Sint Nicolaas Things to Do
This isn't much of a tourist attraction, in fact, it is a bit of an eye sore, but it is an important part of the island's history, so I thought I'd mention it.
The Former Lago Oil and Transport Company, operated from 1924-1985. It was then sold to Valeroin in 2004, and was open for a number of years, before closing in 2009. In December 2010, Valero announced plans to reopen the refinery.
When it opened in the 1920s, the refinery caused a huge influx of immigrants from all over the world, including Europe, China, and South America, changing the island's population and demographics.
As the refinery grew, several small nearby towns, became abandoned, because of pollutants from the refinery, which forced residents to move to other parts of the island. You can see some of these abandoned neighborhoods, while driving through the area.
Today, several descendents of the foreign oil workers, still live on the island.
The refinery also played a small, but important role in World War II. The refinery was one of the main suppliers of refined petroleum products, to the Allied Forces. On February 16, 1942, a German submarine, under the command of Werner Hartenstein, attacked the Lago Refinery, in an effort to cut off petroleum supply to the Allies, but the mission failed.
There you have it. The refinery that help the Allies, helped built the modern Aruba, and contributed to the island's economy, and ethnic diversity, also almost destroyed it. Today, the refinery stands as a reminder of the pros and cons of big oil industry.
If it does reopen in the near future, hopefully they will take some better safety precautions, to make sure a town never has to become abandoned again.Related to:
- Business Travel
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About 3 miles from downtown St. Nicolaas, on the eastern side of the island, next to the prison, is a race track. The dirt course is marked by with tires, and there are several jumps. Locals come here to jump their dirt bikes, and cars. Our guide took us here to mess with us a little. If you have something with a motor, and you want to jump it, or race it, bring it here. I wouldn't recommend jumping a rental vehicle though.
Watch out for wild goats, they like to hang out on the track. If anything, you can just come here to see them.
A few hundred meters from Baby Beach is the smaller Rodgers Beach. This beach is a lot less popular than Baby Beach, which simply has to do with the fact that in terms of beauty and facilities can not compete with Baby Beach. The advantage is that at Rodgers Beach is quieter, which some people find attractive making them just before choosing this beach. Both beaches applies that you westward against a large number of stacks of the refinery in San Nicolas (Sint Nicolaas) looks. It gives a distinct contrast between the peaceful beach and the industrial skyline away.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
Sint Nicolaas Hotels
123 K Savaneta, Savaneta, Caribbean
Good for: Solo
Sint Nicolaas Warnings and Dangers
Aruba is a very safe island, but the refinery town of San Nicolas, has a bad reputation. It is the only place on the island where prostitution is legal. This town is also home to drug dealers, and car break ins are common, especially in front of Charlie's Bar. It is recommended that you park your car next to the refinery wall. Lourdes Grotto is okay.
This town was actually listed on our tour itinerary, but our guide just drove straight through, and didn't even stop. That is saying something.
The town is not "super dangerous", to the point where it should be avoided completely. It is okay to visit during the day, and you won't get mugged, just be cautious, and be careful where you park your car. Some people pay locals to watch their cars, but it is impossible to know who to trust.
I would definitely not walk around this town at night, and I wouldn't exactly recommend bringing your kids here, except on Thursdays for the Carubbian Festival. I would not walk through here alone, especially if you are a female. And don't flash any cash or expensive jewelry, just to be safe.
Please don't let this ruin your impression of Aruba, and scare you away from the island. Aruba is one of the safest places on earth. It's just good to know that San Nicolas isn't exactly as safe as the rest of the island, so just be careful. Everywhere else on the island you are perfectly safe, even at night.Related to:
- Women's Travel
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