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Aruba

Oranjestad Aruba Walking Tour

Oranjestad shopping
Open-air vendor boothes line part of L.G. Smith Boulevard in downtown Oranjestad. © Scott S. Bateman

An Oranjestad Aruba walking tour has many sites to see for cruise and hotel visitors who have time, energy and a limited budget.

The Oranjestad cruise port and capital city of the island reveals a town with a unique flavor, warm climate and colorful architecture.

Oranjestad grew quietly around the Dutch Fort Zoutman in the late 1700s and has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean. It is popular with both hotel and cruise visitors. The cruise docks are located right on the city’s waterfront.

The city received its name and its designation as Aruba’s capital when small amounts of gold were found on the island in the mid 19th century.

Oranjestad Walking Tour Highlights

Hotel visitors who stay at Palm and Eagle beaches will need a taxi or public bus to drive into the city.

Cruise visitors can walk right off the docks and start exploring the city immediately. A left turn onto L.G. Smith Boulevard will lead to a modest number of shops and restaurants on the right side of the road.

There is much more to see and do for anyone who turns right onto L.G. Smith Boulevard. That stretch has more shops and restaurants as well as Oranjestad Flea Market (facing the water), Royal Plaza Mall, Atlantis Submarines, Seaport Casino, Wilhemina Park and Rennaisance Beach.

A right turn also brings cruise visitors to the docks that offer most of the water-based shore excursions.

Just past those docks is Seaport Casino. It is part of the Seaport Village Mall, which has even more shops and restaurants. Sometimes the area by the water has live entertainment. Lunch at one of the outdoor restaurants while facing the water and getting a warm breeze is worth the time and money.

To get a glimpse of Oranjestad’s history, visitors should check out Fort Zoutman, located just off the main thoroughfare downtown. Zoutman was originally built in 1796 to defend the island from pirates, and has served as a fort, aloe garden, courthouse, tax office and jail in its more than two centuries of existence.

The Willem III tower, built in 1867, is a popular sight and the attached Historical Museum of Aruba offers visitors a survey of Aruba’s history and culture. City tours also depart regularly from this location and visit other tourist attractions.

Visitors who go on an Oranjestad walking tour and explore the streets beyond L.G. Smith Boulevard will find far fewer sites to see. One of them is the National Archaeological Museum of Aruba at address Schelpstraat 42.

Anyone willing to walk a mile from the cruise docks will reach Bushiri Beach, one of the smaller and less popular beaches on the island.

Restaurants and Shopping

L.G. Smith Boulevard
L.G. Smith Boulevard is the main road for any walking tour of Oranjestad. © Scott S. Bateman

Aruba is well-known for the quality and variety of its many restaurants, which draw from Dutch, Caribbean, Indonesian, Indian and South America culinary influences. Oranjestad is home to many of these establishments, each with its own unique flavor and atmosphere.

Gostoso and Yemanja Wood Grill are among the most popular restaurants offering traditional Aruban cuisine, and Barefoot Restaurant and Marandi are top choices for couples seeking a quiet, romantic meal.

As Aruba’s largest city, Oranjestad is also home to a wealth of shopping opportunities, including a number of duty-free selections. In fact, many visitors travel to Oranjestad almost exclusively for the shopping.

The L.G. Smith Boulevard and Caya G.F. Betico Crowes are the two main thoroughfares in Oranjestad and boast shopping malls, marinas, restaurants and bars. Royal Plaza Mall has high-end retailers, while local boutiques line the L.G. Smith by the docks.

The shopping and local flavor is by no means limited to these two streets, as street vendors, fishermen and local farmers can be found hawking their goods throughout the downtown area, especially around harbors and docks.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
March 22, 2024

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