Do you really need another reason to visit a costal paradise that averages 27ºC (81ºF) all year-round? Probably not, but Oranjestad throws a few at you anyway. Besides the perfect climate, Aruba’s capital offers excellent food, stunning beaches and an eclectic mix of stores selling everything from Tommy Hilfiger to Caribbean souvenirs – many of them duty-free!
If you get bored of the white sands and turquoise waters of Druif Beach, head to Oranjestad’s vibrant Sasakiweg Street for a hit of hedonism. Visit Lloyd G Smith Boulevard for a seafood skewer, or the scenic Port of Aruba for fish so fresh it’s virtually still flapping! Royal Plaza Mall and Seaport Village Mall offer local handicrafts and designer clothing, and look no further than the closest bar for a taste of local flavour in the form of island-brewed Balashi Beer. No wonder over 50 nationalities call Oranjestad home.
Oranjestad’s Top 10
10. Saint Franciscus Church The architectural details alone make it worth a visit, if you’re not going for the Sunday service.
5. Numismatic Museum A nirvana for coin collectors – and food coupon enthusiasts!
9. Queen Wilhelmina Park Enjoy a picnic or sea views in the company of The Netherlands’ longest-running monarch, who presides in stone over this small waterfront park.
4. Archaeological Museum of Aruba A good way to spend 40 minutes if you’re in need of a culture hit.
8. Alhambra Casino If the crowds are any indicator, Oranjestad either has a massive gambling problem or this casino is just really good!
3. Alto Vista Chapel Catholicism isn’t always subtle, and this small chapel’s stark bright-yellow paint job and barren surroundings make it anything but.
7. Aruba Ostrich Farm Pricey, but interesting if you’re keen to learn about, feed and pet some big birds.
2. The Natural Bridge One of Aruba’s icons until it collapsed in 2005, it still draws the crowds.
6. Butterfly Farm Walk through lush tropical rainforest filled with trickling waterfalls and hundreds of butterflies in all stages of life. At $15, it’s a great way to relax.
1. Fort Zoutman This historical site is home of the Bon Bini Festival. But when you’re not preoccupied with scoffing rice and shrimp, the Historical Museum is worth a visit.
- California Lighthouse – Named after the California ship that wrecked offshore, infamous for not responding to the SOS from the Titanic.
- Fort Zoutman – Historic building and oldest construction on the island.
- Historic Gold Mills – Aruba’s name comes from the red gold found on the island in the early 1800s.
- Fort de Windt – A small fort from the 1700s with rusty cannons atop a stone wall along the side of the cliff.
- Beth Israel Synagogue – An attractive building located in the centre of Oranjestad.
Oranjestad Art & Culture
- Aruba Numismatic Museum – Displays of the country’s unusual currency both past and present and more than 40,000 artefacts.
- Carubbian Festival – Takes place every Thursday night and shows the multicultural charms of the city.
- Archaeological Musuem of Aruba – Interesting and informative place to visit in Oranjestad with excellent displays and exhibits.
- Bon Bini Festival – Weekly festival with folkloric music and dance that give a taste of the island’s flavour, music, people, hospitality and cuisine.
- Cas di Cultura – An architecture blend of the tropical and futuristic with dancing performances, art exhibits and folkloric shows.
- Cigar Emporium – Shop with awesome cigars and great service.
- J.L. Penha and Sons – Local perfume shop found in the centre of Oranjestad.
- Kayâ’s Fine Jewellery – Wonderful selection of fine pieces of jewellery at great prices.
- Aruba Aloe Balm – Learn about aloe and visit the gift shop.
- Agatha Boutique – Stop by for a spectacular experience with fabulous finds.
Gay & Lesbian Oranjestad
- Carnival – Local celebration that goes on for weeks. Held yearly from the beginning of January until just before Ash Wednesday.
- Jimmy’s Place – Local bar with great music and drinks.
- Little David Guesthouse – Small, friendly men-only hotel in Oranjestad.
- Choose A Name – A local bar that hosts gay parties once a month.
- Aruba Tropic Apartments – Gay-owned place with predominately GLBT clients.
- Aruba Ostrich Farm – Lovely nature and wildlife area in Oranjestad.
- Palm Beach – Located on the south coast of the island and offers calm blue water that’s so clear you can see straight through to the bottom.
- The Butterfly Farm – Enjoy tours through this spectacular area that covers conservation, biology and other fun facts.
- Eagle Beach – One of the longest, cleanest and most popular beaches on the island with lots to do.
- Wilhelmina Park – Beautiful park on the waterfront with a statue of Queen Wilhelmina, the leader of the Netherlands during the first part of the 1900s.
- Oranjestad offers wonderful diving in the crystal-blue ocean waters.
- The Tiera Del Sol Golf Course offers a full-length practice range and 18-hole course.
- While in the area, don’t pass up a chance for great snorkelling.
- The Fisherman’s Hut Beach is the place to go for kite surfing.
- The island’s coast is a great place for kayaking.
The Bon Bini Festival is so popular it’s held 52 times a year! Every Tuesday it brings two hours of food, drink and local art vendors to historic Fort Zoutman.
The Torch Parade is the first parade on the Aruba Carnival Foundation calendar (January). With bright lights and extravagant costumes, it holds its own in terms of spectacle.
Oranjestad’s biggest party is the Annual Carnival Celebration in February. With music, extravagant costumes and street parties, it lasts an entire month.
In February’s Children’s Grand Carnival Parade, kids show off colourful costumes and some rather fancy footwork.
Soul Beach Music Festival (May) is one of the younger events, but it didn’t take long for the idea of five days of amped-up nightclubs, sizzling beach parties and concerts to take off.
When To Go
- Oranjestad enjoys an equatorial climate with constant temperatures.
- Oranjestad experiences just 60-70mm (2.5in) of rain a month, most of it morning drizzle.
- Hurricanes tend to avoid Aruba. Wind usually means nothing more than a cool breeze attracting windsurfers.
Oranjestad roads can get clogged with tourists, so avoid them by renting a bicycle or simply walking.
For longer distances, the bus service is regular, reliable and relatively cheap.
There are good water connections between Oranjestad and other Caribbean islands if you want to explore even further.
Oranjestad of just over 30,000 people is a convenient hub from which to explore the Caribbean nation. The autonomous Kingdom of Netherlands island is a lovely blend of Dutch culture, with a healthy dose of Caribbean spice. As a result, since the late 18th century, Oranjestad has undergone a special evolution and offers a lot for intrepid visitors to enjoy beyond casinos and cruise ships.
Though Dutch colonial architecture is not as ubiquitous as on other destinations throughout the Lesser Antilles, a cursory stroll around the capital will lead to notable architectural encounters. Focal points in the city include Queen Wilhelmina Park, Royal Plaza and Fort Zoutman, from whence Oranjestad began in 1796. Known as “Playa” in the local dialect, no visit to the city is complete without a trip to the beach. Thankfully, there are plenty within close range of Oranjestad on the Caribbean coast from which to choose.
Attractions & Activities
- Seaport Marketplace
- Queen Wilhelmina Park
- Royal Plaza
- Fort Zoutman
- Numismatic Museum
- Butterfly Farm
- Palm Beach
- Eagle Beach
- Aruba Music Festival
- Bonbini Festival
Restaurant & Nightlife
- Bistro M and Mathilde
- The Waterfront Crabhouse
- Rumba Bar and Grill
- Black Hog Saloon
- Café Bahia
- Mambo Jambo
Aruba has a tropical climate, with a short rainy season in the fall and temperatures that remain steady at 28°C, on average.Oranjestad official guide
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