Tag: Oranjestad Travel Guide

Oranjestad Travel Guide – Deals

Quick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Events & Entertainments

F – Oranjestad Travel Deals

A – Overview

This tiny island off the coast of Venezuela has an exceptionally dry climate that is considered one of the most desirable in the Carribean. Its desert landscape, with divi-divi trees, cactus, and aloe vera set against the backdrop of azure skies and the blue-green water of the sea provides the perfect setting for a holiday of relaxation and renewal of energy. The beaches are carpeted with silky white sand, The cooling trade winds, low humidity, and an average year round temperature of 82° complete the picture of a tropical paradise.

Oranjestad overview

Sun, friendly and courteous service, modern and efficient amenities, golf and tennis clubs, casinos, fabulous beaches, duty-free shopping, and remarkably varied cuisine are all factors that help fill Aruba’s many hotel rooms. The island’s distinctive beauty lies in its countryside, with its rocky deserts, native trees, cactus jungles filled with the chattering of wild parakeets, secluded coves, and crashing waves.

Nearly every night there are theme parties, treasure hunts, beachside barbecues, and fish fries with steel bands and limbo or Carnival dancers. Divers and snorkelers love the warm, clear waters whose visibility extends up to 100 ft. Although tourism has resulted in the construction of many luxury resorts on the island, there are still undeveloped areas on the northern coast, and much of the interior is uninhabited except for a few herds of goats and donkeys.

With more than a dozen resort hotels populating its once uninhabited beaches, Aruba is now one of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations. A recent moratorium on hotel construction, however, has halted the building of newer resorts–so for now, Aruba remains safe from the problems associated with over development. Arikok National Park, encompassing approximately 18 percent of the island, was first designated as being of significant national importance in the early 1980s. It is an area of unique scenic beauty, flora and fauna, geological formations and cultural resources. The highest points in Aruba are located in the park and include Arikok and Jamanota hilltops.

The Arikok National Park land area encompasses the three primary geological formations that shape the island of Aruba: the Aruba lava formation; a quartz diorite formation; and a limestone formation extending inward from the coastline. The rock outcrops, boulders and crevices between the various formations create micro- climactic conditions that support unique examples of indigenous flora and fauna. As a result, the park is the habitat of several animal species found only in Aruba. Hiking trails allow visitors access to its scenic beauty.

Fishing is popular along the shore in Savaneta or off the rocks at Malmok. Visitors enjoy watching the fishing fleet returning at noon or late in the afternoon when it arrives at the Bali pier. Small wooden boats at Fisherman’s Huts arrive heavy with their catch of the day.

Adults and children love to run and play on the clean white sands of Aruba and to enjoy the balmy breezes and freedom from every day responsibilities. Windsurfing lessons are available for children and adults. Or you can fly a kite with the help of Aruba’s tropical breezes. They make kite flying successful from anywhere on the island. A visit to the north shore will provide a glimpse of wildlife such as wild donkeys, rabbits, goats, iguanas and lizards. There will also be pelicans and parrots of all colors. Looking for the way back to the hotel? Remember, all those bent over divi divi trees were shaped by the winds to point toward the area of the island where most of the hotels are.

The major industries of Aruba are tourism, transshipment facilities, oil refining, offshore banking and phosphates. Aruba’s major trading partners are the USA, the EU, the Netherlands and Japan.

The climate, ambience, and beauty of Aruba attract vacationers from all over the world. To visit Aruba once is to make it a permanent part of your family’s list of favorite holiday destinations. It is a place to visit many times, and a place in which to find something new and even more enjoyable with each return visit.

B – City information

Population:
90,000 (approx.) Visitors annually: approx. 900,000

Capital city:
Oranjestad (pop 20,500)

Language:
Dutch, Papiamento (a mix of Spanish, Dutch, English, French, and Portuguese), English and Spanish

Religion:
Roman Catholic (82%), Protestant, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim

Government:
Autonomous state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Location:
Aruba is an island in the Carribean Sea 20 miles from the northern coast of Venezuela.

Size:
70 – 75 square miles

Elevation:
Highest peak is 617 ft.

Time Zone:
The time in Aruba is Atlantic Standard Time. It is the same as Eastern Daylight Savings time, but continues all year round.

Telephone:
The international dialing code for Aruba is 297. Area codes do not exist in Aruba, all numbers start with 8 except for cellular telephone numbers which start with 9.

Children:
Aruba is a great place for all ages. There are a number of children’s playgrounds and all sorts of activities that will ensure that children won’t want to leave!

Communications System:
Aruba has a modern telecommunications network. Long distance calls can be placed from any telephone or from SETAR (Aruba’s Telecommunications organization) locations around Aruba. AT&T customers can dial 800-8000 from special phones located at the airport and at the cruise ship docking area. From other phones dial 121 to contact the SETAR international operator to place a collect or calling card call. Cellular phone rental is also available (Call 297 820005)

Emergency numbers:
Police 100
Fire alarm/Hospital 115
Hospital & Ambulance 874300
Ambulance: Oranjstad 821234
San Nicholas 845050
Air Ambulance: Richard Rupert 829197
Fax 832791
Cellular 932329/930201
Medical Center 848833
Dept. for National Security 811911

Medical:
The main 280-bed hospital is well-equipped with staff and equipment. Oxygen tanks and hemodialysis services are available. Hotels have doctors and dentists on call and appointments can be arranged. Several other medical clinics also exist on the island.

Postal Rates:
Aruba has had its own postage stamps since 1986.

Room Tax:
There is a 6% government tax on rooms and 11% hotel service charge on rooms, both of which will be shown on your hotel bill.

Banks:
Should you need banking services when you arrive you’ll find a bank at the airport. There are also five banks with several branches at other convenient locations. ATM facilities exist at some of these banks.

Credit Cards:
All major credit cards are accepted.

Currency:
Aruba’s currency is the florin, denoted by the letters ‘Afl.’ , divided into 100 cents. Traveller’s checks are widely accepted. Note: The Dutch Antillean florin used on the nearby islands of Bonaire and Curaçao isn’t accepted on the island of Aruba.

Tax:
There is a 7% government tax on hotel rooms. Hotels add a 10-15% service charge, plus other energy surcharges. Restaurant service charges are also in the 10-15% range; there’s no need to tip on top of this except for superior service.

Customer Service:
Compliments and complaints regarding Aruba’s tourism can be voiced by calling the Customer Service Hotline on (297) 839000, active Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. An answering machine records calls outside these days and hours. The individuals and/or establishments concerned will be informed.

Average Temperatures (in Fahrenheit):

  High Low
January – March 81 79
April – June 83 81
July – September 84 83
October – December 84 80

The Caribbean climate is constant. The average year-round temperatures for the region is 82°F. . The extremes of temperature are 65°F low, 95°F high, but, the absence of high humidity and the presence of tropical breezes, make this an ideal climate. Downtown shopping areas feel hot at midday any time of the year, but air-conditioning provides comfort inside the shops. Near beaches, water and the trade winds keep things at just the right temperature.

Hurricanes:
Aruba is below the hurricane belt, so the traveler will not be able to experience a hurricane in Aruba.

Packing:
Women usually wear casual cottons, linens and lightweight synthetics, hats for protection against the sun, flat heeled , sturdy shoes for walking and hiking. Shorts and slacks can be worn on the streets of Oranjestad. There is no need for formal evening wear. A light sweater for the cooler evenings might come in handy. Men might consider casual shirts and shorts. It is no longer customary for men to wear ties at business appointments. Sport coat for business is optional. Be sure to bring sun screen and insect repellent.

National Holidays:
New Year’s Day – January 1
Betico Croes’ Birthday – January 25
Carnival Monday – Late February
National Anthem & Flag Day – March 18
Good Friday – March; April (varies)
Easter Monday – March; April (varies)
Queen’s Day – April 30
Labor Day – May 1
Ascension Day – May (varies)
Christmas Day – December 25
Boxing Day – December 26

Drinking Water:
Aruba has the world’s second largest desalination plant which supplies the island with pure, fresh water. Imported bottled water is also readily available.

Electricity:
Same as in North America, i.e. 110Volts AC at 60 cycles.

Store Hours:
Most stores open from 9am to noon or 1pm and from 2pm to 6:30pm, although some remain open between noon and 2pm. Shops are open from Monday to Saturday. Hotel stores have varying open hours so check at your hotel for these. The Alahambra bazaar is open between 5pm and midnight. Mall store hours are 10am until 6pm.

Special Facilities:
Limited facilities for disabled persons are available. Some hotels have rooms that can completely accommodate disabled people while others have more limited facilities with ground floor rooms and wider doors to enable use of wheelchairs.

Equivalent Weights And Measures:
1 cm – 0.39 inches
1 meter – 3.28 feet / 1.09 yards
1 km – 0.62 miles
1 liter – 0.26 gallons
1 inch – 2.54 cm
1 foot – 0.39 meters
1 yard – 0.91 meters
1 mile – 1.60 km
1 gallon – 3.78 liters

Passports & Visas:
U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport or a birth certificate with a raised seal and a government-issued photo ID. Visitors from the member countries of the European Union must also carry their European Union Travel Card, as well as a passport. All other nationalities must have a valid passport.

Arriving & Departing:
By Air
Flights leave daily to Aruba’s Reina Beatrix International Airport (AUA) (AUA, 297/8-24800) from New York area airports and Miami International Airport, with easy connections from most American cities. Flights to Aruba take 21/2 hours from Miami and 4 hours from New York.

Transfers Between the Airport and Town:
By Taxi:
A taxi from the airport to most hotels takes about 20 minutes. It will cost about $16 to get to Eagle Beach; $18 to the high-rise hotels on Palm Beach; and $9 to the hotels downtown. There is a taxi stand right outside the baggage claim area of the airport.

Getting Around:
Buses run hourly trips between the beach hotels and the capital, Oranjestad for around $1. Buses run from Oranjestad to San Nicolas for the same fare.

Ferries:
Ferries run between the islands., and also offer cruises.

Bicycles and Mopeds:
Rentals are available. These forms of transportation are ideal because of the compact size of Aruba.

Horse-Drawn Carriages:
Horse drawn carriages offer tours of the capital.

Cars:
Island roads can be very steep and winding, and are in poor condition. Children and livestock walk in the road as there are no sidewalks. The automobile is not the preferred mode of transportation.

C – Attractions & Things To Do

Butterfly Farm
Located at Palm Beach across from the Aruba Phoenix and Wyndham Hotels. Open all year from 9:00 -4:30
Step into a tropical garden filled with colorful butterflies from around the world. Observe the life cycle from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. Tour guides offer commentary on butterfly habits. Arrive early and watch new butterflies emerging from their chrysalis and taking their first flight. The butterfly farm is a rare opportunity for photography and a delight to visitors of all ages.

oranjestad butterfly farm

 

Oranjestad
Aruba’s sunny, pastel-colored capital is on the island’s southern leeward coast, just southeast of the main resort area. The bustling city has a very Caribbean flavor, with part-Spanish, part-Dutch architecture The main thoroughfare, Lloyd G. Smith Boulevard, cuts in from the airport along the waterfront and on to Palm Beach, changing its name along the way to J. E. Irausquin Boulevard. Most tourists visit to shop in its boutiques and duty-free shops, but it has three small museums that explore the island’s history.

Historical Museum
Fort Zoutman/Willem III Tower
Oranjestad.
Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
There is an entrance fee.
Situated in the oldest building in Aruba, Fort Zoutman and Willem III Tower, the historical museum offers a collection of articles from the island’s earliest times through early Spanish and Dutch periods, up to the present.

Numismatic Museum
Zuidstraat 27, Oranjestad
Monday – Friday 7:30 – noon and 1 – 4
30,000 historic coins from Aruba and around the world.

Archaeological Museum
Zoutmanstraat 1, Oranjestad.
Monday – Friday 8 – noon and 1 -4
Located on Zoutmanstraat diagonally across from the bus stop in Oranjestad, this museum’s five rooms exhibit giant earthen jars of which a few contain the remains of Aruba’s original inhabitants. Also displayed in glass boxes with descriptions are ancient artifacts, pottery tools and art.

Deep Sea Fishing
Numerous boats and crews are available at the docks. In the temperate waters around Aruba, a variety of Atlantic game fish can be caught year-round. Sailfish, white and blue marlin, wahoo, shark, barracuda, amberjack, kingfish, bonito, and blackfin and yellowfin tuna are abundant. The captain and his/her first mate will help the vacationing fishing enthusiast bring in any fish, even if they have little previous experience. Many restaurants will even cook and serve your catch of the day You can sail for either a full day or a half-day on many of the fishing boats. Excursions can be arranged through your hotel activity desk or De Palm Tours, or directly with the captain of the boat of your choice.

Schooner Harbor
In this harbor are moored many fishing boats and schooners ,some from Venezuela.. Nearly all newcomers to Aruba like to photograph the Colorful boats dock along the quay, and boat owners display their wares in open stalls. Fresh fish are sold at the market nearby.

Wilhelmina Park
This park, named after Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, is also on the sea side of Oranjestad. It features a tropical garden along the water and a sculpture of the Queen Mother.

Outside the City
A popular pastime is a drive into the cunucu, which in Papiamento means “the countryside.” Here Arubans live in modest, colorful, pastel-washed houses, decorated with tropical plants that require expensive desalinated water.

Hooiberg
Caya G. F. Croes (7A) toward Santa Cruz. Hooiberg, also known as “The Haystack.” It is Aruba’s highest landmark. Those with energy to spare can scramble up the steps of this 541-foot-high hill and be rewarded with a view, on a clear day, of Venezuela.

Casibari
Open daily from 9 – 5, with no admission charge
Aruba is studded with massive boulders. The most impressive ones at Ayo and Casibari, northeast of Hooiberg. Diorite boulders stack up as high as city office buildings. The rocks weigh several thousand tons and puzzle geologists. Ancient Amerindian drawings appear on the rocks at Ayo. At Casibari, you can climb to the top for a panoramic view of the island or a close look at rocks that nature has carved into seats or prehistoric birds and animals.. The lodge at Casibari sells souvenirs, snacks, soft drinks, and beer.

Caves of Canashito
South of Hooiberg
Tours available. Inquire at your hotel.
Guides can point out drawings on the walls and ceiling of these unusual caves. There are giant green parakeets in the area as well.

Natural Bridge
Aruba’s natural coral bridge that had been formed over millions of years by surf eating away at a portion of the coral formations on the rocky northern shore, collapsed in mid-2005.   A slightly shorter coral bridge survives the erosion, and remains a popular tourist attraction.  The site, reached by traveling down a gravel road,  is a perfect place for a picnic.  Andicuri Beach, a short stroll over the bridge, is a popular boogie-boarding location for competent swimmers.

Arikok National Park
297/8-28001
The park is a desert like ecological preserve that covers 18% of the island’s area, starting on the east coast and jutting inland almost to the west coast. The island’s rich crust makes it one of the rare places in the world with geological origins traceable with the naked eye. Hiking trails make it easy to explore the preserve’s unusual terrain and diverse flora and fauna. Iguanas and many species of migratory.
This park encompasses a significant area of land in the interior and a long stretch of the northern windward coast. The park contains traces of nearly all the significant forces that have impacted on Aruba’s history, including Arawak petroglyphs in the Fontein Cave, the remains of Dutch peasant settlements at Masiduri, plantation houses in the Prins Valley and the ruins of an old gold mining operation at Miralamar. The park covers 620 sq. ft.
The Aruban government is working on a 10-year ecotourism plan to preserve the resources of the park. The park is topped by Aruba’s second-highest mountain, 577-ft Mt. Arikok, so climbing is also a possibility.

Mount Jamanota
Aruba’s highest hill. There’s a road running through the park, and some interesting hiking trails.

Spaans Lagoen Along the highway toward the island’s southernmost section is Spanish Lagoon, where pirates hid and waited to plunder rich cargo ships in the Caribbean. Today it’s an ideal place for snorkeling and for having a picnic at the tables under the mangrove trees.

Savaneta
To the east is an area called where some of the most ancient traces of human habitation have been unearthed.

Lago Oil Transport Company
You’ll see here the first oil tanks that marked the position of the the Exxon subsidiary around which the town of San Nicolas developed. San Nicolas was a company town until 1985, when the refinery curtailed operations. Twelve miles from Oranjestad, it is now called the Aruba Sunrise Side, and tourism has become its main economic endeavor.

Guadarikiri Cave and Fontein Cave.
The Guadirikiri and Fontein caves are marked with ancient drawings. Park rangers are available to offer explanations. Both caves were used by native Indians centuries ago.

Huliba and Tunnel of Love Caves
Baranca Sunu, the so-called Tunnel of Love, has a heart-shape entrance and, within, naturally sculpted rocks that look like the Madonna, Abe Lincoln, and even a jaguar At these caves, guides show visitors the carvings and natural formations. The Tunnel of Love cave requires some physical stamina to explore. It is filled with steep climbs, and its steps are illuminated only by hand-held lamps. Wear sturdy shoes and watch your step.

California Lighthouse
The closed lighthouse stands at the island’s far northern end. It’s surrounded by huge boulders and sand dunes tufted with scrub.

Rock Formations
The massive boulders at Ayo and Casibari are said to be a mystery since they don’t match the island’s geological makeup. You can climb to the top of Casibari for fine views of the arid countryside; the main path has steps and handrails, and you must move through tunnels and on narrow steps and ledges to reach the top. At Ayo you’ll find ancient pictographs in a small cave. Access to Casibari is via Tanki Highway 4A, to Ayo via Highway 6A; watch carefully for the turnoff signs near the center of the island on the way to the windward side.

Scuba Diving And Snorkeling
With visibility of up to 90 ft, Aruban waters are excellent for snorkeling and diving. Certified divers can go wall or reef diving or explore wrecks sunk during World War II. The German freighter, Antilla, is popular with both divers and snorkelers.

Mangel Halto Reef
(Also known as Pos Chiquito Reef or Bao Baranca)Mangel Halto Reef is excellent for night diving.

Beaches

Beaches in Aruba are legendary: white sand, turquoise waters, and virtually no litter everyone takes the No littering signs (“No tira sushi”) signs are taken very seriously. The major beaches, which back up to the hotels along the southwestern strip, are public and crowded. Make sure you’re well protected from the sun with sunscreen or sunblock. Sunburns can happen quickly in the intense sun and gentle breezes. On the island’s northeastern side, wind makes the waters too choppy for swimming, but the views are magnificent, and the terrain is wonderful for sunbathing and geological exploration.

Baby Beach (Seroe Colorado)
On the island’s eastern tip, this semicircular beach borders a bay that’s as placid and just about as deep as a wading pool.
Swimming Conditions: Excellent and a great spot for snorkeling.
White powder sand. Accessible by car or taxi.
Snack truck offers chicken legs, burgers, hot dogs, beer, and soda.

Boca Grandi
Strong swimming skills are a must at this beach near Seagrape Grove and the Aruba Golf Club toward the island’s eastern tip.

Boca Prins
Near the Fontein Cave and Blue Lagoon, this beach is famous for its backdrop of enormous sand dunes. No swimming. Ideal for a picnic. Bring a beach blanket and sturdy footwear and climb down the rocks that form steps to the water’s edge. Accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Boca Tabla (Bachelor’s Beach)
Swimming Conditions: Better suited for snorkeling and windsurfing than swimming. White powder sand. No facilities. Accessible by car or taxi.

Dos Playa
Swimming Conditions: Not recommended for swimming due to huge waves and strong currents., but a beautiful spot for a picnic, or to admire the view. Accessible by 4-wheel drive only.

Eagle Beach
On the southwestern coast , and recently designated one of the 10 best beaches in the world by Travel & Leisure magazine.

Fisherman’s Hut
This beach is a windsurfer’s heaven. Take a picnic lunch (tables are available) and watch the purple, aqua, and orange sails of the catamarans struggle in the wind.

Grapefield Beach
To the northeast of San Nicolas, this area of blinding white sand in the shadow of cliffs and boulders is marked by the statue of an anchor dedicated to all seamen. Swim at your own risk; the waves can be rough.

Malmok Beach
This small beach is located on the northwestern shore. It is also known as Boca Catalina, and borders shallow waters that stretch 300 yards from shore. It is a perfect place to learn to windsurf and is a favorite with divers and snorkelers. A major diving attraction is the wreck of the German ship Antilla, scuttled in 1940.

Manchebo Beach
(Formerly Punta Brabo Beach) In front of the Manchebo Beach Resort, this wide stretch of white powder is a favorite spot for top-free sunbathers.

Mangel Halto (Savaneta)
Swimming Conditions: Shallow water.
White powder sand. This is a good spot for picnics, and is accessible by car or taxi.

Natural Pool
Not a beach, but this hidden pool on the north coast offers unique scenery and solitude. Accessible by 4-wheel drive or on horseback.

Palm Beach
This beach is behind the Allegro Resort & Casino, Wyndham Aruba Beach Resort and Casino, Aruba Grand Beach Resort & Casino, and Holiday Inn hotels. It is at the center of Aruban tourism, offering the best in swimming, sailing, and other water sports.

Rodger’s Beach
Next to Baby Beach on the island’s eastern tip, this is a curving stretch of sand, unfortunately providing a view of the oil refinery at the far side of the bay. A new snack bar serves refreshments and hosts occasional live entertainment at the water’s edge. White powder sand. Accessible by car or taxi.
Swimming Conditions: Excellent.

Santo Largo
Swimming Conditions: Shallow water.
White powder sand. No facilities. Accessible by car or taxi.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Casinos
A few casinos are open 24 hours a day. In most, the opening hours are 11 a.m. for slots and 1 p.m. through early morning for table games. Hours vary seasonally, so check before making plans. No one under 18 is allowed in the casinos. The larger casinos feature live first class entertainment imported from other countries such as the United States and Latin America.
opens its games at 10:30am; it stays open until 1:30am.

Alhambra
J. E. Irausquin Blvd. 47
297/8-35000
10am till very early in the morning, usually 3am.
The Alhambra is a complex of buildings and courtyards designed like an 18th-century Dutch village.. A busy casino operates on the premises.

Cinema

Seaport Cinema
Seaport Market Place
297/8-30318
The complex has six theaters showing the latest American movies in English.

Shows

The Cabaret Royale (Wyndham Aruba Beach Resort and Casino, J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 77, Palm Beach, 297/8-64466) has an entertaining Cuban review (with a bit of flesh) Tuesday through Saturday at 9 PM. Dinner (seating at 7:30) and the show cost $34; $20 gets you two cocktails (starting at 8:30) and admission to the show.

The Tropicana Showroom (J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 250, 297/8-77000 ext. 731 or 727), the Royal Cabana Casino’s cabaret theater and nightclub, features first-class Las Vegas-style revues, usually showcasing female impersonators, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 9 PM and Wednesday and Friday at 10 PM; the cost is $35 per person. Dinner/show combinations are available ($119 for two people).

Twinklebone’s House Of Roast Beef (Noord 124, Noord, 297/8-26780) serves succulent prime rib and the like, but it’s best known for the fun, impromptu cabaret of Carnival music put on by the staff every night but Sunday. Some customers find it hokey; others eat it up.

Bars
Iguana Joe’s (Royal Plaza Mall, L.G. Smith Blvd. 94, Oranjestad, 297/8-39373) has a creative reptilian-theme decor and a color scheme featuring such planter’s punch colors as lime and grape.

Kukoo Kunuku
297/8-62010
a psychedelically painted ’57 Chevy bus. Weeknights, as many as 40 passengers board to make the rounds of six local bars from sundown to midnight, with a stop for dinner. Group and private charter rates are available; these include hotel pick up and drop off.

Mambo Jambos
2nd floor, Royal Plaza Mall, L.G. Smith Blvd. 94, Oranjestad
297/8-33632
Painted in sunset colors, with parrots painted on the ceiling. It offers several house-specialty drinks and a gift shop.

Dance Clubs

Café Bahia
Weststraat 7, Oranjestad
297/8-89982
An elegant spiral staircase leads up to a bar and dance floor backed by a mural of colorful cacti against a blue, cloud-smattered Aruban sky. Locals and tourists drink Balashi cocktails and salsa to music provided by island bands.

E-Zone
(Bayside Mall, Weststraat 5, Oranjestad, 297/9-36784) has a huge dance floor, walls decorated with hair-dryer tubes and slinkies, bartenders in hard hats, and a cozy VIP lounge.

La Fiesta
(Aventura Mall, Plaza Daniel Leo, 297/8-35896), an upscale indoor-outdoor space, serves cocktails and attracts a casual yet classy crowd.

Havana Club
(L.G. Smith Blvd. 1, 297/8-80557) has purple walls adorned with gold-framed mirrors, antique lanterns, and dried flowers. The two oversize dance floors are often packed on weekends; Wednesday Ladies’ Night draws a crowd of about 3,000. The music alternates between pop, rock, and international hits; local bands sometimes play. Escape from the crowds by taking refuge on a patio complete with a bar, a mini-swimming pool, and a private stretch of beach.

Music Clubs

Cellar
(Klipstraat 2, Oranjestad, 297/8-28567) live bands perform Monday and Thursday-Saturday; the music du jour might be blues, jazz, funk, reggae, or rock.

Garufa Cocktail Lounge
(Wilhelminastraat 63, Oranjestad, 297/8-27205 or 297/8-23677). For jazz and local music try the This cozy cigar bar serves as a comfortable lounge for customers awaiting a table at El Gaucho Steakhouse ( 297/8-27205 or 297/8-23677), across the street (you’re issued a beeper so that the restaurant can notify you when your table is ready).

Theme Nights
There are more than 30 theme nights offered during the course of a week. Each one features a buffet dinner, entertainment (usually of the limbo, steel-band, stilt-walking, variety), and dancing. The top groups tend to rotate among the resorts.

Shopping
Aruba offers merchandise from six continents along the half-mile-long Caya G. F. Betico Croes, Oranjestad’s main shopping street. Technically this is not a free port, but the duty is so low that prices are attractive, and Aruba has no sales tax. There are numerous Swiss watches; German and Japanese cameras; jewelry; liquor; English bone china and porcelain; Dutch, Swedish, and Danish silver and pewter; French perfume; British woolens; Indonesian specialties; and Madeira embroidery. Delft blue pottery is an especially good buy. Other good buys include Dutch cheese (Edam and Gouda), Dutch chocolate, and English cigarettes in the airport departure area. Philatelists will love the wealth of colorful, artistic stamps issued in honor of Aruba’s changed governmental status. Major credit cards are welcome virtually everywhere, U.S. dollars are accepted almost as readily as local currency, and traveler’s checks can be cashed with proof of identity. Since there’s no sales tax, the price you see on the tag is what you pay. Don’t try to bargain. Arubans consider it rude.

Shopping Centers & Malls
Most malls are in Oranjestad and are attractive gabled, pastel-hue re-creations of Dutch colonial architecture.

Shopping Neighborhoods

Oranjestad’s Caya G.F. Betico Croes
This is Aruba’s chief shopping street, lined with several duty-free boutiques and jewelry stores noted for the aggressiveness of their vendors on cruise-ship days.

D – Family Fun Attractions

Note: Be sure to check out our list of Family Friendly Hotels. Child -centered features vary among hotels on the island. Many, but not all, have special programs and activities during the day for children. Some offer child care services. Some have a kiddie pool and supervised play area.

Neptalie Henriquez Playground for Children
call (297) 821059 for information.

The Kibaima Miniature Village Park
(297) 851830
This delightful park shows you some of Aruba’s delights in miniature. There is also a playground for children and surroundings with ample flora and fauna

Indian Rock Garden
The garden has a display of many tropical plants and exotic birds. (297) 847366. Telephone for further information.

Some other activities for older children are sailcarting, horseriding and miniature golf.

Adventure Golf

Sazakiweg z/n, Aruba
Dutch Caribbean
Tel: (297) 876625
Fax: (297) 876645
Daily: 5:00pm – 12:00am.
Weekends 1:00pm -12:00am.
Billed as the world’s largest Mini Golf course, there is fun galore for the whole family. This includes the opportunity also to take a romantic paddle boat ride in the lagoon, or have a splash around in the bumper boat pool. The biggest game room on the island is another feature. A souvenir shop, the Black Hog Saloon and the family oriented Alfredo’s Restaurant are also on premises.

Other Sports

Tennis / Racquetball / Squash
Tennis has always been popular on Aruba and most hotels have excellently maintained courts as well as qualified pros to assist visitors with their game or introduce new skills, to novices and experts alike.

Aruba Racquet Club
Tel. (297) 860215 Fax. (297) 860219

Bowling
Bowling is quite popular in Aruba with local teams competing abroad regularly. Shoes, accessories as well as snacks and drinks are available.

Eagle Bowling Palace
Tel. (297) 835038 Fax. (297) 836310

E – Events & Entertainments

Bon Bini Festival
Near the clock tower on Zoutmanstraat, Oranjestad
297/8-22185
Small admission fee
This festival is held every Tuesday from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm in the outdoor courtyard of the Ft. Zoutman Museum. Bon Bini is Papiamento for “welcome,” and this tourist event is the Aruba Institute of Culture and Education’s introduction to all things Aruban. Stroll by the stands of island foods, drinks, and crafts, or watch entertainers perform Antillean music and folk dancing.

oranjestad bonbini festival

New Year’s Day
New Year’s Day is welcomed with midnight fireworks to ward off evil spirits, while wandering minstrels serenade houses and hotels.

The Dande Stroll
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Groups of musicians known as the Dande stroll from house to house singing good luck greetings for the new year. The best Dande song receives a prize and is sung by islanders during the next 12 months.

Carnival
Carnival means weeks of events that bring you colorfully decorated floats, vibrant music, costumed groups of revelers of all ages, King & Queen elections, electrifying jump ups and torch light parades that wind their way through the streets at night. There are the Children’s Parades and finally the Grand Parade.
Where else can you find Antillean “tumba” music, the Calypso and steel bands of the English Caribbean, the salsa beat of Latin countries plus marching bands and a smattering of Dutch oom-pa-pa? The 2 month long celebration culminates with the all day Grand Parade on Sunday, with everyone all decked out.
Just when you think it is all over, there’s the Farewell Parade and the burning of Momo, indicating the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent. Symbolically, Momo’s ashes are used on Ash Wednesday.

National Anthem and Flag Day
March 18, an official holiday.

Summer Jam
End of April with a carnival and jazz bands.

Latin American Film Festival
An exhibition of works by Latin American film makers, which usually takes place during the last week in May. Most of the films are in Spanish with English sub-titles. Some are in English.

Hi-Winds Pro-Am Windsurfing Competition
Held at Eagle Beach in June.

The Harvest Festival of Dera Gai
In late June, there’s the harvest festival of Dera Gai – it used to involve the burying of a rooster, but in modern times a gourd is substituted.

Jazz and Latin Music Festival
For five nights each June, authentic jazz and Latin music is performed at the outdoor arena next to the Aruba Sonesta Resorts at Seaport Village.

Aruba Music Festival
First week in June, annually. Concert series features top jazz, rhythm and blues, and contemporary Latin performers.

International Dance Festival
Each October, dance companies from the Carribean, the United States and Europe conduct and participate in lectures, demonstrations and exhibitions.

International Theater Festival
Every other October, theater groups from around the world perform 45-70 minute shows at the Cas di Cultura.

Sint Nicolaas Day (5 December)
This is a Dutch tradition: Sint Nicolaas is a Santa Claus figure who arrives with his helpers who assist him as he distributes candy and gifts to children gathered in Oranjestad.

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