Thursday, 31 December 2015

Day 11 Aruba

It is New Year’s Eve and we arrived here before breakfast ready to see as much as we can during the day and to celebrate the arrival of 2016 some 4 hours after we would have done back home. Aruba is famous for its New Year’s Eve fireworks, we had hoped to see these from the harbour but unfortunately our schedule was changed and we are scheduled to depart at 2200 on New Year’s Eve.


Google Maps: Aruba, a tiny Dutch Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela, has dry, sunny weather, blond beaches and gentle surf. Constant trade winds keep things cool and cause the divi-divi trees to slope southwesterly. European influence shows in both its architecture, in which Dutch gables mingle with tropical pastels, and language, with English, Dutch and Spanish spoken alongside the local tongue, Papiamento.

Currency: Aruban florin

Continent: North America

Capital: Oranjestad

Best of Aruba Island Tour

The sight of Aruba’s colourful capital Oranjestad gives way to the scenic southern coastline. As you drive from Frenchman’s Pass through the districts of Aruba learn about the island’s first inhabitants. See the collapsed Natural Bridge and the Baby Natural Bridge before passing through a landscape shaped by the Casibari Rock formations – boulders the size of small houses, and punctuated with unique divi-divi trees. Admire California Point Lighthouse – an island landmark and take in the beautiful views of the sandy beaches, rolling sand dunes and rocky coral shores along the island’s western coastline. Upon the return to Oranjestad you have the option to remain in town for shopping making your own way back to Minerva.

Cabin Window view

Upon awaking, we looked out of our window and observed this quite close to us.

Harbour Cruise Ships

In fact we were one (the smallest one) of four cruise ships in port that day

Cruise Ships in Port

and hence the port area was heaving with tourists.

As usual, as we drove around on the tour my first interest was in the houses we saw.

House 001

House 002

House 003


The first sets of houses were what I expected to see on a fairly well developed island

House Traditional

and then we passed what was said to be a “traditional house” with the oven (beneath the chimney) on the side, a water tank etc.

Firework Shop

Fireworks and Aruba go hand in hand and here fireworks are sold from a metal shipping container (presumably for explosive reasons). During the afternoon there was the constant sound of thousands of fire crackers going off in anticipation of the evening’s main event.

One of the tourist spots is one of the higher points on the island - Casibari Park

Casibari Park 001

Really this is a group of boulders up which a set of steps

Casibari Park

have been carved so that you can climb up

Casibari Park View

and see around the island.

Casibari Park View 001

This is a view of 189 metre high Jamanota Hill from the top of the rocks.

Travellers on Aruba

There were two travellers in the park whom we had met before on our travels somewhere. We keep bumping into them throughout the world.

Christmas Cactii

There were also Christmas Cacti trees,

Christmas Cacti Leaf

a close-up of their leaves shows them to be very similar to the plant we have growing indoors at home - however our Christmas Cactus flowers at random times of the year including Christmas. 

Rock and Divi Divi trees

The Divi Divi (or Watapana) tree is a natural compass, always pointing in a southwesterly direction due to the trade winds that blow across the island from the north-east. 

Aloa Vera and Divi Divi tree

Elsewhere in the island we came across a perfect example of the Divi Divi tree growing in a field of Aloa Vera, a plant which is grown and harvested here for use in a wide variety of ways.

Cactus Landscape

Cacti thrive in the somewhat arid landscape

Cactus Forrest

Cactii Flowering

and flower of course. 

Northern Coast 001

The northern coastline is beautifully wild 

Northern Coast 002

Northern Coast

and is where one of the few natural attractions no longer exists

Collapsed Bridge

namely a sandstone bridge which collapsed in September 2005.

Baby Bridge

Nearby is a smaller bridge (they are the remnants of caves) and close to this, a building is being constructed to house a large photograph of what would have been there had you come before September 2nd 2005. It seemed to us that they were somewhat desperate to sell you the attractions of something you could not now see! 

Chapel Alto Vista

The Alto-Vista Chapel, bult in 1952, stands on the site of a chapel built in 1750. 

Alto Vista Chapel

it is said to be the site where the conversion of Aruban Indians to Christianity started. the view over the coastline is very beautiful and it is easy to understand why a chapel was built there. 

Chapel Inside 

Chapel souvenirs

Souvenirs are available to enable you to remember your visit.

California Lighthouse

The California Lighthouse (named after a ship which sank nearby in 1891) was built in 1916 to mark the rocks on the north western tip of the island.

Coconut Sales

A thriving trade in coconuts is carried out here. 

Coconut Smoothies

You choose your coconut and the top is cut off with a machete

Coconut Pat

so you can drink the contents.

Coconut Insides

Then it is chopped open

Coconut Inside Eating

and you are given the flesh to eat. Mrs Harvey has maintained ever since I first met here that she hates coconut but she felt she had to try it just because it was available. Surprise, Surprise - she quite likes it !

Aruba South Coast

This area of the coast is near the hotel strip

Aruba Hotel Locations

and the coastline is lined with numerous hotels and resorts. It was not for us and we would not want to go there for a holiday. 

Walking into town

Having toured the island, we nipped into Oranjestad to see what it looked like and to see what the average cruise passenger might buy.

Aruba Shopping Street

The town was heaving because of the numerous ships in port. The main street seemed to us to exhibit the worse kind of tackiness

Aruba Shopping Street 001

Aruba Souvenirs

and the general tourist souvenirs on sale were not necessarily those we might like!

Aruba Bus

Aruba Bus 001

The tour buses were very colourful and showed their origins as US School Buses now without windows.

Do I Love Aruba

Do we love Aruba? We like the isolated coastlines and do not really like much else and hate the hotel strip. It might be alright for many we prefer a different type of place for a holiday.

Sailing towards Midnight on New Year’s Eve

We set sail at 10 pm

Goodbye Big One

leaving the big ships in harbour.


Firework 001

Some fireworks were being let off early as we headed out to sea

New Year s Bell

and at Midnight as we drank a glass of Champagne, the youngest and the oldest person (23 and 93) on board rang the ship’s bell following the Captain’s countdown.

And in our cabin we found



a New Year’s present from the Minerva.