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About Aruba


Where Are You?   [ Back to Top ]
Aruba lies at the heart of the southern Caribbean, about two-and-a-half hours by air from Miami, Florida and 15 miles north of Venezuela. The island is 19.6 miles long, and six miles across at its widest point, with a total area of 70 square miles. Aruba is outside the hurricane belt and the island boasts year-round great weather, cooling trade winds and friendly people.

On the island's South coast, the topography and vegetation are unusual for a Caribbean island. On the south and west coasts are miles of pristine white beaches that rank among the most beautiful in the world, rimmed by calm blue seas with visibility in some areas to a depth of a hundred feet.

History   [ Back to Top ]
Aruba's first inhabitants were the Caquetios Indians from the Arawak tribe. Fragments of the earliest known Indian settlements date back to about 1000 A.D, as do the ancient painted symbols still visible on limestone caves found at Fontein, Ayo and elsewhere. Pottery remnants can still be seen at the Museum of Archaeology.

Some centuries later, the first European landed on Aruban shores. Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda is thought to have arrived about 1499. The Spanish promptly exported the Indians to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, where they were put to work in the copper mines.

In 1636, near the culmination of the Eighty Years' War between Spain and Holland, the Dutch took possession of Aruba and remained in control for nearly two centuries. In 1805, during the Napoleonic Wars, the English briefly took control over the island, but it was returned to Dutch control in 1816. Although Aruba continues to exist within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, it functions independently.

Currency   [ Back to Top ]
The official currency of Aruba is the Aruban florin, which is divided into 100 cents. Silver coins are in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents, one florin, 2 1/2 florins and 5 florins. The square shaped 50-cent "yotin" coin is probably Aruba's best-known coin.

The florin fluctuates with the dollar on the world market. Current exchange rates are Af. 1.77 to the U.S. Dollar and Af. 1.34 to the Canadian Dollar. U.S. dollars are widely accepted in Aruba, and banks may exchange other foreign currency.

Banking hours:   [ Back to Top ]
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon and 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Most bank branches remain open during lunch. The Aruba Bank branch at the airport is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on official holidays.

Carnival   [ Back to Top ]
More then 2000 years ago, the Greeks worshipped a god Dionysius as their god of wine and vegetation, or Bacchus in Latin, eventually became the Greek and Roman god of wine and cheer. Aruba's Official Carnival Concept Design, Bacchanal, derives its name from Bacchanalia, the festival honoring the god Bacchus, because of its many likenesses to the carnival celebration. There is the similarity of artistic expression - Bacchus and Bacchanalias were inspiration for many famous artworks throughout the history, and the most beautiful Greek tragedies, by Sophocles and Euripides were written for this celebration.

Also, because carnival is a religious celebration (carne vale in Latin stands for farewell to flesh) symbolizing cleansing one's body of all sins, and is followed by six weeks of repentance, the Lent. This is why Bacchanal is a word often heard in lyrics of the Aruban road marches. Bacchanal, Aruba's official Carnival Concept design, captures in professional graphic design the essence of carnival: music, dance, colors, creativity, merriment… The purpose of the Bacchanal is to combine the visual impressions of carnival with the information about the celebration, and become a tool for promoting Aruba's carnival locally and abroad. With an easily identifiable logo, carnival program guide and merchandise, Aruba's carnival is now able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the most renowned carnival celebrations of the world.

Languages   [ Back to Top ]
In Aruba, the people speak, write and read English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento fluently. Many also speak French and German.

Papiamento was developed in the neighboring island of Curacao in the 1500's to enable African slaves to communicate with their owners. In addition to their own language, Portuguese and Spanish missionaries, Dutch merchants, South American traders and Indians added additional words.

Dutch is the official language of Aruba due to the fact that Aruba was a Dutch colony. All documents and government papers are in Dutch and lessons at school are also given in Dutch. Papiamento is the native language, only spoken on the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao). Most of the inhabitants speak Papiamento at home or on the streets with friends.

English is recognized as an international language and all inhabitants of Aruba are obliged to learn English as early as the 4th grade in primary school. Spanish is also taking on equal importance since Aruba is located just off the South American Continent. Spanish is also taught as early as the 5th grade of primary school. French is taught in high school as an optional language.

Car or jeep rental companies   [ Back to Top ]
If you haven't already rented a car or jeep, you may wish to consider renting one. Although many visitors initially think that Aruba is only a "small island" and that a car is an exaggerated luxury, most of the time they've changed their mind within a few days. In fact, having a car on Aruba (of course depending on where you stay) is almost a must if you would like to see most of Aruba. We've made a selection of companies that offer rental services. These companies normally offer good vehicles against reasonable prices. With many of them we have special arrangements. Don't hesitate to call our office if you wish to reserve a car, we even might be able to arrange a discount price. If you are adventurous and want to explore more of what Aruba has to offer, it's a good idea to rent a four wheel drive Jeep or Samurai. There are great sites to see but the roads to get there are often rugged and not suitable for a car. Make sure that your spare tire is full of air before heading out into the rough rugged terrain. Also things like a 2/3 bottle of frozen water, sunscreen, a hat etc...
If you want air conditioning and plan to stay on the main paved roads, there are many types of cars to choose from. You can rent your vehicle at the airport or you can call and ask to be picked up at your villa.

Jeep Tours   [ Back to Top ]
You are now part of a "wagon train" that will often contain 10 or more four wheel drive jeeps. Organized tours often stop at the California Lighthouse, charming Alto Vista chapel, Seroe Crystal, the Bushiribana gold mill ruins, famous Natural bridge, through the back roads to the Guadirikiri caves and finish off on a private island that is located just a five minute ferry boat ride from the main land. A tasty barbeque lunch is often included on the island and there are also excellent snorkeling opportunities.

Island Tours   [ Back to Top ]
See Aruba's picturesque landscape in a comfortable air-conditioned bus. An excursion often begins with pick-up at your hotel. A guide will take you on a narrated tour to the most interesting and popular spots on Aruba. Sit back and enjoy the tour!

Scuba Diving   [ Back to Top ]
If you wish to learn how to dive, take a Resort Certification Scuba Diving Course so as not to miss out on the beauty, not to mention excitement, of Aruba's underwater world. Divers with Open Water Certification can enjoy the many diving sites Aruba has to offer; go wall diving, reef diving, or explore wrecks sunk during World War II.

Snorkeling   [ Back to Top ]
If you prefer to remain close to the surface and snorkel, you may enjoy not only the beauty of the coral formations, but also the wreck sites with a visibility, at some sites, of 100 feet.
Go beyond snorkeling and try "SNUBA" (Snorkeling + scuba). Air tanks float on rafts on the ocean and several 20 ft air hoses provide oxygen to the swimmer below the surface.
The hoses permit underwater explorers as young as eight years old to safely descend to a depth of 20 feet with the aid of a SNUBA-instructor, allowing for unique views of colorful fish and intriguing coral formations

Sailing & Boating   [ Back to Top ]
As lovely as it is to gaze at the horizon from Aruba's shores, the view of the island itself is a dazzling spectacle from the sea! Many partake of sailing adventures at all times of day and night. Some prefer to choose water sports expeditions, while others prefer a dinner cruise, and still others opt to dance on the decks into the night with the excitement of a midnight dip into the warm sea!

Along Aruba's southern coastline, the smooth ocean is great for sailing and the steady trade winds ensure favorable sailing conditions. You can rent a Sunfish or a Minifish, practically untippable little pleasure sailboats that are terrific fun for skimming along the beach. You can also go sailing on a catamaran, a trimarin or a ketch.

Deep Sea Fishing   [ Back to Top ]
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 black fin and yellow fin tuna are abundant. The experienced 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!

Windsurfing   [ Back to Top ]
The constant 15-knot trade winds, along with the variety of flat-water locations and challenging wave conditions, have made Aruba one of the most popular spots on earth for windsurfers. Whether you're a beginner, an expert or anywhere in between, you can find a suitable location for your skill level.
Novices can take advantage of the gentler winds, abundance of rental equip ment and instructors along the island's southern shore. Advanced students and experts have a choice of any number of prime locations along the northern and southeastern coasts.

Every year in June, Aruba hosts the Hi-Winds Amateur World Challenge windsurfing tournament. This ten-day competition attracts the most competitive professional windsurfers and hundreds of amateurs to the island of Aruba and is sanctioned by the PBA (Professional Board sailors Association).

Parasailing   [ Back to Top ]
Enjoy Aruba from a different and dramatic angle as parasailing is a unique and thrilling way to look at Aruba from above the water at 600 feet in the air. The ride typically takes around 15 minutes and ascends and descends directly from the boat.

There are several water sports centers offering parasailing located along Palm Beach. Stop at any one of them to book a parasailing adventure you'll remember forever! Don't forget to purchase a disposable underwater camera so you can capture a bird's eye view of Aruba!

Kite Boarding   [ Back to Top ]
Kite Boarding is one of the newest water sports that is quickly gaining popularity anywhere in the world where there is water. With the help of very large inflatable kites, about 90 ft of flying lines and boards not unlike small surfboards with foot straps proficient kite boarders are able to skim across the water surface at 30+ miles an hour and get launched 10, 20, 30, even 40 to 50 ft up in the air. This is a sport like no other. With some perseverance you will be amazed at how steep the learning curve is too. Aruba is one of the premier locations for this exciting new sport.

Jet skiing   [ Back to Top ]
When you are interested in water sports, you are on the right place. Aruba offers many water sports activities. When you are searching for more information, just go to the special section over water sports and activities.

Golf   [ Back to Top ]
At the island's northwest tip is Aruba's first world-class golf course. The 18-hole, par-71 course was designed by Robert Trent Jones II to take full advantage of Aruba's unique and rugged natural surroundings.

From the wild, green parakeets on the organ-pipe cactus to the lizards and salamanders that bask on rock formations, the wildlife of Tierra del Sol has become an attraction in its own right. Afterward, golfers can relax at the clubhouse or swimming pool which includes a pro shop, locker rooms, and restaurant with a panoramic view. Reservations are necessary and can be made through your hotel.

Aruba Golf Club   [ Back to Top ]
Located at the opposite end of the island near San Nicolaas, the Aruba Golf Club features a 9-hole course with 20 sand traps and 5 water traps. The clubhouse is complete with bar, storage rooms, workshop and separate men's and ladies' rooms with showers and lockers.

Miniature Golf   [ Back to Top ]
Billed as the world's largest miniature golf course, Adventure Golf is a spectacular wonderland surrounded by rushing waterfalls and is popular with families in the cooler evening hours.

Tennis   [ Back to Top ]
Tennis enthusiasts will be pleased to discover that Aruba is home to over a dozen top quality tennis courts that are located at hotels or tennis clubs. Most leading hotels have tennis instructors, and there are many courts at private clubs where visitors are welcome. The majority of the hotel courts are good for both day and night play. The Aruba Racquet Club, Aruba's first world-class tennis center, is located at Rooi Santo 21 in the Palm Beach area. It features eight lighted courts, an exhibition center court, a pro shop, a swimming pool, aerobics classes, a fitness center, and a bar and restaurant.

Shopping   [ Back to Top ]
The stores of Aruba are stocked with well-priced imported merchandise. Aruba is a "Shopper's Paradise", with perfume, liquor, linens, jewelry, watches, cameras, designer fashions, crystal and china among the luxury items available at excellent prices. Many stores also feature local handicrafts.

Most stores and boutiques are located in Oranjestad. There are also shops at the major hotels and at the airport. In Oranjestad, the major shopping centers are Alhambra Shopping Bazaar, The Atrium, Bubali Shopping Center, Port of Call Marketplace, Royal Plaza Mall, Seaport Marketplace, Strada Complex I and II, and Sun Plaza Mall. Other major shopping areas are Centro Commercial, in Noord, and the San Nicolas Shopping District.

Stores on the main streets are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, although some are closed for lunch between noon and 2 p.m. Shops in the malls and shopping centers are open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Some stores are open on Sundays and holidays when cruise ships are in port.

Kid Activities   [ Back to Top ]
There are so many things you can do on Aruba, but what about your children? Obvious you want to do activities that are fun for you and your children. Maybe you also would like to have some private time sometimes. so let them have fun out on the island, try their skills at mini-golf, or let them go on a camp that offers, among other things, horseback riding, without you having to be there to keep an eye on them. Make them feel independent! It's exciting for them and gives you a rest! Or take them to Aruba's modest-size zoo or butterfly farm. If you think they are courageous enough, they can even pet a tiger! Except for the many activities on the island that are fun for both adult and child, there is obviously more to enjoy for your kids!

Dining   [ Back to Top ]
The delight of a different ambiance offered with each dining experience is an additional pleasure to be found in Aruba. 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 chains are in Aruba, including Taco Bell, Subway, Wendy's, Tony Romas and McDonalds. Local Aruban establishments 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 decor made from articles recovered from sunken wrecks.
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 moonlight dip, and dinner.

Nightlife   [ Back to Top ]
Aruba's nightlife caters for a variety of tastes. There are several charming and exciting nightspots with dancing and entertainment as well as lively action-filled casinos whose atmosphere is charged with excitement and expectation. Most hotels have their own special entertainment activities such as tropical nights, beach barbecues and cocktail parties to mention a few. Hotels and nightclubs feature water ballet, international entertainers, fashion shows, local dance groups, limbo and fire dances, steel bands, discos and the pulsating beat of local bands.

For those of you who prefer a more sedate pace, there are many relaxing activities to choose from...a tropical drink on a moonlit patio under a star-filled sky, a peaceful stroll on a quiet beach or dinner in an intimate setting.

Sightseeing   [ Back to Top ]

Beaches
Aruba's beaches consist of white sand and calm waters, each with it's own flavor to suit your taste.

Hadikurari Beach
is located just south of the lighthouse near the northwestern tip of Aruba and is known for terrific snorkeling.
Palm Beach
is famous for calm waters and is located right in front of the luxurious high-rise hotel stretch of the island.
Eagle Beach
is a well-visited public beach for locals, replete with shaded picnic areas and plenty of parking right off the main road.

Rodgers Beach
features a slightly rough surf. It is located close to the Baby Beach, offering shady areas and shower facilities. It was a popular place for those that worked at the oil refinery and their families.

Baby Beach
is located in the area known as Seroe Colorado at the southeastern end of the island. It got its name because the calm and shallow waters make it ideal for children and/or inexperienced.

California Lighthouse
The old stone California lighthouse is within sight of the Tierra del Sol golf course and is popularly named for the off-shore wreck of the famous ship, "California." Perched on a high seaside elevation, the lighthouse has become one of Aruba's scenic trademarks and offers a picture perfect view of the island's western coastline of sandy beaches. There is a restaurant nearby that offers refreshments by day and fine dining at night.

The isolated northwestern tip of the island is known as "Hudishibana" and features some of the island's most spectacular scenery characterized by large rolling sand dunes and rocky coral shorelines.

Caves
Colorful tales of pirates and buried treasure have a long tradition of being circulated by the locals of Aruba. The island's name of Aruba means "red gold" in Spanish, and exploring the caves along the southeast coast can be a great swashbuckling experience in getting a feel for Aruba's golden history.

The Guadirikiri Cave is famous for its two chambers where sunlight shines through and is the perfect backdrop for unique pictures. Be adventurous and dare to go down the 100 foot long tunnel, home of hundreds of harmless bats. Although its exact history is not known with any certainty, caves like this one are said to have been the hiding places of pirates!

The Fontein Cave is the most popular of the caves as it is the only one that has the drawings of Arawak Indians on the ceilings, providing a real sense of island history to this cave.

Arikok National Park
The Government of Aruba has dedicated approximately 18 percent of the island to this national park. It has many walking trails that are well kept and open to the public for exploring. Some tour companies offer guided tours through this massive protected area that is teeming with unusual plants 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 inhabit the area.
It is located near Mt. Arikok, close the center of the island and is a natural preserve which 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, and birds.

The government is very concerned about the environment and strives to maintain the park by employing only high quality, nature friendly and environmentally sound organizations to beautify the island for the Aruban community. Arikok National Park was first designated as an area of significant national importance in the early 1980's. 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.

Churches   [ Back to Top ]
The picturesque Chapel of Alto Vista, the first chapel of Aruba, exudes tranquility on its dramatic setting above the sea. The chapel was built by the Indians and Spanish and is often referred to as the Pilgrim's Church. The bright yellow chapel is reached by a winding road lined with white crosses marking the stations of the cross. For local Arubans especially, it is a special place for peace and contemplation.

The Church of Noord The carved oak retable in the Church of Noord is a fine example of neo-Gothic sculpture. It was created in 1870 by Hendrik van der Geld. The retable, the communion rail and pulpit won a prize at the first Vatican Council held in Rome in 1870. They originated in the Netherlands, in the province of Noord-Brabant, but were later placed in Scheveningen church and finally in the Church of Noord. The Church of Noord is the third to be built on this spot and was constructed between 1914 and 1919. The rectory, built in 1877, is now the oldest rectory in Aruba. This site is well worth visiting whilst traveling around the island.

Buses   [ Back to Top ]
There is inexpensive and reliable daily bus service between all the districts and the hotel areas. For the bus schedule we refer to our enclosure.

The main bus station is located in downtown Oranjestad across from the waterfront shops and restaurants. From here, one can very affordably travel to anywhere along the hotel stretch. Originally only popular with the locals, tourists are discovering that this is an inexpensive and efficient way to get around between the hotel/beach area and downtown.

Taxis   [ Back to Top ]
The taxi dispatch office, which can also arrange taxi tours, is located at Pos Abou z/n in Oranjestad, behind the Eagle Bowling Palace on the Sasaki road. Taxis do not have meters; rates are fixed and should be checked in advance. Most taxi drivers have participated in the government's Tourism Awareness Program.

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