Aruba, a tiny Dutch Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela, has dry, sunny weather, blond beaches and gentle surf. Constant trade winds bring cool breezes and cause the divi-divi trees to slope southwesterly. European influence shows in architecture that features Dutch gables painted in tropical pastels. It’s also evident in language, with English, Dutch and Spanish spoken alongside the local tongue, Papiamento.
Dialing code: +297
Currency: Aruban florin
Population: 102,911 (2013) World Bank
Continent: South America
Official languages: Dutch, Papiamento
Things to do when visiting this place:
1. California Lighthouse
The California Lighthouse is a lighthouse located near Arashi Beach on the northwest tip of Aruba. This lighthouse was named for the steamship California, which was wrecked nearby on September 23, 1891.
The stone lighthouse was designed by a French architect in 1910 and constructed on Aruba between 1914 and 1916. It’s named after the S.S. California, a wooden sailing ship that sank near shore.
Around the lighthouse are acres of stoned-filled flat land, and a area called California White Sand Dunes is very popular with kids who go dune surfing. Don’t ask; it involves sliding down the dunes in any way that seems comfortable. Just wear strong jeans or trousers.
2. Alto Vista Chapel
Alto Vista Chapel is a small Catholic chapel also known as “Pilgrims Church” that stands on the hills above the north shore of the sea and to the northeast of the town of Noord, on the island of Aruba, 27 km north of the coast of Venezuela.
The chapel was built in 1952 on the site of the original, and first, Catholic church built in Aruba in 1750 by a Spanish missionary, Domingo Antonio Silvestre. The bright yellow chapel is reached by a winding road lined with white crosses marking the stations of the cross. It is a special place for peace and contemplation, surrounded by the Aruban countryside.
The labyrinth is built based on the Chartres Labyrinth. Its distinguishing features are; 11 circuits, the turns arranged in four quadrants, 85 lunation’s around the perimeter, and a 6-petal rosette in \ the center. Modern “pilgrims” walk the labyrinthine path as one of many tools to enhance prayer, contemplation, meditation, and/or personal growth. The labyrinth walk is popular with a growing number of people because of its simplicity and the ability to approach its paths on your own terms. There is no right way to walk a labyrinth. You only have to enter and follow the path. It may be joyous or somber. It might be thoughtful or prayerful. You may also use it as a walking meditation.
3. Eagle Beach
Eagle Beach is a beach and neighborhood of Oranjestad, Aruba. The neighborhood is famous for its many low-rise resorts and wide public beach. It has soft white sand and has been rated one of the best beaches in the world.
4. SS Antilla
SS Antilla was a Hamburg America Line cargo ship that was launched in 1939 and scuttled in 1940. Antilla was built for trade between Germany and the Caribbean, and was named accordingly. Antilla is a city in Holguín Province in eastern Cuba.
There are variations to the origin and history of the Antilla on many websites well-known to divers and history enthusiasts around the world who have at one point visited the island. Visit Aruba is doing its best effort to bring forth the real story of this marvelous underwater attraction.
The Antilla is the largest shipwreck dive in the Caribbean, covered by tube sponges, coral formations, tropical fish, shrimp, lobsters, and orange anemones. The pelicans know this area very well and love to rest on the Antilla and enjoy a meal of the silversides which jump from the water below.
The entire wreckage is 400 feet long and much of the ship is still intact today. The porthole, deck fitting and interior sections can be explored.
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Hooiberg is a 165 m high volcanic formation on the island of Aruba. It is located almost in the center of the island and can be seen from virtually anywhere on the island.
Hooiberg – which translates to Haystack – is a volcanic formation which 165 meters above sea level, and is located at the approximate center of Aruba. Although Hooiberg seems like the highest point of the island it is in fact the second highest. Jamanota, a hill located in the Arikok National Park stands at 189 meters above sea level, and is the true highest point of Aruba.
Although the exact origin of its name is not known, it is believed that Hooiberg came by its name due to its resemblance to a “hooiberg” the Dutch word for haystack.
One of the contributing factors to Hooiberg’s popularity, and the often mistaken belief that it is the highest point, is the fact that it stands out as a solitary mountain surrounded by a flat landscape.
A depiction of Hooiberg can be seen on the Aruban Coat of Arms. It symbolizes Aruba rising out of the sea.
At the top of the mountain you will find two small buildings and some radio antennas. One of buildings belongs to a radio station and the other to the local telephone company SETAR. All cellular phone signals are sent through SETAR building as well as the radio or television broadcasts from other countries.
Try to reach the top of Hooiberg and you will have a nice view over the island and the sea. On clear days you can even see Venezuela to the south.
Hooiberg is covered with cacti, divi-divi trees and some Kibrahacha trees that will flourish and decorate the mountain with beautiful yellow flowers after a heavy rainfall.
6. Fort Zoutman
Fort Zoutman is a military fortification at Oranjestad, Aruba. Built in 1798 by the Dutch army, it is the oldest structure on the island of Aruba. The Willem III Tower was added to the west side of the fort in 1868.
It certainly is a unique opportunity to be standing in the oldest building in Oranjestad. Once inside Fort Zoutman, you’re bound to feel the history seeping through the walls while enjoying the historic collection of documents and developments from the past.
The Fort Zoutman Historical Museum is where many of our guests get their first exposures to Aruba’s past. Each Tuesday night everyone is invited to the fort for our island’s Welcome Party or as we call it, the Bon Bini Festival from 6:30 – 8:30 pm celebrating the island’s culture and history.
Centuries ago, when settlement was permitted by the Dutch, Paarden Baai (Horses Bay) in Oranjestad became an intermediate harbor for trade between Curaçao and Venezuela. For protection against pirates and enemies, Fort Zoutman was built in 1798. The fort, named after Dutch Rear Admiral Johan Arnold Zoutman who never stepped foot on Aruba but defeated the English in the North Sea, did ward off an English attack in 1799. The Willem III Tower was built in 1868 and first lit on King Willem III’s birthday; it served as both a lighthouse and public clock tower. After 95 years, the light in the tower was extinguished in 1963.
Over the years, it has housed government office, a police station, jail, tax office, courtroom, library and post office. Today, the restored fort and tower house the Historical Museum, opened in 1984. It is a proud symbol of Aruba’s national heritage and frequently visited by schools, tourists and locals.
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