San Nicolas - Aruba

(Map)

San Nicolas (18,000 inhabitants) is a working-class town in the southeast of Aruba, it's the second city of the island. Until 2012, a large oil refinery was in operation in San Nicolas. Because the oil refinery employed many foreign workers, San Nicolas is the only place in Aruba where prostitution is legal. Although San Nicolas is not a tourist town, there is alot to see in the area. One of Aruba's most beautiful and famous beaches, Baby Beach is located in San Nicolas. For wind surfers and kite surfers, there are several beaches where they can go to and the two most beautiful dive sites in Aruba are located near San Nicolas. But the most popular location in San Nicolas has to be Charlie's Bar. Every Thursday the Carubbian Festival is held in downtown San Nicolas.

  • View of the laguna of Baby Beach San Nicolas
  • The pier on Rodgers Beach with views of the sea and the oil refinery in the background
  • Two surfers on the sea at boca grandi
  • Front view of Charlie's bar in San nicolas
f.l.t.r.: Baby Beach | Rodgers Beach | Surfers Boca Grandi | Charlie's Bar .

Tourist attractions

Inside Charlie's Bar with many photos and memorials behind the bar

Charlie’s Bar

Location: downtown San Nicolas (B v/d Veen Zeppenfeldstraat 56) | Category: Bar

Charlie's Bar is the most famous bar of Aruba. In 1941 the bar was established close to the oil refinery in San Nicolas by the Dutch couple Charlie and Marie Brouns. Since then the bar is run by the third generation Brouns and is in the top 10 best bars in the Caribbean. The interior is filled with international souvenirs and a decorated bar. Charlie's Bar is a must-see on your visit to San Nicolas.

Top view of Baby Beach in San Nicolas

Baby Beach

Location: 3mi from San Nicolas (Seroe Colorado) - 10 minutes drive | Category: Beach

Baby Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Aruba, even while there are no hotels are located around it. The beach is ideal for families with children. Because of a natural reef, Baby Beach Bay has become a lagoon. The water is very shallow and there's no current. On Baby Beach are several facilities available, including deck chairs, bars and snorkelling equipment. At the reef a snorkeling area is designated, where you can see beautiful tropical fish. Note: behind the reef are strong currents!

The monument Anchor in Memory to All Seamen with the Caribbean Sea in the background

Anchor in Memory to All Seamen

Location: 2.5mi from San Nicolas (entrance Seroe Colorado) – 8 minutes drive | Category: Monument

On the way to Baby Beach you pass a large anchor, Anchor in Memory to All Seamen. The 16 feet high anchor is, what is said, of an oil tanker. The anchor was found and salvaged. In 1985 the anchor was, on instruction of the owner of Charlie's Bar (Charlie Brouns, Jr.), placed as a monument and dedicated to all sailors ("All Seamen"). After the death of Charlie Brouns Jr. in 2004, the anchor was restored and re-dedicated to all sailors and in memory of Charlie Brouns, Jr.

View of Rodgers Beach and the Caribbean Sea

Rodgers Beach

Location: 3mi from San Nicolas (Seroe Colorado) – 10 minutes drive | Catergory: Beach

Opposite to Baby Beach lies Rodgers Beach. This beach is a lot quieter than Baby Beach and is frequented by the locals on weekends. Rodgers Beach has a white sandy beach, various facilities and a diving center. The water is calm, so it's very suited for swimming.

Two nurse sharks at the bottom of the sea at Cabez Reef

Cabez Reef

Location: Southeastern point Aruba | Category: Diving

Cabaz Reef is together with Serito Pinnacle Reef one of the best dive sites of Aruba. The entrance to the dive site is located on the most southeastern tip of Aruba, about 0.6mi east of Baby Beach. At this point, you can jump of the 15ft high rocks into the water. Note: The rocks are very slippery and the sea is wild with strong currents. Cabez Reef is only suited for very experienced and strong divers. The reef is still intact, very beautiful and located at a depth of approximately 65 -82ft. Cabez Reef is also well known for the Shark Cave, where nurse sharks often can be seen. Also eagle rays and manta rays live there.

A fish swimming at Serito Pinnacle

Serito Pinnacle

Location: 0.6mi outside the North-East coast of Aruba | Category: Diving

Serito Pinnacle is a unique dive site of Aruba. Only 4 times a year a charter goes to this location. The reef is still completely intact and looks beautiful. Because of the strong currents Serito Pinnacle is only suitable for experienced divers. The maximum depth is 60ft.

Kite surfers on the sea outside Bachelor's Beach

Bachelor’s Beach

Location: 2.5mi from San Nicolas – 10 minutes drive | Category: Beach

Bachelor's Beach (also known as Boca Tabla) is a small beach on the east coast of Aruba. There are mostly a few people here, so you can come here to relax. Because of the strong winds Bachelor's Beach isn't really suitable for swimming. Wind surfing, kite surfing and even snorkeling are possible. There are no facilities at Bachelor's Beach.

The coast of Boca Grandi, with high waves caused by the strong trade winds

Boca Grandi

Location: 2.5mi from San Nicolas – 10 minutes drive | Category: Beach

Boca Grandi lies on the east coast of Aruba, 440yd north of Bachelor's Beach. At Boca Grandi there is a strong wind, making this beach ideal for wind and kite surfers. In addition to the strong winds, there is a strong current. Swimming and snorkeling are not recommended.

Sign of the Aruba Golf Club

Aruba Golf Club

Location: 2.8mi from San Nicolas – 10 minutes drive | Price: $25 | Category: Golf

Just outside San Nicolas is a nine hole golf course, Aruba Golf Club. Aruba Golf Club is the oldest golf course in Aruba and is a lot cheaper than Links at Divi at Druif Beach and Tierra del Sol at Palm Beach. The golf course is open Tuesday to Sunday from 7.30am to 3pm. The fees are $25 on weekdays and $35 at the weekend.

Grapefield Beach Beach with the rocky coast in the background

Grapefield Beach

Location: 3.7mi from San Nicolas – 12 minutes drive | Category: Beach & Nature

Across of the Aruba Golf Club is Grapefield Beach. Just like Boca Grandi, Grapefield Beach isn't really suitable for swimmers, but more for wind and kite surfers. Behind the beach lies the Grapefield cliffs. These rocks are ideal for climbers.

The statue and picture of a praying woman at the entrance of Lourdes Grotto San Nicolas

Lourdes Grotto

Location: 1.2mi from San Nicolas (Seroe Preto) – 4 minutes drive | Category: Religion

In Seroe Preto (Black Hill) lies the Lourdes Grotto, a Catholic sanctuary named after the Lourdes grotto in France. In 1958 the statue of the Virgin Mary was placed in the cave. Every year there is a pilgrimage on February 11 which starts at the St. Theresita Church in San Nicolas and ends at the Lourdes Grotto, where a Mass is held. With Christmas Seroe Preto is entirely decorated with Christmas lights.

Activities

Carubbian Festival
Every Thursday night it's carnival in San Nicolas with the Carubbian Festival. Performances, market stalls, dance and musis, a weekly celebration. Everywhere are food stalls serving local cuisine. The Carubbian Festival is held in San Nicolas downtown.

Walk on the beach
Although some beaches are not suitable for swimming, you can take beautiful beach walks along the east coast. You walk alternately on beaches and along rock formations.

Nightlife
San Nicolas is not touristy, only a few restaurants and bars are available. Especially in the area around Charlie's bar, near the central bus station, lie several bars and restaurants. The prices are generally lower than in the west of Aruba.

Stay

There are hardly any hotels in San Nicolas. In the center lies the Astoria Hotel. The quality is not comparable to the much more luxurious Oranjestad and Palm Beach.

Accessibility

Car
From Oranjestad, there is just one main road to San Nicolas, Route 1. This road passes by the airport and the south coast all the way through to the center of San Nicolas.

Bus
There are a number of bus routes going from Oranjestad to San Nicolas. Bus line 1 goes directly to San Nicolas via Route 1.
These buslines also go to San Nicolas: Line 2, Line 2A (via Santa Cruz), Line 3 and Line 3A (via Santa Cruz). A bus ticket costs 4 florin or $2.30.