Oranjestad is the capital of Aruba, a small island in the southern Caribbean Sea. Turquoise waves sparkle beside its main waterfront and golden beaches are ripe for both exhilarating water sports and relaxation. A former Dutch colony, Oranjestad is full of cultural attractions like museums and old buildings in vibrant shades. There are also many natural wonders to explore nearby, including caves with stalagmites and crystal-clear pools. When the stars come out, you can expect evenings with cocktails at a seaside bar or dance music at clubs and carnivals.
Most hostels in Oranjestad are located in the lively city centre. They're just a short walk away from shops and restaurants and minutes from the beach. You'll find air con in dorms (ideal for the warm summer nights) and cosy communal areas. You can gather with other travellers in shared kitchens and prepare a picnic to take to the beach. Some Oranjestad hostels have leafy outdoor terraces, the perfect setting for a beer after dinner, and most offer free Wi-Fi.
There are several areas to explore in Oranjestad. The centre is dotted with Dutch colonial buildings in bright colours in between little boutiques and jewellery stores. Along the coastal waterfront, there's a park that's ideal for a slow wander with an ice cream while you decide which beach to stop at for the day. The town of San Nicolas is near the island's coast, and is famed for its art murals and lively carnival. It's around a 35-minute drive away.
Attractions in Oranjestad include its many beaches popular with windsurfers and snorkellers. You can also explore hidden areas such as caves. Head to Arikok National Park for caves with stalagmites, bats and native Arawak drawings. Feeling intrepid? Hop on a four-wheeler or a sure-footed horse to Cura di Tortuga, a natural pool in volcanic stone. For nightlife, Oranjestad's open-air Renaissance Marketplace has a live music stage, while at weekends you can find chilled-out beach parties.
Reina Beatrix International Airport connects by bus route to the city's main depot, Oranjestad Bus Terminal on Lloyd G. Smith Blvd. The Arubus also journeys to San Nicolas and nearby beaches like Baby, Malmok and Arashi. To get around on your own schedule, you can hire a motorbike, scooter or street bike or simply make use of the city's tram system.