Aruba is a Caribbean island nation modest in size but rich in natural beauty and cultural activity. Following is a city-by-city look at everything lovely about this unique tropical paradise.
Oranjestad is Aruba's glittering cultural center, replete with all manner of can't-miss attractions. You'll find illuminating museum experiences thanks to organizations such as the Aruba Historical Museum and the Aruba Numismatic Museum. One-of-a-kind oddities like the Aruba Ostrich Farm will keep kids of all ages entertained for hours on end, during which time adults of all ages can revel in theatrical spectacle at the Crystal Theater. Shoppers have a number of options to choose from, including high-end shopping complexes like Royal Plaza and Seaport Village, vibrant local marketplaces like the Tourists Go Flea Market and quaint little shops such as Artistic Boutique and Caperucita Roja. With so much to do, it can be helpful to enlist the services of local guides in seeing the whole of the island in as efficient a way as possible. Guided tours on land (courtesy of Banana Bus or Tours ABC) or at sea (aboard one of Aruba Kayak Adventure's trusty vessels or have an adventure with Jolly Pirates) are fun and enlightening. After so much activity, hunger will most certainly strike. Luckily, dining in Oranjestad is a treat. Enjoy casual dining with a dash of island flare at Rumba Bar & Grill, or go upscale at French bistro Chez Mathilde.
Palm Beach is home to many of Aruba's resorts, providing tourists with calm waters and white beaches ripe for frolicking. The nearby restaurants are not to be missed and serve an array of cuisines. For Brazilian fare, head to either Amazonia Churrascaria or to Texas de Brazil Churrascaria. For quality seafood, hunker down to some grub at the Aqua Grill or at Fishes & More. Those partial to Italian should opt for a meal at Casa Tua. Get really festive with your feet in the sand at Simply Fish, where you dine right on the beach.
Just south of Palm Beach lies the coveted Eagle Beach. Though smaller in size and density, Eagle Beach nevertheless takes pride in being touted as one of Aruba's best beaches, carrying a charm all its own. It gets crowded on the weekends, but its restaurants are still a hoot. For those who prefer some French flair in their dining fare, Manchebo French Steakhouse hits the spot.
Noord is home to the northernmost area of Aruba, with the landmark California Lighthouse at the tip. Just a mite south of the lighthouse lies the green stretches of Tiera Del Sol Golf Course, with championship links. After hard drivin, golfers eat hearty at Ventanas del Mar located on the golf grounds themselves. Noord's Papiamento offers hungry patrons a wealth of international cuisine piled high on its buffet tables, from Aruban to European to Indonesian and more. Hankering for a frolic at the nearby beach? Ocean Drive provides for all of your sunbathing necessities, carrying sunglasses, sunscreen, hats, designer beachwear, the works.
San Nicolas is Aruba's second largest township. As such, it is home to everything a good "second city" should have. First and foremost among these amenities is a series of world-class sporting events. Marathonners from around the world flock to the island for the annual International Aruba Half Marathon, a run that offers challenging terrain and undeniably amazing vistas. Another kind of racing is popular here in San Nicolas, but you might say it requires a bit more octane. Hotly anticipated drag-racing events such as One Cool Summer International and the Boss Drag War Super Series are held right here in town. Time your visit right, so that you can revel in the competitive atmosphere. Whether you're here for the running or the dragging, so much excitement is bound to leave you hungry. Brisas del Mar and Charlie's are two tip-top choices for casual island fare.
Santa Cruz, near the island's center point, is home to a pair of attractions sure to impress upon every visitor the true scope of nature's wonder. The Natural Bridge, one of Aruba's most famous landmarks, today lies in ruins after an epoch of stoic steadfastness. It is a marvelous sight nonetheless. Donkey Sanctuary Aruba offers a look at a somewhat different aspect of nature's wonder, the humble donkey. Bring the kids and get close to a creature that is eminently emblematic of this part of the world.
National Park Arikok
Just a ways past Santa Cruz is Aruba's grand Arikok National Park, land of unspoiled countryside and invaluable historic sites. Bushiribana Ruins are located on the premises, and they provide a peerless view into the island's past. Quadiriki Cave delves back in time even further. Count on Rancho del Campo to provide the tour guides and vehicular conveyances that will ensure that time at the park is time well spent.