Area Attractions

Information on this page is provided by www.aruba.com- The Official website of Aruba.

Culture

If you like Museums and art galleries, Aruba has much to do.  The museums are full of history and past culture showing the struggles that the island has gone through. 

Aruba is a cultural mixture blending music, art, style and customs.

Cultural Events

In 2008, various commemorative events will take place, which are of significant value for the cultural development of Aruba. For this reason, the Government of Aruba proclaimed the year 2008 as the "National Year of Culture." With this act, the Government of Aruba would like to direct attention to the importance of culture as part of the general education and development of people.

The quick-paced melody driven by guitar, accordion, rasp and drum beat signals the arrival of the Dande group of traveling musicians each New Years in Aruba. The inhabitants of the house are at once joyful and expectant as the singer begins to spin his own variation of an age-old song bespeaking of both blessings and the promise of opportunities for the coming year.

Music plays a central role in most Aruban celebrations, including its most vibrant of annual events, the month-long Carnival. True to the island's inclusive nature, no rhythm is left out of the mix with alternate playings of a powerful bass band beat, the traditional Caribbean Calypso - dripping in social commentary - the drum-driven Tumba and Aruba's own unique Simon sez-like message of Roadmarch tunes uplifting the spirits of both spectators and brilliantly costumed participants during parades, competitions and "jump up" street parties.

During the traditional St. John's celebration of Dera Gai, a rooster takes center stage in song and as a symbol of renewal. Aruba celebrates all these unqiue traditions and shares them with guests during the weekly Bonbini Festival, held at historic Fort Zoutman in downtown Oranjestad.


Top of Page

Oranjestad

Located on Aruba's picturesque southern coast, Oranjestad is the historical Dutch capital city where the tall multicolored houses of Wilheminastraat combine carved wooded doors and traditional Dutch tiles with airy open galleries and sloping, Aruban-style roofs. Along the wharf, merchants come to sell fresh fish and produce right off the boats every morning. All of Aruba's government buildings and main offices are located in the capital city.

Oranjestad is also the place to shop or to browse in the marketplace for Aruban art and local handicrafts. Depending on the time of year, you could also find yourself in the middle of Carnival, a summertime festival, the New Year's fireworks, or even a parade in honor of the Queen. At any time of year, Oranjestad is the bustling meeting place of tourists and locals alike.

Top of Page

San Nicolas

San Nicolas A unique Caribbean energy is present in Aruba's second largest city, San Nicolas, with the majority of residents originally hailing from the British Caribbean. The development of the city is undeniably linked to the oil refinery, the presence of which often stands in sharp contrast to the modest houses of the area and the picturesque beach spots.

 

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 just now starting to develop itself into an "alternative" tourist destination. Hotels are being built or renovated to reflect the city's history when seamen around the world took shore leave to enjoy the local hospitality.

Top of Page

Museums

Unexpected finds in museums, revealing ancient cultures, a rich, colonial past and even a story retold through monetary tender, casts new light on an island swept up in a cosmopolitan mix of contrasts. The new direction of island trends and cultural crossroads are on display at local art galleries, with contemporary art providing both aesthetics and commentary to the island experience.

Museums and art galleries are intimate affairs in Aruba, providing guests vivid, snapshot-like views of the island's many influences and insight into its unique identity.

Historical Museum
Fort Zoutman/Willem III Tower, Oranjestad.
The Archaeological Museum Aruba investigates, documents and preserves the archaeological artifacts and sites of Aruba and informs the local and international public about the Amerindian cultural heritage of Aruba.
The Archaeological Museum Aruba is currently renovating a Historic Complex where it will be situated in the future. Due to preparations necessary before moving, the Archaeological Museum Aruba will be closed to the public until opening again in late 2007/ early 2008 in the Schelpstraat. The Archaeological Museum Aruba apologizes for any inconvenience.

Numismatic Museum
Situated next to the central bus station in Oranjestad
30,000 historic coins from Aruba and around the world.
Open Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
For more information contact: info@museumaruba.org
Visit their web site at www.museumaruba.org

Archaeological Museum
J.E.Irausquinplein 2A, Oranjestad.
Located on Zoutmanstraat diagonally across from the bus stop in Oranjestad, this museum's five rooms exhibit giant earthen jars of which a few contain the remains of Aruba's original inhabitants. Also displayed in glass boxes with descriptions are ancient artifacts, pottery tools and art.
Open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

"Rococo Plaza" Museum of Antiquities
Louis XV Antiques & Curiosities can be found inside a complex built with antique building materials from the 17th century. The roof and the onion shaped towers in red copper house 23 showrooms of unusual items from Aruba and South America.
Hours of operation are 9am - 5pm week days and Saturday from 10am-2pm
Located at : Tanki Leendert 158-G.
On the last Sunday of the month, local Aruban people sell their goods at a flea market. For information & free pick up from the hotels call : (297)741-5640

Top of Page

Churches

The Chapel of Alto Vista is an enjoyable ride back to the east side of the island and exudes tranquility on its dramatic setting above the sea. The chapel was the island's first Roman Catholic Church, built in 1750 and reconstructed in 1953.

The small, bright yellow chapel is reached by a winding road lined with white crosses marking the stations of the cross. For local Arubans especially, it is a special place for peace and contemplation.
 

Santa Ana is a Roman Catholic church situated in Noord, not far from the downtown Oranjestad area. When it was constructed in 1776, Santa Ana church represented the island's second most important religious meeting place (the first being Alto Vista Chapel). The church was rebuilt two times, once in 1831 and again in 1886. A final renovation to this historical site was accomplished in 1916. Today, the church is most famous for its solid oak, hand-carved altar, a work of art accomplished in classic neo-gothic design. The alter won an exhibition award in Rome in 1870, and was later given to Santa Ana Church by the Antonius church in Scheveningen, the Netherlands.

There are plenty of other newer churches throughout the island as well.

Music

The music on the island is enough to make you fall in love with the place.  A quick-paced melody of guitars, accordions, rasp and drums, the island's music will keep your feet tapping.  Music entertains the Arubians and its visitors throughout the year at several different cultural events and holidays.  One of our personal favorites is the Dushi Band 

Top of Page

Land Activities

Bus and Jeep Tours

A great way to experience the island of Aruba is by Jeep. You can easily catch the main tourist attractions in a single day.  If you are unsure that you want to try it alone, there are several bus and jeep tours that you can join.  You will have a guide that will take you along the way.  Typically you will explore the California Lighthouse, Alto Vista Chapel, Seroe Crystal, Bushiribana gold mill ruins, Natural bridge, Quadirikiri caves and maybe even a visit to the private island located just five minutes from the mainland by ferry boat.  There are several tours including buses, party buses, jeeps and four wheelers.

If you are brave enough to go it alone (we did our first year and had a blast), use our handy map to give you an idea of where the great stops are located.

Cycle Tours

If you are a cycling enthusiast you might enjoy the island by bicycle.  Because much of the roads are rugged terrain we would recommend a mountain bike.  The terrain is mainly flat but does have some hills. Bicyles  can be rented at facilities such as touring companies and rental agents in Oranjestad.

Golf

Taking in the constant tradewind conditions while setting up your swing at a tee proves both a challenge and an extreme pleasure in the practice of what you love best.

Tierra del Sol

This 18-hole, par 71 course was designed by Robert Trent Jones II and is Aruba's first world-class golf course with sweeping views of the coastline and the stunning contrast of rolling greens landscaped with water features and cactus hazards

Aruba Golf Club

Aruba Golf club features 9 holes with 20 sand traps and 5 water traps.  It is located on the opposite end of the island near San Nicolas.

The Links at Divi Aruba

Located at the Divi Village Golf and Beach Resort, this 9 hole course is tropically landscaped.  It features 2 par 5 holes, 2 par 3 holes and 5 par 4 holes. Deluxe amenities include a clubhouse with two restaurants.

Top of Page

Horseback Riding

Another way to enjoy the island is to travel by horseback.  There are tours that will take you around the island including along the beach to discover Aruba.  The tours are gentle so riding experience is not necessary but take sun screen.  Some of the companies include The Gold Mine Ranch, Rancho Notorious, Rancho Daimari, Rancho Del Campo and Rancho El Paso.

Tennis & Fitness

The Aruba Racquet Club is located conveniently around the corner of Pakiko Traha (our home) at Rooi Santo 21.  It features eight lighted courts, an exhibition center court, pro shop, swimming pool, aerobics class, a fitness center, and a bar and restaurant.  Most leading hotels have tennis instructors and there are many courts at private clubs where visitors are welcome.

Top of Page

Nightlife

Casinos

The casino scene in Aruba is as exciting as it is in the states.  With casinos at most of the large resorts it isn't hard to join in the excitement.  From black jack, craps, roulette, poker and poker tournaments to nickel slots and progressive machines everyone will enjoy.

Bars and Clubs

There are an infinite number of places to hang out and enjoy music and a few drinks in the evening. From everything from latin rhythms to top 40 music, from piano bars to tiki huts- don't be afraid to try a variety.  You'll enjoy it all. 

Live Shows

The spotlight follows the dancer's quick movements with the light momentarily flashing across the face of spectators, enthralled with the talented performer, shimmering in sequins and moving in perfect step to the vibrant Latin rhythms. Talented singers and graceful dancers grace the stage of Aruba's various theaters and showrooms, enchanting its international audience

Movie Theatre & Drive Inn

Enjoy the latest hollywood films on the big screen at either the air-conditioned comfort of the cinema or at the open air local Drive Inn. Checkout the latest shows playing here.
 

Shopping
Colorful malls and main streets beckon to shoppers who stroll unhurried through stores spiced in the floral scents of perfumes, glittering with rows of displays cases of gold jewelry, watches and sparkling jems, decked out in the latest designer fashions and inspiring temptation with intriguingly designed gadgets and sophisticated electronics. The stores of Aruba are stocked with imported merchandise and luxury items at excellent prices. Many stores also feature local handicrafts.

Most stores and boutiques are located in Oranjestad, but excellent shops can also be found at the larger hotels and at the airport. Aloe is abundant in Aruba and skin care products are manufactured right on the island.

Stores on the main streets are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, although some are closed for lunch between noon and 2 p.m. Shops in the malls and shopping centers are open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Some stores are open on Sundays and holidays when cruise ships are in port.

Duty Free Shopping

Aruba isn't actually a duty free port, however the duty is low enough that it's possible to find some excellent buys here, especially on items such as jewelry, perfume, fashions and electronic equipment.

Citizens of the United States who have been out of the country for a minimum of 48 hours and who have not used their respective duty free allowance within 30 days are entitled to a $600.00 duty free tax exemption. Families traveling together can pool their exemptions, meaning a couple with two children can bring back $2,400.00 worth of articles.

Canadian citizens who have been outside Canada for a minimum of 7 days are permitted a duty free exemption of $500.00 Canadian dollars. Citizens are also permitted a duty free exemption of $200.00 each time they are out of the country for more than 48 hours. Exemptions cannot be pooled with spouse and/or children.
Top of Page

Flea Markets

For an introduction to the island's local flavor as well as the opportunity to make bargain purchases, visit the fun, informal environments of the island's flea markets. Often a mix of Caribbean products can be found here as well as offerings of local snacks and even BBQ meals. Inexpensive, yet charming souvenirs, can be found in abundance.
L.G. Smith Boulevard - Opposite Container Harbour - Look for the Flea Market sign and flags.

Aruban Crafts, Souvenirs, Artwork, Hard Rock Cafe Aruba T-Shirts, Caps, Hats, Leather Goods, Crinkle Cotton Shirts/Pants, Mugs, Food and Drinks! More than 100,000 articles!

Very Popular Big Daddy's BBQ!

Easy transportation: Public Buses with constant transportation, Tours, and Taxis.
Come and spend an hour or more! Tell nd bring your friends! Very nice cozy atmosphere!
Easy reach from hotels!
A MUST See while in Aruba!

Open Saturdays & Sundays 8am-8pm

Top of Page

 

Source of information:  www.aruba.com