Local traditions and culture in Aruba

  • Locals' Night Out
    Locals' Night Out
    by briantravelman
  • Turtle Nesting Site
    Turtle Nesting Site
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    Sunset
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Most Viewed Local Customs in Aruba

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    Island Hospitality

    by briantravelman Updated Apr 15, 2014

    I have been to 13 countries, and 24 states, and nowhere have the people been as friendly as they were in Aruba. The Dutch people were very rude, but the locals were the friendliest people, I've ever met.

    No where have I had a stranger offer me a ride. In Aruba, the locals offered us rides on 3 different occasions. We went twice.
    The first time, we were at St. Ann's Church, asking a lady directions back to our hotel, and she said, "Get in. I will give you a ride. We live very close to there." We didn't think twice, and went with her, just for the experience.
    The second time, a family who barely spoke English, with children, and a car full of groceries, in broken English, offered to give us a ride to Casibari. There was really no room for us in the car, with their kids in the back, so we decided to just walk.
    We had taken a cab to the Hooiberg, than walked to Casibari. We were stuck in a remote village, with no ride back. We walked up to some lady, and asked her where we can get a taxi, suddenly another lady waved us over. She introduced us to her family, and said she will call a taxi for us. Than she starts talking to her cousin in Papiamento, and next thing she says to us is, "I am not calling cab, my cousin will give you a ride. He is very nice. You are very fortunate."
    The guy, who had family visiting him, took 40 minutes out of his day, to give us a ride all the way to Noord. When we asked him why he gave us a ride, he said, "Because we like to help people. It is in our nature." We told him to just drop us by the beach, and we will walk, but he would not. He drove us all the way to our hotel. We gave him $20, and we were all very happy.

    People were giving me smiles, thumbs ups, and peace signs, saying "bon dia", laughing with us, and were very friendly and happy, everywhere we went.
    Except for some rude staff at Fort Zoutman, and at the airport, and a few Dutch people, and cab drivers, everyone we met on the island, was very friendly, very helpful, very happy, and made us feel very welcome.

    I spent the entire trip trying to figure out why people come back here year after year, for the same beaches, the same desert, and the same 5 star resorts. Now I am starting to think, they do not return for any of those things, but for the incredible people. That is the only reason I would return.
    This truly is "one happy island".

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    Population Control

    by briantravelman Written Apr 14, 2014

    In 20 years, Aruba's population has gone from 60,000, to 100,000 people, so in an effort to keep themselves from becoming overpopulated, like most of their Caribbean friends, the Aruban government has imposed some strict laws.
    Foreigners are no longer allowed to buy property on Aruba, and the government has actually started deporting immigrants who are living on the island, and are unemployed.

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    People On Aruba Don't Like To Walk

    by briantravelman Written Apr 14, 2014

    One of the biggest things I noticed about Aruba, is that the people there aren't very used to walking. We kept having taxis stop for us, and offer us rides, and locals were shocked when we told them we were exploring on foot.
    I once asked directions to St. Ann's Church, and the lady said it is a long walk. I asked how long, and she said 20 minutes. I laughed. 20 minutes is nothing for me.
    The same thing happened in Piedra Plat. I asked someone how long it will take to walk to Casibari, and they said, "No, no, no. Not possible. You must drive." I said, "but it's only a mile." "No, no, no. You cannot walk. We give you ride." Well we walked, and made it in about 30 minutes.
    I have noticed this with the tourists too. I've read complaints about having to walk 20 minutes to the beach. 20 minutes is nothing. We walked 4 miles around Noord, and I've gone on 15 mile hikes in the past, so 20 minutes is nothing for me.
    I understand why they don't want to walk. It's very hot! Okay, I understand. That is a good reason, but what I don't understand is why a 20 minute walk, 1 mile, is such a long distance for them.

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    • Hiking and Walking

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    They Don't Want Their Own Money

    by briantravelman Updated Apr 14, 2014

    I have been to 13 countries, and have never seen anything like this before. First time in my life, I was in a place where the people didn't want to be paid in their own currency. Everyone wanted to be paid in American dollars. Sure, they would take the florin, but they always preferred U.S. Dollars, and the original price was almost always stated in U.S. Dollars. On the bus, in taxis, restaurants, street vendors, attractions. Everything was in U.S. Dollars. There were only a few shops and small street side restaurants that stated their prices in florins, everything else was in U.S. Dollars.
    I actually started asking vendors and waitresses if they accept florins.
    We asked a few people why they only want U.S. dollars, and they said the exchange rate is better for them. A lot of people didn't even want florins. We tried to pay with florins at a market, and the lady said to give her dollars, because she does not have change for florins. They would even take both. Anything to get their hands on a dollar.
    A few people got angry when we asked them why they don’t want their own money.
    We went to Fort Zoutman, and wanted to give the ticket lady 100 florins, because we had to spend it somewhere, and she would not take it. She wanted dollars. We told her, "What are we supposed to do with this? We have to spend this", and she got very rude and said, "I do not have to give you change for 100, if I do not want to!" I bet she would give change if it was $100. We also tried to pay with hundred in a store, and the lady would also not give us change, so we ended up walking away. We finally went to this local cafe, and the lady there knew us from before, and was really friendly, and didn't have a problem changing hundred for us. I noticed that the local run places will take florins no problem, but everyone else just wants to get their hands on U.S. Dollars. Cab drivers had huge wads of American dollars. They are very clever, because they know dollar is high right now, when it drops, I bet they will start asking for florins or euros.
    I don't even know why they have their own currency. It should just be the U.S. Dollar, like it is on Bonaire.
    The strangest thing is that, this is a Dutch island, but they do not accept Euro, but U.S. Dollars everywhere. I am very curious how Dutch tourists pay for things, if they do not have U.S. Dollars.
    We had about 40 florins left over, plus several coins, because we just could not spend them.

    If you are American, don't even bother exchanging for florins, and if you are Dutch tourist, exchange your Euros for USD. They will get you a lot further than the florin.

    Like I said, I have been to 13 countries, and have never been to a place where the people didn't want to paid in their own currency. They get their paychecks in florins, so I am very curious where spend them, if everyone wants dollars. Unbelievable!

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  • Leaving Aruba, going to Aruba Airport Tip

    by droid_travel14 Updated Mar 24, 2014

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    Let me give you a handy piece of advice for flying from Aruba back to your home. When they tell you to be at the airport 3 - 3.5 hours before your flight, they are not joking. It will take you that long to go through the multiple security checkpoints and get through customs. The lines at the airport are ridiculously long, there's probably no way around it, that's just the way it is. We did see several couples that had missed their flight because they didn't get to the airport soon enough.
    Also, I believe we rode the De Palms Tour bus from the airport to our resort and then also rode it from the resort back to the airport at the end of our stay, I believe it was a lot cheaper than getting a taxi at the airport.

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    Rock Piles

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 24, 2011

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    On the east side of the island near where the old Natural Bridge was located, we saw a number of mysterious small stacks of rocks. I was told that they were piled there by tourists following an Indian custom - you must stack 3 rocks on top of one another. Each rock has its own name (love, wealth, and health). When you stack them, make a wish, if the rocks are blown over by the waves, your wish will be granted. Guides tell visitors this story and stop and let visitors make their own rock piles

    But according to internet sources

    The true story on these rock piles is that originally they were made by an Aruban artist expressing his art with rocks. There was an article in the Aruba Today newspaper about these very famous rock piles along the coast of Aruba.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Road Trip
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Local inhabitants

    by Kisu Written Feb 16, 2008

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    You'll meet these cool guys anywhere, mostly nearby the sea and rocks. Have a lunch on the beach and soon you'll see 10 iguanas around you waiting for tiny snack...They are harmless and really picturesque!

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    Everything above ground

    by Ischyros Written Oct 2, 2007

    Due to the extremely hard nature of the coral bedrock that makes up Aruba, there is very little that actually goes underground here. Cemeteries consist primarily of above ground tombs and Hills are often topped with huge silver water storage tanks. Water is stored above ground and water pipes also run above ground, thus you won't get cold water out of the tap. The above ground burials can make cemeteries rather strange places as graves are often stacked on top of each other.

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    • Family Travel

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    Christmas in Aruba

    by SabrinaSummerville Written Jan 28, 2007

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    The Arubans go "all out" (to quote a local) to celebrate Christmas. In fairness, the Arubans go all out to celebrate any occasion of any kind - this is a true party island!

    I was fascinated by scenes such as this life size crib in gardens, Christmas music playing from sound systems set up in the gardens of houses where the occupants were clearly at work for the day, incredible displays of brightly coloured Christmas lights strung on palm trees.

    Oh, just go there and see for yourself:-)

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    • Arts and Culture
    • Photography

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    Lucky Piles

    by SabrinaSummerville Written Jan 18, 2007

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    As I said earlier, the Arubans are a very superstitious people.

    One of their little customs is to build stone piles or towers for good luck. We drove to the North of the island and in a very wild and rugged stony part of the island we found thousands of these pillars made of stone. Some of them are really enormous, but each one consists of one stone placed on top of another reaching towards the sky. There is no mention that the higher the pile the greater the luck, so I built just a nice tidy little one.

    The secret in keeping your pile erect is ...... good balance:-)

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    • Eco-Tourism
    • Arts and Culture

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    Fireworks!

    by SabrinaSummerville Written Jan 15, 2007

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    As we drove from the airport to the Hotel we were treated to a spectacular fireworks display. I had never seen one that was quite so amazing.

    This was two days before new Year's Eve, and the fireworks kept on flashing for the next two days and nights, though not quite as spectacularly.

    Then, on New Year's Eve night, all the guests in our hotel were invited to a party on the hotel roof. From there we could see fireworks exploding in a myriad of colours all over the island.

    Later we learned that the Arubans are a very superstitious people and one of their superstitions relates to fireworks and luck. The Arubans chase away the bad luck of the old year with fireworks, and welcome in the good luck of the new year with even more fireworks.

    Ah, if only it were so easy.........;-)

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    • Arts and Culture

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    Carnival!

    by MrRandMcnally Updated Dec 29, 2006

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    On January 7 2006 we unexpectedly found ourself in Aruba's carnival. We didn't know about it beforehand and there did not sseem to be a tourist influx for the event It just happened. I guess every 18 wheel truck on the Island got all dressed up and bands played as they rolled by. Groups came along in matching t-shirts and there was even a Miss Carnaval waiving to the crowd.

    I've since been told that the January event is not the real Carnival but just the opening of the Carnival season. In February you get the real thing.

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    ROCK SCULPTURES

    by LoriPori Written Nov 10, 2006

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    While driving through the northern coast of Aruba, we came across an area filled with literally thousands of ROCK SCULPTURES, Throughout the years folks have created some pretty impressive rock art by piling one rock on top of the other and so on and some even adding some branches or other item they have found in the area. It's probably based on an Indian custom, to mark your way. I even "created" a little rock sculpture just to say I did. Actually it was pretty pathetic compared to most. On one rock formation. a little salamander peeked out from the rock as if to say "Hello".

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    • Family Travel

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    Smoke a Cuban Cigar

    by amapola66 Updated Oct 30, 2005

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    Sister no 1, is rather partial to a Cuban cigar of distinction. Here she is, in the cigar salon at Cuba's Cookin' enjoying a quality puff with her after dinner cognac.

    Here in the UK, don't have the restrictions regarding the taking home of Cuban cigars.
    You can buy boxes in downtown Oranjestead, but they are even cheaper in Venezuela.

    (Shhh - I was also told, that if you really want to take some home to the USA, they will package them without the labels, naturally, I wouldn't recommend breaking the law though).

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    • Arts and Culture

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    Money Makes The World Go'Round!

    by RoyJava Updated Jul 18, 2005

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    A bit of confusing:
    the Aruban Florin (AWG), the Antillian Guilder (ANG) and the US$!

    They do have all about the same value, though linked to the US$ it cannot be used in other country (US$ 1,00 equals 1,78 Aruban Guilder/Florin, and is 1.77 Antillian Guilder, about 1 Euro for now). Be aware on Aruba the prices are often qouted in US$ (not the case on Curacao & Bonaire) and, paying in US$ is peace of cake (even 50 & 100 $ bills, exchange rate of 1 to 1.75). Credit-cards & cheques no problems at all ...

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    • Business Travel
    • Family Travel
    • Road Trip

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