An island of enchanting contrasts, Aruba is blessed with turquoise waters, radiant beaches, and prevailing trade winds ensuring a near-perfect climate all year long.
Aruba lies just 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela and covers an area of 70 square miles; 20 miles at its longest and 6 miles at its widest. Visitors to this Dutch-influenced island paradise will experience a dramatic juxtaposition of cactus-clad desert hillsides, a Dutch windmill, and world-class resorts with palm-fringed beach fronts.
You’ll find beautiful hidden beaches, windsurfers gliding across the waves, dazzling casino action, a championship golf course, and irresistible shopping in the charming capital of Oranjestad…all the ingredients for a perfect island escape!
A popular cruise ship stop-off, Aruba’s brightly colored capital is filled with modern shops, upscale restaurants, and colonial-era buildings.
Oranjestad is a small and cheery capital with candy-colored Dutch architecture. Every day, large cruise ships pull into its port, and hundreds of passengers flood its street. Oranjestad has plenty of tourist-oriented offerings to keep visitors entertained. Splurge in the malls and diverse shops, stroll the sunny waterfront boulevard, and explore its past at interesting museums.
Before the arrival of European explorers, Oranjestad was just a small fishing outpost used by the Arawak Indians. Spanish explorers arrived in the late 15th century and it was later colonized by the Dutch in the mid-17th century. Except for a brief British interlude, it has remained under Dutch control to this day.
Delve into the past at Fort Zoutman, the oldest building on the island. This defensive fortress was built in 1798 and was designed to protect the city from pirates. Be sure to see the Willem III Tower, once a lighthouse, and the Historical Museum, which houses a permanent exhibit tracing the history of the island. For a look at the island’s pre-colonial history, stop by the National Archaeological Museum of Aruba.
Take a walk down the waterfront at L.G. Smith Boulevard, where shops, restaurants, and busy marinas dominate the scene. Just a few blocks inland, Main Street offers more shopping opportunities, with everything from independent boutiques to internationally recognized luxury brands. For a shopping experience with more local flavor, go to the Flea Market near the harbor, where locals barter at open-air kiosks selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to fish.
Recharge at the Queen Wilhelmina Park, where manicured lawns look out over fishing boats bobbing in the water. Nearby beaches, including Druif Beach and Manchebo Beach, are good for sunbathing and swimming. Wait until evening to check out the elegant Town Hall, also known as Stadhuis, which is lit up after dark.
If you are traveling from the west coast, plan on leaving as early as 7 a.m., or take a red-eye flight to Miami, Atlanta, or New York and connect from there. Coming from New York, you can expect to travel approximately five hours, from Atlanta or Miami it can be approximately three hours, and as long as eight hours from Seattle. In any case, plan on leaving early or on a red-eye flight from the West Coast.
2.5 hours from Miami
3.5 hours from Atlanta
4.5 hours from New York City
Fifteen miles off the Venezuelan coast, Aruba draws visitors year-round thanks to its consistently sunny weather, low humidity, and constant tradewinds that sculpt its divi-divi trees. Colorful marine life and coral reefs mesmerize divers while jewelry stores in Oranjestad, the capital, have the same effect on shoppers. After dark, the action shifts to the lively nightclub scene and hotel-casinos, with their Vegas-style shows.
Things to do
Diving: There are 42 major dive sites around the island, showcasing shipwrecks and coral formations.
Windsurfing: Constant trade winds make Aruba one of the world’s best locations.
Hiking/nature trails: More than 20% of the island is a national park.
We can arrange convenient and comfortable transfers at the time of booking. You will be met at the airport and taken to your hotel via taxi or shared transfer. In some locations, a private car transfer can be arranged to avoid the stops. We can also arrange friendly and fast car-rental services on many of the Caribbean Islands; with an availability of the most popular car rentals, from convertibles to minivans to four-wheel-drive jeeps. Be prepared to drive on the left side of the road on many islands.
While traveling in Aruba we recommend:
Private transfers at time of booking – Most private transfers include a meet-and-greet by English-speaking drivers, luggage assistance, and bottled water in modern vehicles.
A valid passport is generally required for entry into the Caribbean and return to the United States.
Some countries may also require you to present a return airline ticket.
It is the traveler’s responsibility to obtain the proper documents.
U.S. currency is accepted nearly everywhere you go in the Caribbean.
Currency can be exchanged at banks and island hotels (although for slightly more than the standard exchange rate).
Most major American and European credit cards are accepted throughout the islands.
ATMs are widely available throughout the Caribbean.
The islands that make up the Caribbean span several time zones.
Most Caribbean islands lie in the Atlantic Standard Time zone, but a few are in the Eastern Time Zone.
Many of the islands do not observe daylight savings time.
Aruba has one of the highest visitor repeat rates in the Caribbean because it mixes an upscale ambiance with family-friendly hotels and activities. The island is exceptionally clean, modern, and easy to navigate, while the beaches are among the best in the ABC islands. The island itself is a study in contrasts, where silky white beaches line placid aquamarine seas along the south and west coasts, while an expansive desert skirts the jagged coast along the north and east corridors. In addition to that, the capital city of Oranjestad is a bustling cosmopolitan urban center with Las Vegas-style entertainment, packed casinos, and boutique shopping. Variety is a key selling point, and all of the various activities are easily accessible in this small Dutch Caribbean paradise.
Most of Aruba’s hotels and restaurants are situated in three regions. The hi-rise resorts with major brand names are centered around Palm Beach; the low-rise properties skirt neighboring Manchebo and Eagle Beach; and a few hotels occupy the waterfront in Oranjestad.
Barefoot at the Beach
About 20 minutes west of the airport, Aruba’s long and wide-open, white-sand beaches run along the western shore where most of the hotels reside. Every imaginable watersport is available, and tourists should try to visit one of the windsurfing shops because Palm Beach hosts a variety of international pro windsurfing competitions throughout the year. Aruba’s weather is known for its consistent tradewinds and 82-degree temperature, so hop on a board after taking a lesson with one of the many friendly instructors.
Diving and snorkeling are big business a little to the north, and a whole slew of watersport outfitters offer daily excursions to visit some of the island’s nearby sites. In WWII, German subs patrolled these waters looking to sink Allied ships steaming out of Venezuela loaded with crude. Close-in wrecks from the era include the 400-ft. German supply ship Antilla and the Pedernales oil tanker.
Somewhat new to Aruba’s underwater scene are snuba and sea trekking. Snuba is a combination of scuba and snorkeling where participants don regulators used in traditional diving, except the mouthpieces are attached via long air hoses to air tanks on the water’s surface. This is a fun way to get up close and personal with sea life without having to go up for air. Likewise, sea trekking is an exciting and unique adventure using space-age helmets with air hoses connected to surface air tanks. Trekkers can walk along the ocean floor while breathing normally, without ever getting their face or hair wet. Both sports are safe and exhilarating opportunities for families to discover the mysteries of the depths together.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Aruba is from April to August – a huge window of time when the island's high prices take a holiday. And since the island sits well outside the hurricane belt, there's very little threat of tropical storms at this time. January to March features pleasant weather, but room prices can soar.
Important Things to Know:
Passport Requirement: Yes
Visa Requirement: No. Visa not required.
This Destination is Best For: Beach, Hiking, Snorkeling and Scuba Experiences.
Is This a Family-Friendly Destination: Yes
Best Time To Travel to This Destination: Mid December to Mid April, but Year-round Destination.
Recommended Vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Measles, Rabies, Chickenpox (Varicella), Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, Flu (influenza), Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR), Polio and Shingles