GET YOUR BEARINGS
Aruba is easy and convenient to get around. Aruban’s speak several languages, with English widely spoken throughout the
island. The U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere. There are several English publications and loads of tourist literature to keep
you informed and up to date on what the island has to offer.
EXPLORING THE ISLAND
Aruba is approximately 20 miles long by 6 miles across at its widest point.
Needless to say if you get lost you’re never too far from home base and that’s half the fun!
There are numerous regions to explore, natural wonders to experience and the opportunity
to meet some of the friendliest people in the Caribbean. There are beaches everywhere and
no matter what your preference, you will without doubt find your favorite!
The weather here is almost always perfect! The average temperature is 82-85. The nights are perfect too. The nighttime temperature ranges from 76-80. The humidity level is high, but considering you are smack dab in the middle of the Caribbean, it’s very tolerable. Aruba’s prevailing trade winds will help to keep you cool during the day and provide a comfortable experience in the sun.
The shops of Aruba are filled with wonderful products! You will find an incredible selection of jewelry, perfume, designer clothes, crystal, electronics and souvenirs. There is a myriad of unique collectables from local artisans all priced very reasonable. Many of the stores are open Monday to Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, although some close for lunch from 12 noon to 2:00 pm. The mall stores are open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, some of the stores are open on Sundays if there are cruise ships in port.
The official currency of Aruba is the Aruban florin, which is divided into 100 cents.
Silver coins are in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents, one florin, 2 1/2 florins
and 5 florins. The square shaped 50-cent coin is probably Aruba's best-known coin.
The florin fluctuates with the dollar on the world market.
Current exchange rates are Af. 1.77 to the U.S. Dollar and Af. 1.34 to the Canadian Dollar.
U.S. dollars are widely accepted in Aruba, and banks may exchange other foreign currency.
(exchange rate may vary)
ORANJESTAD THE CAPITAL CITY OF ARUBA
Located on Aruba's southern coast, Oranjestad is the historical Dutch capital city where the
multicolored houses with carved wooded doors and traditional Dutch tiles and open galleries.
All of Aruba's government buildings and main offices are located in the capital city, Oranjestad
is also the place to shop or to browse in the marketplace for art and handicrafts.
North American voltage standard of 110 A.C. (60 cycles), the same as in the United States and Canada. The TV standard is NTSC so your home video camera will also play back on the hotel's TV sets or large screen projectors.
Aruba’s tap water is pure and refreshing, distilled in the world's second largest saltwater desalination plant. Leave your water bottles at home!
Aruba boasts the Dr. Horacio Oduber Hospital, a medical facility equipped with reputable medical staff, 280 beds and modern equipment. The hospital is located across from Punta Brabu Beach. It functions as a general hospital with established ties to the U.S., Colombian, Venezuelan, Puerto Rican, and Dutch hospitals for specialized treatment and care. Aruba is equipped to handle nearly every medical problem. In the event of a unique case where the island’s medical services are not equipped to provide a service, a quick airlift to facilities in neighboring Curacao is an option.
Aruba is among the most southern of the Lesser Antilles islands
(ABC islands = Aruba, Bonaire & Curacao) and is the farthest west
of that group. It's a mere 15 miles (24 km) from the coast of Venezuela.
On a clear day the Venezuelan mainland is visible from the south-eastern
coast, and about 42 miles (67 km), or 20 minutes by airplane, to our nearest
Caribbean neighbour, Curacao.
The oblong island is fronted by heavy surf and jagged coast on our northern, windward side & by seven miles (11 km) of honey-colored sand beaches on the southern leeward coast. It's some 75 square miles (193 km2) in area and measures about five miles (8 km) at it widest point and 19 miles (30 km) in length. Aruba is an easy island to get around, the road systems are in good shape, well-marked, and, let's face it, it's hard to get lost for too long on an island where the coast is never more than 3 miles away.
Why Aruba? Aruba attracts some one million visitors and cruise passengers per year, most from North America and nearby Venezuela, and it ranks as one of the Caribbean's most popular vacation spots. So what's the attraction? Miles of beaches, to start with, some quiet and smooth and others with stiff winds and a choppy surf, as well as first-class amenities, gambling casinos, shopping, and dozens of opportunities for fine dining. The visitor looking for glamor, glitz, fine beaches, guided tours and plenty to do, choose Aruba.
History & Culture Before the arrival of Columbus and the European explorers who charted the Caribbean islands, Aruba was settled by subgroups of the Amerindian Arawaks. Today, archaeological digs in the north and northwest part of Aruba confirm the Amerindians were a strong culture. Today their legacy comprises cave drawings and petroglyphs, most common in the caves along the north shore, as well artifacts and place-names such as Bushiri, Turibana and Guadirikiri (probably names of chiefs important to the tribes).
In the late 15th century, the Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda explored Venezuela and the nearby islands of the Caribbean. He is credited with "discovering" Aruba in 1499, although no real evidence of his landing on the island exists. Nevertheless, the island was soon under heavy Spanish scrutiny. The Spaniards, as was their wont throughout the Caribbean, began the process of enslavement and religious conversion. They set up garrisons and ranches on Aruba, and used the larger island of Curacao as an administrative center for their interests in the immediate area.
The Eighty Year War between the Dutch and Spain, and their allies, ended in 1636, and the Spanish relinquished the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao to the Dutch, who ruled them under charter of the Dutch west India Company (WIC). The next 100 years or so saw an increase in commerce in the area as well as an allegiance change. Aruba was aligned with Britain from 1805 until 1816, a result of the Napoleonic Wars, but reverted back to the Dutch in 1816. The island has been affiliated with Holland ever since.
The 19th century was a time of great conflict in South America in general and in Venezuela in particular. Revolutions in that country drove thousands refugees elsewhere, many to Aruba, and Curacao. Gold mining on the island began in earnest after 1824 and continued to be a strong industry until the early 20th century, when the advent of the first world war rendered the raw materials needed to mine the rock unavailable. Gold, along with the primary export of aloe (at one time Aruba produced 70% of the world's crop), created a stable and thriving economy in Aruba.
Not long afterwards, however, in 1924, another valuable commodity replaced it, black gold --oil. Aruba became home to one of the world's largest refineries. The strength of the economic boom that followed made San Nicholas into a major commercial center and the island's second largest city. To this day, Aruba's two main industries have been oil and tourism, and when the refineries were closed down in 1985 due to the worldwide glut in petroleum, the emphasis on tourism became especially important. Even after oil refining was resumed in 1991, the island continued to invest heavily in tourist development, and new projects are still going on all the time.