Located in the Southern Caribbean, 17 miles off the coast of
Venezuela, Aruba is perhaps the best known of the ABC Islands
(Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) of the Lesser Antilles. Its primary industry is tourism and much of the island’s development has been done with visitors in mind. Aruba attracts over 800,000 international visitors annually.
The island of Aruba has three district parts. First, there is the resort area along the island’s western coast. The reason the resorts are there is the beautiful beaches that run along that coast. Sheltered from the prevailing wind, the waters that lap onto the soft white sand are tranquil and crystal clear. Divi-divi trees and palms provide shade in many areas and the resorts are landscaped into tropical paradises.
Second, there is Oranjestad, the capital and only significant urban area on the island. Here, is where most of the shops are located as well as restaurants, casinos and bars. Most of this is along one street L.G. Smith Boulevard, which also runs by the island’s cruise port.
Third, there is the rest of the island. Constituting the bulk of the island, this area is generally flat with dessert-like vegetation. However, that does not mean there is nothing to see or do. One fifth of the island is the undeveloped Arikok National Park. Both inside the park and outside of it are picturesque natural phenomena including rock formations, caves and along the rugged northern coast, natural bridges. There are also attractions such as a butterfly farm, an ostrich farm and an aloe factory.
Aruba is outside of the “hurricane belt” so it is not usually impacted by the hurricanes that plague many of the other Caribbean islands each fall. In fact, Aruba gets very little rainfall, less than 15 inches a year, which is why the bulk of the island is dessert-like. However, the lack of rainfall is good news for visitors looking to relax in the sun.
The official language of Aruba is Dutch. However, English,
Spanish and Papiamento (a language that combines Dutch,
Portuguese, Spanish, West African, Arawak and other languages) are widely spoken.
Above: Oranjestad's main street.
Below: The Parliament Building in Oranjestad.
Above: Aruba is an island of contrasts - - from the tropical paradise foliage of the resort area to the desert island vegetation of the interior; and from the tranquil beaches of the west coast to
the wild coast of the north.
Cruise destination profile and guide - Aruba - Cruise port and getting around - 2