The country of Aruba

The island of Aruba. Photos, where is on the map, vacation prices, reviews

Aruba is one of the many islands of the Caribbean. It is located in the tropics, which means that a comfortable holiday with the gentle sun and white sand here is guaranteed almost all year round. That is why such a small state has become very popular among tourists from all over the globe.

The importance of the island in today’s world

Aruba is an island located in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea and 28 km from the Venezuelan coast. On the map it is located between 12˚25′ and 12˚40′ North latitude and 69˚90′ and 70˚05′ West longitude. Its capital is Oranjestad.

It is a former colony of the Netherlands, which received partial independence on January 1, 1986. Aruba’s foreign policy is still the responsibility of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Antilles and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. Domestic policy is the responsibility of the local authorities.

There are several variants of the meaning of the word “Aruba”. The most popular version is based on the language of local Indian tribes, in the lexicon of which the word “ora” means shell, and “oubao” is translated as island.

The Spanish dictionary has a combination of the words “oro hubo,” which translates as “here was gold. Both suggest that the name was formed before Dutch rule. It was done by the natives or the first Spanish conquistadors.

The area of Aruba is only 178.91 square kilometers. The basis of the economy of the state is the tourism industry. For Russians wishing to visit the island, you will first have to apply for a visa. Thanks to the preserved close relations with the former metropolis, you can do this at the Consulate of the Netherlands in Moscow.

Aruba is on important trade and economic routes, which led to the development of the banking sector, as well as the state is engaged in offshore oil production.

The island of Aruba. Photos, where to go on the map, prices, reviews

To visit Aruba, a tourist from Europe will have to put some effort – direct flights operate only from the Netherlands. Residents of other countries will first have to fly to Amsterdam, where they will have to change planes to Aruba Airport.

Climate

Aruba is an island in the tropical belt, and the Caribbean Sea surrounding its coast has strongly influenced the climate, making it sharply maritime. Its proximity to the equator has made the change of seasons almost imperceptible. The bright sun hangs over the heads of the islanders every day, with air temperatures hovering around +29 ˚C and water temperatures averaging only a few degrees lower.

The rainy season begins in November and lasts for 5 weeks. Precipitation is abundant, but short-lived. The trade winds are a characteristic feature of the air, easing the feeling of heat. Aruba is unique in the tropics, as the air is quite dry compared to the rest of the Caribbean.

Nature features

Nature is Aruba’s calling card. The most common plant is the dwarf tree divi-divi. The place of the second most popular representative of the flora is disputed by cacti and aloe vera.

On the island are also common:

  • Hibiscus.
  • Coconut palm.
  • Plumeria.
  • Oleander.
  • Papaya.
  • Mango.
  • Almonds.
  • Lemon.
  • Bougainvillea.

The island of Aruba. Photos, where to go on the map, prices, reviews

Due to the small size of the land, representatives of fauna with large body sizes do not live here. But there are eight species of lizards and five species of geckos. The underwater world is filled with dozens of species of fish and crustaceans.

Birds visit the island during their migrations:

National dishes

Local cuisine is colorful and rich in tropical fruits and seafood.

Most often the locals cook:

  • Keshi Yen.
  • Sopi di pisca.
  • Pudin di koko.
  • Chicken wrap with fries.
  • Porridge Tutu.
  • Kala pancakes.
  • Pastechis and Pastechi patties.
  • Meatballs Bitterball and Crochet.
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Population

Aruba is home to almost 105,000 people. Different cultures are intertwined here – Indian, European, African, Asian. Arubans do not consider themselves Dutch, so the main language of the island is Creole papiamento.

The island of Aruba. Photos, where to go on the map, prices, reviews

Native Arubans are friendly and hospitable people. Their work is mostly related to the tourism business, so they are always friendly and talkative. The most important thing in the communication of residents is to wish each other a good time of day. This is considered a sign of good tone.

The closer and more familiar a person is, the Aruban will stand closer to him in conversation. With strangers they prefer to be at a distance of one meter. An Aruban can be very offended by a person who will point a finger at him.

Arubans prefer not to marry other nationalities, although most of the population is Catholic.

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Currency

The official unit of currency in Aruba is the local florin, also known as the guilder. The hundredth part of the guilder is a cent. The official denominations of notes are 10, 25, 50, 100, 250 and 500 florins, and coins have denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents and 1, 2.5 and 50 florins.

Aruba money is non-convertible, which means it is only valid within the country. It is also not possible to exchange your money for local money outside the country, but while in Aruba, which can be exchanged at any national bank.

Tourist safety

The island has a very low crime rate. The main cohort of the underworld are pickpockets working in public places.

The island of Aruba. Photos, where to go on the map, prices, reviews

The local water leaves much to be desired. For safety reasons, it is better to use bottled water. Among the wildlife can pose a danger meeting with a rattlesnake or a local insect, before the bite of which the tourist simply will not develop immunity.

The sea expanses conceal undercurrents, which can be dangerous for swimmers. Otherwise, Aruba is a perfect vacation spot.

How to get to Aruba

There are two ways to get to the island.

By Airplane

The island of Aruba. Photos, where to go on the map, prices, reviews

The only way to get to Aruba by plane is to get to Amsterdam Airport and then take a connecting flight to the island. Direct flights are available from London and various U.S. cities, but they are arranged at long intervals.

By Water

Water lovers can get to Aruba with the help of their own or rented yachts. There are also maritime connections to Venezuela, but they are not regular and the tourist will have to negotiate with boat owners or captains of ships and ferries in person to get the opportunity to cross the Caribbean Sea.

Transportation system of the island

The island has no railway system and has 800 km of roads, but only two-thirds of them are paved. Since 2013, Aruba has had an open streetcar line connecting the island’s capital with the sea station. The streetcar is autonomous and runs on solar panels installed on it.

In Aruba, the bus network is represented by the state company Arubus, which has a fleet of 30 cars. A more common option for getting around the city are private minibuses. Tickets cost $2.54, but you can buy a monthly pass for $42.32.

Aruba’s Beaches

Aruba is an island located in the southern Caribbean Sea, which has contributed its colors to the formation of local beaches. One of the most famous is Eagle Beach. It is known for its fabulous trees, Cesalpinia tannicum. On the beach you can find fenced sections of sand – sea turtles took a fancy to this place for laying eggs. You can find the beach near San Miguel.

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Just north of Eagle is Palm Beach. The beach has a developed network of recreational resources, stores and palm gardens.

The island of Aruba. Photos, where to go on the map, prices, reviews

At the southernmost part of the island there is a small shallow lagoon where snorkeling is convenient. It is locally called Baby Lagoon.

To the west of Aruba’s capital city is Drulf Beach. There are a huge number of palm trees on the beach, which is inversely proportional to the number of vacationers. It is a relatively quiet and comfortable place.

Arashi Beach is spread out on the north coast. The calm sea and clean sand is its calling card. The underwater world here abounds with its diversity and can impress any diver. Away from the beach is a wild rocky area, perfect for family photos.

What to see

The island of Aruba. Photos, where to go on the map, prices, reviews

Aruba is an island at the crossroads of many cultures – Amerindian, Spanish, Dutch. This has left a mark on the development of this place. Its attractions are reflected in the table below.

What to see a tourist in summer and winter

In winter, when the sea winds bring the rainy season to Aruba, it is not very comfortable to swim on the beaches and sunbathe, but the island has many attractions that require a visit.

Aruba’s calling card is its capital, Oranjestad. The city is a living monument to the architecture of the Dutch late colonial period. The city has many churches, museums and buildings designed for autonomous life on the island.

On the island is a stronghold of Dutch military power – Fort Zutman. The building was built in 1798 in the capital and is preserved to this day.

The island of Aruba. Photos, where to go on the map, prices, reviews

The city of St. Nicholas will be remembered by tourists with its old quarters, reminiscent of images from old books, as well as the chapel of the Grotto of Lourdes and the statue of the Virgin Mary.

In the summer months, diving enthusiasts can visit the place Antilla, where at the bottom of the ocean are the remains of ships sunk near the island. For tourists who come to Aruba with their children, you must visit the Children’s Beach. It is a closed from the rest of the sea bay on the island, where the depth is not more than 1.5 m.

As part of the tour you can visit the cave Guadirikiri, the feature of which were and are stalactites and stalagmites, bats and ancient drawings of the Arawak tribe.

Rest

Aruba is a great place for lovers of resort holidays. It has everything you need for even the most demanding tourist. Tours to the island include vacation duration of 7, 10 and 14 days. The cost of a day varies depending on the resort, but on average it starts at 2500 rubles and can range up to 4500 rubles.

The most popular resorts on the island are:

  • Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort.
  • Casa Del Mar Beach Resort.
  • Divi Village Golf and Beach Resort.
  • Divi Aruba Phoenix beach Resort.

Each offers not only a wide range of in-room amenities, but also swimming pools, fitness classes, sports and seaside recreation.

Shopping and Shopping

The island of Aruba. Photos, where to go on the map, prices, reviews

Shoppers will enjoy a trip to the stores and malls of Aruba, most of which are in the capital city. Touch of Gold, Oranjestad’s calling card, is located in the Oroubo Plaza Hotel. The store offers European clothing and jewelry.

The Renaissance Mall is located at 82 L.G. Smith Boulevard. The mall has its own thing – visitors can sail through it on a boat and enter their favorite store from the water. The advantage of the store is that the cost of goods without duty surcharges.

On the same street, only 126 is Antracto Plaza, where adults can walk through the clothing boutiques while children have fun in the specially equipped areas. In general, every hotel in Aruba has its own boutiques, so tourists can shop without going far from their place of residence.

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Cafes and Restaurants

Lovers of fine European cuisine should not miss the Papillon Restaurant, located on Eagle Beach at J.E. Irausquin Bvld, 348. It also has a specialty menu for vegetarians.

Those interested in sampling local fare should stop by Gostoso’s Capital Bar on Caya Ing Roland,12 or Wacky Wahoo’s in Palm Beach. The menu reflects a wide variety of Caribbean cuisine, full of seafood and tropical fruits.

If you want to eat well but not too cheap, try Yemanja Woodfired Grill in Oranjestad at Wilhelminastraat 2, and Asi es mi Peru, located 200 meters from Eagle Beach.

Aruba has a very well-developed food network and you can find a cozy cafe or restaurant on almost every street, where you can satisfy your hunger.

Diving

When taking diving lessons in Aruba, you should keep in mind that:

Prices for diving lessons can vary from coast to coast. On average, 1 dive from a boat costs $47 and at night $64. A shore dive with a dive guide is $55.

The following dive centers operate on the island:

  • Bivers Aruba at Palm Beach.
  • Mermaid Dive Center.
  • Jads Dive Center.

Hotels in Aruba

The island of Aruba. Photos, where to go on the map, prices, reviews

The most popular hotels in Aruba are listed in the table below.

Hotel Name Address Price per 1 day
Renaissance Aruba Resort&Casino Oranjestad, 82 L.G. Smith Boulevard Rub. 27000
Blue Residences Palm Beach, J.E. Irausquin Blvd, 266 19,500 rubles
Golden Villas Aruba Noord, Washington, 30C 9600 rubles
Aruba Harmony Apartments Oranjestad, Palmitastraat, 9 8200 rubles
Perle d’Or Noord, Boegoeroei, 11Z 5800 rubles
California Aruba Saint Nicholas, Caya G.F. Betico Croes, 152 4600 rubles

What to bring

Aruba hotels always have gift stores open from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Those wishing to visit a specialty store can visit the Tropikal Temptations Market in Oranjestad, which sells swimwear and bags, magnets with famous places of the island and straw hats, cosmetics and memorable trinkets.

Visiting the capital’s main street, Caya G.F. Betico Croes, where there are a huge number of stores of various specifics, advertising themselves as “duty-free price” areas. The cost of souvenirs can range from $ 1 to a hundred times more.

On Aruba vacation is sure to please both children and adults. The island is home to a huge number of recreational facilities that can make a vacation unforgettable.

One lucky island: Aruba

When it’s late fall and dank winter comes, a lot of people have a desire to move to warmer climes, to the gentle sea. We are not an exception, and last December we were able to realize this popular urge. And we went to Aruba – an island-state in the southern Caribbean Sea, close to the Venezuelan coast (map 1).

This island is a former Dutch colony, now part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as an autonomous entity. Therefore, Aruba is still very much connected to the Netherlands, which we will describe in the review of the island’s capital. We begin with the main wealth of the country – the natural and climatic.

One lucky island: Aruba

The island is relatively small: a length of about 30 km and a width of about 10 km (at its widest part), but it’s not the size of the same happiness. Nature has gifted Aruba not the most beautiful of landscapes, but an exceptional climate, which its residents eventually learned how to use very well for the common good – their own and guests of the island.

What can be better than the average annual and daily air temperature – a pleasant +25-29 degrees, refreshed by constant trade winds to the feeling of comfort? And the water in the sea +26-28 degrees, also year-round and around the clock. The weather is always good here, there are no hurricanes or tropical downpours, which every autumn is very annoying to most Caribbean nations north of Aruba. A great vacation spot for northerners!

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Aruba always has great weather and daily sunsets

But the people of Aruba didn’t immediately appreciate what their main wealth was. There was a period when the main income of the island brought the mining of gold, then – the cultivation and export of aloe products, then they squeezed the oil refining.

And only since the mid-1980s, tourism and related industries came to the fore. And then came the luck: for about forty years Aruba uses the slogan “One Happy Island”. It is everywhere: on the walls of buildings, on the sides of cars, on license plates. And even when you enter the country, at the airport you will get a stamp with this statement in your passport!

Such a stamp is put in the passport of those entering Aruba. “Bon bini” means “welcome” in papiamento, the native language of the Arubans.

The resort area on Aruba is on the west and southwest coasts of the island (map 2).

On the west and south coasts are many kilometers of luxurious sandy beaches, fairly well protected from the waves. So swimming there is relaxed. Even in the midday heat, the white-white sand remains cool, pleasant even to barefooted feet. We can assert this, based on our own experience. Therefore, to walk along the sea was nice at any time of day, which we did, going along the beach in one direction, then the other. We can’t remember where else the heat would be so easily tolerated as in Aruba. It is completely free of the debilitating humidity and stuffiness.

Aruba's gorgeous beaches

Since the resort area is located mostly on the west coast, it means vacationers can watch the sunsets every day. This is another big plus of Aruba, and how much – romance!

Romantic evenings on Aruba

And one sunset is never like the other! So vacationing in Aruba, it becomes a kind of sport – be sure to meet another sunset.

Watching the sunset was a daily ritual.

Our hotel was right next to the beach called Eagle Beach. With hindsight we realized that this was the best choice for us.

Our Eagle Beach

This beach is located in a relatively low-rise hotel zone and condominiums, max 4-5 floors. And our hotel Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort in general was mostly two-storey. Maybe that’s why there weren’t many people on the beaches, even though it was peak season. At the same time, everything is close from Eagle Beach.

Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort hotel from the parking lot side (photo from hotel website)

Main entrance of Amsterdam Manor Hotel

Our bright hotel was of classic colonial Dutch architecture and inside was decorated in sunny colors. All of the hotel structures were surrounded by a stylish and well-kept garden with tropical plants and cacti.

Grounds of Amsterdam Manor Hotel

We had our own room entrance, right off the street, with a full kitchen and a set of all the necessary utensils. There is a large supermarket with an excellent selection of groceries, including some from Holland, a 5 minute walk from the hotel. After America, which does not know the taste of good cheese and especially – sausages, we were very pleased with their European supplies in Aruba. We had breakfast in our room, had a mid-day snack there, and in the evening, after meeting another sunset on Eagle Beach, went to one of the nearby restaurants. And there was a choice, and most of them were especially good fish and seafood dishes. Perhaps most often we dined at our hotel restaurant, which in the evening set up tables right on the sand, next to the sea.

Our favorite restaurant right on the beach

Palm Beach, where most of the high-rise hotel zone is concentrated, including the international hotel chains (Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt, Riou) was much more crowded. But even there, from our point of view, in the middle of December (peak season!) people were moderate. Accommodations in that part of Aruba are a bit more expensive, noisier, and apparently more fun (if that matters to anyone).

Palm Beach

All the beaches in Aruba are municipal, which means the adjacent hotels can’t fence them off by making them inaccessible to others. So we walked along the sea everywhere, swam wherever we wanted, often briefly used the free beds of other hotels. And sometimes just placed on this or that beach under the sprawling trees, competing with iguanas:).

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Iguanas on Palm Beach

Our Eagle Beach was made famous by two wonderful trees growing right out of the sand at the water’s edge. A meter and a half in height, something like bonsai, fofoti trees (fofoti trees) stretch to the sea their flat crowns over the curved, twisted trunks of the wind. Because of the island trade winds blowing from the northeast, they are always tilted to the southwest.

Fofoti Trees at sunset

Photographs of these distinctive trees are in all Aruba guidebooks, and tour buses make a special stop near where the fofoti grow, giving tourists a chance to take pictures.

The fofoti trees are very photogenic

The last three months of the year are considered the rainiest in Aruba. We were there in December, and it rained every day. But they were short-lived, and did not cause the subsequent increase in humidity. In short, the rains were not a hindrance to a great vacation.

If the resort area in Aruba looks like a typical tropical island with the appropriate set of plants (palms, bougainvilleas, hibiscus, oleanders, sea grapes, etc.), the rest of the country cannot be said about it.

Most of Aruba is semi-desert terrain with small hills and bare rocks, overgrown with prickly bushes and cacti.

That is, Aruba has a landscape quite unlike the nature of the other Caribbean islands: no mountains and jungle valleys, no rivers, no waterfalls. You could say that Aruba is some sort of exotic mix of the Caribbean, Africa and maybe Mexico. But at the same time the vacation there is not just pleasant, but incredibly enjoyable. Looking at the photo below, we can assume that below are the rainforests…

And this is how these forests look on closer inspection (cacti mixed with prickly bushes):

These are the forests in Aruba: cacti mixed with prickly bushes.

We saw these landscapes, going one day on an excursion to the north and east of the island, organized by a local travel agency. We didn’t rent a car on Aruba, moving around the resort area on foot, and used the local bus a couple of times. But there are no paved roads on the northeastern coast, they are unpaved exclusively, and to get to the most interesting places, you still need a four-wheel drive car – in any of its variants.

We were taken by these yellow trucks. Some people rent SUVs, one of which was also in the frame. Americans call them ATVs (all terrain vehicles).

The most notable site in eastern Aruba is Arikok National Park. It covers almost 20% of the island and, in addition to nature preservation, plays the role of an attraction for visitors. The park has several attractions we wanted to see (underground caves with thousands of years of petroglyphs, an old Dutch farm, the remains of a gold mine, sand dunes and a natural pool). But we couldn’t find a tour that included all of this. Tourists want to optimize their costs, and tour organizers are interested in increasing their income. As a result, we settled on a tour that offered a visit to the Concha natural pool and (already outside the national park) a nature bridge, the Alto Vista Chapel and the California Lighthouse (Map 3).

Map 3. Attractions of Aruba. The places we visited on our tour are indicated by numbers, which are referenced in the text.

To see the sites on our tour, we had to get from the resort area to the east and north coasts of Aruba. The road leading there is rocky and bumpy, and we were glad we weren’t driving. After entering the park, the typical Aruba landscapes opened up to us.

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