Aruba’s economy was once based on Oil (there is a large refinery located on the south-western tip of the island). Today Tourism plays a very important roll in the economy. The Island distinctive beauty lies on its landscape full of rocky deserts, divi-divi trees (one of the Aruba’s hallmarks), rocks formations, dunes, secluded caves and amazing Blue Ocean with crashing waves. These are a perfect destination for anyone who wants sun salted with all kind of activities.
Aruba has an average temperature of 82°F (28°C) all year round. The main reason is that the island is located close to the Equator. The average rainfall is about 20” a year, mostly occurring in short showers around the month of November and December. The sands are silky-smooth and the winds are fierce, even savage on the north coast. (Aruba’s trade winds blow from the Northeast and the Southeast 95% of the time). On the west coast the steady breezes attract windsurfers to the shallow waters. Aruba’ clear blue waters, made calm due to the off-shore reefs surrounding the island, making Aruba a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
Papiamento is the local language mostly spoken among the local people. Papiamento is a Creole language that is also spoken on Curaçao and Bonaire. Dutch is the official language in education and public affairs, but the majority of people also speak English and Spanish as well.
The official currency is the Aruban florin although US dollar is widely accepted in most places around the island. The Currency exchange rate varies. Please call or stop by the individual bank for the exact rate.
Aruba Major Hotels
Most of the hotels are found in an area called Hotel District on the north-western part of the island. They are located side by side down this single strip of shore. Most of these complexes have their own fitness center, hair salon, casinos, restaurants, spas, drugstores, car rental, travel service desk and lot more. The prices are fairly expensive. To take advantage is better to get a combine airlines and hotel packages. Rates could be found cheaper in summer time due to the fact that is low season in the island. During high season (November-April) is a great idea to make reservations in advance.
Things to do in Aruba
Aruba is a vacation destination of outdoor attractions; you can participate in every possible water sport like windsurfing, kayaking, water skiing, snorkeling, and lot more as well as play tennis, golf, horse back riding or hiking.
Aruba’s gorgeous coastline is readily accessible to visitors with all its beaches open to the public from the northwestern point of the island to the southern tip. Eagle Beach is known as one of Aruba’s best beaches
Hiking in Arikok National park is generally not too strenuous, although you should be cautious in the strong sun. Drink large amount of water and wear plenty of sunscreen. Two of the island highest hills are Cerro Arikok (500’ ft) and Cero Jamanota (620’ft). You could also hike up the 562 steps to the top of Hooiberg Mountain (541’ ft), once at the top you could get a great panoramic view of the Island and even on clear days you could see as far as Venezuela’s coast.
Aruba is well known as Vegas in the Caribbean because it possesses a great amount of casinos, nightclubs and nightlife entertaining. Most of them are located in Oranjestad and the hotel district area.
Oranjestad, the capital is not only worthwhile for some great shopping, but also offers the opportunity to investigate regional culture and history as it is the site of several historical buildings and museums. Fort Zoutman is one of the island’s oldest buildings that early served as a lighthouse, government office, police station and prison. Today is open to the public as historical museum. Every Tuesday afternoon from 6:30-8:30pm is a place to celebrate a folkloric event called “the Bon Bini Festival” (means “Welcome” in Papiamento)
Aruba is internationally known as windsurfer’s paradise and there are some different schools around the island that offers lessons on how to learn to windsurf. The 10-day Hi-Winds Amateur World Challenge Windsurfing tournament is held in June and brings windsurfers from all around the world. Some favorite spots for windsurfing in Aruba are Fisherman’s Huts, Arashi Beach Park, Surfside, Barcadera and Boca Grandi.
Aruba’s crystalline water is home to an entire underwater world that offers diving and snorkeling experiences unlike any other. The Coral reef can be seen around the island. Some great snorkeling spots can be found around Mangel Halto Reef, Palm Bay reef and Baby Beach
During the month of February and March people can enjoy the spectacular Carnival with a lot of music, color, floats and astounding parades.
Getting around Aruba
Travel by car is the best way of getting around and get the flavor of the Island. Rental cars are available at the airport, hotels and some other places. Traffic moves on the right and international signs and rules apply. Things are easy to find as there is one long street along the south-western coast of Aruba and mostly everything branches off it. A substantial amount of streets on the north-eastern coast of Aruba are unpaved and is better to move around when using off road vehicle or a Four by four-wheel drive. Some people choose to travel by taxi or sightseeing tours to avoid getting lost on the unknown traffic and street routes.
Pedal pushing and motorcycling is a great way to get around the island. The weather is great due to the trade winds that keep you cool most of the time. Several ranches also offer horse back riding options along the beach or longer rides along the natural trails.
If you like to Travel by local bus Aruba has an excellent bus service. This is another way to experience, enjoy the local culture and get around different part of the islands. Buses run hourly between the beach hotels and Oranjestad and from Oranjestad to San Nicolas. Buses also run every 15 minutes a day until 8pm from the Airport to the hotel area district. Try to have exact change.
Restaurants in Aruba
There are a lot of places to eat. Although most resorts offer better than average dinning it will be a great experience to try also one of the many reasonably priced independent restaurants. Depending on your preference and budget, you could enjoy a great meal starting from local family dining to the finest restaurants. Besides the fresh sea food, there is the European cuisine, American food, local food, and a wide variety of so called snacks and fast food restaurants. In addition you could also find several Argentineans, Chinese, Japanese and Italian restaurants. Ask the locals for their favorite spot some of the lesser known eateries could offer you a definitely worth sampling. Make sure to try a traditional Aruban dish like pan bati (sweet bread) or keshi yena (concoction of gouda cheese, spices and meat or seafood in brown sauce)
Shopping in Aruba
Aruba is a duty free port at the airport. Although most of the stores in the island are not duty free but they offer great discounts on some items. Major credit cards are welcome as well as cash and local currency. There is a great variety of places everywhere to find all kind of needs.