Aruba Travel Guide

Aruba Adventure Travel Guide: Ideas and Inspiration

PureTravel Says: “Aruba is a jewel in the Caribbean and a visit offers a lovely paradise with nightlife in the modern resorts and casinos. Aruba has powdery white beaches and tropical breezes blowing the palms and invites you to visit the capital Oranjestad and pretty San Nicolas and witness the Dutch influence that has shaped the history and culture. Aruba is perfect for water sports of all kinds as well as exploring the cactus-strewn dry landscapes filled with wildlife and birdlife.”
Holiday Highlights

History & Culture – Aruba gained independence from the Dutch and the influences of former ruling countries can be seen in the history and culture of the island. The capital city of Aruba, Oranjestad, is found on the southern coast and has the pastel colours of Dutch designs with palm-lined streets. You can also spot Spanish influence within the architecture. As you explore Oranjestad, visit the museums and discover the history. Visit the California lighthouse, named after a ship that ran aground on the northwest corner of the island in 1891. Climb to the top and get a bird’s eye view of the sandy beaches stretching off into the distance. Also visit Aruba’s second largest city. San Nicolas, which has some beautiful beaches and Charlie’s Bar which has become an unofficial museum since the 1940s when divers started to hang their underwater discoveries on the walls.

Shopping – Oranjestad has numerous malls and shops with the downtown area, Seaport Village and Lloyd G. Smith Boulevard to explore. You can find fresh fish coming straight from the boats and you can barter in the dockside bazaars for Aruban handicrafts.

Snorkelling – Aruba is ideal for snorkelling in the azure waters and at De Palm Island you will discover many colourful fish as well as many other treasures. The calm and shallow waters near Malmok Beach and at Boca Catalina provide some great snorkelling, as well as Malmok Reef. There’s a sunken fuel barge that attracts many fish and barracuda. Enjoy the lovely coral formations and brightly colored fish at Barcadera Reef, just a few miles from Oranjestad.

Diving – There are many great dive sites around Aruba amongst the shipwrecks and beautiful coral reefs. Mike’s Reef, close to De Palm Island, is one of the best reef dives. The California, a ship that sank off the island’s coast almost 100 years ago, makes for an adventurous dive and is covered with coral and sponges. The Arashi Reef has sunken treasures and the Antilla wreck offers eels to octopus.

Wind Surfing and Kite Surfing – Wind and kite surfing is popular Aruba, with the constant trade winds blowing and surrounded by clear, blue waters and sandy white beach scenery.

Dune Surfing – Dune surfing is a great sport for all the family and can be found at the California White Sand Dunes near Oranjestad near the lighthouse.

Nightlife – Aruba has world-class casinos and exciting nightclubs and bars. There are also lives shows and theatre presentations. You’ll find international cuisine wherever you go.
When To Go

Aruba is unlike much of the rest of the Caribbean in that it has a dry climate and a landscape full of cactus plants. The country sees consistently warm and sunny weather. Also Aruba lies outside of the hurricane belt.
Top Tips

- US dollars are accepted everywhere, but if you need to change your currency, you can do so in most large hotels.
- Hotels in Aruba don’t have facilities for pets.
- When snorkelling or diving, don’t touch the coral. It’s sharp and can cut you.
- You can use American appliances in Aruba, as the electricity operates on 110 volts, alternating current.
- Aruba lies outside of the hurricane belt.
Classic Itineraries

- Visit the Butterfly Farm where you will see hundreds of butterflies from all over the world. They fly about freely in a gigantic enclosed garden, landing weightlessly wherever they please. Enjoy the waterfalls and fishponds as you admire the beauty of this spot.
- Explore California Lighthouse named after the nearby shipwreck, The California which is infamous as the vessel which did not respond to a SOS from the stricken Titanic. The beach and sea here are ideal for sea and dune surfing.
- Arikok National Park is a wilderness preserve with twenty-one miles of hiking trails.
- Renaissance Island is a great place to dive or snorkel. There are two airplanes lying at the bottom, one at 15 feet and one at 40 feet and plenty of colorful fish swimming about.
- Visit the Aruba Numismatic Museum with both local currency and 40,000 items on display from 3BC to present.
- See the history of the Gold Mills where the word Aruba comes from red gold (oro ruba) that was found in the early 19th century. Visit the gold mines at Bushiribana on the north coast and a gold mill in Balashi in the southwest.
- Explore Natural Bridge which the sea created naturally from the limestone.
Caribbean Islands Geography

The Caribbean region is actually made up of some 7,000 islands which are commonly known as the West Indies. The 'Caribbean' usually refers to the Caribbean Sea, the actual Caribbean islands and the coasts which sit on the Caribbean Sea. The area was named the West Indies in 1492 after explorer Christopher Columbus thought he had landed in Asia, in the Indies.

The largest island group is the Antilles which is divided into the Greater Antilles and Lesser Antilles. The Greater Antilles is made up of Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, which is Haiti and Dominican Republic and in fact the Greater Antilles accounts for around ninety percent of the total land in the whole of the West Indies.

The Lesser Antilles comprise the Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos. The Windward Islands are made up of these islands; Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire make up the Leeward Antilles.

The Leeward Islands are made up of the following islands; US Virgin Islands (Saint Croix, Saint Thomas, Saint John and Water Island), British Virgin Islands (Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada), Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda (Antigua, Barbuda, Redonda), Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat and Guadeloupe.
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By Julie Bowman


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