Aruba Travel Guide
Introduction to Aruba
Looking for a Caribbean island nation that is a sure bet for sunshine? Aruba fits this bill, as its dry climate sees less than 500 millimetres of rain per year.
There is more to this country than its many excellent beaches however. A country that is tied to the Netherlands, Aruba bears many hallmarks of its Dutch colonial roots. You can see it in the architecture of its capital Oranjestad, and in the cuisine available in its many local restaurants.
Make time to discover this country’s culture in between your time enjoying the many attractions that can be found on the island of Aruba.
Currency: Aruban guilders
Languages: Dutch, Papiamento, English, Spanish
What To Do in Aruba
Before Aruba was a hotspot for tourism, people came here to try and strike it rich. The Bushiribana & Balashi Gold Mill Ruins are one of the few remnants of that era; it was in these mills in the early 19th century where gold ore taken from the interior hills was processed.
More than three million pounds of gold passed through both these facilities in their heyday, but today, only crumbling stone walls and foundations remain. Take care when exploring, as their stability may be compromised by generations of erosion.
If you want to get a quick background on the history of this island, spend an hour or two walking around the National Archaeological Museum of Aruba. This institution contains exhibits displaying artifacts from the various indigenous peoples that have called Aruba home as far back as 2500 BCE.
It also details the history of the island from the colonial period in the early 16th century through to the present day.
The National Archaeological Museum of Aruba is located in downtown Oranjestad. When you are finished exploring, don’t be in a rush to get back to the beach, as the colorful nature of its buildings are an attraction in and of themselves.
With plenty of buildings boasting Dutch Colonial facades that are painted in a variety of Caribbean influenced pastel colors, it is a sight that is well worth capturing. Ensure that you have room on your camera before exploring its streets.
Along the way, there are plenty of boutiques boasting duty-free shopping, restaurants, and bars to keep you entertained.
While there are plenty of beaches on Aruba that are world-class, be sure to go for a swim at the Natural Pool before leaving the island. A tidal pool sheltered from the open Caribbean Sea by sizable rocks, the shallow water within is heated quickly by the tropical sun everyday, making it a very pleasant place to wade.
Even if you don’t go in, the sight of crashing swells on the outer rocks will make for an excellent photo opportunity. Getting here is half the fun, as its location at the end of a rough track means that hiking in or renting a 4×4 vehicle are the only ways to get here.
When it comes time to hit the beach, make Eagle Beach your first stop. A regular on many ‘best beach in the world’ lists, it is one of the widest on the island, giving you plenty of room to find a spot to roll out your towel.
It is one of the best places on Aruba to photograph the Fofoti, a tree that is unique to this island. If you are feeling particularly active, join the locals in a game of beach tennis, as there are many courts available.
Those that want a more urban beach experience will want to stay in the Palm Beach area. With plenty of beach bars, restaurants, watersport rental shops, and other services at the ready, all your needs will be only a short stroll away.
At night, the area comes alive with some of the best nightlife on the island, with plenty of clubs and casinos located within close proximity to each other.
What to Eat in Aruba
With a long history of Dutch Colonial influence, it should come as no surprise that Bitterballen is a popular snack among local Arubans.
Consisting of minced beef or veal combined in a roux with flour and various seasonings, and then rolled into balls that are then battered with breadcrumbs and deep fried, this savoury treat is the perfect way to quiet hunger pangs between meals. These can be easily found at bars throughout Aruba, so try some with a Balashi beer.
For dinner during one of the nights of your stay in Aruba, try to find some Keshi Yena. Cheese lovers will adore this dish, as it is made by stuffing the rind of an Edam or Gouda cheese with spiced chicken and olives. A melty mess when served, suspend any thoughts of healthy eating for one meal and enjoy this decadent treat.
Enjoy a sweet ending to your day by indulging in some Banana na Binja. Consisting of sweet plantains that have been sauteed in butter, and then mixed with brown sugar, port wine, and cinnamon, it will be a dish that you will order more than once during your time in Aruba.