Aruba Aruba
¤ Introduction ¤ Why Aruba?
¤ Recreation¤ Holidays ¤ Leisure ¤ Geography
¤ History & Culture ¤ General Information
¤ Request for Proposal

Highlights of Aruba
¤ Beaches ¤ Beyond the Beaches
¤ Oranjestad¤ San Nicolas

Introduction

The Caribbean island nation of Aruba is a small jewel in the aquamarine sea that surrounds the islands of the Caribbean. It is 30km (19.6 miles) long and 9km (6 miles) across at its widest point.

Aruba Map

The waves off the windward east coast crash against cliffs, carving high, arched coral bridges and deep dark, limestone grottoes. This coast is desolate, windswept with rocks carved into weird shapes by the pounding surf. In contrast on the western shores the beaches are soft, white and fringed with palm trees, sloping towards the calm transparent turquoise of the Caribbean.

Beaches

Between these two extremes is a desert landscape where cacti grow to the height of a man and huge tumbles of boulders dot the area. Winding roads lead to rocky passes and hidden coves, or even to nowhere at all. Giant green parakeets call to their mates and other tropical birds flash their brilliant colors against the deep blue of the Caribbean sky.

Perpetual trade winds have made Aruba the world's leading area for windsurfing. These winds also created the famous divi-divi trees, which have been wind twisted into natural art that always point west.

World Incentive Nexus can recommend a company to handle all details of a program in Aruba. For a recommendation, more information or a request for proposal, use the form found below.

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Why take an incentive group to Aruba?

  • Numerous luxurious resorts.
  • 7 miles of powder-white sandy beaches.
  • An active nightlife.
  • It is always summer in Aruba, and almost always dry
  • Aruba is completely outside the hurricane belt.
  • The island is served by a number of airlines.
  • Finally, the people of Aruba are warm and friendly.

Geography

Aruba lies at the heart of the southern Caribbean and is the smallest island in the Leeward group of the Dutch Caribbean islands. Aruba is the final link in the long Antillean chain, lying 20 km (12.5 miles) off the Venezuelan coast. Aruba has a total of 70 square miles with topography and vegetation that is unusual for the Caribbean.

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History & Culture

Aruba's earliest inhabitants came from the South American mainland about 1000 AD and settled in three large villages on the island. These first Indians were of the Arawak tribe and many of their artifacts can be seen in Aruba museums.

The first European to land on the shores of Aruba was the Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda, who arrived in 1449. The Spanish exported Indians to Hispaniola and put them to work in the copper mines. Many later drifted back to work in the Island's cattle and horse-breeding industries.

During the years that followed, ownership of the Island changed hands several times. Near the culmination of the 80 years war between Spain and Holland in 1636, the Dutch took possession and remained in control for nearly two centuries. During the Napoleonic Wars in 1805 the British briefly took over the Island and in 1816 returned control of the Island to the Dutch.

History

There are 40 nationalities that add to the culture of Aruba. This multicultural spirit is found in its folklore, crafts, dance, music and food.

Gold was discovered in 1824 and the mines were worked until 1914 when the mines became unprofitable. In the mid 1920's oil refineries began operations on the island and "black gold" helped give Aruba one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean. This prosperity was furthered by the development of tourism, which became the primary industry when the last refinery closed

Highlights of Aruba

Beaches

Aruba's main attraction is its beaches; these include 11km (7 miles) of uninterrupted beach stretching from Druif Beach to Eagle Beach and from Palm Beach to Malmok on the southwest coast. The best swimming is at Eagle and Palm Beaches. There are also many sandy beaches on the north coast, Boca Prins, Boca Grandi, and Bachelor's.

Beaches

The scenery on the north coast is beautiful and not recommended for swimming due to strong currents. The best beaches for windsurfing are Spaans Lagoen, Commandeurs, the north coast beaches, and the entire area of the coast between Hadicurair and Malmok beaches.

Visibility in Aruba's clear waters can extend as far as 27km (90 feet) and the water temperature is never under 70 degrees this makes the area excellent for snorkeling and scuba diving.

The most famous of Aruba's landmarks is the Natural Bridge at Andicuri on the north coast. This bridge 100 feet long and 25 feet above seal level, was carved from the coral cliff by the relentless pounding of the sea.

Visibility in Aruba's clear waters can extend as far as 27km (90 feet) and the water temperature is never under 70 degrees this makes the area excellent for snorkeling and scuba diving.

The most famous of Aruba's landmarks is the Natural Bridge at Andicuri on the north coast. This bridge 100 feet long and 25 feet above seal level, was carved from the coral cliff by the relentless pounding of the sea

Beyond the Beaches

It is worth the trip to venture beyond the beaches and explore the Cunucu: a land of cactus, wind-swept divi-divi trees, old villages and hamlets. Take the dirt roads that stretch across the landscape to places of interest or to simply enjoy the views. One winding road lined with white crosses takes visitors to Alto Vista and its Mission. At the northern tip of the Island is the California Lighthouse set in an area of desolate sand dunes. Off this coast is the wreck of a German freighter from World War II, which is now home to many exotic fish, making it a favorite spot for scuba divers. Within the nearby golf course are marshes with wild egrets, and nearby rare burrowing owls still inhabit ancient coral caves

Beyond the Beaches
Bushiribana

At Bushiribana is the site of a deserted 19th-century gold mill. It stands in a barren area with a picturesque view of the north coast. In Balashi, near the airport, is another site of Aruba's early gold mining industry. At nearby Frenchman's Pass gold smelters remain. Frenchman's Pass is also where Arawaks defended Aruba against the French in 1700.

There are several systems of caves on Aruba. Indian drawings can be found in the caves at Fontein, which were once used by the Arawak Indians. Near the Fontein caves is a Chinese garden created around a natural water resource and a small museum with wildlife. The best-preserved Indian drawings on the Island can be found at Arikok, a national park.

In the geographical center of the Island is the old settlement of Santa Cruz where the first cross was raised on Aruba. To the northwest of Santa Cruz looms Hooibert (Mount Haystack), 165km (541 feet). A series of several hundred steps leads to the top of the peak where it is possible to see across to Venezuela. Northwest of Hooibert is the old town of Seroe Patrishi with historical graves dating back to the early 18th century.

At Ayo and Casibari are gigantic rock formations that have been shaped into fantastic shapes. The origin of these formations has never been determined. One theory is that constant wind and salt spray created the shapes. These diorite boulders weight several thousands tons, balance precariously on edge or on each other. Indian paintings can be found on some of the rocks at Ayo. At Casibari ascending steps wind through the rocks to the top of these boulders providing an excellent view of the Island. The rock garden at the base of the boulders are accented by beach grape trees and boulders that somewhat resemble animals.

Chapel of Alto Visa

North of Ayo is the town of Nodd which has the oldest church (1776) on the Island, the Church of Santa Anna with its beautiful 100-year hand-carved oak altar. Adjoining the Church is a cemetery with tombs painted in pastel colors and adorned with flowers and various mementos. The Chapel of Alto Visa established in 1750 is a few miles away.

Oranjestad

The Dutch heritage of the Island is very prevalent in the capital city of Oranjestad. The Colonial gabled houses of this city are multicolored and have architectural features of both Dutch and Aruban cultures.

Aruba

Two museums not to miss are as follows: the Archeological Museum, which contains artifacts from the Indians of Aruba and the Historical Museum housed in Fort Zoutman, the oldest building on Aruba (1796). The Bonbini Festival is held every Tuesday throughout the year in the courtyard of the Fort. This offers the opportunity to experience local customs, music and cuisine

Other areas of Oranjestad to investigate include a daily market at the Schooner Harbor where traders sell fresh fish straight from the boat along with mainland fresh fruits and vegetables, the shopping district known for its fine products, and Wilhelmina Park created to honor the visit of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. The 65-foot-long, 48-passenger, Atlantis submarine departs from the marina and cruises at a maximum depth of 150 feet offering excellent views of the Barcadera Reef, marine life and coral formations.

San Nicolas

Located in the southwest part of the Island is San Nicolas, Aruba's second largest city. This town once owed its prosperity to its oil refinery. Today a section of San Nicolas' main street has been converted to a picturesque promenade with shops.

To the east is an area known as Seroe Colorado, which is known for several fine beaches and for being the home of the local iguana community.

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Recreation & Sports

Boating
  • Windsurfing
  • Surfing
  • Diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Sailing
  • Water & Jet Skiing
  • Deep-Sea Fishing
  • Golf
  • Horseback Riding
  • Rock Climbing
Deep-Sea Fishing
Horseback Riding              

Spectator Sports

  • Windsurfing Tournament
  • Drag Car Races
  • Bowling Tournament

Leisure

  • Festivals
  • Shopping
  • Local Market Places
  • Museums & Art Galleries
  • Island Tours
  • Glass-bottom Boat Tours
  • Bubali Bird Sanctuary for bird watching & wildlife tours
  • Tour of aloe fields and factories
Aruba

General Information


Accommodations

Accommodations

The majority of hotels are in the Palm Beach & Eagle Beach resort areas on the southwest coast and offer accommodation of a very high standard. All hotels are graded into first class and deluxe. There are a few guesthouses not far from the main hotel area.

Climate

The average daytime temperature is 82 degrees. The difference between median day and night temperatures and between summer and winter is 3.6 degrees. This sunny island is made pleasantly cool throughout the year by the constant trade winds. The average rainfall is less than 20 inches a year, occurring mainly in short showers during November & December.

Communications

There are a number of options for calling abroad from Aruba: hotels, Setar Teleshop offices and payphones throughout the Island. Telegrams & telexes can be sent via hotels or through the Government Telegraph & Radio Office at the Post Office in Oranjestad. Public access to the internet and e-mail is available at the cyber café in Oranjestad.

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Electricity

110-120 volts, 60 cycles AC.

Folklore and Traditions

The earliest settlement of the island of Aruba brought a mélange of people from the South American and European continents, and later from the Far East and other parts of the Caribbean, whose cultures added a unique and piquant flavor to the lives of its inhabitants and visitors. Many of the folklore involves the home, health, religion, colors and sounds. A few examples are as follows:

Housewives often sweep the dirt yards to keep insects and reptiles out of the entrance to the house. Some believe that it necessary to enter and exit through the same doorway. If a guest stays too long, then they may stand a straw broom against an outside wall and the guest will seem to exit very quickly. Another important doorway tradition is to suspend a red ribbon over a doorway to protect the house from evil spirits. Also, newborns and small children wear a chain with a bright red and black seed from a tropical tree which is thought to keep the "evil eye" away.

Fishermen test barracuda to be sure they are not poisonous by inserting a silver coin in the gills. If it turns black, the fish goes back into the ocean. And if one is not certain how fresh a certain fish might be, they might set it out in the sun and within a few minutes ants will appear from nowhere to feast - but only when the fish is not fresh.

Food

The variety in the local cuisine is extensive with a very wide range of international dishes available. Specialties include:

  • Stobŕ (lamb or goat stew)
  • Cala (bean fritters)
  • Pastechi (meat or cheese-stuffed turnovers)
  • Ayacas (leaf wrapped meat roll)
  • Sopi di pisca (fish chowder)
  • Erwten soep (a Dutch thick pea soup with meat)
  • Rijsttafel or rice table (a Dutch-Indonesian feast)
Food

Government

Aruba became a separate entity within the Kingdom of Netherlands on January 1, 1986. The Kingdom of Netherlands is responsible for the entire Kingdom's defense and foreign affairs while the government of Aruba performs autonomously. The system of government is based on western democratic principles. The Queen of the Kingdom appoints the Governor of Aruba for a term of six years. The legislature consists of a 21 member Parliament elected by popular vote.

Health and Safety

Please see Travel Advice Contacts below for more information.

Holidays

Year-roundBonbini Festival (arts, crafts, folkloric music & dance, local food)
Jan 1New Year's Day
January 25 G.F. "Betico" Croes Day (honoring a political leader)
Month before Lint Carnival
March-April Good Friday and Easter
March International Half-Marathon
March National Drag Races
March 18 Flag Day
April Aruba Royal National Drag Races
April National Horse Fair
April 30 Queen's Day
April 30 Summer Jam at Palm Beach (parades, live music, local cuisine)
May 1 Labor Day
May 24 Ascension Day
May - October One Cool Summer (concerts, street art, culinary & cultural events)
June Hi-Winds Amateur World Challenge (windsurfers from 30 countries)
June Windsurfing Festival
June 24 St John's Day
September International Theater
October Aruba International Dance
November Catamaran Regatta
Dec 25 Christmas
Dec 26 Boxing Day

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Language

The official language is Dutch. Most Arubans are fluent in several languages, including English & Spanish. The mother-tongue of Aruba is Papiamento. It is a language, not a dialect, and evolved from several older languages as all others have done throughout the history of the spoken word. Papiamento began in Curacao in the 1500s to enable African slaves to communicate with their owners who had fled the Spanish Inquisition. In addition to their own language words, Portuguese and Spanish missionaries, Dutch merchants, South American traders and Indians added additional vocabulary. Four or even five languages may be used as part of one conversation, with a strong sense of instinct helping to color the exact meaning of the conversation.

Money

The unit of currency is an Aruban Florin (AF) which = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of AF 1500, 250, 100, 50, 25, 10 & 5. Coins are in denominations of AF 1, 2.5, 10, 25, & 50.

Nightlife

The highlight of Aruba's nightlife is the casinos. There are several discotheques in Oranjestad and nightclubs offering revues and live music. Some of the hotels also offer live entertainment.

Nightlife

Passports & Visas

A valid passport is required by all except residents of Canada & the United States with proof of citizenship. Visas are required for all nationalists with the exception of Canada & the United States. Everyone must have a return ticket upon entering Aruba.

Health and Safety

Please see Travel Advice Contacts below for more information.

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Special Events

See holidays above.

Time

GMT - 4, which is in effect the year around.

Tipping

Hotels add a 15% service charge to the bill. Restaurants may add 15% to the bill, if not 10-15% is normal. Taxi fares do not include tips and tips are appreciated. There may be charges for luggage.

Topography

Aruba has a flat landscape, sparse in vegetation, and dominated by Jamanota Mountain, which is 188m (617 feet) tall and Hooibert (Mount Haystack) 500 feet tall. Gigantic rock formations are found at Ayo and Casibari. These formations have been sculpted into fantastic shapes by the constant wind and salt spray.

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Travel to Aruba and within the country

Travel to Aruba

Air Travel to Aruba

The Island is served by a number of airlines and connections can be made to any part of the world. Aruba's national airline is Air Aruba. Other airlines serving the Island are: Air Canada, American Airlines, ALM, Continental and VASP.

Sea Travel to Aruba

Aruba is on the itinerary of most cruise lines serving the Caribbean. The Island is the homeport of Seawind Cruise Line for its weekly turnaround cruises.

Travel within Aruba

Road

The road system throughout the Island is very good. Driving is on the right and international signs are used. The most popular form of transportation around the Island is by four-wheel drive Jeeps. Taxi rates are fixed and should be checked before getting in a cab. Many cars are available for hire and a touring car is one of the most pleasant ways of exploring the Island. Public bus service runs between the towns and hotels on Eagle Beach and Palm Beach.

Travel Advice Contacts (Information on health issues, safety, visas, etc.)

These websites are provided as basic guidelines. Please refer to the State Department of your home country for more details and current information.

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