The island is 20 miles long 5 miles wide. The coast on the Northeast is rugged and wild. The West coast is where the beaches, hotels and flat waters are. Along the Southwest coast runs a barrier reef making for calm waters inside this reef.
Average temperature: 28° C (82° F). Water temperature 27°C (80°) average rainfall is 56CM (22”). Aruba is dry. If it rains it is usually only for a few minutes.
Wet season is May to November. Dry season is December to April.
Wind is East to East South East, usually between 15 and 20 knots, stronger between January and May, lighter in September October.
In the winter months when there are winter storms on the Atlantic it is possible to get a NW swell at the west side of the island. If you are anchored in less than 15 feet of water you will probably have to find another place to anchor.
Most people in Aruba are multi-lingual: English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento; the local island language. Even though there is no mandatory schooling there is a high level of education.
Local Currency is the Aruba Guilder (Awg). The US Dollar is widely accepted everywhere. At Awg 1.75 to $1.00 (Or Awg 1 is US$ 0.57). If you do have Aruban currency, make sure to exchange it before you leave the island as you cannot exchange it in other countries.
There are many car rentals on the island. Prices start around $40 a day including insurance.
Taxi rates are government set: http://www.aruba.com/sigma/Aruba_Taxi_Fares.pdf. Taxi’s have “TX” on their license plates.
Wild busses: these are (usually) passenger vans that drive a set route, fares a slightly higher then Arubus, but since they don’t drive according to a schedule it might be faster. Wild busses have “B” on their license plate
Communication on land:
There are two telephone companies: Digicel and Setar
Setar has an office at the post office in Oranjestad. Digicel is at the LG Smith Boulevard close to the Renaissance marina
Country code for Aruba is: 297
Setar is the provider of Wi-Fi with many hot spots on the island. You can pay with a credit card. There are many internet café’s on the island, and many cafés and restaurants will offer free Wi-Fi
Drive on the right. No right on red. Traffic lights are set up the North European way: The light is placed in between you and the crossing road, not across the road as in the USA. If you can comfortably see the light without having to lean forward you are probably looking at the wrong light.
Rental cars have "V" numbers and we Arubans are much more forgiving to "V" Cars then to "A" (resident) cars, drivers of "A" cars are considered to know both the written and unwritten rules of the road. If you have a traffic accident; involve the police. Kill someone while driving with alcohol in your blood and you will be prosecuted for manslaughter. Driving age is 18, Car rental age 23. Not all cyclists have lights at night.
Sunsets occur daily. Whether you get to see it is another matter. You should look for it though, just to make sure it sets properly.
Drinking age is 18.
Pharmacies are called "Botica" and are the only place where you can get medicine; even over the counter medicines are only available in boticas.
Fedex is the best way to get in parts, Address to "Yacht in transit - yacht name-" to avoid duty. An invoice must be included in the shipping. It will still have to pass through customs for which you will be charged a clearance charge. Usually customs clearance takes two to three working days. You can mark "hold for pickup" or set up with the Renaissance Marina to accept the package for you.
Aruba is a popular vacation destination, thus there are a myriad of tours and activities available.
Activities on Land
There are three golf courses on the island. There are Bus tours, jeep tours, hiking tours, horseback riding, parachute jumping. The national park has hiking trails set up from 1/2 hour to 4 hours long. Outside the park hikers can hike anywhere along the NE shore. You can bike on the back roads. Aruba traffic is not used to cyclists so stay away from main roads as much as possible. Restaurants, night clubs, cinemas (Aruba has the highest amount of movie theatres per capita).
Activities on Water
Sailing: along the west shore is in beautiful flat water albeit with the occasional shoal that you can easily see if you can read the color of the water.
Diving: There are many dive sites around the island. A lot of these are or include a wreck. If you want to dive the “Antilia”, “Pedernalis”, “Star Geren” or “Debbie two” or the airplane at the lighthouse: Either use your dingy, leaving the moorings available for the commercial operators to tie up to also, Or dive early and get of the mooring by 9.30. Especially “Antilia” is heavily visited both by dive and snorkel boats. Moorings for the reefs and wrecks on the SE coast (the best diving here is from Barcadera towards the Spanish lagoon) are usually free in the afternoon. Here you can dive on the wreck of the “Jane Sea” just East of Barcadera. Sometimes a current can be running on these dive sites.
Snorkeling: From Barcadera to the Spanish lagoon is also good snorkeling on the outside of the barrier reef. There is a sunken ripped apart barge just to leeward corner of the breakwater of the Renaissance Island. The shallowest point above this barge is 4ft under the surface in 10 ft of water. There is quite a bit of fish here.
Shore snorkeling can be done by Malmok and Arashi, Mangel Halto (also for diving, Bao Baranca (also known as “Hole in the wall”, also great for diving). Santo Largo (experienced snorkelers or divers), And baby beach. North of Boca Grandi is a barrier reef which breaks the seas and leaves an area of shallow water with some coral fields, which are nice to snorkel. Don’t get to close to Boca Grandi as the current get very strong there. In Boca Grandi there are some very nice coral fields but there is a lot of current trying to pull you out to the open sea, this is definitely only for very experienced snorkelers and strong swimmers who will also have to watch out for Wind surfers and Kite surfers.
Windsurfing and Kite surfing are by the fisherman’s huts just north of the last high rise hotels Kite surfing is also done at Malmok which is further north or to Boca Grandi which is on the windward side of the island and generally considered the best spot because of a more steady onshore wind.
Any other watersport you can think of is available on the beaches in front of the high rise hotels (i.e. Wave runner rentals, sailing tours, snorkeling tours, wakeboarding, waterskiing, Glass bottom boats, submarines).
For more information about Aruba please visit http://www.visitaruba.com.