Travel Guide: Oranjestad, Aruba

Oranjestad, which translates to "Orange City" in Dutch, is a vibrant and lively city depicting Dutch colonial heritage, including colourful buildings along its streets and bustling outdoor markets selling local arts and crafts.

Aruba's capital is a popular destination among Canadian tourists looking for a tranquil tropical vacation in the Caribbean due to its pristine beaches and year-round sunny climate.

This guide will be very helpful for those looking forward to visiting Aruba. It will provide useful information on getting around, must-visit attractions, dining experiences, and accommodation options for all budgets.

Direct flights to Queen Beatrix International Airport depart primarily from Toronto. Travellers from cities such as Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal may need to book a connecting flight through Toronto or an airport hub in the United States. However, adding a stop to the journey generally means longer flight times.
  • With its reliable and inexpensive bus service, Aruba offers a quick and easy way to get around. The Arubus, as the local public transit is known, runs every 15 minutes from 5:45 am until 6 pm, and every 40 minutes from 6 pm until 11:30 pm. This frequent service connects downtown Oranjestad with popular resort areas like Eagle Beach and Palm Beach, making it a convenient option for travellers.

  • Taking a taxi is also a good choice and they are easy to find along most major roads. The rates are fixed, so you don't have to worry about paying too much. Another option is to use the free open-air trolley when exploring downtown. It's the easiest way to get around the main shopping and dining areas without having to walk too far. However, if you plan on travelling to different cities on the island, renting a motor vehicle may be your best option. Buses and taxis are limited and don't always go where you might be heading to.

Having a mix of US dollars and Aruba Florin, the local currency, is always both a good idea and convenient while visiting the island. If you plan to carry cash, you should take US dollars as some places may accept this currency directly, or you can easily exchange it into Aruba Florin.

When exchanging money, use official outlets, such as banks and foreign exchange offices, as some businesses and vendors may offer less favourable exchange rates. Major credit cards are also widely accepted, and ATMs can be an option for getting local currency on the fly.

As with any other destination, there are potential safety concerns travellers need to be aware of to have a smooth and enjoyable trip to Aruba.

  • Always adhere to safety guidelines when swimming, snorkeling or engaging in water sports.
  • With Aruba’s tropical weather and intense sun, travellers should take care to protect themselves against sunburn and heat-related illnesses.
  • Even with the island’s low crime rate, petty thefts like pickpocketing and purse snatching can happen, especially if you leave your belongings and valuables unattended, including inside your vehicle.
  • If you plan to rent a car, familiarize yourself with local traffic regulations, as they may differ from those in Canada. Always watch out for animals, pedestrians, and cyclists on the road.
  • Women travelling alone may experience some form of harassment and verbal abuse, so aim to travel as a part of a group at all times.
  • Always maintain a safe distance when observing wildlife, as it can pose risks, particularly if you’re on foot or at close range. Only use professional guides or tour operators if you plan to engage in wildlife viewing.

Because the weather remains the same year-round (balmy and sunny), any time is a good time to visit Aruba. The period between September and January typically experiences a slight increase in rainfall, though it doesn't last long. 

If you want to avoid the hottest time of the year, consider visiting between February and April. Aruba lies outside the hurricane belt, so the island is rarely affected by tropical storms.

If you're on a budget, the best time to get deals on hotel prices is from mid-April to mid-December, which is Aruba's low season. Additionally, during the summer months, you can find the best deals on airfare, primarily because it’s the start of rainy season. Airfare prices typically increase during the winter travel season.

  • Beaches – Eagle Beach and Palm Beach are two highly sought-after destinations in Aruba offering water sports activities, beachfront accommodations and sunset views. Eagle Beach is known for its pristine white sand and turquoise waters, while Palm Beach is popular because of its vibrant atmosphere, dining options and nightlife.
  • Arikok National Park – Covering a significant portion of the island’s landscape, this park features diverse natural attractions like desert terrain, a rugged coastline, and unique flora and fauna. It is a great place for travellers interested in hiking and nature exploration, as well as scenic viewpoints. Once in the park, don’t forget to check out the Conchi, a natural pool surrounded by volcanic formations.
  • California Lighthouse – Standing 30 metres high at the northwestern tip of the island, this lighthouse offers 360-degree views of the island and its coral coastlines.
  • Oranjestad City Center – Take a break from the white sandy beaches of Aruba and head to downtown area for a change of scenery. Downtown Oranjestad features multi-coloured buildings inspired by Dutch colonial architecture, museums, and great dining and shopping options.

Have breakfast with your toes in the white sand at Passions on the Beach, which is considered one of the best restaurants on the island.

If you decide to explore the town of San Nicholas, make sure to go to Charlie's Bar & Restaurant to replenish your energy. Enjoy delicious Caribbean food in this restaurant while looking at 70 years' worth of local memorabilia on its walls and ceiling.

For those travelling with friends or family, Bochincha is a great nighttime place to hang out and caters to various tastes through its 11 shipping containers, which have been converted into different kitchens.

For the perfect romantic dining spot, Faro Blanco Restaurant won’t disappoint. Enjoy fine Italian food while appreciating the stunning views.

If you're looking for something unique, have a Caribbean pirate-style dining experience at Hilton Aruba and feel like the rulers of the Seven Seas. 24-hour advance reservations and a 4-guest minimum are required.

Flying Fishbone can be considered a seafood lover’s paradise. Guests can eat beachside or at one of the tables placed in the water while appreciating beautiful sunsets.

  • Budget Hotels: Although Juanedu Suites doesn’t have beach access and is located outside the tourist area, it offers excellent value for money. For those looking to stay close to Palm Beach, Aruba Bavkal Suites is a small hotel located in a quiet neighbourhood just a 10-minute walk away.

    Another highly reviewed hotel is the Victoria City Hotel, located on the main shopping street of Aruba’s capital and a short walk away from Eagle Beach.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: Because of its unique Dutch colonial architecture, the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort is a unique place for visitors. The hotel is located at Eagle Beach and provides guests with personalized services and the finest facilities on the island.

    In the same area is Eagle Aruba Resort. Located a short stroll from the beach, it provides a calming and relaxing atmosphere away from the crowds, but is still close to various attractions and entertainment options. All suites are spacious and include kitchenettes.

    The Radisson Blue Aruba is a great option if you’re looking for places in Palm Beach. This boutique-feel hotel is within walking distance of the area’s white sand beaches and turquoise water, eclectic restaurants, bars, and high-end shopping outlets. 
  • Luxury: At Palm Beach’s Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort and Casino, guests can easily access local shopping, nightlife and dining. Because it's a beachfront hotel, guests can enjoy a pre-reserved a beach palapa (an open-sided dwelling with a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves).

    If you’re interested in accommodations with direct access to Palm Beach, the Marriott's Aruba Ocean Club offers condo-style villas with fully-equipped kitchens and various on-site activities.

    For guests looking for personalized services, Ocean Z Boutique Hotel is one of the best options on the island. Located on Aruba's northwestern tip, this boutique hotel offers a modern and elegant atmosphere, with some suites featuring private pools and private outdoor showers. Although it's about two minutes by car from the Boca Catalina and Arashi Beaches, the hotel offers transportation and a complete beach setup, including food delivery services for those clients who want to have lunch or snacks at the beach. 

Ready for a Aruba getaway? Don’t forget your sunscreen and your travel insurance. Our trip insurance plans may provide coverage for trip cancellations, flight delays, lost luggage, and medical emergencies.

Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc.
Travel protected with Allianz Global Assistance
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