Aruba may be best known for its beautiful Caribbean beaches and perfect weather, but venture off the sand and check out fun attractions. You’ll find a happy island full of history, culture, rugged landscapes, exotic local dishes and even more fun activities in Aruba.
Everything you need to know before traveling to Aruba!Learn More »
Today’s Aruba is a happy melting pot. Their multicultural history is reflected in everything they do!Learn More »
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For many, spending tranquil days basking and relaxing in the unending sunshine is the highlight of their Aruba vacation. But beyond the beaches, adventure-seekers will discover One happy island full of invigorating land and sea activities. From underwater exploration to rugged and wild excursions through Arikok National Park, there is no shortage of action.
Catamaran Sailing, Snorkeling and SCUBA Diving Good visibility, several shallow reefs and captivating shipwrecks give snorkelers an array of options. Most sites are on the southern or leeward coast. Slightly north of Palm Beach, Catalina Bay and Arashi Reef feature brain and star coral, sea fans, parrotfish, angelfish, eels, barracudas and an occasional octopus.
The island boasts more than 20 dive spots ranging from 20 to 100 feet, including the Shipwreck of the Antilla, one of the most popular spots for snorkelers and divers alike; at 400 feet, it is the largest shipwreck dive in the Caribbean. A well-kept-secret dive spot, the SS Pedernales was a World War II lake tanker that was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat en route to a refinery in Aruba; the center portion of the vessel still remains submerged off the shore of Palm Beach, approximately 25 feet below sea level. Aruba's many dive operators welcome seasoned PADI-certified divers to first-timers who are invited to take a resort course and follow-up shallow dive or become fullycertified on-island.
An array of sailing charters – including De Palm Tours, Red Sail Sports, Pelican Adventures, Mi Dushi, Tranquilo and Jolly Pirates – offers catamaran sail & snorkel excursions, including lively music, open bars and snacks or light lunches.
Emerging as a popular alternative to snorkeling and SCUBA diving, SNUBA is the perfect option for both beginner and advanced non-certified divers. First-timers enjoy the extra underwater time without the restrictive gear or extensive lessons. Geared up with a regulator and hose that attaches from the swimmer to the boat, SNUBA divers can explore a plethora of colorful marine life and reefs for upwards of 30 minutes. SNUBA is offered on the all-inclusive De Palm Island, as well as through the De Palm Tours catamaran excursions.
Standup Paddle Boarding
One of the island’s newer activities is standup paddle boarding (SUP), or better known in the states as “YOLO.” Adjusting to balancing on water is the hardest part, but once paddlers get the hang of it, it’s like walking on water. The serene coastal waters of Palm Beach and Mangel Halto provide the ideal venue for this sport, giving paddlers a unique perspective of the island while getting a full body workout against the northeast trade winds.
Submarine & Semi Submarine
Marine lovers discover Aruba’s colorful underwater realm without getting wet on airconditioned submarines, the Atlantis Submarine Tour and Seaworld Explorer. The Atlantis Submarine descends to a depth of 130-feet below the Caribbean Sea, where a knowledgeable co-pilot guides guests through a tour of Aruba’s underwater world and its brilliantly colored coral reefs.
Voyagers who wish to get the best of both worlds board the Seaworld Explorer. The ship remains above sea level at all times, while its hull, which sits five feet below the surface, provides spectacular views of the Arashi coral reef, abundant sea life and the largest shipwreck dive in the Caribbean, the World War II German freight Antilla.
Windsurfing & Kite Surfing
Thanks to highly favorable wind and water conditions and year-round pleasant weather, Aruba is the windsurfing capital of the world. Year-round, avid windsurfers slice the water and kite surfers play with the trade winds on this piece of paradise. Host to dozens of international sporting events and tournaments throughout the year, Hadicurari Beach (also known as Fisherman’s Huts), located just a few minutes from the high-rise district of Palm Beach, is known as the place to put athletic skills to the test. The beach's shallow, iridescent water also provides ideal snorkeling conditions and features colorful Fisherman's Huts that dot the pebbly coastline.
Watersport operators and instructors are plentiful, with one of the most famous being Aruba Active Vacations. Located right on Hadicurari Beach, the company provides equipment rentals and lessons to everyone from beginners to advanced surfers. Local windsurfing and kite surfing expert Wim Eelens is not only the owner of Aruba Active Vacations – he’s an excellent teacher and the organizer of the popular, annual Hi-Winds Aruba water sport tournament. The island is also home to Sarah-Quita Offringa, a world champion windsurfer.
Arikok National Park
Sprawling across nearly 20 percent of the island’s landmass, government-protected Arikok National Park is an exciting playground for visitors seeking something more than a traditional day on the beach. Adventurers rejoice as they explore the 20 miles of rugged and wild, desert-like terrain via ATV, UTV, Jeep Safari, horseback or foot. Tucked along the cactus speckled northern shore, Arikok National Park is home to many hidden beaches, cacti, natural bridges and pools, historical cave paintings and indigenous flora and fauna including the Aruba rattlesnakes, burrowing owls and blue whiptail lizards. The park’s visitor center provides an enriching overview of the land’s culture, history and conservation efforts, and experts Julio Beaujon or Jimmy Mijer are eager to share Arikok’s secrets and stories. Admission is ten dollars for adults and free for children, as the park is invested in future generations, who will be the ones to take carry on conservation efforts.
Known as the birthplace of beach tennis, Aruba beckons world-renown pros and amateurs alike to explore this competitive yet recreational sport. Simple to play and similar to traditional tennis with a bit of beach volleyball and badminton, two players on each team volley a depressurized tennis ball back and forth, directly over the net without letting it hit the sand. For just five dollars, participants of all ages and levels can reserve a court and paddle at popular beach tennis spot MooMba Beach Bar & Grill, or take it a step further by signing up for lessons with a local pro from Beach Tennis Aruba. Awareness for the sport has grown considerably through the national and international championship tournaments that take place in Aruba in June and November respectively.
For Yogis who enjoy morning meditations on the beach, Aruba offers the ideal backdrop for sun salutations. With the island’s year-round warm temperatures, fans of hot yoga find dynamic yet comfortable breezes on Aruba's pristine sun-kissed beaches. Manchebo Beach Resort Resort & Spa extends twice-a-day yoga sessions on worldfamous Eagle Beach in its open-air, wooden Pavilion, which greets participants with a soulful embrace and wave of ease and tranquility. Lessons and classes are also offered by a handful of companies and hotels on-island, while Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa even hosts yoga retreats from the United States each year.
Cyclists find unparalleled riding experiences along Aruba’s seemingly flat, exotic terrain. Bikers can head north where they’ll be greeted by the strong whipping winds of the northern shore and challenged by an unpaved, uphill rocky climb. Known as one of the toughest workouts on the island, Mother Nature gives its sweet reward with its scenic, picturesque landscapes that stretch out as far as the eye can see. Cyclists who opt for the “locals choice” will bike down to Conchi (Natural Pool) to take a dip in this shellshaped pool as the Caribbean Sea waves crash over and cascade into the body of water. Bike rentals are available throughout the island and rentals start as low as $15 for a half-day.
Hiking / Aruba Nature Sensitive Tours
Arikok National Park offers 29 miles of rocky hiking trails with three different hiking levels: average, intermediate and difficult. The most difficult hike requires fierce stamina given the jagged, rocky terrain throughout the five-hour hike. Those looking to take it easy opt for the hour-and-a-half hike up to Cudo Arikok. Along the way, adventurers embrace the spirits of the young and old, soaking up the richness of the park’s landscapes of otherworldly rock formations, bizarre cactus groves, fluorescent parakeets and lizards. The hike includes a visit to the old Aruban Adobe house, vivid bird watching and cave explorations of indigenous Indian paintings.
Offering a birds-eye view at 620 feet, hikers discover sheer serenity atop Yamanota, the island’s highest elevation point granting panoramic views worth remembering. Picturesque contours of the northern and southern shores are captured from a single vantage point, offering picture-perfect moments.
As a former Arikok National Park nature guide, Eddie Croes knows the park’s intricacies like the lines on the back of his hands. Now running his own hiking and jeep tour company, Aruba Nature Sensitive Tours, Eddie unfolds the park’s bounty of geological and historical treasures and explores wildlife found in the island’s most untouched locations. Every month when there is a full moon, Eddie leads Moonlight Walk tours with a trip through the cunucu, where curious shapes are formed by the shadows of cacti and rocks as the moon’s light shines down from above. If the timing is right, the Shoco – a species of burrowing owl found only in Aruba – may be heard hooting.
Safari, UTV & ATV Tours
Adrenaline junkies take a walk on the wild side as they trek through the rugged and wild Arikok National Park on a 4x4 Jeep safari or ATV tour. These action-packed excursions take adventure-seekers over canyons and jagged rocks, dodging cacti while exploring the rugged beauty of the island’s northern shore. Tour highlights include stops at the California Lighthouse, the Gold Mill Ruins, the Alto Vista Chapel as well as the island’s most stunning sights – Conchi (Natural Pool), Baby Beach and the Guadirikiri Caves. Discover the wild beauty of Aruba’s outback along the Andicuri Trail behind the wheel of De Palm Tours’ UTV, a two passenger off-road vehicle.
Daredevils wanting a true birds-eye view of the island choose to embark on thrilling Tandem Skydiving experience. The adventure begins with Skydive Aruba Air Adventures transportation to the airport for the 10,000-altitude flight. For roughly 40 seconds the entire island is on display to savor its beauty. Skydive Aruba Air Adventures has fully licensed and insured Tandem Skydiving instructors who have accumulated an excess of 10,000+ jumps.
Take a guided Horseback tour through Aruba’s Natural wonders and enjoy rides though the National Park Arikok, the Sand Dunes, Natural Pool and Natural Bridge along the ever-changing North coastline. Horse lovers of all experience levels are welcome Rancho La Ponderosa, The Gold Mine Ranch, Rancho Nororious or Rancho Daimari where they have well trained horses and knowledgeable tour guides.
Body & Soul Spa
Located at Tierra Del Sol Golf Course, Resort & Country Club, Body & Soul Spa has undergone major expansions and renovations, with the addition of several new treatment and massage rooms, manicure and pedicure stations and sauna/steam rooms. The spa also offers an outdoor Jacuzzi and luxurious couple’s suite, as well as a wide variety of indoor or open-air treatments. Packages include Harmony of Nature, Jewel of Golfers, Desert, Spa Romance and Whole day packages featuring Swedish and sports massage, European facials, full body exfoliation, foot reflexology and salon services.
Etnika Day Spa
The Westin Resort & Casino offers a unique concept in spa treatments with a variety of relaxing, therapeutic and beauty treatments from all over the world, from an aromatic detoxifying Colombian coffee ritual to the French lavender nourishing and relaxing package. Guests are invited to wake up their senses to the most wonderful experience in relaxation and integral beauty. Massage menu includes Etnika Massage (combining Swedish, deep tissue, stretching and acupressure); hot stone massage, champissage (for head neck and face to create energy balance) and craniosacral to relieve mental stress, and Asia Europe (combining shiatsu and Swedish massage), as well as Happy Feet with reflexology. Desert Bloom (aloe), chocolate, lavender and mud wraps are combined with massages. Coffee scrub is followed by a chocolate cream massage.
Indulgence by the Sea
Known for its organic, natural products handpicked and tested by staff, the spa journey at Indulgence by the Sea begins with a pure essential oil footbath. With two locations, the Divi Aruba All Inclusive Beach Resort and Tamarijn All Inclusive Beach Resort, Indulgence by the Sea offers full service spa and salon experiences. From a sea of facials and elegant feet treatments to body renewal packages and a hair and nail studio, there is something for everyone. The menu includes the Citrus-C and the Wine and Roses manicure and pedicure; Green Tea and Seaweed body exfoliation and Mojito Citrus C body exfoliation. The signature facial is customized with luscious fruits, vegetables and herbs along with pure medical grade ingredients. Signature aromatherapy massage begins with a spray of signature blend of essential oils and warm pads to relax muscles, available in Swedith and Deep Tissue styles.
Intermezzo Day Spas
Popular with Aruba visitors are the Intermezzo Day Spas, with several locations around the island: Holiday Inn Resort Aruba, The Mill Resort & Suites, La Cabana Beach Resort, and Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts. The Intermezzo Spas offer facials, massages and other spa treatments as well as salon services including hairdressing and nail treatments. All Intermezzo Spas have a distinctive touch of expertise. The Intermezzo Spa at the Holiday Inn offers a special treat for outdoor lovers. Located just a few feet from the ocean, spa goers can enjoy outdoor therapy in a secluded beachfront area. Menu offerings includes fresh aloe and mineral wraps, refreshing facials; coffee, fruity and soothing body scrubs, and massages including Aromatherapy, Accupressure, Sports, Hot Stone and Deep Tissue. For additional information, contact the individual hotels or visit www.arubaspa.com. Larimar Spa and Salon The $5.2 million oceanfront Larimar Spa at the Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa is a sanctuary for balancing the body, mind and soul. The 13,000-square-foot facility features nine beautifully appointed treatment rooms and offers a full menu of services including massages, body treatments, facials and nail care. Treatments include Larimar Stone Chakra Balancing, Aloe Vera and Rum Massage, Aloe Après Sun Relief, and Larimar Garden Ritual.
Located at the Marriott Resort & Aruba Ocean Club on Palm Beach, the Mandara Spa is an intimate and luxurious facility offering everything from massages and facials to manicures and pedicures. Some treatments at the Mandara using materials indigenous to Aruba are the “Aruba Salt Glow and Tropical Rain Shower” and the “Massage de la Aruba.” Spa cuisine is available from the hotel’s in-room dining menu. Spa treatments include Honeymoon Delight Package, scientific skin therapy, body therapy with healing plants and flowers, full massage menu with indulgences that include hot stone therapy, Balinese body polish and bathing rituals.
The Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino invites guests to discover a revitalizing tropical escapade and indulge the senses at the Okeanos Spa, which offers everything from facials to full-body treatments. Signature treatments include the Spice of Life Sampler or the Full Body Bliss Package. Rejuvenation continues during a delightful massage at the remote Spa Cove on Renaissance Island. Menu includes Myoxy-Caviar and Escutox skin treatments. Take the Burn Out facial, Banish the Burn and Fountain of Youth wraps, and Sabai Therapeutic Massage.
The Brickell Bay Beach Club prides itself on its highly trained and skilled masseuses, manicure and pedicurists, and amazing Botox applications. Appointments are necessary, but ensure guests receive a relaxing and intimate range of exotic Spa treatments. Menu includes Cuccio pedicure and manicure; back, neck and shoulder; relaxing, deep tissue, Swedish, hot stone and aromatherapy massages; and strawberry, chocolate and mud therapy wraps.
Spa del Sol
The intimate and luxurious facilities at the Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa and Playa Linda Beach Resort are appealing for their wide variety of open-air body treatments. The spas offer many packages, facial treatments, manicures and pedicures and yoga classes. Menu includes After Sol Aloe Cooling Wrap, Luminous C & Sea Facial, Balinese Scrub, Reflexology, and Hot Stone Massage.
The Hyatt Regency Aruba unveiled its renovated spa in February 2012. The 5,200- square-foot ZoiA Spa – meaning balance or poise in Papiamento – houses eight treatment rooms, many of which offer an indoor/outdoor experience, and an extensive spa menu featuring luxurious treatments and native ingredients. The Aruba-inspired, allnatural spa treatments are based on four key Caribbean elements – sun, sand, sea and love – and the colors of the Aruban flag: yellow, white, blue, and red. Menu includes Sun Worshipper (Aromatherapy Body Salt Glow, facial, foot reflexology massage), Water Lily After-Sun Wrap, Aromatic Moor Therapeutic Body Wrap, Desert Heat Mineralizing Body Wrap; Firm Swedish, Intense Muscle and Aromatherapy Massage, Good Sport complete body treatment
Couples explore their wild sides by off-roading on an exciting ATV, UTV, horseback riding or Jeep Safari tour through the rugged and wild Arikok National Park, plunging headfirst into the Natural Pool (Conchi), SNUBA diving with exotic marine life or venturing through the ancient Ayo Rock Formations and Guadirikiri Caves. Active pairs often take up a new sport together – learning how to harness Aruba’s steady breezes with windsurfing and kite surfing or hitting the sand for a rousing game of beach tennis. Partners looking to party Carnival-style dance down the streets of San Nicolas and enjoy live entertainment and local cuisine at the weekly Carubbian Festival, while others test their luck at one of the many high-stakes casinos. Of course, many couples choose to bask in the sun on the island’s white sandy beaches, or relax with a heavenly indoor or open-air spa treatment.
Aruba’s unique repertoire of restaurants caters to those with simple, adventurous and refined tastes. Top-quality imported ingredients, fine wines, charismatic ambiance and the expertise of brilliant and creative chefs and restaurateurs are the perfect recipe for culinary magic. Few destinations offer so many gastronomic choices within such a small geographical area. Casual sidewalk cafes and city-chic eateries hobnob with all kinds of trendy and traditional ethnic and international restaurants. Venues include moonlight al fresco dining on a sandy beach or quiet pier, a recreated villa, old cunucu house, sprawling manor house, catamaran, chalet and clubhouse.
French, Belgian, Chinese, Italian, Caribbean, Japanese, Cuban, Thai, Mexican, Indian and other specialty restaurants offer menus filled with tasty authentically prepared selections. Churrasco, prime rib and Black Angus steak are popular choices at American, Brazilian and Argentine steak houses. Fresh local catch joins shellfish from northern waters as seafood favorites. A subtle Caribbean touch adds flavor and color to every dish. The high-rise hotel strip is peppered with establishments that serve everything from jerk ribs, bagels, ravioli, loempia and tapas, to sushi, brick-oven pizza, burgers, wahoo, lobster and filet mignon. While some resorts are all-inclusive, others offer elegant and al fresco dining options, as well as theme nights with sumptuous buffets. Couples are encouraged to take a bus, taxi or car downtown and off the beaten path for many more dining options. Modest local hideaways and exceptional eateries serve an eclectic range of mouthwatering delicacies that are well worth the ride.
Options are endless from all-inclusive resorts and boutique-style hotels in charming Eagle Beach to the high-rise branded hotels in Palm Beach. Couples in search for an adults-only sanctuary can book a room at the intimate and friendly Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts, overlooking one of TripAdvisor’s “Top 10 Beaches in the World.” Pairs aiming for bright lights and the big city feel should set their sights on the Renaissance Resort Spa & Casino in downtown Oranjestad, where they can enjoy a VIP water taxi ride to the resort’s remote nature sanctuary, Renaissance Island, home to a dozen delicate, bright pink flamingos and pristine waters. This exclusive and quaint slice of paradise allows lovebirds to feel they have the entire island to themselves.
An Ideal Wedding Destination
With constant sunshine and warm weather year-round, Aruba gives brides the opportunity to have their dream beach wedding in July, December or any month in between. While the majority of couples opt for a barefoot-on-the-beach ceremony, lovebirds can dare to go beyond the beaten path to discover the island’s hidden gems, including secluded coves and natural bridges, brilliant underwater reefs, hilltop panoramas and jagged rock formations.
Brides and grooms appreciate the diverse array of hotel accommodations, dining establishments and land/sea activities available for the wedding party to enjoy leading up to the special day – including everything from a sunset catamaran sail rehearsal dinner and an off-road ATV bachelor party, to a golf course hilltop reception and more.
Aruba’s Celebration Registry allows families and friends to think outside the box when choosing presents for the happy couple. Spa indulgences, Jeep Safari adventures, romantic dinners on the beach and many other island-specific gifts are just a click away.
Fringing turquoise Caribbean waters, Aruba’s beaches include wide shaded expanses, quiet retreats, and busy sunbathing and water sports meccas. Much of the seven-mile strip along the west coast is lined with resorts and packed with activity. Beachgoers relax on their comfortable lounges while swimming, snorkeling, kite surfing, waterskiing, tubing, parasailing, bananaboating, and all kinds of wet ‘n wild adventures are just steps away.
In contrast, the beaches along the windward coast are in more secluded and undeveloped areas. There are coves carved out of limestone, inlets formed by pounding waves, unique natural phenomena and craggy desert terrain. Because of strong undertow and crashing waves, swimming here is not recommended. Both coasts afford spectacular Caribbean views. All beaches are open to the public.
Papiamento, first used on the island in the 18th century, is a direct reflection of the island’s diverse history and culture. A Creole language derived from African dialects and blended with English, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese, it is spoken by native Arubans and is a point of pride for the nearly 108,000 island residents.
Events and Festivals
Commencing days after the New Year with the Torch Parade and culminating on the eve of Ash Wednesday, Carnival is Aruba’s biggest annual party consisting of festive “jump ups” (street parties), spectacular parades and creative costumes. Music and dazzling costumes play a central role in events ranging from the Queen elections to the Grand Parades, which wind their way down the streets of San Nicolas and Oranjestad to the delight of thousands of spectators. One of the most famous Caribbean events, Carnival is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2014.
Locals and tourists alike are invited to attend the weekly Carnival-style Carubbian Festival in downtown San Nicolas every Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. Festival-goers enjoy live entertainment, authentic local cuisine, marketplace-style shopping and the chance to dance down the streets alongside Carnival performers, donning festive face masks.
Bon Bini Festival
The weekly Bon Bini Festival is the perfect introduction to the warmth and hospitality of Aruba’s people. Meaning “Welcome” in the native language Papiamento, Bon Bini is a folkloric music and dance festival which captures the island’s flavor, history and cuisine every Tuesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in downtown Oranjestad at Fort Zoutman, Aruba’s oldest building.
Ciro and Marian Abath
Husband and wife Ciro and Marian Abath are major figures in the Aruba art community and were the first to offer art classes to the public with kiln casting, ceramics, glassblowing and glass bead making. Ciro is a sculptor who works with various materials and techniques and has participated in several international exhibitions. He trained as an art teacher in the Netherlands and taught art for 30 years at Colegio Arubano; he continues to teach lessons inside his yellow house near Arashi Beach. Education scientist Marian started working with glass out of curiosity and to support Ciro in his activities. Today, a large community of glass bead makers has been formed in Aruba.
Eefje Van Twillert
An Aruban native, Eefje Van Twillert is most famous for her eccentric style that translates to her drawing, painting and sculpting. Drawing her main inspiration from the nature of the Dutch Antilles, the greatness of God’s creation, from the tiny grain of sand to the vast Caribbean Sea, Eefje captures these impressions, which are reflected in all of her pieces.
Elisa Lejuez Peters
Originally from the Netherlands, Elisa Lejuez Peters has established herself as one of Aruba’s best-known artists and fashion designers. After several years of successfully submitting her artwork to expositions worldwide, Lejuez took her artwork “off the canvas” and put it into clothing, her other passion. In 2013, Elisa held her first solo U.S. exhibit, titled Connections, at S Artspace Gallery, in New York City’s Lower East Side. The Elisa Lejuez clothing collection is now sold in three shops in Aruba and was recently launched in the Netherlands.
Self-taught, Aruban-born painter and graphic designer Elvis Tromp is the curator of a developing artist colony in Aruba as he leads the art movement on the island. Working mostly in oil and acryl, Elvis has been painting Aruban landscapes since he was a child and enjoys making each scene a personal interpretation. With the developing art colony, Elvis is discovering new horizons with his exhibits including “The Impact of Tourism on Architecture and Vice Versa,” where the human figure is central – a new level in his art.
As a classical guitarist, Ivan Jansen regularly performs at various locations in Aruba and has performed solo concerts for Queen Beatrix and Prince Willem Alexander of the Netherlands. He has also performed as a solo guitarist in orchestras, such as the Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony of the Americas. In 1988, Ivan published a book, “Aruban Folkloric Music for the Classical Guitar.”
Born and raised in Aruba, Jonathan Vieira is a well-known music and producer on island. As a composer, his work has been featured on MTV, Discovery Channel and Bravo Network. He has also composed for royalty and performed piano concerts for prime ministers and governors. Jonathan is the proud founder and executive producer of the Aruba International Film Festival.
Local Aruban and contemporary artist Osaira Muyale founded a studio gallery “Eterno” and a foundation “Fundacion Eterno.” Osaira’s work has exhibited in Europe, the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, including the 6th International Bienniale of Havana, Cuba, Arte 99 of Curacao and Acro Art Fair in Madrid, Spain. Osaira’s Aruba art studio is part of her ongoing dedication and promise to interact with the community, serving as a beacon of light to intellectuals and artists on the island. Her work includes conceptual artwork installations with a multi cultural background, paintings, film, photography, poetry, sculpture and drawings all based on biographic dialogues, social narratives and cultural perspectives with the human body as a mid point.
Now 92 years old, Padu Lampe is a true icon of Aruban culture. As a child, his artwork was featured at the 1939 World’s Fair in NYC. He later wrote a love song to Aruba that would become the national anthem. He has been making music since his father taught him to play the piano, as well as the clarinet and violin, in the 1920’s.
A lover and writer of poetry at an early age, Rosabelle Illes developed her spiritual side through her writings and later published a book of poems titled ''Beyond Insanity.'' Next to her poems, Rosabelle is working on her second book that philosophizes on what's left after erasing layers from emotions.
Apart from being a form of artistic expression, Stan Kuiperi’s art has also become an instrument for social commentary in Aruba. One of the most important messages in his art for the last 10 years was the call to preserve nature. Stan doesn't just create loud, visible art but he also invites government representatives to his art shows to have an open dialogue that addresses these issues. Founder of the non-profit, Aruba International Arts Foundation, Stan and his wife strive to engage the international art community by organizing local art shows. Stan is also committed to painting and teaching art in hopes to continue awareness and appreciation for the unique Aruban landscape and culture that have to be preserved.
Maritza is known for the reliefs, statues and busts created for public areas as well as for private collections. “The Thinking Indian of Aruba”, appears in the garden of the Central Bank of Aruba. She studied art and sculpture at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Puerto Rico and later in Spain and The Netherlands. Another notable work, “Casa Andante” (Walking House), is made of very hard fossilized stone, even harder then marble. While in Puerto Rico, Maritza always used to walk around with her backpack, not only containing her tools but also all kinds of objects she collected. One day a person told her that this backpack was just like her house; hence the title.
Ephraim Britten started painting as a child. Painting is his way of life, hobby and business. He is a self-taught Aruban artist who enjoys painting the Aruban landscape. Ephraim has participated at different exhibitions; he won the first prize in Popular Arts from the Aruban Institute for Culture in the 1980s. One of his paintings was presented as a gift to the President of Venezuela. He also designed and painted four series of the Aruban stamp collection. This artist’s preferred medium is oil paint. Originally painting realistic and surrealistic Aruban landscapes, nowadays he combines them with abstract elements.
Ludwig (Luti) de L’Isle
Luti’s works incorporate bold strokes, use of primary colors and harmonious unity. “I seek opposites…dark and light, white and black, past and present. These opposites form the foundation of a painting,” he reveals. He loves to work with white, red and blue backgrounds, not in solids but with swirls, shading and shapes that make them come alive. He finds inspiration in nature and prefers to work with acrylic but combines and interacts with pencil, charcoal and watercolor. His works are full of surprises. Born in Aruba in 1949, Luti attended the Academie voor Beeldende Vorming in Tilburg, Netherlands. His works have appeared in various international and local expositions and are found at hotels and restaurants on Aruba.
“To stand opposite to the work of Alida Martinez is a complex experience. Her work is full of a strong emotive and existential load before which it is impossible to remain indifferent,” states Susan Quintaro, art critic. Born in 1964, Alida took classes at Atelier 89 in Aruba from 1989 – 93. She opened Insight Gallery in 2000, part of Insight Foundation for the Arts. This accomplished artist also curates expositions and organizes workshops. She has had eight solo exposition in Aruba and Curacao from 1989 – 2008. Her works have appeared in scores of group expositions in Aruba, Venezuela, Bonaire, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Germany and Ecuador.
Born in Aruba in 1981, Giolina Heriquez graduated from Rhode Island School of Design (USA) and returned to Aruba. Since then, she has been illustrating books and national postage stamps; painting commissioned works for corporations and for the government; participating in local and international art-exhibitions. She has been profiled in local and international television and radio shows, commercials, and film-documentaries. She has appeared at numerous local and international exhibitions and her works appear in collections locally and internationally. Recipients of her artwork commissioned by the Aruba government include Dutch Prime Minister and the Dutch Royal Family. Her works are a colorful flow of profound creativity combined with the highest quality standards. This poet, painter, illustrator and designer is also an outspoken environmentalist and founder of Aruba Mammal Foundation.
Sounds of Aruba
Carnival in Aruba is filled with the beat of steel drums, brass bands, calypso-inspired tunes, drum-driven tumba and road marches. The Carnival season is filled with frenetic weeks of queen elections; road march, tumba and calypso contests; parties and “jumpups”, leading up to the Lighting Parade and the Grand Parades in San Nicolas and Oranjestad. Thousands of tireless carnivalistas parade for hours under the tropical sun and starlit skies, adorned in the sequins, feathers, glitter and beads of ostentatious and creative costumes and headpieces.
Calypso music is a highlight of Carnival, employing a variety of poetic devices in its humorous lyrics on life and love, and delivered by jokers such as Mighty, Lord and King. Each road march has catchy lyrics, melodies and marching dances performed in unison. Other wildly popular Carnival music known as Tumba has also been described as an irresistible rhythmic dance influenced by the swaying Caribbean palm trees and the hypnotic beat of jungle drums.
The cah’i orgel, affectionately called the “ting-a-lingy box”, is originally from Europe and first made on Aruba in 1938. It is a popular instrument played at national holiday celebrations and private parties. The first three cylinder pianos arrived in Aruba in the beginning of the 19th century. In the beginning, the melodies were Spanish or Italian but later Aruban music was recorded on the cylinder. Rufo Wever, composer of the Aruba national anthem Dushi Tera, learned to make and repair the instrument himself. Soon every district in Aruba had its own cah’i orgel, decorated with distinctive paintings, personal objects and hand written text. The music is played by the person who turns the handle, accompanied by a person playing the wiri, a metal rasp. The types of Aruban music played on the cah’i orgel include the waltz, polka, mazurka, danza and tumba.
A type of Venezuelan folk music descended from Indian rhythms and hailing from Maracaibo, Gaita found its way to Aruba in the 1960s and has been popular ever since. As December approaches, the harmonious voices of the 18-20 member Gaita groups signal the start of the holiday season in Aruba. Since its origins, Gaita has been influenced by other musical genres such as salsa and merengue, and the original instruments of cuarta, tambour and wiri have been joined by piano, bass and trumpets.
Pagara & Dande
Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, local businesses and residences fire up pagaras—long strings of Chinese firecrackers—to cast away bad spirits and bring luck for the coming year. Strolling musicians celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with the Dande music tradition by playing music at homes of friends and families to wish loved ones success and happiness through song. The traditional Aruban instruments, such as the tambu, wiri and raspa, produce a festive upbeat African rhythm, the same as the tumba.
Perhaps nothing captures the island mood more than the music of the steel pan, which is made from a 55-gallon oil drum. Leonard Turner, a Trinidadian immigrant who worked at the Lago Oil Refinery, was the first to introduce steel bands in Aruba, making instruments from oil drums collected from Lago Oil Refinery. Steel pans reached the height of their popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, providing music for carnaval. Today, only a few remain. Known as the father of steel pan, the late Edgar Connor mastered the craft of tuning and building steel pan; his sons continue the tradition and are accomplished steel pan players.
Archaeological Museum of Aruba Originally an old family home to well-known anti-slavery activist Boy Ecury, the Archaeological Museum of Aruba opened its doors in 1981 and has been dedicated to educating guests on the island’s rich culture and history ever since. Extensively renovated in 2009, the museum’s interactive activities and attractions bring Aruba’s culture to life in a way that resonates with children and adults alike.
Aruba Historical Museum
Housed in Oranjestad’s oldest structure of Fort Zoutman, the Aruba Historical Museum invites visitors to discover how Aruba’s first settlers lived and worked during the Pre- Historical and Early-Historical time periods. Depending on the day, guests can catch a lecture, explore educational projects and temporary exhibits, sign up for a workshop or simply gather with others at the museum’s open-air courtyard. All events are free of charge and open to the public.
Aruba Aloe Museum and Factory
Nestled on 150 acres of Aloe fields, the Aruba Aloe Museum and Factory offers personally guided tours through the factory grounds, providing insightful cultural and scientific anthropologies behind this prosperous, life-giving green plant. Visitors are invited to watch chemists and Aruba Aloe bottlers in-action to see how the product turns from plant to potion.
San Nicolas Community Museum
The late historian Mario Odor’s remarkable collection has permanently made its home in San Nicolas. It is open to visitors during the weekly Carubbian Festival that takes place on the main street of San Nicolas every Thursday evening. The eclectic collection includes countless treasurers such as fossils from the period when Aruba was still underwater to the European pipe collection that dates back to the first encounters between European settlers and Indians.
Art Galleries & Exhibits
Art Studio Insight
Located in Paradera Park, the studio offers a generous array of visual and theatre arts, including individual and group exhibitions that showcase local and international contemporary artists. Local artist Osaira Muyale also features her art at the Osaira Muyale Contemporary Art Studio. The exhibit is a reflection of biographic dialogues and social narratives, based on cultural perspectives and the human body. By appointment only.
Ateliers ‘89 is a quiet mecca for the arts housed in a turn-of-the-century school in the suburbs of downtown Oranjestad. The exhibition hall has both permanent displays and changing expositions showcasing local and regional artists. Workshops are taught by established foreign and local artists in various disciplines, each culminating in an exposition open to the public. Ateliers ’89 works in close cooperation with a number of art academies in the Netherlands, helping young artists in their transition to a Dutch Academy. Many talented local artists who today represent Aruba abroad attended these workshops.
Aruba’s first public national art collection now has a permanent home, a few blocks from the Cas di Cultura in downtown Oranjestad. The walls of the sparkling new exposition halls are graced with wonderful works by local and international artists, some who have lived on Aruba for a part of their life. Many of them have local themes depicting Aruba’s culture, history and landscape. The STICUSA Aruban Collection dates from 1950 – 1986. The UNOCA collection was born in 1986 with the establishment of the foundation aimed at stimulating cultural development of Aruba. It continues to grow over the years with contributions by local artists and private collectors. Books, CDs and DVDs written and produced by Arubans are also on sale. Special events such as courtyard concerts and film screenings are on the horizon.
Westin Art Gallery
The Westin Aruba Art Gallery is a collaboration between the Westin Aruba and Aruba Art and Management Consultancy. It aims to promote local artists among tourists and locals alike. With the closing of several galleries on the island its creator felt the need for a new gallery with an entirely different concept. The gallery in the lobby of the Westin Aruba Resort is accessible 15 hours a day, Seven days a week. Since the main goal of the gallery is not sale, but rather the display of local artwork, a gallery representative will be present twice a week during evening hours and on special occasions for potential sales. An eclectic assortment of groups and solo explositions are help throughout the year.
Cas di Cultura
To discover Aruba’s present-day culture and community life, guests visit the Cas di Cultura, or “house of culture.” Also known as The National Theatre of Aruba, Cas di Cultura is acclaimed for its piercing acoustics and unobstructed views of the stage – and is host to numerous theatre performances, musical concerts and international creative arts collaborations throughout the year.
Boasting more than 50 events annually, Aruba hosts festive island FESTIVALS celebrations for both travelers and locals to enjoy. Hosted every Thursday on Main Street in San Nicolas, the Carubbian Festival ignites Caribbean culture with Carnival parades, dancing and local culinary fare. Downtown Oranjestad comes to life each Tuesday as locals and guests join together for the Bon Bini welcome festival showcasing musicians, dancers, artists and craftsmen who parade around in their very best wares.
New Years Day Festival
Aruba’s Carnival Celebration
Aruba’s Torch Parade
Grand Final Calypso & Road March Contest
Flip Flop Carnival Beach Event
Betico Croes Day
Grand Final Tumba Contest
Mrs. Carnival Election
Children’s Carnival Parade in Noord
Aruba’s Tivoli Lighting Parade
Children’s Grand Carnival Parade in Oranjestad
Tourist Night Steelband and Costume Show
Lighting Parade San Nicolas
Grand Carnival Parade in San Nicolas
Aruba’s Grand Carnival Parade
Old Mask Parade and Burning of King Momito
National Anthem & Flag Day
Aruba International Half Marathon
AHATA Recycled Art Competition
International Boulevard Race (10k)
Aruba Soul Beach Music Festival
Aruba Beach Tennis National Championships
Dera Gai (St. John’s Day)
Aruba International Triathlon
Aruba International Film Festival
Aruba Rembrandt Regatta
Aruba International Pro-Am Golf Tournament
Aruba Reef Care
Turibana to Santa Cruz 10k Race
Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival
Fire Prevention 10k & 5k Run
Presidential Challenge Aruba Cup
Aruba in Style (Fashion Week)
National Coastal Clean Up
Aruba Beach Tennis International Championships
Saint Nicolas Day
Bon Bini Festival
Sand castle building, shell hunting tours, art classes, Papiamento language classes and merengue dancing are just some of the many activities offered at Aruba’s resorts and hotels – most of which boast special kids’ programs, deals and all-day camps. Resort fun is just the beginning, as families seeking something more than a traditional Caribbean experience will discover countless kid-friendly attractions and activities throughout the One happy island.
Attractions & Activities
Archeological Museum of Aruba Originally the old family home of well-known World War II hero Boy Ecury, the Archeological Museum of Aruba opened its doors in 1981 and has been dedicated to educating guests on the island’s rich culture and history ever since. Extensively renovated in 2009, the museum’s interactive activities and attractions bring Aruba’s culture to life in a way that resonates with children and adults alike. The modern twostory building houses the areas devoted to Amerindian culture and archaeological finds from various digs around Aruba. The three periods of Amerindian habitation are documented: Pre-Ceramic period of 2500 BC – 1000 AD when semi-nomadic bands of Amerindians migrated from the South or Central American mainland; Ceramic Period of the Caquetio Indians, the hunters-fishers-gatherers who inhabited Aruba from 900 – 1515 AD until enslaved and taken to Hispaniola; and the Historic Period from 1515 – 1880 AD.
Arikok National Park
Sprawling across nearly 20 percent of the island’s landmass, government-protected Arikok National Park is an exciting playground for families seeking something more than a traditional day on the beach. All ages alike rejoice as they venture the 20 miles of rugged and wild, desert-like terrain via ATV, Jeep Safari, horseback or foot. Tucked along the rugged northern shore, Arikok National Park is home to many hidden beaches, cacti, natural bridges and pools, historical cave paintings and indigenous flora and fauna including the Aruba rattlesnakes, burrowing owls and blue whiptail lizards. The park’s visitor center provides an enriching overview of the land’s culture, history and conservation efforts, and experts Julio Beaujon or Jimmy Mijer are eager to share Arikok’s secrets and stories. Admission is free for children, as the park is invested in future generations, who will be the ones to take carry on conservation efforts.
Aruba Ostrich Farm
Although Africa is the native land of the ostrich, the intriguing birds find Aruba’s rugged landscape the perfect place to call home. Given every half hour, guided tours provide memorable experiences, educating guest on mating, rearing and feeding habits of the largest living species in the world.
Ranked No. 2 in the "Top 25 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World" by Trip Advisor, Baby Beach boasts crystal clear waters, pristine sand and one of the best snorkel spots on the island. Baby Beach offers extensive reefs, a colorful kaleidoscope of coral and tropical fish including parrotfish, blowfish, angelfish and squid, as well as an expansive swimming cove. Located on the opposite side of the high-rise hotel zone of Palm Beach, Baby Beach is tucked within nature, away from tourist foot traffic, and is perfect for family picnics at the covered cabana areas or for an open-air dining experience at Big Mama's and the outdoor snack bar.
Known as the birthplace of beach tennis, Aruba beckons world-renown pros and amateurs alike to explore this competitive yet recreational sport. Simple to play, beach tennis is equally popular with families, who can reserve a court and paddle at MooMba Beach Bar & Grill for five dollars, or take it a step further by signing up for lessons with a local pro from Beach Tennis Aruba.
Bubali Bird Sanctuary
More than 80 species of migratory birds find an oasis of lush vegetation within the Bubali Bird Sanctuary. The observation deck is the perfect spot for parents and their children to see herons, egrets, gulls, skimmers, coots, cormorants, numerous species of ducks and more up close. The dirt road entrance is located across from the big red windmill by the high-rise entrance.
Located at Palm Beach across from the Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort, the Butterfly Farm is a wondrous tropical garden filled with butterflies from around the globe. Children delight as they discover the miracle of metamorphosis firsthand – especially in the morning hours when the most activity occurs – witnessing new butterflies emerging from their chrysalis and taking flight for the first time. Passionate butterfly experts provide 15 to 20 minute guided tours all day every day, revealing secrets of this fascinating species.
Catamaran Sailing and Snorkeling
An array of sailing charters offer family-friendly catamaran sail and snorkel excursions, including lively music, open bars and snacks or light lunches. Families gear up with snorkel equipment and plunge headfirst into the turquoise waters, where they enjoy an array of colorful marine life. Among the most popular snorkel spots is the Shipwreck of the Antilla, which, at 400 feet, is the largest shipwreck dive in the Caribbean.
De Palm Island
Families who want to take a break from the crowded beaches of Palm Beach, but still want to soak up the sun often opt for a day-trip to Aruba’s only all-inclusive destination, De Palm Island. Providing exclusive island access and a perfect dose of action, visitors can plunge headfirst into island activities including SNUBA, Sea Trek Underwater Helmet Walk, snorkeling, banana boat rides and water parks. Adults kick back in a lounge chair at the island’s private beach or relax with a massage overlooking the Caribbean Sea, while kids splash around in the water park or indulge in De Palm Island’s unlimited food and beverage offerings.
Located just before the Ayo Rock formation the donkey sanctuary feeds and provides medical care to approximately 90 endangered animals. Families can stop by to help with the daily chores of feeding and caring for the donkeys – a great educational experience for children.
Windsurfing & Kite Surfing
Thanks to highly favorable wind and water conditions and year-round pleasant weather, Aruba is the windsurfing capital of the world. Year-round, avid windsurfers slice the water and kite surfers play with the trade winds on this piece of paradise, most often on Hadicurari Beach (also known as Fisherman’s Huts). Watersport operators and instructors in Aruba are plentiful, providing equipment rentals and lessons to everyone from youthful and older beginners to advanced sailors.
With more than 90 nationalities on island, Aruba is at the epicenter of a cultural melting pot, offering Amerindian, Latin and European influences found in every aspect of life, from language and island events to flavor-rich cuisine. Foodies enjoy a mouthwatering assortment of culinary flavors from fresh seafood, Caribbean and vegetarian dishes to exotic churrascaria creations and vibrant Italian, Mexican and Creole, found at more than 200 on-island restaurants ranging from local dining spots to world-class international establishments.
Signature Drinks & Dishes
Found on many cocktail menus on the island, this tropical concoction features coecoei, a local liquor made according to a centuries-old recipe. Invented at the Aruba Caribbean Hotel's Bali Bar in the early 1960s, bartenders create this fruity drink with coecoei, vodka, rum, crème de banana, a splash of grenadine, and fruit juice poured over ice, gently stirred together and topped off with a splash of Grand Marnier.
Aruba’s national beer, Balashi is produced in a fully-automated brewery on island. The beer is a deep golden color and easy on the foam; it has a soft bitterness, an aroma of fresh hops and a short aftertaste.
Sea Grape Wine
Produced on a small scale and seldom served, sea grape wine is Aruba’s locally produced light-bodied sweet white wine, deriving from the sea grape. The island’s lowlying sea grape trees produce a surprisingly sweet, rich purple grape known as druif used in creating a unique Aruban wine. Available for purchase in select stores, local winemakers like Vincente Kock harvest the sea grape twice a year (June/July and November/December), producing no more than 400 bottles a year. Kock’s vintage, under the label Vino Vince can be found at local craft shows and at select hotels.
Ponche Crema is a rich and smooth eggnog-like beverage is especially popular during the Christmas holiday season. Homemade by many Aruban families, and also bottled and sold to the public by our local Playa Liquor & Bottling Company, the sweet beverage combines egg yolks, cream, rum, and a variety of spices. Coecoei is a local liqueur was first produced centuries past by the Amerindians of Aruba. It has a distinctive red color, derived from one of its prime ingredients – the sap from kukwisa or agave plant, which is mixed with run and cane sugar. Coecoei is often used today in may island cocktails, including the Aruba Sunswet which also contains Ponche Crema.. Palmera Rum was first produced in 1965, used in many potent island cocktails. The company also produces dozens of other products with their own labels, including whisky, mixers, gin, vodka and brandy.
Several versions of bolo (cake) are especially popular in Aruba, with many served on special occasions such as birthdays, national holidays, religious holidays, and other celebrations. The most traditional cakes include bread pudding (pan bolo), cashew cake (bolo di cashupete), chocolate torte (bolo di chuculati), eggnog cake (bolo ponche crema) and prune cake (bolo di pruim).
These cakes can be purchased at bakeries all over the Island. Bolo preto (black cake) is traditionally given to guests at Aruban weddings as a memento of the special occasion. The signature ingredient of bolo preto is a rich mixture of prunes, currants, raisins, dates and figs, steeped for at least two days and up to one week in a strong potion of cognac, port wine and cherry cordial. This sweet elixir, decoratively wrapped in individual pieces, gives a distinct richness packed into each bite-sized morsel.
Homemade confections, collectively known as cos dushi, easily satisfy the local sweet tooth. Cocada, a fudge-like candy made with sugar and coconut, is a popular treat alongside two other candies, tentalaria and panseicu, both made with sugar and nuts. Two favorite cookies are the koeki lerchi, a very simple sugar cookie baked to a crunch, and the macaroon, a coconut-infused cookie with a cake-like texture. Other sweet delights include quesillo, Aruba's own take on caramel flan, and tamarind balls, which are small globes of tamarind pulp rolled in granulated sugar for that perfect balance of sweet and sour. All of these treats are ubiquitously found on the Island – at supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and even hardware stores.
Aruba’s national snack, it is a deep-friend half-moon pastry with a savory filling of chicken, chop suey, tuna, beef, cheese or ham. Pastechis are sold island-wide at grocery stores, convenience stores and snack bars.
During the Christmas season, Aruban families and friends gather to make ayacas, a traditional holiday treat adopted from South America. Although no two families use the exact same recipe, ayacas are generally made by smearing plantain or banana leaves with a cornmeal dough; adding a mixture of chicken, pork or ham, along with a potpourri of spices, prunes, raisins, olives, pickles, cashews, piccalilli and pearl onions; and folding the assemblages into neat little packets to be boiled for an hour.
Pica di Papaya
Pica di papaya, light orange in color, is a hot sauce made with locally grown green papayas. These sauces are all-natural and contain no preservatives – and have won national acclaim and are found in most homes and restaurants all over Aruba.
Pisca hasa crioyo (fish creole) is a traditional Aruban creole dish still prepared in many homes and restaurants on the Island. The dish is deliciously simple: pan-fried slices of fresh fish fillet served in a basic sauce of onion, tomato, bell pepper and garlic.
Aruba's version of polenta is a thick, cornmeal mixture traditionally served alongside rich stews and fish platters. Funchi can also be cooled, cut into flat slices and fried to a light golden brown for a crunchy variation.
Drier types of firm, white-flesh fish, such as barracuda or shark, are ideally suited for making one of Aruba's popular seafood dishes, keri keri. A fish fillet is boiled in salted water, removed and shredded, and then sauteed in butter with tomato, onion, celery, bell pepper, fresh basil, black pepper, and annato spice to create a tasty, satisfying meal.
This Aruban dish, which translates to “stuffed cheese,” is traditionally made by filling the left-over rind of an Edam or Gouda cheese wheel with spiced meat, onion, tomato, green pepper, olives, capers, raisins and piccalilli; covering the wheel with its original cap; and then baking the stuffed wheel in the oven until hot and bubbly. Some cooks choose to conveniently line a casserole dish with slices of cheese instead of using the scooped cheese shell. The dish commonly comes in chicken, beef or seafood varieties.
Like funchi, pan bati serves as the perfect accompaniment to stews, soups, and fish dishes. Made from cornflour and cooked in a casuela – a traditional clay baking dish originally from Spain – pan bati lies somewhere between a flatbread and a pancake. Compared to an American pancake, it is denser and less sweet.
Several soups are especially popular with the locals. Sopi yambo is Antillean gumbo made with pureed okra for a thick, smooth consistency. Sopi mondongo is a traditional combination of tripe, spices, a medley of vegetables, and West Indian pumpkin, or calabas. Sopi oester is the local oyster soup, with each restaurant and household claiming rights to the best recipe on the Island. Sopi cabrito is a bouillon-based soup made with goat meat, garlic, tomato, celery, bell pepper, and vermicelli.
The classic Aruban recipes for beef stew (carni stoba) and goat stew (cabrito stoba) each feature meat, potato, onion, garlic, and chili pepper in a tomato-based gravy. Conch stew (calco stoba) is made from the meat of conch shellfish, onion, bell pepper, and a white-wine vinegar stock. Two popular side dishes, funchi and pan bati, are usually served with these stews for a well-rounded meal.
Oranjestad is a unique blend of old and new that lends a distinctive charm to Aruba’s capital. A bustling harbor city, Oranjestad’s streets and malls are dotted with international luxury retailers, diverse boutiques, and dazzling jewelry stores. Fascinating restored landmark buildings are found along the way, such as the green “stadhuis” housing the City Hall where legal marriages are performed.
A scenic linear park lines the coast from Oranjestad to the airport. A new state-of-the-art tram begins at the cruise terminal, meandering through town, all along the sparkling new landscaped Main Street. Oranjestad is also a jumping nightlife mecca, filled with restaurants, cafes, clubs, lounges, bars and casinos.
Fort Zoutman, Aruba’s oldest building dating back to 1798, was built to protect the city from pirates. The Willem III Tower was built in 1868, once a lighthouse and public clock tower. The Historical Museum, positioned between the two buildings, houses a permanent exhibition outlining the main events in Aruban history and changing themed exhibitions. Stay in town for the Bon Bini Festival on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm in the outdoor courtyard. Enjoy the island’s history, traditionally-costumed folkloric dancers, local music, culinary specialties and local art.
The historic Ecury family home in downtown Oranjestad has been transformed to house the Archeological Museum, an impressive modern museum that strikingly presents Aruba’s Amerindian cultural heritage and archeological finds.
Inspiring monuments honoring political leaders (Jan Hendrik Albert (Henny) Eman, Cornelis Albert (Shon) Eman, and Betico Croes) are found near the Parliament building. The statue of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands resides in a park carrying her name. World War II heroes Boy Ecury, and the National Guard and volunteers, are also honored.
The Cas di Cultura is Aruba’s national theatre, where local and international artists perform throughout the year.
Aruba’s economy was once dependent upon aloe. The Aloe Museum and Factory, located at the Hato Plantation outside of town that dates back to 1890, tells the fascinating story.
Getting around downtown Oranjestad has never been easier or more fun with the addition of a state-of-the-art tram, inaugurated in 2012. Connecting the cruise ship terminal with the center of town, the tram passes through the Main Street, now totally remodeled and an attractive pedestrian mall. The tram makes six stops, at monuments and museums along the way, as well as at key shopping areas. In 2015 Oranjestad has welcomed the new cultural/historical project Paardenbaai Aruba, which features 8 blue horses showcased around the downtown area.
San Nicolas offers beautiful beaches and island charm far removed from the glitz and glamour of Palm Beach high-rise resorts and sparkling new malls. Welcome to the Sunrise Side of the island! Although San Nicolas, Aruba’s “Sunrise City”, is a quiet coastal town of 32.84 KM2 located only twelve miles southeast of Oranjestad, it seems a world away. In the heart of Aruba’s second largest city is a quaint promenade on Zeppenfeldstraat, an art gallery, some stores, snack shops, restaurants and bars as well as historic buildings of architectural interest. The spewing metal maze of refinery dominates the landscape, and in its spicy heyday, when the oil business thrived, San Nicolas was the place to be. For tourists looking for authentic Caribbean flair and flavor, San Nicolas does not disappoint. It offers beautiful beaches and island charm far removed from the glitz and glamour of Palm Beach high-rise resorts and sparkling new malls.
The city is normally a little on the quite side, but full of unique charm with fun things to do and see.San Nicolas boasts a long history of steel bands, calypso music, and exuberant Carnavals, first introduced by refinery workers from Trinidad and the English islands. Though the island is Dutch, many San Nicolas residents have a British Caribbean heritage and English is still the first language in their homes. Perhaps nothing captures the island mood more than the music of the steel pan, the world’s youngest acoustic instrument.
For years, one of the main reasons that visitors have found their way to this end of the island was to drop in at Charlie's Bar. This bar has been famous since the 1940's when scuba divers began to hang their underwater discoveries on the walls there. It has become a bit of a museum in the decades since. San Nicolas is part of our tourist destination and the main street shopping and restaurant areas have been renovated to reflect the city's history when seamen around the world took shore leave to enjoy the local hospitality.
Every Thursday visitors can enjoy the Carubbian Festival and discover the colorful spirit of Aruba’s Carnival! This festival also offers music and shows, handicrafts and delicious traditional homemade cuisine of the Caribbean region.
Besides cultural and culinary activites San Nicolas also boasts beautiful beaches; Bring your family to enjoy the calm waters of Baby Beach, explore the hidden gem Rodger's Beach or go kite surfing at Boca Grandi!
Local Dining Spots
Gostoso is a popular local restaurant that serves a blend of Portuguese and Arubian cuisine guaranteed to delight even the most discriminating palate. With a cozy atmosphere, impeccable service, quality food and reasonable prices, Gostoso will soon become a favorite. The menu includes appetizers of beef carpaccio, bacalau (salty cod fish), conch, and creole “sushi roll”, as well as entrees of fresh catch of the day, fish kebabs, New York Black Angus rib-eye and striploin, filet mignon and tenderloin. There is also a large selection of pasta, chicken, and Arubian stewed dishes.
Tucked along the southern shore in Savaneta, Marina Pirata is a haven for locals seeking fresh seafood dishes. The quaint restaurant is located directly on the water with outdoor seating, allowing couples and families to gaze at both the perfect sunset and marine life swimming a few feet away.
One of the island’s longest standing and most beloved restaurants, Papiamento is a 175-year-old authentic Aruban manor house situated in lush tropical gardens, where guests may enjoy local cuisine in a romantic indoor or outdoor setting. The restaurant boasts a fully-stocked wine cellar, transformed from a store room and cheese factory, featuring 200 labels and 1800 bottles of international vintages ranging from $22 to $200 each. Famous Owner and Chef Eduardo Ellis invites visitors to tour the mansion and wine vault before or after their flavor-rich dinner.
Pinchos Grill & Bar
Enticing visitors with its outdoor, chic living room style setting, Pinchos Grill & Bar is situated above the water on the pier at Surfside Marina, offering one of the best sunset views in Aruba. Dinner guests relax with a tropical cocktail as they enjoy a mix of contemporary tunes over a romantic and intimate candlelight meal. Among the most famous dishes are the Dark Rum Infused Blue Cheese Tenderloin or Pan Seared Caribbean Grouper with an Apricot & Ginger Sauce.
Relatively new to the Palm Beach Plaza, Queen’s Restaurant has quickly become a hot spot for the island’s popular local dishes. Gouda-glazed chicken Keshi Yena, Funchi and Cabrito Stoba (goat stew) are among the most authentic menu items, guaranteed to satisfy any palette when paired with the signature Aruba Ariba cocktail.
The Old Fisherman
A local treasure in the heart of Oranjestad, The Old Fisherman invites lunch and dinner guests to discover sumptuous home-style fresh seafood in casual, comfortable surroundings. Diners flock to the restaurant for an authentic Aruban meal including the freshest catch of the day, lobster tail and jumbo shrimp.
The traditional warmth of the Aruban people is expressed through food, culture and art at Gasparito Restaurant, housed in a 120-year-old authentic cunucu (countryside) home. At the entrance is a well that once supplied water to the area. Diners are surrounded by an ongoing exposition of local art. Crioyo lovers will enjoy local fare such as goat stew (stoba di bestia chiquito), Aruban combo of chicken and fish specialties, and keshi yena, melted Dutch cheese filled with spiced seafood or chicken (a traditional recipe from generations past. There are also plenty of lobster, shrimp, beef, chicken and fresh Caribbean catch selections in a variety of preparations. All dishes are accompanied by funchi (polenta), pan bati (Aruban corn bread), and plantain.
Located in the sleepy fishing town of Savaneta, Zeerover’s is a fisherman’s wharf promising heavy local fare. Locals line up at the window to buy fresh caught fish or order the deep fried catch of the day – barracuda, mahi mahi, shrimp and more – tossed in a big plastic bowl with homemade fries, plantains and pan bati. Those who choose to stay awhile on the waterside deck enjoy fresh breezes, fish fry aromas and a cold Balashi beer, as they crank up the jukebox to hear vibrant Caribbean calypso beats and watch fisherman cart their catch by the net full.
International and Ethnic Restaurants
Festive Brazil comes to life at Amazonia where guests enjoy more than 16 cuts of rodizio charcoal-grilled beef, poultry, lamb, pork and house specialty, garlic picanha, carved tableside by trained gauchos. Side dishes include Brazilian cheese bread, garlic mashed potatoes, fried yucca, fried plantains, and grilled pineapple. The authentic meal also includes Brazilian side dishes and sauces, as well as a 40-item abundant fresh and gourmet salad and soup bar, perfect for vegetarians. Guest have the option to sip on a traditional Brazilian cocktail, caipirinha, while dining al fresco on the terrace overlooking lush gardens or in the trendy dining room adorned with colorful local art.
Carte Blanche is the restaurant for ‘foodies’ who want an exquisite five-course fine dining experience. Chef Dennis van Daatselaar caters to only 16 patrons each evening at a low riding oval-shaped bar in comfortable lounge chairs where everyone can interact with the chef himself. The menu is created daily with the freshest ingredients available from the island, then paired with daring wine and cocktail mixology methods. Carte Blanche is located at the Bucuti Beach Resort in its Caribbean garden with a spectacular view over the turquoise ocean.
Chalet Suisse is known for its impeccable service, elegant décor and consistently excellent cuisine. The finest meats including Certified Black Angus cuts including porterhouse, filet mignon and rib steaks are flown in regularly from the best meat markets in New York. The Provini veal chops are of unsurpassed quality. Seafood platters made with fresh, locally caught lobster, shrimp, red snapper and grouper are a delight. The signature Chilean sea bass and mouthwatering rack of lamb are complemented by the impressive wine cellar stocked with a fine and varied selection of international wines and champagnes.
The French Steakhouse, an island tradition, proudly presents an all-new menu offering the finest steaks from South America in an all-new trendy and cozy ambiance. The experience begins with Caribbean seafood cocktail with marinated shrimp, scallops, mussels and grilled salmon. Pan-seared mahi-mahi with tropical fruit salsa and Caribbean stuffed shrimp with crabmeat and bacon are new seafood additions, while the famous signature 12 oz beef tenderloin churrasco is served with crispy fried onions, sautéed mushrooms and chimichurri sauce. For dessert, the homemade apfel struedel is not to be missed.
Gianni’s Ristorante Italiano
Proudly owned and operated by the Ferrara family, an Italian restaurant dynasty for decades, Gianni’s Ristorante Italiano combines attentive service with a comprehensive menu, fine wines, and the freshest ingredients to provide an excellent dining experience. Gianni’s authentic Italian specialties range from salads, soups, and antipasti to entrees of seafood, ossobuco, steaks, scampi and chicken, delicious creamy desserts and after-dinner aperitifs. House specialties include Fresh-caught whole red snapper and Spaghetti al formaggio parmigiano, prepared in a cheese wheel and flamed with whisky at your table. Delightful outdoor seating is available under the white canopies or the charming Italian trattoria inside.
Hostaria da’ Vittorio
Master Chef/Owner Vittorio Muscariello is already well-known for having worked for more than eleven years as Executive Chef in the best authentic and original Italian restaurants on Aruba (Valentino's - 1988-1994 and La Trattoria El Faro Blanco 1994- 1999). He presents unique and incomparable originality and quality in his authentic Italian specialties such as Risotto alla Pescatore, Linguine dello Scoglio, Branzino al Sole, Sogliola alla Mugnaia, Ossobucco di Vitello, and Nodino di Vitello alla Parmigiana, attentively served at this new, rustically-elegant restaurant. The crispy brick-oven pizzas are perfect for a light bite. Seating is available in the comfortable dining rooms of this recreated Italian villa or at the open-air patio.
Le Petit Café
Romancing the stone at Le Petit Café is a one-of-a-kind experience. Rediscover this ancient culinary method of cooking on a hot stone. Meats, fish and seafood are prepared to your perfect degree of doneness without fat or oils on semirais stones. Experience the unforgettable aromas and flavors of tender Argentinean steaks, select poultry, freshly caught fish, Caribbean lobster and shrimp, all cooked on the stone, as well as a selection of plated dishes. The dining experience transports each guest to the village of Roncengo in the province of Trento, Italy, where this type of cooking originated. Dine inside or on the plaza terrace overlooking the excitement of Palm Beach.
Madame Janette’s outdoor local atmosphere is an award-winning international restaurant. The combined worldwide experience of the owners gives their dishes an original flavor with a touch of Caribbean. Seating is available both in the tropical gardens and in the romantic open-air dining area. Mouthwatering gourmet dishes are prepared with the freshest international ingredients. Specials include lobster ravioli, Black Angus beef carpaccio, duck breast, Chilean sea bass, and “The Old Butcher Steak”, the best tenderloin cut around. Long-time favorites are the Vienna-style pork schnitzel, Argentine prime steaks, and almond-crusted grouper.
Papillion’s menu takes inspiration from the Frenchman Henri Charrière, one of the world’s most famous prisoners, and his arduous journey to freedom. The décor inside the restaurant and on the spacious outside terrace nods to the 13 years Charrière spent in prison. Here, classic French fare is dusted with daring Caribbean flair, taking guests on a remarkable culinary journey.
Sunset Grille affords an elegant and intimate dining experience. Enjoy USDA Certified Prime beef, amazingly fresh seafood and refreshing spa cuisine. Sunset Grille has been recipient of the AAA Four-Diamond Award, was named Caribbean Travel & Life magazine’s “Best Restaurant in the Caribbean” and has won the Wine Spectator "Award of Excellence". With porterhouse, filet mignon, chateaubriand and NY prime sirloin steaks; hearty entrées of veal chop and rack of lamb, abundant seafood selection of grilled swordfish, local red snapper, Chilean sea bass, roasted black cod and rock lobster tail, there is something for every taste.
Tango Argentine Grill
Located in Arawak Gardens in the high-rise hotel district, Tango Argentine Grill is famous for 20 juicy cuts of mouthwatering steaks joined by hearty side dishes topped with traditional Argentine Chimichurri Herb Sauce. This first-class Parilla’s succulent steaks and magnificent bottles of red wine are complemented by a hot nightlife with live music and a sizzling ambiance.
Ventanas del Mar
Masters of award-winning cuisine, the culinary team artfully prepares a wide range of international masterpieces sprinkled with Caribbean flavors. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch in indoor comfort or bask in cool Caribbean breezes on the poolside terrace – both boast spectacular views of the lush golf course by the sea, the historic California Lighthouse and the dramatic northwest coast of the island. Ventanas del Mar offers an exquisite, upscale dining experience.
White Modern Cuisine
Dedicated to culinary innovation, Chef Urvin Croes meticulously couples modern cooking techniques with the use of fresh organic local products at White Modern Cuisine, which opened in Palm Beach Plaza in February 2012. The chic restaurant features a stylish all-white dining room and an airy terrace lounge and presents an a la carte menu, with changing three, five, and eight-course tasting menus and special cocktails or wines to accompany each dish. Famous menu items include maple glazed duck breast with local pickled cucumbers garnished with peanut butter powder, panfried sea bass with minestrone risotto and the Aruban Summer Salad consisting of 30 items served with an array of local flowers and vegetables.
Windows on Aruba
Boasting a magnificent view over the Divi Links Golf Course and azure Caribbean waters beyond, this outstanding restaurant built in the round offers comfortable seating, elegant décor, an open kitchen and a fully stocked floor-to-ceiling wine cabinet. From dressed salads, club sandwiches and soups, to lunch and dinner entrées such as grouper and lobster, seabass and risotto, duck and couscous, tenderloin and port, ostrich and parmesan, veal rib eye and mushrooms, and chateaubriand, the master chef never disappoints.
Excitingly prepared in the open-view kitchen of Aruba’s premier seafood restaurant, fresh local catches join delicacies from waters abroad, including live Maine lobster, Norwegian salmon, sashimi tuna, and Alaskan king crab, along with a selection of nonseafood dishes. Complementing the menu is the island’s largest raw bar and a generous wine list. Aqua Grill’s award-winning chef offers a menu of classic and contemporary dishes. The fresh seafood is prepared in a variety of regional styles, melding local island charm with the traditions of New England, the spices of Jamaica, the zesty flavors of Italy, the mystique of Indonesia, and beyond.
The 5000-gallon saltwater aquarium in this charming culinary cavern has been an island attraction for more than three decades. Feast on fresh Caribbean catch in one of the cozy booths surrounded by tropical splendor and nautical décor, including an authentic pirate ship bar. Sea treasures are plentiful, especially the creative seafood and international dishes prepared with a European touch and irresistible secret flavorings that continue to lure guests back again and again.
Since 1986, Driftwood has specialized in fresh seafood from the Caribbean Sea and has become the favorite spot for Aruban-style seafood dishes. Fresh fish is caught daily by the owner himself. Located in the heart of downtown Oranjestad, guests enjoy the freshest fish, biggest shrimp, or the most succulent Caribbean lobster amid the rustic ambience of the natural driftwood dining room. The menu includes a large variety of typically Aruban delicacies including their three-star fish soup and mouthwatering filet of fish served with a mild Aruban Creole sauce.
For a fresh approach to seafood, enjoy today’s catch caught by local fishermen daily at Hadicurari Pier. Enjoy indoor and outdoor seaside dining in this charming, shaded restaurant located next to Aruba Marriott’s Surf Club which features an extensive menu of fresh caught seafood and steak and other splendid dishes prepared with an international flair by experienced chef and his professional culinary team. Take in enviable sea views and romantic sunsets from any seat in this stylish and comfortable restaurant.
Charlie’s Bar and Restaurant
Amongst a time-earned bouquet of multi-cultural influences, Charlie’s Bar and Restaurant offers a chilled and relaxed, retro Caribbean vibe. Visitors walk through the maze of hanging photographs, awards, plaques, paintings, souvenirs and trinkets and order an Aruba Ariba from the late Charlie’s grandson, Charlito, now owner and operator of one of the “Top Ten Bars of the Caribbean.” Dating back to 1941, Charlie’s Bar and Restaurant was the place to see and be seen during San Nicolas’ industrial boom with the refinery and harbor trade. Featuring an international menu with everything from jumbo shrimp to fine tenderloin steaks and fresh local seafood, there is something for everyone at Charlie’s.
Overlooking the ocean and Main Street in downtown Oranjestad, Local Store is a jumping place in Aruba for rooftop dancing and drinking. Across the way, Mojito’s in Royal Plaza, is a sizzling spot for Latin dancing. The stunning views, booming music scene, ice-cold beer and hot menu items keep guests entertained all night. Café Chaos located across from the harbor is a fun spot popular with locals as well as tourists for decades. Sip a cocktail and enjoy the harbor view and live music at CILO, short for City Lounge; get on the dance floor at the hot Tropical Café; enjoy Cuban rhythms at Cuba’s Cookin’; and live music on-stage at Café the Plaza - all located in the Renaissance Marketplace. Also notable downtown are Blue, the trendy lounge in the Crystal Casino, and the brand new Carpe Diem lounge located across the street.
Local Rum Shops
As one of Aruba’s oldest traditions, the local rum bars dot nearly every road on the island and play host to lawyers, fishermen and everyone in between. These quick inand- out bars offer drinks and a rich atmosphere filled with years of history and culture. Local rum shops across the island include White Star, Essoville or Aruba Rum Shop located in San Nicolas, the Sunrise City, and, near the hotels, Fermin’s Bar in Noord and Caribbean Store in Palm Beach.
MooMba Beach Bar & Restaurant
Nestled under a gigantic palapa atop white sugary sands overlooking turquoise waters, MooMba Beach is as relaxing during the day as it is lively at night. Billowing, fresh island breezes combined with a myriad of tropical cocktails, cold Balashi beer and wine make this laid-back beach bar a true Caribbean paradise. MoomMba also holds the title of one of the World’s 50 Best Beach Bars by CNN Travel.
Palm Beach Bars & Lounges
The high-rise strip is an exciting mecca for night owls, peppered with an arra y of bars and lounges. Confessions Nightclub, Gusto, Sky Lounge in Paseo Herencia, South Beach Lounge, Soprano’s Piano Bar in Arawak Garden, Senor Frogs in The Village Mall and the new Sand Beach Lounge in the Brickell Bay Beach Club are just a few of the jumping nightspots.