The “A” of the ABC Islands is Aruba. Boutiques, upscale chain stores and street vendors, as wells as casinos and a wide range of restaurants, dance clubs and bars, make the capital Oranjestad a popular destination in Aruba.
Our ship arrived on New Year’s Eve, so many shops and restaurants were closing up early to celebrate the ringing in of the new year. Like Bonaire and Curacao, the beach resorts and water sports are popular at Aruba.
As we were heading outside the port, a tour company coaxed us into taking the 2 hour island tour… so we hopped inside the hippie bus, packed to the gills with senior citizens.
The tour started off at the Casibari Boulders, one of the highest point on the island. The lookout point was on top of a flat rock, and it was extremely windy.
The next stop was the Saint Franciscus Church. Along the way were miles of cactus, which we were told took 17% of the island. I was not sure on the significance of the church, but according to wikipedia:
It is a temple that follows the Roman or Latin rite and depends on the Diocese of Willemstad (Dioecesis Gulielmopolitana). This is one of the most important churches in Aruba that was built in 1813 and offering religious services in Papiamento and English.
Our final stop by the California Lighthouse, a lighthouse located at Hudishibana near Arashi Beach on the northwest tip of Aruba. This lighthouse was named for the steamship California, which was wrecked nearby on September 23, 1891.
From there, the bus headed back to the city center, where the driver dropped off passengers at resort beaches. We went back to the city center, and stopped at Iguana Jo’s for snacks and cocktails, and watched the city close down in preparation for the New Year.
Our ship stayed at port until the New Year and we watched the coast of Aruba light up with thousands of fireworks, ringing in 2019.