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Aruba Cruise Port at a Glance

Welcome to our Aruba Cruise Port guide. We hope this will provide you with a ton of information to help you decide what to do and see whilst enjoing your cruise visit to Aruba.

A Winter retreat

A winter retreat for lots of North Americans makes Aruba one of the most visited islands in the southern Caribbean. It’s easy to see why. Miles of glorious beaches and a quaint capital in Oranjestad. 

If you are looking for a perfect beach to while away the hours then Aruba has some of the most stunning. Away from the beaches and you have the rugged windswept vistas of Arikok National Park. Beneath the crystal clear waters and there is abundant sea life for the snorkeller and diver to marvel at

Aruba Cruise Port - Where do cruise ships dock?

The port of Oranjestad has a modern Cruise facility with three terminals. Upon arrival at the air-conditioned terminals, you will find friendly and welcoming staff at the information booths. They will assist you with any information you might need for your Aruba visit. Within the terminal itself, there are also many shops selling everything from perfume to quality cigars and authentic souvenirs.

Aruba Cruise Port - What to do with a day in Port

Arikok National Park

This rugged national park covers most of Aruba’s east coast (in fact 20% of the entire island) and is well worth exploring

  • Natural Pool - The natural pool is protected from the rough sea by surrounding rocks. This is one on the favorite sites on the island for both locals and tourists. To get to the natural pool a 4×4 vehicle is needed.
  • Jamanota Hilltop - Jamanota hill is the highest point on the island, from which you have a spectacular view of Aruba’s north, East, and West sides.
  • Dos Playa - Dos Playa is used for recreational purposes like surfing & body boarding, picnics and photo shootings.
  • Boca Prins - Prins Bay is a popular site to shoot some nice pictures of the white sandy beach and the rock formation of the bay.
  • Fontein Cave - The most popular of several small limestone caves along the north coast. Brownish-red pictographs were left by Caquetios and graffiti imprinted by early European settles on the walls and ceilings.
  • Quadiriki Cave - The cave features two large chambers with roof openings that allow sunlight in, making flashlights unnecessary.

Historic Oranjestad

Cruise ships dock right near the centre of Oranjestad making it perfect for a self guided walk of the historic district. Start at the Rennaisance Mall and head east along Lloyd G Sherman Boulevard and veer right taking in the following places of interest:

  • Wilhelmina Park
  • Historical Museum
  • City Hall
  • Plaza Daniel Leo
  • Aruba Archaeological Museum

Aruba Archaeological Museum

Aruba’s newest museum is set in the beautifully restored colonial-era Ecury Complex. The exhibits focus on Arawak life in the pre-colonial period. Reproduction of traditional home life and multi media presentations abound as well as artifacts from 4000bc.

Butterfly Farm

Set within gorgeous gardens this place is filled with the most wondrous butterflies and moths species of all sizes and shapes. Guided tours will take you through the butterfly life cycle. 

Aruba Cruise Port - Beach Day

Most beaches are located on the west side of the island. All beaches are public, but you might have to pay a fee for use of facilities. Palm Beach is where the glamorous hotels and resorts are. At this busy beach, you will find lots of facilities. Tourist and locals come here to swim and snorkelling. Baby beach is also well known in Aruba. It is very suitable for families with small children, because of the shallow waters here. There are hardly any facilities and you will need to bring your own towels. 

Eagle Beach

Regularly making the list as one of the worlds best beaches, Eagle Beach has every kind of amenity you could wish for to spend a relaxing day by the sea. Jet Ski’s, Banana Boat rides, Paragliding are all on offer. There are plenty of places for refreshments and food and all within a short taxi ride from the cruise terminal. When we visited we simply caught one of the local buses from near the terminal and simply hopped off when we got there. The same on the return journey.

Arashi Beach

Located at the north end of Aruba Arashi Beach is not too troublesome to get to as the local buses drop off here also. The sand is soft and on most days the water is calm. It can get a little choppy if the wind picks up making is ideal for surfing and body boarding. It’s a great beach for shell collecting. You can take a nice stroll to the nearby California Lighthouse if you wish.

Palm Beach

Probably the most glamorous of Aruba’s beaches due to its proximity to the flashier hotels on the island. The waters are calm and clear, perfect for swimming or just drifting along on your float. If you need a break from the beach wander up to the hotels. Most have gardens open to the public where you can explore their souvenir kiosks for the perfect gift or beachside bars for a delicious cocktail.

Baby Beach

If you are a timid swimmer then this is the beach for you. The waters are shallow, warm and very calm making it perfect for families and children

Mangel Halto

This secluded beach is a perfect sunning and snorkelling spot in Aruba with calm, shallow waters rich in sea life. Sunbathers who like a quiet beach and their privacy tend to go here. It is possible to walk out to the edge of the reef to see such fish as parrotfish, yellowtail snapper, sergeant majors and blue tangs as well as sponges and anemones. 

Need to know what to take with you to the beach? Read our Beach Packing List for some ideas.

Local Flavours

Pan Bati

On the side of your Aruban meal you have to have a Pan Bati. A fluffy, slightly sweet flat bread that just melts in your mouth. It’s cooked similarly to the way you would make a pancake, but despite this bread’s strong resemblance to a pancake, it’s always eaten with a savoury meal or in soup and not covered with anything sweet. That’s how the locals eat it.

Seafood

As an island in the Caribbean Sea, Aruba has access to fresh fish and seafood daily. In many restaurants you are going to see a menu item “Catch of the day” and sometimes the fish is literally caught on the day, it’s that fresh. The most common fish that can be found in Aruba are mahi-mahi, red snapper and grouper. 

Keshi Yena

Keshi yena is a very traditional Aruban meal, which is a must-try while on the island. Imagine a large round ball of cheese, stuffed with spicy meat (normally chicken). This meal was influenced by the Dutch so it’s often covered in Gouda. “Keshi” stands for cheese. 

Ayaca

Ayaca is another meal that deserves some special attention. Steamed meat in a banana leaf, with cashews and different dried fruits. This impressive dish has Venezuelan roots as many Venezuelans call Aruba their home and over the years the island adopted its own version of it. The meal is prepared with a large number of ingredients, resulting in a very unique blend of flavours and it typically brings together families at Christmas, but you can find it in restaurants all year around.

Pastechi

The star of the Aruban street food scene is Pastechi! Shops around the island are fighting over who makes the best pastechi. Most places serve a similar version of the same thing so you are unlikely to be disappointed. It’s basically a fried Gouda cheese-filled pastry!

Getting Around

Public Bus 

Aruba Cruise Port - Bus Terminal

Oranjestad Bus Dept - Photo by Roger W - Flickr

Across the cruise terminal on L.G. Smith Boulevard is where you will find the public bus station. The bus service is pretty extensive and it is suitable to take to one to Aruba’s beaches for example. Just head to the small kiosk to purchase your ticket before boarding. The round-fare is 2,30 dollar. One way is 1,30 dollar. Have exact change with you to pay for the bus. Bus route L10 will take you past all the most popular beaches along Aruba’s west coast.

Taxis 

In Aruba Taxis don’t have a meter. Every driver should have an official rate table established by the government. From cruise terminal to Palm beach is about 11 dollar, to Eagle beach 10 dollars. 

Good to Know

  • Aruba is one of the safest islands in the caribbean
  • Gambling is legal - The Crystal Casino at Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino is one of the classiest places to gamble in Aruba—it sparkles with Austrian crystal chandeliers, gold-leaf columns, Spanish mirrors, and Italian marble and brass
  • The tap water is safe to drink
  • Tipping - In Aruba it’s not mandatory to tip, but it’s your choice if you do so. However, some restaurants and bars add service charge to your bill. Usually, this adds up to about 10 to 15 percent on food and beverages. If you really like the service, you can still tip, of course!

Quick Facts

Currency: Arubin Florin. US Dollar accepted

Language: English, Spanish, Dutch, Papiamento

Money: ATM’s at the cruise terminal

Visas: Not required for citizens of the US, EU or Australia

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