Things to know and ideas for your own excursion on Aruba
- Cruise Ship Berths
One Happy Island. The capital of Aruba has several berths for cruise ships, which are also quite close to each other. In the cruise terminal, a tourist information booth and the local small shops open after mooring. A taxi stand can be found in the immediate vicinity. Taximeters are not common on the island and fixed prices are charged for the most important destinations. A tour of the island costs about 45 USD per hour. You should always check the cost with the driver before setting off. In addition, numerous tour operators offer their services in and around the harbour. Papiamentu and Dutch are officially spoken on Aruba and the ABC islands. However, many locals can also speak English well and the US dollar is accepted as a means of payment in most cases. A smaller denomination is advisable as 50 and 100 US dollar notes are sometimes not accepted.
- Public Buses
On Aruba, Arubus buses run on a variety of routes and often every 15-30 minutes. The Oranjestad Bus Terminal, close to the berths, is 500-600 metres away and plays a central role, as most lines meet there. Timetables are adhered to quite reliably and a ride costs USD 2.60 per person, payable to the driver. However, excess change is often given out in local currency. Smaller minibuses/vans are also available for USD 2 per person and route. Other bus tickets are also available in shops with a recognisable ARUBUS logo. With the Retour Card available there, two journeys are possible for USD 5, and the Daypass (day ticket) allows unlimited journeys for USD 10.
The tram line of the Oranjestad Trolley (Arutram), operated by Arubus, was opened in 2013 and since then has been commuting between the port and the pedestrian zone in Caya G.F. Betico Croes. Two turning loops mark the respective end of the line of the historically designed tram. The battery-operated vehicles used take about 10-15 minutes for one direction and run from Monday to Saturday between 08:00-18:00 on the 2.7-kilometre route. They offer a comfortable transfer to the city centre, which is also free of charge. At the eight stops you can hop on and off as you please.
Oranjestad offers a variety of shopping opportunities. There are numerous modern shopping centres that integrate well into the historic cityscape and vie for the favour of customers. In the immediate vicinity of the harbour, for example, you will find the Royal Plaza Mall, and a little further on you will find more exclusive shops in the Renaissance Mall. To the east, there is also the very nice shopping street and pedestrian zone in Caya G. F. Betico Croes/Main Street with numerous shops, boutiques, restaurants and cafés. This is a good place for shopping enthusiasts. Everything is within walking distance and can be reached in a fairly short time, but it is more convenient to take the free tram line. A short stroll through the city centre reveals many beautifully decorated, colourful colonial buildings in Dutch-Caribbean style, most of which give a very well-kept impression and exude their very own charm. Some of the buildings in Wilhelminastraat date back to the founding years of the city.
- Fort Zoutman and Historical Museum
Aruba's oldest building complex is undoubtedly Fort Zoutman at Zoutmanstraat 6. The historic fortification was built between 1796 and 1798 by the Dutch army and served for many years to defend the port facilities. In 1866, work began on the construction of the eye-catching Willem III Tower, which took two years to complete. After its completion, it was mainly used as a lighthouse and clock tower. Since 1983, after extensive renovation work, the Historical Museum of Aruba has been housed in the complex. It deals with the island's past, shows interesting exhibits and imparts interesting facts from the early Spanish discovery onwards. In addition to the permanent exhibition, various special exhibitions are presented from time to time. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 09:00-12:00 and from 13:30-16:00. The museum is about 900 metres from the moorings and can be reached on foot in about 15 minutes.
In the courtyard of Fort Zoutman, the Bonbini Festival takes place every Tuesday in the early evening. Starting at 6:30 pm, you can get a glimpse of the island's culture. Local live music is played and various dances are presented. In addition, you can sample culinary specialities and buy handmade products of the local arts and crafts. The latter can be a suitable souvenir for the display case at home. The entrance fee is 5 USD per person.
- Wilhelmina Park
Not far from and south of Fort Zoutman is Wilhelmina Park, a small, well-maintained park with a view of the sea that invites you to linger. Besides the monument to the Dutch Queen Wilhelmine and the statue of Anne Frank, the beautifully planted tropical vegetation is impressive. In addition, the available seating can be used to enjoy the peace and quiet while comfortably observing the free-living iguanas. A beautiful place to relax.
- Archaeological Museum
Another museum is located at Schelpstraat 42, where the Archaeological Museum of Aruba has an exhibition area of around 500 square metres, displaying artefacts from long ago that come from various excavation sites on the island. Significant finds bear witness to the life of the indigenous people, including two funerary urns that are already over 2000 years old. The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 10:00-17:00 and on weekends from 10:00-14:00. Closed on Mondays and public holidays. Admission is free.
- Horses Statues
In Oranjestad, you will often come across beautiful blue horse statues that shine in the sunlight. There are eight of them to remind us of the lively horse trade of bygone days. The natural harbour of Paardenbaai made it possible to load the animals for over three centuries. The statues were given names and so Rosalinda, Saturnina, Bonifacia, Eufrosina, Celestina, Sinforosa, Escapia and Ambrosio tell their very own stories.
- Eagle Beach
Aruba has some very beautiful stretches of beach. Among them is Eagle Beach, which has been voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world several times. It is located on the west coast of the island and is about 4.5 kilometres from the moorings. You can plan an hour for this distance on foot, but by rental car, bus or taxi it is of course much more comfortable and faster. It takes a good 10-15 minutes one way and you can enjoy the fine, white coral sand to the full. The normally crystal-clear water with visibility of up to 30 metres promises cooling. Also characteristic are the shade-giving divi-divi trees that jut out of the ground at an angle to the wind. Two sun loungers under an umbrella cost 40 US dollars a day to rent. From March to September, one comes across some fenced-in areas at Eagle Beach. Sea turtles have chosen these areas for their offspring and lay their eggs there. These areas are fenced off so that they can develop unhindered and hatch in late summer. A taxi from Cruise Terminal to Eagle Beach costs 13 US dollars each way and pays off with four passengers. If there are fewer passengers, the bus is cheaper. For this you can use buses of the lines L10 Malmok, L10A Arashi and L10B Marriott.
- Palm Beach
North of Eagle Beach begins Aruba's long hotel zone, which also includes some well-known luxury hotels. The long Palm Beach stretches out in front of them. Bars, restaurants and shops are plentiful here, most of them behind the large hotel complexes, as are numerous water sports on the beach. Sun loungers and parasols can also be rented. The hotels are close together here. For example, there is a passage to the beach at the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort. Sunbeds and umbrellas cost an average of 15 US dollars each per day on the beaches of Aruba. However, there are also significant outliers, especially in exclusive corners. This is especially true in front of the large bed castles, where you can sometimes be charged 10 USD more. It is best to ask for prices in advance. Sometimes, after a friendly conversation, a better rate is possible.
- Fishermans Hut and Malmok Beach
An area especially for surfers begins above the hotel zone. The Fisherman's Hut is a popular meeting place for water sports enthusiasts, as the wind blows unhindered and mostly constantly over the undeveloped land towards the sea, whose water surface nevertheless remains quite calm. This area is popular with windsurfers, who are allowed to use it daily from 10:00-17:00. Kitesurfing is only allowed outside this time. Another popular beach for surfers is Malmok Beach above. Wave lovers, on the other hand, are more likely to get their money's worth on Aruba's rough north and northeast coast.
- Boca Catalina Beach and Arashi Beach
Boca Catalina Beach and Arashi Beach are located almost entirely in the northwest of the island. The immediate surroundings and the hinterland with the sand dunes are more reminiscent of a barren desert landscape. Far from mass tourism, these beaches are popular with the locals, snorkellers and divers. The water is usually quite calm, occasionally a bit rocky, and the visibility is usually very good. A short distance from the shore are the remains of the freighter S.S. Antilla, which sank in 1940. The wreck, which was broken in two, is now one of the most popular diving spots in the world. The beaches can be reached by L10A Arashi buses or, alternatively, by taxi for US$18.
- California Lighthouse
In the immediate vicinity of Arashi Beach is the California Lighthouse, which was commissioned in 1916. The thirty-metre-high tower was extensively renovated in 2016 and reopened to visitors after the work was completed. During the daily opening hours from 08:30-17:30, you can get a lot of information as well as a magnificent view of Aruba and the sea from above. However, access is subject to a fee of 8 USD per person. Since the number of visitors is limited, the tickets are bound to a fixed access time. The entrance ticket also entitles the holder to discounts at the adjacent Faro Blanco restaurant, where prices are generally somewhat higher. The building used to house the lighthouse keeper. When the lighthouse was converted to electric power, manual work to operate the beacon became largely superfluous. The accommodation became vacant, later extended and converted into the Italian restaurant La Trattoria El Faro Blanco. The area is located on the Hudishibana plateau and already offers a beautiful view of the surroundings due to its elevated position. The sunsets from the terrace of the restaurant are impressive.
- Manchebo Beach
Also on the west coast, bordering Eagle Beach to the south and somewhat closer to the Cruise Terminal, is Manchebo Beach. The distance to the beach is about 3.9 kilometres, which can be easily covered by the L10 Malmok, L10A Arashi and L10B Marriott buses or by taxi. Beach bars are located on site, and sunbeds and umbrellas are available for rent. The sand is fine and white, as on almost all beaches on the island.
- Divi Beach
Even closer is Divi Beach, about three kilometres away, which would take 35 to 40 minutes to reach on foot. Again, if you use the bus or a taxi, it is only a short drive. The beach loungers belong to the adjacent hotel resort and can also be rented if there is sufficient capacity. A beach bar is present and provides for the physical well-being.
- Surfside Beach
If you follow L.G. Smith Boulevard in a south-easterly direction from the cruise terminal, you can reach Surfside Beach, about 1.8 kilometres away, on foot in 20 to 25 minutes. Various beach bars are available there and while you enjoy the Caribbean sun, you can observe the air traffic of Queen Beatrix International Airport at close range. Of course, you should expect a corresponding noise level. There is also a small water park with bouncy castles, climbing facilities and slides. Fun for the whole family. However, for safety reasons, the minimum age for entry is 6 years. The fee for use is 15 US dollars per hour and per person. Open daily from 09:00-17:00.
- Mangel Halto Beach
To the south-east of the moorings is the rather sparsely frequented Mangel Halto Beach. Those who like it quiet are in good hands there. A beach restaurant satisfies culinary needs and you can rent kayaks to explore the nearby mangrove forest. It takes about 20-25 minutes by taxi or rental car to get to the beach, which is about 12 kilometres away in each direction. On site, it is a one-kilometre walk from the nearest bus stop to the beach. The buses of the lines L1, L2, L2A, L2B, L2C, L3, L3A (all direction San Nicolas) and L8 Sabana Basora stop at this stop.
- Baby Beach
Almost at the very south-east of the island, you can visit Baby Beach. This beach encloses a natural lagoon in the shape of a crescent and has a fairly shallow water depth and low waves. Practical for families with small children. However, swimmers should be careful at the entrance to the open sea and not underestimate the current there. The beach area is poorly developed. There are a few small beach bars, however, as well as a few standing, palm-leaf-covered umbrellas. A taxi to Baby Beach costs 35 USD and the journey takes about 40-45 minutes for the 25-kilometre route. The Arubus buses of the L-900 line have Baby Beach as their destination. However, these only leave from the bus station in San Nicolas (Arubus San Nicolas Main Station). To get there, you can use the buses of the lines L1, L2, L2A, L2B, L2C, L3 and L3A (all in the direction of San Nicolas) from the bus station in Oranjestad.
- Flamingo Beach
A very special encounter can be had on Renaissance Island, a private island not far from the moorings. It is part of the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino at 82 L.G. Smith Boulevard and offers its guests the finest Caribbean flair. Relaxation can be found in the numerous hammocks, deck chairs and in the spa area. In addition, there are water sports facilities and the restaurant provides suitable remedies for hunger and thirst. Families can enjoy the beautiful Iguana Beach. Adults only is the motto at Flamingo Beach. It's a shame that this beach is only open to children over the age of 18, as the little ones would be just as happy to see the flamingos that are usually to be found there. They strut across the fine sandy beach almost without inhibition and sometimes come quite close to the visitors. The extraordinary sight offers many great photo opportunities. You can try to get close to them with food bought on site, but you should be careful not to touch them. The graceful animals know how to defend themselves and can also dish it out well. A trip to the private island is free of charge for hotel guests and is done by water taxi. The crossing takes only about 10 minutes. However, the hotel sells day passes for 99 USD per person, subject to availability (hotel guests have priority). This is the only way to cross over to the beautiful island and get to Flamingo Beach.
- Bushiribana Ruins and Natural Bridge
The Bushiribana Ruins can be reached as part of an island tour, by rental car* or taxi. These are the remaining remains of a former gold mine, which do not look particularly impressive. However, they are worth a detour, as they belong to an important chapter in the island's history and are almost on the 12-kilometre way to the Natural Bridge anyway. Unfortunately, the forces of nature took their toll and caused what was once the largest natural bridge in the Caribbean to collapse in 2005. Nevertheless, the local tour operators have not taken it out of their programmes. The rugged coastline and the smaller, still intact Baby Bridge next to the collapse site continue to attract visitors. From the cruise terminal, it takes 25 to 30 minutes one way by rental car*.
- Natural Pool
A little further east in Arikok National Park is Conchi. This is the Natural Pool, a naturally formed water basin surrounded by rock. The sometimes powerful surf ensures a constant supply of fresh water. Bathing is permitted, but not without danger due to the slippery and sometimes sharp-edged rock. It is advisable to wear bathing shoes. The tours offered to the Natural Pool are so popular that they are often booked up days in advance. If you want to go there on your own and without a tour guide, you would be well advised to bring an off-road vehicle*. There are no asphalted roads here, so you won't get very far in the largely impassable terrain with a normal car.
- Fontein Cave and Caves
A little further to the south-east of Aruba is Fontein Cave, a cave formation in which the Arawak Indians who once lived on the island have immortalised themselves. It is also located in the Arikok National Park and is a popular excursion destination. The mainly geometric cave paintings can be found on the ceilings and walls. In addition, a wide variety of stalagmites and stalactites, some of which are quite impressive, have been formed over the course of time. The climate in the cave is not to everyone's liking. The temperature is quite warm, averaging 30°C, and the humidity ranges from 80 to 85%. The long-nosed bats that live there apparently don't find this bad and only leave the place at dusk for a little excursion. In the nearby Guadirikiri Cave, sunlight shines through the openings in the ceiling, stylishly illuminating the natural spaces. A torch is needed for the 100-metre-long Huliba Cave. It is also called Tunnel of Love Caves because of its heart-shaped entrance.
- Casibari Boulders, Ayo Rock formation and Hooiberg
If you are travelling by rental car* or as part of a guided tour, it is a good idea to stop off at the various hills and rock formations on the island. Worth seeing are, for example, the Casibari Boulders and the Ayo rock formation, which are quite centrally located. Paths and stairs have been built to make it easier to get around. In addition, rock paintings were made on the Ayo Rocks centuries ago. The striking Hooiberg is easily visible from Oranjestad and, at 165 metres, is the third highest elevation on Aruba. Those who do not fear the stairs with 562 steps will be rewarded with a great view, which on days with good visibility can reach as far as the mainland to Venezuela.
- Excursion Portals and Excursion Providers
Via the tour and excursion providers GetYourGuide*, Meine Landausflüge* and Viator*, you can book various excursions, activities, tours, tickets and entrance fees on Aruba, which are often offered much cheaper than comparable excursions of the shipping companies. Thus, if you book in time, you can realise a variety of excursions on your own.
A small pre-selection of shipping company-independent excursion offers
for, in and around Oranjestad,
we have put together for you here.
- Cruises and Offers
If you haven't booked a Caribbean cruise yet, but would like to get to know Aruba personally and go on excursions on your own, you will find great offers with the major cruise operators in German-speaking countries. Aida*, Costa* and Tui Cruises - Mein Schiff* offer charming itineraries with their modern cruise ships, along with other interesting destinations. Book your next dream holiday directly with your favourite cruise line at fair conditions.
All ocean and river cruises can also be booked conveniently and inexpensively online with the cruise specialist Kreuzfahrten-Zentrale Astoria*. You can choose from a wide range of daily offers from various shipping companies. These include AIDA Cruises, Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and TUI Cruises. The popular special offers are also attractive, with which you can travel particularly cheaply and possibly also get a great bargain.
- Opening hours of the post office: Monday to Friday from 08:00-16:30
- Opening hours of the banks: Monday to Friday from 08:00-16:00
- Opening hours of the Tourist Info: daily from 09:00-16:00
- Opening hours of the shops: Monday to Saturday from 09:00-18:00. Some shopping centres are also open longer.
- Country code: +297
- Taxi: Tel. 5822116 / 5822010 (Arubas Transfer Tour & Taxi C.A.)
- Taxi: Tel. 5875900 (Taxi Address Service)
- General emergency call: Tel. 911
- Police: Tel. 100
- Emergency doctor: Tel. 21234
- Vaccination recommendation: Tropical Institute Aruba
- Buses: Arubus
- Bus route network: Arubus
- Bus timetables: Arubus
- City map: Oranjestad Map
- Climate table: Aruba Climate
- Port occupancy: Cruise Ships in Oranjestad
- Port occupancy: Registered cruise ships
- Local currency: Aruba florin (Aruba guilder), 1 AWG = 100 cents. Yotin is the name given to the square 50 cent coin.
More port information of popular cruise destinations in the Caribbean