Oranjestad, Aruba

Oranjestad, Aruba

The disabled cruiser visiting Oranjestad will enjoy that the Cruise ships dock in the middle of town. The cruise terminal in Oranjestad has a wheelchair ramp and the exit to the port has flat access. Many of the sidewalks in Oranjestad have drop curbs located at the street intersections. If you need a vehicle with a wheelchair lift, you can reserve an Aruba wheelchair accessible van to show you around the island.

Due to its Dutch heritage and concern for disabled access, Aruba is better than many Caribbean islands when it comes to accessibility. Wheelchair ramps on sidewalks and wheelchair accessible vans makes traveling around the island easier than other Caribbean destinations. The flat terrain helps when visiting the main attractions. 

The Disabled Cruiser will find that since the beaches are sandy instead of rocky, visiting the beach with the assistance of a beach wheelchair is possible. Aruba is a small island, consequently, it’s easy to see many of the islands land attractions while still saving time for viewing the underwater sights located just offshore.

The Disabled Cruiser will encounter some difficulties in Aruba. The first will be leaving the ship. The cruise dock in Aruba is lower than most cruise docks, so the ramps used to get of the cruise ship are steeper than other islands. Many of the wheelchair accessible attractions are located away from the city, so you’ll need accessible transportation to reach them.

There are no wheelchair accessible taxis in Aruba, so you’ll need to book private wheelchair accessible transportation before you arrive. Also, There are no boats with roll-on access, so wheelchair users will need to be able to transfer out of their wheelchair to travel on a snorkeling and scuba diving boat.

Oranjestad, Aruba

Blessed with a non-stop breeze, neat little Oranjestad reflects the Dutch passion for cleanliness. Stroll the town’s chic shops, venture out to see the wind-formed divi-divi trees, or visit an undersea garden of brilliant corals on a semi-submersible craft.

Aruba lies just off the Venezuelan coast in the southern Caribbean. Oranjestad is it’s capital.

There are several shopping malls located straight across the street from the cruise terminal. One of these, the Royal Plaza Mall, has a wide selection of locally made gift items.

The main shopping area in Oranjestad is called Caya G. F. Betico Croes.

Children and nature lovers may enjoy a visit to the Butterfly Farm on Palm Beach.

The California Lighthouse on the north western tip of the island is a popular excursion with visitors.

Balashi Brewery offer tours of their facilities and Balashi Gardens bar and restaurant is next door.

Tierra del Sol, is the only 18 hole golf course on the island, situated on the scenic north west coast.

Palm Beach, a 15 minute taxi ride from the cruise terminal, offers scuba diving, parasailing, beach volleyball and banana boat rides. Baby Beach, 40 minutes away by taxi, is good for families and inexperienced swimmers as the water, in a shallow pool created by man-made rock breakwaters, is no more than 5 feet deep.

Where You’re Docked

The Cruise Terminal is located at the Aruba Port Authority Terminal in Oranjestad. The terminal has a Tourist Information center, phones, ATM’s and a souvenir shop. It is only a few minutes walk to the center of the action.

Great shopping, dining and bar-hopping are within walking distance of the dock. Several malls are located right across the street from the terminal, and a stroll along the waterfront is a great way to take in the Dutch colonial architecture and tropical pastels.

Taxis and car hire are available at the port.

The main bus terminal is right outside the cruise pier gate.

Good to Know

If you are planning on driving, use caution on the roads, as some international signs may be unfamiliar. (Driving is on the right side of the road.) Also, exercise the same common sense and safety as you would in any foreign location, particularly if your ship stays in town late and you decide to walk into town at night.

Getting Around

On Foot: It’s an easy five-minute walk from your cruise ship to downtown shops and restaurants; a trip to any of Aruba’s beaches requires a taxi or car ride. The Disabled Cruiser can easily walk/roll around the city.

By Taxi: Taxis are readily available on the dock; they do not have meters, so be sure to settle your fare up front. Fares are listed on signs at the terminals. A ride from downtown to Palm Beach takes about 10 minutes from the terminal. If you want a two-hour island tour, you can fit up to five people in a car for one flat per-car rate. For the Disabled Cruiser, the taxis in Aruba are not wheelchair accessible. If you can transfer out of the wheelchair into a car seat you can use public transportation, otherwise you will need to hire accessible transportation ahead of arriving on the island.

By bus: If you want to get out of town but don’t feel like paying for a taxi or rental car, the hourly public buses run from Oranjestad to Malmok or Arashi. The main bus terminal is right outside the cruise ship pier gate.

Currency 

The official currency is the Aruban florin. However, U.S. currency is widely accepted, and some banks’ ATMs will even dispense it, including the Caribbean Mercantile Bank in the cruise terminal next to the information center.

Language

Most locals speak English, Spanish and Dutch, as well as Papiamento, a language native to the ABC islands. If someone says, “Bon bini,” he or she is welcoming you to Aruba.

Shopping

The local grocery store is a must for bringing back edible mementos, such as Dutch coffees, chocolates and cheeses. (Customs allows one pound of hard cheese back into the U.S.)

Traditional dishes include ‘stoba’ (lamb or goat stew), ‘balchi di pisca’ (balls of cod or salmon) and ‘cala’ (bean fritters). ‘Pastechi’, a pie filled with either cheese or beef is a favourite snack.

Points of Interest

  • California Lighthouse – Perched on a high elevation and named after the steamship “California,” which sunk off the coast of Aruba, this lighthouse was built in 1910, and offers stunning views of the island and coastline. While the lighthouse isn’t accessible to go inside and to the top, for the Disabled Cruiser, the area surrounding the lighthouse is reason enough to visit. 
  • Oranjestad – Oranjestad, Aruba’s largest port, is the island’s capital and offers the best shopping experience on its main street. It is also known for its impressive Dutch Colonial architecture. Walking/rolling in the city is safe, with level sidewalks and drop curbs for the Disabled Cruiser. Most of the shops and restaurants have no step or are fitted with a wheelchair ramp.
  • The “Antilla” Shipwreck – The 400-foot “Antilla” is one of the Caribbean’s largest shipwrecks and also one of its most popular attractions. It was sunk during World War II and is home to many kinds of exotic sea life.
  • Baby Natural Bridge – Baby Natural Bridge is a stunning rock and coral formation. The original Natural Bridge fell into the sea in 2005, but the smaller bridge remains a must-see island highlight. The drive to the Natural Bridge is very impressive, but bumpy, for the Disabled Cruiser. You would think the island was only beaches and palm trees, you would never expect to see a desert area full of cacti. The Natural Bridge is an impressive landmark and a really nice souvenir shop and snack bar that is wheelchair friendly. 
  • Ayo or Casibari Rock Formations – These dramatic formations are shaped by boulders, some the size of small houses and weighing several tons. Arawak Indians would visit in order to hear incoming thunderstorms and draw on the rocks. For the Disabled Cruiser the trails are short and easy for wheelchairs. However, to get near or on the rock formations, the climbing of stair is involved.  
  • Ostrich Attraction – Dozens of extroverted ostriches and emus live at this unusual farm, where you can get an up-close look at the gawky creatures’ life cycle and even try hand feeding them. The Disabled Cruiser will encounter walkways that is packed sand with small pebbles that is easy to transverse with a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
  • Beaches – Aruba is famous for gorgeous, palm-tree lined white sandy beaches which are home to calm clear waters, making them perfect locations for swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing.
  • Butterfly Farm – Aruba’s Butterfly Farm is home to hundreds of exotic butterflies who fly freely within large meshed enclosures. Witness all stages of their life cycle and with guidance, handle these tiny creatures. For the Disabled Cruiser, the Butterfly Farm is wheelchair accessible, and very enjoyable.

Oranjestad Accessible Excursions

Blessed with a non-stop breeze, neat little Oranjestad reflects the Dutch passion for cleanliness. Stroll the town’s chic shops, venture out to see the wind-formed divi-divi trees, or visit an undersea garden of brilliant corals.

Highlights of Aruba Wheelchair Accessible Driving Tour

This 6 hour accessible driving tour begins with your driver/guide welcoming you at the cruise dock in a large, comfortable, accessible van ideal for wheelchair users, mobility scooter users, or senior cruisers that simply want to take it slow.

Your accessible driving tour of Aruba begins with a scenic drive along the Druif Beach, Eagle Beach and the very colorful resort area on Palm Beach, where your first stop will be the The California Lighthouse. The lighthouse was a constructed in 1910 to warn ships from the coastline of Aruba, and now serves as a popular landmark for tourism. Next up on the tour is the Alto vista Chapel built in the 17th century. It is said that Spanish Missionaries converted the islands Indians into Catholics here. Your guide/driver will also take you to the beautiful Natural Bridge, carved by the brute forces of the waves into the limestone rock.

You will also pass by the Ayo Rock Formations, the ruins of Bushiribana Gold Mine, the southernmost point (Sero Colorado, Baby Beach, Rodgers Beach) and the sand dunes at the northernmost point. Your tour concludes with 2 hours of free time to explore and shop on your own in the wheelchair friendly area downtown the capital city Oranjestad before your driver escorts you back to your cruise ship.

Accessible Aruba Beach Excursion

This 6 hour Accessible Aruba Beach Excursion is the perfect excursion for people with limited mobility that wish to spend a day in the warm Caribbean sun. The coral reef and sea life are located within easy swimming distance of the uncrowded beach and the clear and calm Caribbean water that highlights every shade of blue. You’ll have access to a reserved beach wheelchair to use in the sand and to get into the water.

Your tour will include round-trip transportation in wheelchair accessible van; an accessible beach with shallow and calm water; access to a beach wheelchair; accessible beach bathrooms; and an accessible restaurants by the beach.

Deluxe Accessible Aruba Shore Excursion

This 6 hour accessible driving tour begins with your driver/guide welcoming you at the cruise dock in a large, comfortable, accessible van ideal for wheelchair users, mobility scooter users, or senior cruisers that simply want to take it slow.

Your accessible driving tour of Aruba begins with a scenic drive along the Druif Beach, Eagle Beach and the very colorful resort area on Palm Beach, where your first stop will be the The California Lighthouse. The lighthouse was a constructed in 1910 to warn ships from the coastline of Aruba, and now serves as a popular landmark for tourism. Next up on the tour is the Alto vista Chapel built in the 17th century. It is said that Spanish Missionaries converted the islands Indians into Catholics here. Your guide/driver will also take you to the beautiful Natural Bridge, carved by the brute forces of the waves into the limestone rock.

You will also pass by the Ayo Rock Formations, the ruins of Bushiribana Gold Mine, the southernmost point (Sero Colorado, Baby Beach, Rodgers Beach) and the sand dunes at the northernmost point. Your accessible 6 hour excursion of Aruba concludes with 2 hours of free time at the beach to explore and relax on your own on. Included in this tour is a beach wheelchair waiting for you upon arrival to the beach. After your time at the beach, your driver will escort you back to your cruise ship.