This charming little town is best explored by foot but wheels are necessary to see Palm Beach‘s powdery white sand or the island’s wild and windy landscapes.
The roads are not always great around the rocky desert, where goats sometimes think they have the right of way, but the rewards are giant cacti clusters, secluded coves and drop dead vistas where the sea thunders against the rocks. Cruise passengers find snorkelling, hiking, diving, fine dining and chilling out to be this Caribbean island’s biggest assets.
Oranjestad’s palm-lined streets and pastel-painted, Dutch architecture can be seen as the cruise ship glides into port.
With visibility of over 27m (90ft), diving and snorkelling around the reefs, abundant underwater life and shipwrecks are excellent activities. Relax on one of the island’s beautiful beaches like Eagle, Baby or Palm Beach. Hike or bike around the island or explore old gold mine ruins, a natural bridge and beautiful rock formations on a jeep tour.
• Alto Vista Chapel
• Arikok National Wildlife Park
• Aruba Ostrich Farm
• Numismatic Museum
Aruba Tourism Authority
LG Smith Blvd, 172, Eagle Beach, Aruba
Tel: +297 582 3777.
There are no duty-free shops, except in the airport. There are plenty of other places where cruise passengers can unload cash. Aruba does offer fine Delft porcelains, embroidered linens, handicrafts, Dutch cheese, aloe vera products and fine artwork. Caya G F Betico Croes is the main shopping street but there are shopping arcades in the Palm Beach hotel zone.
Aruba has fine cuisine as well as specialities like keshi yena (a combo of Gouda cheese, spices, meat or seafood), sopi di pisca (fish chowder) and pan bati (sweet, pancake-like bread).
When to go:
Anytime. Though the mean temperature is 28°C (82°F), it is usually sunny and blessed with trade winds. Aruba is below the hurricane belt.
2.2km (1.3 miles).