The now-sleepy town of San Nicolas was at the heart of Aruba's economy for most of the 20th century, when oil was king. In the 1800s, the Aruba Phosphate Company provided high revenues for the island by exporting its product. The oil industry's need for labor brought foreigners from as many as 40 different countries to Aruba—and many remained and raised families. Also, older locals know where to find the bunkers used to guard against German attacks on the refinery during World War II. San Nicolas played an important role in supplying Allied ships.
Aruba's Grand Caribbean Carnival, an annual event that originated in San Nicolas in 1955, was supposedly brought there by the Trinidadians. Whatever the truth may be, the festivities include weeks of parades, music, floats and more. The largest Carnival street party, or jump-up (Jouvert Morning), is still held in San Nicolas, but other events take place throughout the island.
San Nicolas is also known for its caves (which some locals believe extend underwater to Venezuela), excellent beaches for snorkeling and surfing, and the Carubbian Festival on Thursday evenings. Try popular Baby Beach, and stop for lunch at the famous Charlie's Bar on Main Street.
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