Aruba Travel Guide

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Aruba Travel Guide

Aruba Local History

The first inhabitants on the island of Aruba were a nation of Arawak Indians called the Caiquetios. They migrated from the Orinoco Basin in South America about 2 000 years ago. In 1499, a Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda laid claim to the territory for Queen Isabella. The Spanish found the climate too arid for cultivation and discovered little evidence of gold, which was what they were eagerly searching for. They abandoned Aruba to the Caiquetios and devoted themselves to more lucrative conquests. During this time the island became a clandestine hide away for pirates and buccaneers who preyed on ships transporting treasures back to the old world.

In 1636, the Dutch set out looking for another place to establish a colonial presence because the Spanish had expelled them from their base in St. Marten. Curacao became the administrative capital, with Aruba operating as one of its chief satellites. The island fell to the British during the Napoleonic wars, but Aruba has remained under Dutch control ever since.

Gold was discovered near Bushiribana in 1824 and the gold rush continued until 1916 when the mines finally became unprofitable and were shut down, however in 1924 another valuable commodity replaced it; black gold oil. Aruba has one of the largest refineries in the world. The main industries in Aruba are oil and tourism.

Aruba Attractions

Aruba Shopping

Ecco Located at Caya G. F. Betico Croes 22. Ecco is the best place to get tablecloths, delft blue, souvenirs and a variety of gift items. The shopping hours are Monday to Saturday 8:30 to 18:30.

Art & Tradition Located at Caya G. F. Betico Croes 30. At the Art & Tradition shop the most impressive items to buy are the mopa mopa boxes and figures, which are made by the Quillasinga Indians of Colombia.

The Aruba Trading Company Located at Caya G. F. Betico Croes 12. At the Aruba Trading Company you will find the best moderately priced selections of fragrances, cosmetics, shoes, leather goods, clothing, liquor and cigarettes.

Aruba Activities

Baby Beach There is a protective rock breakwater, so the sea is like a big bathtub. The water is about 1.5 meters deep and the sand powdery. It is the perfect place to bring small children and inexperienced swimmers.

The Renaissance Kids club This hotel has a club, which has supervised, and fun activities for the kids, while mom and dad spend some quality time on their own. Activities include arts and crafts, face painting, dance lessons and beach games.

Tira Koochi Park This is a playground for children, which is open from 4pm to 6pm.

Kibaima Miniature Village and Park This Park features miniature versions of the typical Aruban houses and buildings, exotic birds, animals and tropical plants.

Aruba Parks & Gardens

Masiduri In the 1950's, Masiduri served as an experimental garden. Aruba was a major exporter of aloe for its medicinal and healing properties. The site features an aloe-cultivation exhibit today. The sheltered location and comparatively moist conditions draws various reptiles to the area, including the Aruban cat-eyed snakes, and feral donkeys rest here at night.

Cunucu Arikok - This is a partially restored farm, which recalls Aruba's agricultural past. It takes about 45 minutes to complete the circular hiking trail. On the trail you will experience boulders, vegetation and wildlife. There are shaded benches so that you can get a rest and admire the view. The cactus hedges and stonewalls were built to keep the goats, sheep and donkeys out of the crops. At dawn and dusk the area comes alive with parakeets, doves, mockingbirds, hummingbirds, lizards and rabbits.

Bubali Bird Sanctuary Located on J. E. Irausquin Boulevard. This is a resting and breeding area for more than 80 species of local and migratory birds. There are two interconnected manmade lakes surrounded by lush vegetation, and the fish in the nutrient rich ponds attract brown pelicans and Black cormorants. There is an observation tower to give bird lovers a bird's eye view of the oasis.

Arikok National Park This national park takes up 18% of the island. There are many walking trails, unusual plant and animal life. The Arikok National Park was designated as an area of significant national importance in the early 1980's and the highest points in Aruba are located in the park.

Aruba Beaches

Hadikurari Beach This beach is known for terrific snorkelling and is the island's Mecca for windsurfing. Every June Hadikurari hosts the Hi-Winds World Challenge, which is an important pro-am windsurfing competition. The shallow water makes for excellent swimming and facilities, which can be found at the beach, include picnic tables and shade huts, and the white sandy beach is flecked with pebbles and shells.

Palm Beach Palm Beach has calm waters and is located right in front of the luxurious high-rise hotels. The resorts sift the sand daily to get rid of any pebbles and sharp shells. Palm Beach is great for swimming, sunbathing, sailing, fishing and snorkelling. There are two piers and numerous water sports operators located on the beach, which makes Palm Beach on the busier and noisier beaches in Aruba.

Eagle Beach This is an ideal beach for swimming and the ambience is relaxed and quiet. There are a couple of bars as well as numerous palapas and chairs. There is a brief outcrop of limestone, which is home to a splendid green flock of parakeets.

Baby Beach Baby Beach is located at the southeastern end of the island. The waters here are calm and shallow and are ideal for children and inexperienced swimmers. There are also gorgeous coral heads in the channel, which snorkelers will enjoy.

Arashi Beach The calm surf and sandy bottom make this one of Aruba's best swimming beaches. The sand is soft but does have pebbles and stones in it. There are a few beach huts, which provide protection from the sun. The Elkhorn coral is a great place for snorkelling.

Aruba Restaurants and Bars

Aruba Restaurants

Brisas del Mar Located at Savaneta 222A. Brisas del Mar is the perfect place to watch the sun set with its open-air terrace, which overlooks the sea and the sea breezes that soothes the sunburned skin. The cuisine is a true blend of Aruba. They specialise in seafood dishes, which are truly home cooked meals at there best.

Flying Fishbone Located at Savaneta 344. The Flying Fishbone is an intimate each side restaurant, which is perfect for those romantic evenings. They have many table which line a rustic wooden deck, but if you plan you evening a week in advance, you could get a spot which is really close to the sea and you may even get you feet wet. The cuisine at the Flying fishbone is nouvelle international, with many varieties to choose from.

Le Dome Located at J. E. Irausqin Boulevard 224. The cuisine at Le Dome is so impressive that even Queen Beatrix gave her royal seal of approval when she ate here in 2000. There are four fabulous dining areas, with different themes and feeling about them, and an outdoor terrace where diners can enjoy the views of the sea. The cuisine is French/Belgian and is really superb. There is no rush here, so ask for you check.

Tuscany Located at L. G. Smith Boulevard. This is a top-notch restaurant that features Tuscan cuisine. There is a live piano performance for a completely relaxed and romantic evening. The food is delicious and the cordial waiters are attentive but not overbearing.

Aruba Bars & Clubs

Cafe Bahia Located at Weststraat 7. Cafe Bahia has a tropical ambience, a fishing-boat bar and hand painted murals. The place starts to pick up from about 10pm especially on weekends and holidays when you can drink and dance until about 2 or 3 in the morning.

Garufa Located at Wilhelminastraat 63. This is a popular place for jazz and bolero loving cigar smokers. The food comes from El Gaucho the Argentine steakhouse across the road. There is usually a live jazz saxophonist and an Argentine guitarist who play tangos and boleros. The bar is open from Monday to Saturday from 6pm to about 2 in the morning.

Iguana Joe's Located at L. G. Smith Boulevard. This bar emphasises all things reptilian such as the Lethal Lizard, which is a big bold boozy drink. Iguana Joe's attracts a mix of locals as well as tourists; the crowd does seem to get younger as the night progresses.

Kokoa Beach Bar Located at De Palm Pier. Kokoa Beach Bar is popular with sunbathers who want to socialize before showering the sunscreen off for the evening. Happy hour last from 3pm until 5pm. There is an abundance of blond hair, blue eye Dutch employees. Happy hour is from 3pm until 5pm and the bar open at 8am and closes around 10pm.

Aruba children's activities

Baby Beach There is a protective rock breakwater, so the sea is like a big bathtub. The water is about 1.5 meters deep and the sand powdery. It is the perfect place to bring small children and inexperienced swimmers.

The Renaissance Kids club This hotel has a club, which has supervised, and fun activities for the kids, while mom and dad spend some quality time on their own. Activities include arts and crafts, face painting, dance lessons and beach games.

Tira Koochi Park This is a playground for children, which is open from 4pm to 6pm.

Kibaima Miniature Village and Park This Park features miniature versions of the typical Aruban houses and buildings, exotic birds, animals and tropical plants.

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