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Oranjestad Mall
Downtown Oranjestad

Protestant Church
Protestant Church of Aruba in Oranjestad

California LH
California Lighthouse in Noord

Palm Beach
Palm Beach

Valero Refinery
Big lagoon, boats and Valero refinery
Personal Impressions
Aruba is a small island with European flair and some of the world's best beaches. Unlike most Caribbean islands, Aruba has a dry, arid climate with constant trade winds. The land is desert-like with many cactuses and divi-divi trees; sunshine is guaranteed. Although many nationalities have shaped the culture, the Dutch influence is particularly present in the language and in the architecture.

Aruba is a very safe island and one of the best Caribbean destinations for a relaxing beach holiday. Of course it's the wrong island if you are looking for the real Caribbean with ganja smoking Rastafarians and exciting adventures every day. But I love the friendly atmosphere and the wonderful North Coast beaches. It's one of a few islands that I wish I could visit again and again.

For cruise ship passengers it makes no sense to explore the whole island. Just visit the north or spend the day at beautiful Eagle Beach. Oranjestad has some nice old buildings and is a good place for shopping. If you like to meet other tourists, you can go on a bar hopping party bus and have lots of fun. 



The earliest recorded history of Aruba dates back to around 1000 AD when the Caquetio Indians, a branch of the Arawak tribe, settled on the island. They were a peaceful people who lived off the land and sea, and their culture was heavily influenced by the surrounding South American mainland. The Caquetios left behind a number of important archaeological sites, including rock paintings and petroglyphs, which are still visible on the island today.
In 1499, the Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda arrived in Aruba and claimed the island for Spain. However, the Spanish did not establish a permanent settlement on the island, and Aruba remained relatively untouched until the Dutch arrived in the early 17th century.
In 1636, the Dutch West India Company established a settlement on the island, which they named Oranjestad, after the Dutch royal family. The Dutch established a thriving trade in aloe vera, which was highly prized for its medicinal properties, and Aruba became an important center of trade and commerce in the Caribbean.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Aruba changed hands several times, passing from the Dutch to the British and back again. In 1824, the Dutch abolished slavery on the island, and many former slaves went on to become successful entrepreneurs and landowners.
In the 20th century, Aruba became a popular tourist destination, with its white sandy beaches and warm, sunny climate attracting visitors from around the world. In 1986, Aruba was granted status as an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, giving it greater control over its own affairs.
Today, Aruba is a prosperous and vibrant island nation, with a diverse economy based on tourism, oil refining, and finance. Its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty continue to attract visitors from around the world, making it one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean.


The capital city, located on the southern coast near the western end of the island, is extremely picturesque with its Dutch colonial architecture in pastel colours. The older buildings are in Dutch Colonial style, but the Spanish influence of balconies and gardens, and the Caribbean influence of bright colours makes them unique to The Netherlands Antilles. The city has many historic sites and museums, as well as gardens and a busy shopping street. The shopping mall is a paradise for shoppers.

Protestant Church of Aruba
In the area known as Piedra Plat stands the handsome Protestant Church. Built in 1846, Oranjestad's Protestant Church is Aruba's oldest house of worship. The elegant church is known for its terracotta roof, large tower and traditional wooden shutters. The church is usually locked, but its tiny Bible Museum is open in the morning on week days.

Carnival in Oranjestad
Each Caribbean Carnival celebration is unique, and Aruba's exhibits both Dutch influences and the culture of the Antilles. During Carnival, the entire island participates in street parades with colourful costumes and floats, music, dancing, contests and the election of the Carnival Queen. The main parade, called the "Grand Parade" is an all day celebration that takes place in the streets of Oranjestad on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. The last event of Carnival is the "Old Mask Parade" and the ceremonial burning of King Momo (a symbol of the flesh), which traditionally must take place before midnight on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Take care of pickpockets, they fly in for Carnival. 

Palm and Eagle Beach
The beaches of Aruba are among the cleanest, widest, and most spectacular in the Caribbean. Eagle Beach and Palm Beach have powder-fine, white sand and offer excellent swimming conditions in calm water. Palm Beach passes by most of the island's high rise resort hotels. Eagle Beach was named as one of the "10 Best Beaches in the World."

California Lighthouse
The old stone California Point Lighthouse has nothing to do with the Golden State; rather, it is named for an offshore wreck, the 100-year-old "California". The wrack is a popular dive site. Around the lighthouse are acres of stoned-filled flat land, and a area with white sand dunes. 

Casibari Rock
This area is filled with huge boulders, some of which weigh several tons and feature peculiar forms created by the eternal trade winds. Geologists are uncertain about their origins, but they think that a collision of the tectonic plates forced the massive slabs to the surface. The limestone steps surrounding them are signs of the changing water levels of the Caribbean through the ages. The Government of Aruba created walking trails and steps through the boulders so that visitors could climb to the top and enjoy the view of the island. While climbing up, the main path to Casibari has steps and handrails, and you must move through tunnels and along narrow steps and ledges to reach the top. It's great fun.

Arikok National Park
Arawak indian drawings, desert landscapes and giant lizards are some of the highlights of the Arikok National Park. Surrounding Mt. Arikok near the center of the island, the park has many walking trails and amazing indigenous flora and fauna. Divi-divi and kwihi trees, rare and exotic cacti, aloe, tropical flowers, birds and iguanas can be seen here.
All divi-divi trees point in a south-western direction due to the constant trade winds that blow across the island. Together with the Coastal Protection Zone, Arikok National Park encompasses 25 % of the island. 

Mount Jamanota
The highest point on Aruba is Mount Jamanota with 188 m. It is visible from the entire island and offers a great panoramic view. It's worth taking the short but stiff walk to the top on a cool morning. Wild goats and donkeys roam free on the mountain.

Natural Bridge
This was one of Aruba's most popular attractions, before it collapsed in 2005. The bridge was the Caribbean's largest and most dramatic coral structure. It was carved over the centuries by the pounding sea.

Natural Pool
The Natural Pool, also called "conchi" or "Cura di Tortuga" in the local language, is a hidden pool on the windward coast surrounded by rocks. Despite the difficulty to reach the pool, there are always plenty of people. The tourists come here for diving from the rock cliffs into the protected pool of ocean water.

Guadiriki Caves
The three Guadiriki or Quadiriki caves are located on a sloping hill in the Arikok National Park. The name is of Arawak origin and in the caves are Arawak petroglyphs. There are other places on the island with Arawak paintings of people, fishes and other objects, but this one here is the most accessible. The main cave is also a nesting site for nocturnal bats. The first two chambers are damp and dark, filled with bat guano and dripping stones and graffiti along with the petroglyphs. The other two caves are plain and contain several dark passages.

Bushiribana Gold Mine Ruins
Aruba means "red gold" and the island was indeed the site of a little Gold Rush in the early 19th century. When gold was discovered, mines sprung up along the island's northern coast, eventually producing more than 3 million pounds of gold. The seaside remains of a gold smelter that was built of natural stone can be explored.

Bubali Bird Sanctuary
Bubali is a very large wetland supplied with treated water from the island's sewage treatment facility. The area has become a resting and breeding area for more than 80 species of migratory birds. It is perhaps the best place to see herons, snowy egrets, gulls, skimmers, coots, cormorants, Aruban parakeets, burrowing owls, yellow-legs, brown pelicans, numerous species of ducks, moorhens, and more. An observation tower has been erected for the birdwatchers.

Valero Oil Refinery
Far away from the high-rise hotels and resorts lies Aruba's second largest city, San Nicolas, in the south of the island. The development of this boring city is undeniably linked to the oil refinery, which stands in sharp contrast to the picturesque beach spots. The Valero Oil Refinery processes lower-cost heavy sour crude oil. It can be seen from the quiet Baby beach on the southern tip of Aruba close to Sereo Colorado.

Carnival in Oranjestad

Casibari Rock
Casibari Rock

Arikok NP
Arikok National Park

Divi Divi Tree
Divi-Divi Tree

Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge