Oranjestad (35,000 inhabitants) is the capital of Aruba. The city arose around the year 1800, when many residents settled around Fort Zoutman. In 1824 the governor named the place after the Dutch Royal family, House of Orange (Oranje). In the port of Oranjestad many cruise ships dock. Oranjestad is very good for shopping. On and around the street Caya G.F. Betico Croes many big brands such as Rolex and Armani are located. In addition Oranjestad has a large number of big shopping malls. One of the most famous tourist attractions of Oranjestad is Palm Island, an All Inclusive island to enjoy a whole day of sun, sea and beach. The underwater world around Oranjestad isn't the sole domain of the divers. With the Atlantis Submarine, Sea World explorer, Sea Trek and Snuba, non-divers can enjoy all the beauty that Aruba has to offer underwater.
Location: Center of Oranjestad | Category: History
In 1798 Fort Zoutman was built by the Dutch to protect Aruba from pirates and enemies. The Willem III Tower, which stands next to Fort Zoutman, was built in 1868. Until 1963 the tower functioned as a lighthouse and public clock. Nowadays Fort Zoutman and the Willem III Tower serve as a Historical Museum. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.00pm. Every Tuesday from 6.30pm to 8.30pm the Bonbini ("welcome") festival is held in the courtyard of Fort Zoutman. The entrance fee to this folklore show is $5,-.
Location: 220yd off the coast of Oranjestad - 5 minutes by boat | Price: $124 | Category: Beach
Palm Island is an All Inclusive private island suited for young and old. For an entrance fee (including transfer) of $124 for adults and $93 for children you can spend the whole day on Palm island. Included in the price is an ongoing buffet, open bar, snorkeling, banana rides, visits to the water park and daily activities. For Sea Trek, Snuba and massages an additional fee is required. Daily departures are at 10.00am from Port de Palm in Oranjestad.
Blue Parrotfish Water Park
Location: Palm Island | Price: all-in | Category: Water park
The Blue Parrotfish Water Park on Palm Island is a water park for young and old. The water park has about 6 big slides and a large children's paddling pool. Admission to the Blue Parrotfish Water Park is free (part of the All Inclusive formula of Palm Island).
Location: Palm Island | Price: $48 | Category: Underwater World
Sea Trek is a special way to see the underwater world of Aruba. It's ideal for people who can not swim well or don't want to dive or snorkel. With a specially designed diving helmet you walk over a 380ft. long trail at a depth of 20 feet. You walk past a sunken Cessna 414 airplane and everywhere around you you see tropical fish. The price for adults is $48 and for children $35, the minimum age is 8 years.
Location: Center of Oranjestad | Price: $109 | Category: Underwater World
Besides diving, snorkeling, Snuba and Sea Trek there is another way to see Aruba's underwater world. With the Atlantis Submarine you step into a submarine which goes down a depth of 130 feet. The Atlantis Submarine navigates along two shipwrecks where you can see beautiful coral and schools of tropical fish. Daily departures are at 11.00am, the journey takes about two hours. The price for adults is $109 for children it's $59. The minimum length for passenger is 2 feet 11 and the minimum age is 4 years.
Location: Center of Oranjestad | Price: $49 | Category: Underwater World.
Oranjestad has besides the Atlantis Submarine also a semi-submarine the Seaworld Explorer. This boat doesn't go under water, but has a deep hull where you can look in the sea at 5 feet depth. The boat navigates along different reefs, where you'll see many different tropical fish. The price for adults is $49, for children $29. The departure time is at 11.30am and the journey takes about 1.5 hours.
Location: 220yd off the coast of Oranjestad - 5 minutes by boat | Category: Beach
Renaissance Island is a beautiful private island exclusively for guests of the Renaissance Hotels and Renaissance Ocean Suites. The island has three white sand beaches, restaurant, bar, spa and water sports. At the Renaissance island flamingos walk around on the loose and therefore Renaissance Island is accessible for adults only.
Jane Sea Wreck
Location: 300yd west of Palm Island | Category: Diving
At about 110ft depth lies the wreck of the freighter Jane C. The 230ft long wreck stands upright next to a reef. Here lives different marine life such as angel fish, barracudas, eagle rays and sea turtles. Because of the large depth, small passages and strong currents, the Jane Sea Wreck is only suitable for experienced divers. The best time to dive is December through May.
Location: 0.6mi from downtown Oranjestad | Category: Beach
At the Paardenbaai, next to the Oranjestad Airport is Surfside Beach. The sea here is very calm, ideal for swimming. The white sandy beach is suitable for the whole family. On Surfside Beach there is also a beach club.
National archaeological museum
Location: Center of Oranjestad (Schelpstraat 42) | Category: History
The National Archaeological Museum displays the oldest part of the history of Aruba. Here you can see ceramic artifacts, stone tools and ornaments of around 3,000 years old. Entrance is free and the museum is open on weekdays (except Mondays) from 10.00am to 5.00pm and weekends from 10.00am to 2.00pm.
St. Francis Church
Location: 550yd from downtown Oranjestad (Spinozastraat) | Category: Religion
The St. Francis Church was built in 1919 and is the fourth church that bears the same name at this location in Oranjestad. With its high ceilings and stunning interior, the St. Francis Church in Oranjestad is one of the most beautiful churches of Aruba. There is a daily service at 7.00pm, on Sundays at 6.00pm and 6.30am.
Location: Downtown (Oranjestraat) | Category: Nature
Wilhelmina Park is a small park across from the Renaissance Hotels and Fort Zoutman. This park is known for its tall palm trees and the statue of Queen Wilhelmina in honor of her 50-year reign.
Every Tuesday from 6.30pm to 8.30pm the Bonbini ("welcome") festival is held on the grounds of Fort Zoutman in Oranjestad. This weekly dance and folklore festival is a fun introduction to Aruba. Besides the Aruban drum music and dance you can enjoy the local art and cuisine. The entrance fee is $5.
Oranjestad has a number of very good dive sites, of which Jane Sea Wreck is the best known. South of Palm Island and Renaissance Island are long coral reefs. 770yd outside the port of Oranjestad is the so called the harbor reef and lies a sunken tugboat.
For people who want to dive but don't have any diving experience nor have a certification, Oranjestad has a good alternative: Snuba. Snuba lies in between snorkeling and scuba diving. You don't have diving equipment, but a nozzle which is attached by a hose to a boat. You can therefore swim several feet underwater. The minimum age is 8 years, the price for adults is $41, for children $29.
Oranjestad has many bars, clubs and casinos. A unique Dutch café is Pub Paddock, located between the port and cruise liner terminal. For Latin American clubs it's best to go to the Mojito bar or Mambo Jambo in the Royal Plaza Mall, or to the many bars in Renaissance Mall. A real dance club, 7 West Lounge, you can find besides the cruise terminal, opposite of the Royal Plaza. The Banana bus Aruba and the Kukoo Kunuke bus organize pub crawls through Oranjestad. In addition to bars and clubs Oranjestad has a large number of casinos.
Oranjestad has lots of shops and malls where you can shop extensively. The largest shopping centers are:
The Royal Plaza Mall
The Royal Plaza Mall has several shops of famous brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, but the emphasis is on jewelry and watches. Retailers of brands such as Rolex, Tag Heuer, Cartier and Omega can be visited here. The Royal Plaza Mall is opposite of the dock for cruise ships, besides the bus terminal of Oranjestad.
The Renaissance Mall is the only indoor shopping center of Aruba and has about 60 stores. Here are mostly (high end) fashion stores like stores of Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Lacoste. The shops are opened daily, except on Sundays, from 10.00am till 8.00pm. The Renaissance Mall is located opposite of the port of Oranjestad, between the Crystal Casino and the Renaissance hotel.
Renaissance Marketplace (Seaport Marketplace)
The Renaissance Marketplace is a shopping and entertainment venue in Oranjestad with plenty of shops, bars, bistros and restaurants. On the Renaissance Marketplace are many clothing stores, jewelers and souvenir shops. Shops are open until late at night and you can dine in different restaurants, from fast food to gourmet. For entertainment you can go to the cinema, bars or the Seaport casino. Every night there is live entertainment on stage. The Renaissance Marketplace is open 7 days a week from 10.00am to midnight. The center is located on Oranjestraat along the Wilhelmina Park and the Renaissance Ocean Suites.
The most hotels and resorts of Aruba are located in the Hotel Area which runs from Druif Beach to Palm Beach. In Oranjestad are a number of resorts, including the Renaissance Hotels. Also Oranjestad has several small-scale hotels.
Oranjestad is well connected through four major roads.
- Route 1: The road from San Nicolas to Palm Beach and Malmok.
- Route 2: The road to Noord and Malmok.
- Route 6: The road to Santa Cruz via Paradera (via route 7), this road is partially unpaved.
- Route 7: The road to Santa Cruz
Oranjestad is the bus junction of Aruba, all bus lines start or end in Oranjestad.