What To See
Near Arashi Beach, watch for a road leading to the island’s northern tip. This tall sentinel is named for an old shipwreck named California. The views over the flat land from the lighthouse knoll extend in all directions, and when it’s especially clear you can see all the way to Oranjestad. The surf is always pounding and dunes extend far inland.
Aruba Archaeological Museum
Grand 1920s colonial buildings house this brilliant new museum. The engaging exhibits range from stone tools found on Aruba dating from 4000 BC to displays detailing Arawak life and the colonial era.
Across Lloyd G Smith Blvd by the Yacht Basin is this shady refuge, replete with lush tropical gardens.
Fronting a stretch of the Low-Rise Resorts just northwest of Oranjestad, Eagle is a long stretch of white sand that regularly makes lists of the best in the world. Portions have shade trees and you can obtain every service you need here, from a lounger to a cold drink. The best all-round choice for everyone, from singles to couples to families with kids.
Originally brought to Aruba by the Spaniards, many donkeys now live in the wild, where they fall prey to speeding tour buses. Injured ones are brought here to recuperate. The sanctuary is usually open during daylight hours; call ahead to check.
Aruba's Carnival takes place over several weeks prior to Lent (usually in February). It's celebrated with children's parades, masquerades, musical competitions and plenty of dancing. The most intense celebrations take place in Oranjestad. New Year's Day is welcomed with midnight fireworks to ward off evil spirits, while wandering minstrels serenade outside of houses and hotels. There's a Summer Jam at the end of April with a carnival and jazz bands. The Hi-Winds Pro-Am Windsurfing Competition is held at Eagle Beach in June. In late June, there's the harvest festival of Dera Gai - it used to involve the burying of a rooster, but these days a gourd is substituted. Sint Nicolaas Day (5 Dec) is a Dutch transplant: Sint Nicolaas is a Santa Claus figure who arrives with his un-PC Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes) who help him distribute candy and gifts to children gathered in Oranjestad. In November, the Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta hosts three or four dozen teams competing in the Caribbean's largest catamaran event.