Aruba is the smallest island in the Leeward group of the Dutch Caribbean islands. Its Dutch heritage can be seen in its pastel-colored gabled buildings and a windmill brought piece by piece from Holland found in the capital of Oranjestad. Oranjestad has a daily market in the Paardenbaai (Schooner Harbour), and offers numerous shops, boutiques and malls that are all within easy walking distance of the ship. In the main street you will find many stores, shops, boutiques, restaurants and street vendors to investigate.
Oranjestad is a popular tourist destination boasting sunshine, silky sand, aquamarine waters, cooling trade winds, natural scenic wonders, friendly and courteous service, modern and efficient amenities, golf and tennis clubs, duty-free shopping, an array of nightly entertainment and some of the best cuisine in the Caribbean. Most of its 29 hotels sit side by side down one major strip along the southwestern shore, with restaurants, exotic boutiques, fiery floor shows, and glitzy casinos right on their premises.
Aruba’s principal attraction is its beaches and the Natural Bridge, an arch carved from coral cliffs by the surf. The bridge is the biggest and highest in the Caribbean and is Aruba’s most famous natural wonder. On the northern tip of the island is the California Lighthouse, and off this coast is the wreck of a German freighter from World War II, which is now very popular spot for scuba divers. The Chapel of Alto Vista at Alto Vista is another popular site on the north coast. It is bright yellow and hard to miss.
Cruise Season – Jan – Dec
Currency – Aruba Florin or Guilder (AWG)
Language – Dutch, English and Spanish
Land Area – 193 km²
Population – 110,000
Electricity – 2 perpendicular flat pins USA style or with a round pin below
Time – GMT minus four hours
International Country Telephone Code – + 1 -297
Port Location – Oranjestad: Boats dock in the heart of town: only a five-minute walk to the center. However, there are also taxis available on the dock itself, plus car rental companies at the port.
Transport Links – Queen Beatrix airport is 3.5km (2.5 miles) southeast of Oranjestad. To/from the airport: A taxi service is available between the airport and the town. Bus services run to the town center. Air Auruba is the national airline, usually a stopover or connecting flight will be needed. Ferries depart daily to De Palm Island from the mainland. Crossings run every half an hour from 10.00am to 6 pm
The road system throughout the island is very good. Driving is on the right and international signs are used. There is free parking throughout the island and no right turns on red lights. There is an inexpensive and reliable public bus service between the towns and hotels on Eagle Beach and Palm Beach, San Nicolas and the main bus station in Oranjestad. The main taxi office is at Pos Abou. Rates are fixed and should be checked before getting into the cab. There are plenty of cars, scooters, motorbikes and bicycles available for hire.