Oranjestad is the lively capital of the gorgeous Caribbean island of Aruba, a picture-postcard city arranged around a large port. There’s plenty to see and do here, including the pastel-coloured Dutch Colonial buildings, a splendid fort, street markets, museums and a fantastic choice of shops and restaurants. Blessed with year-round sunshine, and balmy temperatures in the high 20s, the city also has several idyllic beaches within easy reach. These include Druif Beach and Manchebo Beach, gorgeous swathes of dazzling white sand shaded with palm trees. Both offer a host of useful facilities as well as amenities for all kinds of water sports. We offer a range of hotel and holiday types in Oranjestad, including all inclusive.
The biggest attractions in Oranjestad are undoubtedly its gorgeous Caribbean beaches, heavenly stretches of white sand where you can try a host of water sports. The city has plenty more to offer visitors if you want a break from sun, sea and sand: you can stroll along the elegant streets, admiring the Dutch Colonial architecture, or pop into the local markets to pick up crafts and local souvenirs. Visit one of the fascinating museums, such as the Aruba Historical Museum in the Willem III Tower at Fort Zoutman, or admire the gorgeous clouds of multi-coloured butterflies at the city’s Butterfly Farm. You can also make a day trip to the amazing Arikok National Park, a breathtaking wilderness with natural pools, fantastic hiking trails, and some of the island’s most secluded beaches.
Aruba has long been a melting point of nationalities and cultures, and these are reflected in its wonderful local cuisine. While you’ll find plenty of eateries catering to international visitors, don’t miss the chance to sample some tasty Aruban dishes. These include incredibly fresh seafood, including delicious fishermen’s soups and stews, or you could try the local catch – perhaps some barracuda, mahi-mahi or red snapper – which are usually served blackened, fried, or grilled. Other classic dishes which reflect the wide-ranging, cultural influences on Aruban cuisine include nasi goreng, an Indonesian-style fried rice dish, and satay, skewers of chicken or beef served with a tasty peanut sauce. The eye-wateringly hot local Madame Janette pepper – a cousin to the Scotch Bonnet – is often used to spice dishes up.
The endless beaches are the main focus of family holidays in Oranjestad. And why not? Stunning stretches of brilliant white sand, impossibly blue waters, and every imaginable facility to make your stay as comfortable and easy as possible. There are plenty of water sports to keep older kids and teens happy, and you’ll also find boat tours, pirate ship excursions and even an underwater submarine adventure on offer. If you want to head further afield, Baby’s Beach (a 30-minute drive away) is a great option for families with younger kids, thanks to the shallow waters of its lagoon. It’s a great spot for snorkelling, thanks to its coral reefs and colourful, tropical fish. Other attractions for kids include the Butterfly Farm, where you can admire clouds of gorgeous butterflies, and a couple of water parks with slides and wave pools.
Action & Adventure
Aruba is well known for its fantastic range of water sports, which run the gamut from sailing to wind-surfing. You’ll find plenty of facilities for these around the island capital of Oranjestad, particularly in Palm Beach. The island is also a mecca for snorkelling and diving, with a wealth of coral reefs and wrecks to explore. One of the best island diving sites is the Antilla shipwreck, located near the island’s northern tip. There are several places offering equipment rental, diving courses, and diving trips. You could also head into the magnificent wilderness of the Arikok National Park, which has a range of trails, including some demanding hikes. It also has a natural swimming pool, and more fine beaches for wind-surfing and kite-surfing.
You will literally be spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches around Oranjestad. The closest is Druif Beach, about a 10-minute walk from the city centre. This is the first in a string of beaches (the next ones along are Divi Beach and Manchebo Beach) that unfurl north of the centre for more than 10 kilometres to the California lighthouse as the island’s northernmost point. You’ll find the classic Caribbean idyll all along this stretch: white sand, turquoise waters, beach bars, and every imaginable amenity for water sports. Further up the coast, Eagle Beach and Palm Beach are particularly lovely although they are best reached by bus or car. If you’re looking for some serious wind-surfing and kite-surfing action, Palm Beach is great, or you could head to the east coast of Aruba, where there are several excellent beaches.
There’s plenty of fun to be had in Orenjestad! Whether you want to chill out by the beach with some live music, hit one of the stylish nightclubs, or even blow the holiday budget at one of the resort casinos, the Aruban capital has it all. Most of the beachfront bars and restaurants are located in the area that extends from the city centre, while you’ll find most of the clubs (including some glamorous open-air clubs) in the downtown area around Lloyd G. Smith Boulevard, and in the high-rise strip that extends north from Palm Beach. There’s always plenty going on in this vibrant capital, from music festivals to live gigs, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to evening entertainment.
The Aruban capital of Oranjestad is perfect for a romantic holiday. What could be more enticing than lazing with your partner on paradisiacal beaches of blazing white sand, having a dip in the warm, azure waters, and dining out on a candle-lit deck with views of the sea? You could also treat yourselves to a couples’ massage at one of the city’s spas, or indulge in some water sports if you’re active types. You’ll certainly want to snorkel in the transparent waters, marvelling at the colourful underwater landscape. In the evenings, you could take in some live music, party till dawn at an open-air nightclub, or simply kick back at a seafront beach bar, cocktail in hand.
The main historical site in Oranjestad is the 19th-century Fort Zoutman, which was erected under the Dutch. Come on a Tuesday evening, and you can join in the weekly Bon Bini Cultural Festival, which has stalls with local crafts and traditional food, as well as a steel band and exhibitions of Aruban music and dance. The Willem III Tower, a former lighthouse which adjoins the Fort Zoutman, now contains the fascinating Aruba historical museum. There are plenty of other museums to visit in the city, including the archaeological museum, which occupies a charming 19th-century mansion and has exhibits dating back to 2500BC.