to this end of the island was to drop in at Charlie’s Bar. This bar has become famous since the 1940’s when scuba divers began to hang their underwater discoveries on the walls there. It’s become a bit of a museum in the decades since. This city has recognised that Charlie’s Bar has brought famous people from around the world to its small town and is just now starting to develop itself into an “alternative” tourist destination. Hotels are being built or renovated to reflect the city’s history when seamen around the world took shore leave to enjoy the local hospitality.
The Natural Pool or “conch” called ‘Cura di Tortuga” is a secret hidden pool on the windward coast surrounded by rocks and is a perfect getaway for a moment of total relaxation. The location of the pool is surrounded by some of Aruba’s most rugged terrain, so a visitor truly gets the feeling of having “discovered” something when their eyes focus on the site. Diving from the rock cliffs into the protected pool of ocean seawater is the main reason why so many venture here off the beaten path.
To reach this destination you will need to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle or you can ride on horseback. There are many road signs warning you that cars are not the preferred method of travel to this swimmers’ paradise. Make sure you bring refreshments and a camera with you because this area is as remote as it is picture perfect.
The population of Aruba is predominantly Catholic, a fact that can be seen by observing the number of Catholic churches located in all of the districts of the island. On a drive to the north eastern coast from San Nicolas, you’ll drive by a unique Roman Catholic shrine built into the rocks. The Lourdes Grotto was created under the guidance of a priest named ‘Erkamp” and parishioners in the year 1958. The grotto is located in Seroe Pretoe (black hill).
Take the camera and visit the California Lighthouse, named after the offshore wreck of the famous ship ‘California”. Perched high above the northwest tip of the island, the lighthouse offers panoramic views of the western coastline.
The Guadirikira Cave was once a hiding place for pirates, and is now home to hundreds of harmless bats. The Fontein Cave has the drawings of Arawak Indians on the ceilings, providing a real sense of island history.
The abandoned mines at Balashi and Bushiribana were the centre of Aruba’s gold rush. Gold was discovered in 1824 and eventually more than £3 million pounds worth was produced.
Wining And Dining
The delight of a different ambience offered with each experience is an additional pleasure to be found when dining in Aruba’s restaurants and its Dutch heritage makes for some interesting cuisine.
International menus include Indonesian, Japanese, Chinese, Dutch, Italian, French and Cantonese cuisine. For those who have families and need to have the kids feel as if they’re at home with the foods they’re used to, all of the popular fast-food chain restaurants are in Aruba, including Subway and McDonalds.
Local Aruban restaurants are plentiful and many feature seafood, fresh from our Caribbean waters. If you’re a deep-sea fisherman, some restaurants will cook and serve your catch of the day. Take a trip to the town of San Nicolas where you’ll find Charlie’s Bar serving the island’s greatest prawns in a décor made from articles recovered from sunken wrecks. One good place to get a sampling of local temptations is at the Bonbini Festival, which takes place every Tuesday night at Fort Zoutman.
A sunset cruise in Aruba can also include dining. Ships such as the Tattoo, The Balia and The Jolly Pirates will guide you to a delightful cove to drop the anchor for dancing, a moonlit dip, and dinner in Aruba.
Gasparito Restaurant and Art Gallery is renowned for its authentic Aruban dishes prepared by award-winning chefs, historic architecture, and inspiring Aruban art.
Open: Monday to Saturday 5pm – 11pm
Address: Gasparito 3,
Tel: 297-586-7044, Fax: 297-586-7144
The Old Cunucu House has the nostalgia and charm of a restored local homestead and combines this with an eclectic local and international menu, served in intimate dining areas decorated with local art, or on the outside patio.
Open: Daily 6pm – 10:30pm
Address: Palm Beach 150
Tel: 297-586-1666, Fax: 297-582-7753
The Sunset Beach Bistro is located right on the beach at the Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort. The chef’s fusion-style cooking is renowned, featuring fresh seafood, lobster and great steaks, all at reasonable prices. Each day a different special menu and a catch of the day are offered. With tables inside and on the patio, on the walkway, outside by the beach on a platform and on the beach itself.
Open: Daily 7:30am – 10:30pm
Address: J.E. Irausquin Blvd 75, Palm Beach
Tel: 297-586-6066×7029, Fax: 297-586-1165
Where to Stay
Aruba is known as an island that caters both to the affluent traveller and to those looking for a more moderately priced vacation. Luxury high-rise hotels provide opulent surroundings, excellent service and numerous comforts. A homely feel, gorgeous pools, casual and theme party style dining and splendid service characterise many of the low-rise hotels.
For those that want something special, Aruba offers luxurious private properties where you can have complete seclusion and your own private beach.
Villas are ideal for groups, especially those with interests in activities such as windsurfing.
If you’re on a tight budget or planning on an extended stay, Aruba’s spacious apartments can provide you with affordable accommodations all year round.
Wyndham Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino, 444 spacious rooms and suites, all with balconies and ocean views.
Exciting Casino with entertainment, large free form pool, on-site water sports centre, fitness centre and Spa, spacious beach with shade palapas, 7 restaurants, 4 bars, and dinner show. Kids Klub and playground. Various meal plans, all-inclusive plans available. Large meeting/banquet facitlities for up to 1000.
J. E. Irausquin Blvd. No. 77, Palm Beach.
Tel: 297-586-4466, Fax: 297-586-8217 Sales: 297-586-0928
The Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino overlooks the island’s finest beach. Their $35million renovation makes it even more spectacular, with new lush tropical landscaping, four restaurants and lounges and two zero-entry pools.
J.E. Irausquin Blvd. No. 81, Palm Beach.
Tel: 297-586-6555 Fax: 297-586-3260
Hyatt Regency Aruba and Casino is a spectacular 12 acre resort on world famous Palm Beach, unfolds with wonders just waiting to be discovered. Stroll peacefully along endless beaches and charming stone walkways, enjoy snorkelling in crystal waters and experience the thrill of casino games and dazzling entertainment.
J.E. Irausquin Blvd. No. 85, Palm Beach.
Tel: 297-586-1234 Fax: 297-586-1682
Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa is an intimate and relaxing two-storey resort nestled on the largest and widest beach of Aruba – an unspoiled expanse of soft white sand and palm trees. European charm, romance, great dining, relaxing spa, friendly staff and an optional all-inclusive program make Manchebo a great place to relax.
J.E. Irausquin Blvd. No. 55, Eagle Beach, Aruba.
Tel: 297-582-3444, Fax: 297-583-2446.
Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort. From the moment you arrive at the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort, you will feel different and relaxed. Its Dutch colonial style architecture with Caribbean flair makes the Amsterdam Manor a special place. A small hideaway with the luxuries of larger resorts, Amsterdam Manor is located in front of Aruba’s premier Eagle Beach. The personalized service, warm and friendly, as Arubans are known for, will make sure you experience an unforgettable vacation.
J.E. Irausquin Blvd. No. 252, Oranjestad, Aruba.
Tel: 297-527-1100, Fax: 297-527-1112
The Boardwalk Vacation Retreat 11 one-bedromm and 2 two-bedroom “casitas” each with living room and adjoining kitchen, private patio, BBQ, private hammocks, white tiled floors, ceiling fans, telephone, internet access, colour TV with cable
(32 channels), VCR, air conditioning, daily maid service, alarm clock/radio, free-shaped swimming pool with a small kids pool and a Jacuzzi.
Bakval No. 20.
Tel: 297-586-6654, Fax: 297-586-1836
Aruba Sunset Beach Studios 10 studio style units and an Ocean View House are set around a flowering tropical garden with swimming pool and Jacuzzi. Each unit is equipped with a complete kitchen, queen size bed, sleeping sofa, air-conditioning, colour TV, telephone, safety box, and local artwork.
L. G. Smith Blvd. 486, Malmok Beach. Aruba, Dutch Caribbean.
Tel; 297-586-3940, Fax: 297-586-1149
Language: Dutch is the Official Language. Both English & Spanish are widely spoken
Currency: Aruban Florin & US Dollar.
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