A culturally diverse and historically rich island, Aruba is a country of contrasts. Within 10 minutes of The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba — one of the most idyllic resort hotels on the beach — is the capital city of Oranjestad, an inviting town that delights with Dutch Colonial architecture and boutique shopping. Let the hotel's concierge map out your Aruba adventure at nearby attractions like Palm Beach Plaza, Alto Vista Chapel and Renaissance Mall.
This state-of-the-art museum is housed in the restored historic Ecury family home complex in downtown Oranjestad. Three periods of Amerindian habitation are documented through artifacts from various digs around the island and presented through film and audio presentations, exhibits and interactive technology. The museum sheds light on the cultural and religious practices of the Amerindians. Highlights include a reproduction of a maloca, a hut where natives lived 1000 years ago, and an exposition of history-themed artwork by contemporary artists. Public programs include lectures, education projects, temporary exhibits and workshops.
Aruba Aloe Factory and Museum
Tour the state-of-the-art Aruba Aloe Factory and see the production process firsthand from aloe vera leaf to finished products. The tour guides will explain all about the aloe plant and its uses. Learn all about the 160-year old aloe history of Aruba in the museum, a national depository for ancient tools and equipment. Aruba Aloe products can be purchased here. Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. / Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.. Free tours every 15 minutes.
The collection consists of artifacts acquired since its opening in 1983. There are audio-visual programs on topics related to Aruba’s history and a permanent exhibition outlining main events in Aruban history. Smaller, themed exhibitions are on periodic display. If visiting the museum on a Tuesday, stay in town for the Bon Bini Festival. Open Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – noon / 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Alto Vista Chapel
Known as the Pilgrim’s Chapel, the small, bright yellow Chapel of Alto Vista is the picture of tranquility in its dramatic setting on a high coastal plain. The chapel was the island’s first Roman Catholic Church, built in 1750 and reconstructed in 1953. It is reached by a winding road lined with white crosses marking the Stations of the Cross. It is a special place for peace and contemplation in a magnificent natural setting.
Bubali Bird Sanctuary
Also known as Bubali Plas, this is an official nature preserve. This fresh water lagoon located close to the high-rise hotel strip is an important nesting site for many bird species. A tower located just at the edge of the cattail marsh across from the Mill Resort offers a vantage point for bird watching especially exciting during late fall when the birds migrate to the south.
Step into a tropical garden teeming with butterflies from around the globe. Tour guides provide commentary on butterfly life. Your admission ticket gives you a free pass for the rest of your vacation. Open daily from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
More than ninety feet high, the imposing California Lighthouse overlooks both a barren lunar landscape and a glittering Palm Beach panorama. It was built in 1914 of local stones and is named after an English steamship that was shipwrecked off the coast.
Home to about 100 endangered donkeys, this guest-friendly sanctuary in Santa Lucia provides the opportunity to interact with these harmless animals in a fun environment. Stop for a snack and purchase a donkey-themed gift or souvenir; you can even adopt your own donkey! Volunteers care for the donkeys and organize activities and fundraising events.
French pirates attempted to invade Aruba during the first quarter of the 17th century. When an Indian tribal head and his group tried to stop them in this narrow passage, they were killed. Legend has it that their ghosts preside over this tranquil scenic spot.
Located on the road to the Natural Bridge, this large ostrich farm provides an educational experience with an incubator cum hospital onsite. Guided tours every half hour from 9 am to 4 pm. Features also include the Savanna Lodge bar and restaurant and Art of Africa shop.
Santa Ana Church
When it was constructed in 1776, Santa Ana Roman Catholic Church in Noord was the island’s second most important religious meeting place (the first being Alto Vista Chapel).
It was rebuilt twice during the 19th century and a final renovation was made in 1916. Its solid oak, hand-carved altar is a recognized work of art in classic neo-gothic design.
Arawak Garden Restaurant & Shopping Complex
Arawak Garden Restaurant & Shopping Complex is home to a variety of restaurants including a Dutch bar/café, Argentinian steak house, pizzeria and seafood house. A piano bar, live outdoor entertainment, and kiosks for shoppers make this a lively and popular spot for locals and tourists. Special events and festivals take place throughout the year.
La Hacienda Mall
La Hacienda Mall features a Brazilian churrascaria, Italian restaurant, a row of kiosks along the main strip, and interesting shops selling souvenirs, gifts, jewelry and more.
Palm Beach Plaza
Palm Beach Plaza is a multi-level shopping mall with ground level parking, located one block from the Holiday Inn Aruba. The largest mall in the southern Caribbean, it is an all-day family entertainment center with prestigious retailers, eight-screen movie theatre, post office, restaurants and food court. Children’s entertainment floor with supervised playroom, neon bowling alley, kiddie train, Flow Rider. Open 2 p.m. – 10 p.m. / Weekends 2 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Paseo Herencia entertains shoppers with liquid fireworks, synchronized swimmers, Carnaval shows, live music and six movie theatres while they explore the eclectic roster of fifty retail stores and seven restaurants. The entire center is indeed a “walk through history”. Throughout the year there are themed events, fashion shows, talent shows and performances. Waltzing waters provide an ever-changing music and light show. Open 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. / Sunday 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Renaissance Mall is home to an exclusive international group of luxury retailers of simply fabulous jewelry, ready-to-wear, perfumes, shoes, accessories, beachwear and more. Enjoy Belgian chocolates, gelato, cappuccino, rice and noodles, or a light snack while shopping. Open 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Renaissance Marketplace nestled between the yacht-lined boardwalk and Queen Wilhelmina Park boasts an eclectic array of retailers, special holiday activities and live entertainment. It has a sophisticated allure and several new eateries. Open 9 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Royal Plaza is the three-storied shopping center opposite the harbor markets. With Dutch Caribbean touches and pink and white paint, it resembles a rich wedding cake. Retailers here specialize in jewelry, apparel, accessories, linens, perfumes, cigars and souvenirs. Stop here for a bite or a cocktail; the harbor view is awesome and there’s even an after-hours club. The mall has an escalator and elevator.
South Beach Center
South Beach Center is a new two-storied mall is located in the heart of the high-rise strip. The roster of tenants includes a giant sports bar, coffee house and gift, apparel, jewelry, silver and souvenir stores. A Dutch bar/restaurant, hard rock café and restaurants serving Indian, Japanese, Chinese and Italian specialties provide an international dining selection. Outdoor seating, live music, kiosks and bars. Ample parking.
Surrounding the large central courtyard of this trendy, brightly colored shopping center is a diverse assortment of retailers for souvenirs, gifts, cigars, jewelry, sports gear and beachwear, as well as unique restaurants. The Village comes alive after dark at popular bars and fun spots.