Top 10 things to do in St Kitts – for cruise visitors

I loved the relaxed and authentic Caribbean charm of St Kitts, one half of the twin island nation of St Kitts and Nevis. There’s something for everyone as you discover the island’s history, take a rainforest walk, get active on the water or lime like a local on one of the island’s beaches. Here are my top 10 things to do on St Kitts, especially if you’re visiting on a cruise.

St Kitts top 10 things to do

1 A relaxed walk around Basseterre

Start your island visit with a stroll around St Kitt’s relaxed island capital of Basseterre. From Port Zante pass through the archway of the Old Treasury to the Circus roundabout (St Kitts has no traffic lights!) and spot the green Berkeley Memorial clock, a well-known St Kitts landmark. On Fort Street and Bank Street, you’ll pass market stalls and food vendors selling anything from fruit smoothies, to local lunchtime dishes.

Independence square in St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Independence square in St Kitts

Nearby is the shady Independence square which was once the island’s slave market. The small doors at the base of nearby colonial houses lead to basements where the slaves slept before they were sold. On the square is the delightful Gallery Café, where you can see the work of local artists and take refreshment in the small café and courtyard garden.

2 The Old Treasury and National Museum in Basseterre

The Old Treasury, on the edge of Port Zante, is an impressive 19th century building built of black volcanic stone. The central archway is known as ‘The Gateway to Basseterre’, since visitors would pass through it from the port and upstairs you’ll find the small National Museum.

National Museum in Basseterre St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

National Museum in Basseterre St Kitts

While the displays are charmingly old fashioned, there are plenty of fascinating insights into the history and culture of St Kitts, with colorful carnival costumes and national dress on display.

National Museum in Basseterre St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

National Museum in Basseterre St Kitts

3 Sugar history at The Wingfield Estate

The stone chimneys and windmills of a once thriving sugar industry can be found all over St Kitts and at Wingfield Estate you can visit the ruins of an old sugar mill for an insight into the sugar industry. The aquaduct once brought water from the slopes of Mount Liamuiga to power the mill wheel and the old rum distillery has been uncovered, with plans to start making rum again in the future. The estate is included on most island tours but there are information signs if you visit independently by taxi and entry is free.

Restored sugar mill at the Wingfield Estate Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Restored sugar mill at the Wingfield Estate

4 Romney Manor and Caribelle Batik

Adjoining the Wingfield Estate is Romney Manor, the estate’s Great House named after the Earls of Romney who owned it for 200 years. Surrounded by botanical gardens with green lawns and flowering shrubs, the sounds of birds and glimpse of butterflies makes this a peaceful setting where the gardens blend into the rainforest. Wonder at the stories that the majestic 400 year old Saman tree could tell and visit the Caribelle Batik workshop where you can buy a colourful batik handicrafts and clothing. (there’s a small entrance charge)

Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor, St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor, St Kitts

If you’re looking for a hotel on St Kitts check prices and book on HotelsCombined.com

5 Step back in time at Fairview Great House

At Fairview Great House you’ll glimpse the lifestyle of a wealthy plantation owner in the 18th century. There are elegant porches and balconies, a dining room laid with antique silver and upstairs the bedroom where Prince Charles stayed when the house was a hotel.

Fairview Great House on St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fairview Great House on St Kitts

Some tours also include a rum tasting or cookery demonstration and after your visit you can enjoy the well-kept gardens. The house is close to other historic sites such as Wingfield Estate and Brimstone Fort so best reached by taxi as part of an island tour. (there’s a small entrance charge)

Fairview Great House on St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fairview Great House on St Kitts

6 The canons and views at Brimstone Fort

A winding road brings you up through narrow stone gatehouses to Brimstone Hill Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was built by the British colonial powers in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Known as ‘The Gibraltar of the West Indies’ the fortress supported the ambitions of the English to dominate the sugar rich islands of the Caribbean.

Brimstone Fort, St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Brimstone Fort, St Kitts

There’s a visitor center close to the car park and the most spectacular views are from the top of the stone citadel with an impressive array of canons pointing in all directions. The fort can be reached by taxi and is included on most island tours. Entrance $10US

Brimstone Fort, St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Brimstone Fort, St Kitts

7 A Rainforest walk

The mountains that form the backbone of St Kitts are covered with natural rainforest, teeming with birds and home to the Vervet monkeys. The most demanding walk is to the top of Mount Liamuiga, best done with a local guide and requires a good level of fitness. For a gentle self-guided walk, follow the trails on the Wingfield Estate under the Sky Safari zipwire where the cries of people zipping over your head mingle with the sounds of nature. A stream trickles beside the trail and aerial roots and vines tangle in the tree canopy. To learn about the forest trees and medicinal plants in the rainforest, we recommend hiring a knowledgeable guide such as O’Neil Mulraine for your rainforest walk.

Rainforest Walk near the Wingfield Estate Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Rainforest Walk near the Wingfield Estate

If you’re looking for a hotel on St Kitts compare prices and book on HotelsCombined.com

8 The St Kitts Scenic Railway

This narrow gauge railway was built in the 1920s to deliver sugar cane from the plantations around the island to the processing factory in Basseterre. While sugar production has ceased, visitors can still board the double-decker St Kitts Scenic Railway passing over the steel bridges with views over the fields on the slopes of Mount Liamuiga. Rum punch is served while the guide gives an entertaining account sugar industry on St Kitts and at the end you’ll return by bus or by catamaran. The 3-4 hour round trip is best booked as a cruise excursion since the timetable varies depending on the ships in port.

Scenic railway on St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Scenic railway on St Kitts

9 Get active on the water

There are plenty of watersports options on St Kitts, from glass-bottomed kayaks to exhilarating flyboarding, using water jets that shoot you high in the air. While most beaches will have kayaks, snorkels or paddleboards to rent, the best range of watersports can be found at St Kitts Watersports on Cockleshell beach. Ask about their jet-ski safari where you’ll be taken to the best snorkeling spots nearby. A half-day catamaran trip will give you an ocean side perspective of St Kitts and normally includes lunch with a stop for snorkeling. Book as a cruise excursion or through the websites of Bluewater Safaris or Leeward Islands Charters.

Watersports on Cockleshell beach St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Watersports on Cockleshell beach St Kitts

Ask about their jet-ski safari where you’ll be taken to the best snorkeling spots nearby. A half-day catamaran trip will give you an ocean side perspective of St Kitts and normally includes lunch with a stop for snorkeling. Book as a cruise excursion or through the websites of Bluewater Safaris or Leeward Islands Charters.

Watersports on Cockleshell beach St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Watersports on Cockleshell beach St Kitts

10 Chill on the beach

If all this activity sounds too much and you just want to lime like a local, we recommend a taxi ride to the beaches on the South East peninsula. Cockleshell Bay is one of the most popular beaches on St Kitts, with a wide range of beach bars and sunbeds to rent, although it can get crowded if there are a few ships in port. For a quieter option, try South Friar’s Bay where you can rent a sun lounger at the Carambola Beach club or bag a hammock at the more rustic Shipwreck Beach Bar at the other end of the beach.

Cockleshell Beach on St Kitts Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cockleshell Beach on St Kitts

More articles about St Kitts:

The Stylish Traveller’s Guide to St Kitts
10 views of St Kitts that would make the perfect postcard

Where to stay on St Kitts

Visiting St Kitts on a cruise is a great way to get a taste of the island, but one day is never enough! So if you like what you see why not return for a longer stay? If you do here are some great hotels that we recommend;

Ocean Terrace Inn – with colourful contemporary style, this is a great mid-range choice if you want to stay within walking distance of St Kitts, with great views over the harbour. There’s a beautiful landscaped pool area to relax and it’s easy to access all the other attractions of St Kitts by taxi. Read my review here and you can check prices and book through HotelsCombined.com

Ottley's Plantion Inn on St Kitts Heatheronhertravels.com

Ottley’s Plantion Inn on St Kitts

Ottley’s Plantation Inn – for classic Caribbean luxury, this old style plantation house hotel has it all. You’ll stay among beautifully kept gardens, either in the Great House or in private bungalows in the grounds. This hotel is a short drive from Basseterre so you’ll need to hire a car or take taxi excursions to see the island. Read my review here and you can check prices and book through HotelsCombined.com

Rockhaven B&B – This colourful bed and breakfast is a private home with just two rooms, offering fabulous views towards the ocean from the terrace. The rooms sing with colour and incorporate local antique furniture and traditional caribbean touches, while breakfast is home cooked and delicious. Read my review here and you can check prices and book through HotelsCombined.com

If you’re looking for luxury accommodation, we suggest Kittitian Hill or Marriott’s Resort. Although I didn’t stay at these hotels I did visit them and they would be my choice for a luxurious stay on St Kitts.

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Top 10 things to do in St Kitts for cruise visitors

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Hiking in Aruba: exploring Arikok National Park

At 8am the heat was already rising, as my taxi dropped me at the Arikok Park Visitor Centre at the northern end of Aruba. Think of the Caribbean and perhaps you’ll imagine relaxing on white sandy beaches with a rum punch in your hand. I’d had my fair share of that on Aruba, but today I was about to experience a different side of the island; a hike along sandy paths weaving between spiky cactus, past cave paintings and giant boulders.

Arikok National Park in Aruba

My guide Stanson met me in the Visitor Centre, an impressive hardwood and glass building that had been constructed in 2008, offering visitors information about the flora and fauna as well as much needed air-conditioning. The visitor centre is the starting point for many of the hikes in the park and is easy to get to, although the speed bumps on the park roads mean it’s easier to get around inside the park with a four-wheel drive vehicle. Stanson explained that he was student volunteering as a park ranger in between his studies, and his enthusiasm was as infectious as his encyclopedic knowledge was impressive.

Arikok national Park, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Arikok national Park, Aruba

We set off along the Canucu Arikok, an easy hiking trail that is ideal for first time visitors to the park. The trail provides a circular route from the visitor centre, which takes around 2 hours to complete. Unusually, the ground was a little damp from overnight rain showers, the first decent rain they’d had for 3 years. The hot and arid climate of Aruba creates the distinctive landscape of the island, covered with prickly trees and cactus, which have adapted to survive the lack of water.

Arikok national Park, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Arikok national Park, Aruba

Within the park are a few hills which provide viewpoints over the island and our path took us past Sero Arikok at 185M, where there’s an air traffic control beacon and a trail that leads to the well known Conchi or Natural Pool on the coast, one of the popular things to do on Aruba. When the park was created, there were already trails used by locals to ride their horse or donkey to the Miralamar gold mines, which were cleared and bounded by stones to make the hiking trails. The Cunucu Arikok was an easy, level walk on sandy paths and although I love a challenging hike in the Alps, I was quite grateful that in the rising heat we had a more gentle stroll and chance to take in the natural landscape.

Arikok national Park, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Arikok national Park, Aruba

Without Stanson’s warning, I could easily have brushed up against the Bringamosa plant, which he described as ‘like poison ivy on steroids‘, as it will make your skin burn and itch for several days. The best antidote is to either pour alcohol over your skin or to rub it with another plant that grows nearby, the Seida – the only problem being that the two plants look rather alike!

Cactus at Arikok National Park Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cactus at Arikok National Park

A rather more pleasing find was the Turk’s cap cactus, a spiky ball topped with a felt like cap within which were buried bright pink berries. This was a sweeter treat, as the fruit can be pulled carefully from their furry enclosure to pop in your mouth. They’re otherwise known as Bushi or Bush fruit and look like tiny pink peppers with little black seeds inside.

Arikok national Park, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Arikok national Park, Aruba

As we continued along the trail, we stood aside for a group of mountain-bikers to pass us, bumping fearlessly down a set of stone steps. There are a few challenging trails in the park, with a new one opening a couple of years ago, built by the Trails for Life project. As part of their ‘Good for the Neighbourhood’ community scheme, high school children constructed a new hiking and biking trail that reaches all the way out to the Natural Pool.

Arikok national Park, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Arikok national Park, Aruba

Along the trail we reached a part where the path narrowed, hemmed in by huge boulders that looked as if they might have been dropped by a playful giant. Here, painted on the sides of a small cave, we could see the paintings left by the Caquetío Indians. Traced in red and white pigment I could make out an iguana and a bird with wings outspread, that has been used in the logo of the Arikok National Park. There are more paintings in the Quadirikiri and Fontein caves on the other side of the park, where the much larger caves contain stalactites and stalagmites, as well as a colony of bats. The bats are an important contributor to the ecosystem on Aruba as they act as polinators for plants and flowers, doing a job that would normally be performed by insects or birds.

Arikok national Park, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Arikok national Park, Aruba

All along the trail, my guide Stanson pointed out curiosities of the flora and fauna, such as the Wayaka tree, also known as Evergreen as you’ll never see it with a brown leaf. Because the tree survives from reservoirs of water deep undergound, it grows very slowly, perhaps an inch each year. Don’t be fooled by the diminuitive size, as a tree that’s 2-3 metres tall may be around 300 years old.

Arikok national Park, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Arikok national Park, Aruba

The cactus in the Arikok park come in all shapes and sizes, grouped together in tangled thickets as well the elegant lone cactus framed against the sky. “Just as tourism is an economic pillar on Aruba, the Cacti are the ecological pillar” Stanson told me. The cacti provide a prickly pear fruit, which is the main source of food for many birds on the island and to conserve water they have shared root systems, which spread underground over a wide area. Eventually a cactus may get too heavy and topple over, but as they dry out their wood can be used to construct the frames of the old style adobe houses.

Arikok national Park, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Arikok national Park, Aruba

Every so often we spotted a flash of a bird in the trees, looking for fruit or nectar from the flowers that appear after any rains. Stanson reeled off the names; the Bananaquit which as its name suggests has a bright yellow breast, the blue-tailed Emerald hummingbird and Ruby-topaz hummingbird, which provide a flash of jewel colour if you can spot them. The Burrowing Owl, locally known as Schopo, is also found here and is the national bird of Aruba. The owl buries its eggs deep in the ground, but as soon as the chicks are old enough to venture out, they dart around to catch insects and small lizards.

Arikok national Park, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Arikok national Park, Aruba

At the end of the trail, we reached the old Adobe house, enclosed by its trankera or fence made of cactus plants and tranchi stone wall. Because the cacti are stem plant, you can cut a piece off and plant it in the ground where it grows more roots. This was the traditional form of enclosure on Aruba, providing security, fruit and a haven for wildlife. The house is a replica of an older building that was destroyed in a huricane and has been restored to show how a traditional homestead would have looked on Aruba.

Arikok national Park, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Arikok national Park, Aruba

It’s constructed by making a frame out of cactus wood which is smeared with a mixture of mud, sand, clay and saltwater, known as Torto. Once one layer of the Torto mixture was dry, another would be applied until the walls were thick enough. We walked inside the empty shell of the house, where a couple of bats flitted overhead as we examined the kitchen area with cooking platform and a stone mortar for grinding meal.

Arikok national Park, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Arikok national Park, Aruba

Our circular route took us back in the direction of the Visitor Centre again, passing a tree that looked bare and lifeless – but not so, Stanson told me. In the arid landscape of Aruba, every plant has its own tricks to survive, but after rain the trees such as this will quickly flower and then fruit with a cherry that will attract all the iguanas from miles around to a feast under its branches.

Beside the path we also saw plenty of Aloe plants that were another economic driving force on the island, before oil refining and mining. The plant is well known for the cooling and healing properties of its gel-like sap, but some species also provide a sugary syrup as well as fibre from the dead leaves which was used to make rope.

Arikok national Park, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Arikok national Park, Aruba

By now we’d come full circle on the Cunucu Arikok trail and arrived back at the visitor centre, just as the heat was become a bit too much for any more walking that day. I was grateful of the cool air conditioning of the cafe to refresh myself with a drink from the chill cabinet, before heading back to my hotel with its pool and views over Eagle beach. My morning in Arikok National Park had provided a fascinating insight into the landscapes and natural world on Aruba, far removed from the tourist beaches and bars. I’m so glad that I went for that hike and discovered a very different kind of day on Aruba.

Visiting Arikok National Park on Aruba

The island of Aruba is small, so it’s easy to get to the Arikok National Park visitor centre, either by hire car or by taxi. The taxi ride was around 30 minutes from my hotel at Eagle beach and would be closer from Oranjestad or San Nicholas.

The park is open daily from 8am to 4pm and I’d recommend arriving as early as possible to avoid hiking in the heat. Be sure to wear a sunhat and take plenty of water with you. You can hike on the easier trails in trainers and shorts, but on the more advanced trails, boots and long trousers are advisable.

The Park entrance is $11 per person which is used to support the maintenance of the roads, trails and park infrastructure. You can book one of the Park Rangers to act as your guide on the hiking trails and this service is free, although you need to book at least a day in advance. Park Rangers are also available at the visitor centre and around the park for advice and information.

I highly recommend booking a Park Ranger as their knowledge of the flora and fauna will certainly enhance your experience, although the Canucu Arikok trail was easy to follow and did not require any special guidance. There are, however, more demanding trails in the park, some of which require basic climbing skills and use of ropes, so these would be best taken with a guide.

For more information about Arikok Nationa Park, visit their website at www.arubanationalpark.org

More articles from the Caribbean

My 10 favourite things on Aruba
Street-art on Aruba: the unexpected Caribbean
Where and What to eat and drink in Aruba (Travel with Kat)

Amsterdam Manor Hotel Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Amsterdam Manor Hotel Aruba

Where to Stay on Aruba

During my week in Aruba, I stayed at the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort, a delightful hotel that’s just across the road from Eagle Beach. The hotel is family owned and was built 25 years ago in traditional style with Dutch gables, painted in the warm yellow that you see everywhere on Aruban buildings. I was extremely comfortable, sharing a suite with two bedrooms and a first floor balcony looking towards the sea, furnished in traditional Caribbean style with dark wood furniture, brightly coloured walls and citrus shades of lime, lemon and tangerine.

The outside areas of the hotel were beautifully maintained with paved areas, trees and immaculate planting, with a welcoming pool area and the shady Mango restaurant, where we had breakfast. The hotel is ideal for couples who want to relax by the pool or on the beach, while having a well located base for exploring Oranjestad and all the other sights of Aruba.

Amsterdam Manor Hotel Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Amsterdam Manor Hotel

The staff could not have been more friendly and helpful and they even have a dedicated Romance Co-ordinator to help you organise your beach wedding or celebration event. The Fofoti trees opposite the hotel are a favourite for wedding photos and the Passions on the Beach restaurant where we ate one evening is an incredibly romantic setting to have a cocktail and dinner as the sun sets over the ocean.

For more information, visit the Amsterdam Manor Beach resort website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. Address: J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 252, P.O. Box 1302, Oranjestad, Aruba.

To compare prices and book for hotels on Aruba check out Hotels Combined where you can see the best deals from all the booking websites for hotels including Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort.

See more photos from this trip

Click to see more photos from this trip

Visitor Information for Aruba

For more information to plan your holiday in Aruba, visit the Aruba Tourism Website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Pinterest

Thanks to Aruba Tourism for hosting my week’s stay in Aruba to discover the island.

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This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Street Art in Aruba: the unexpected Caribbean

As we drive into San Nicholaas, the second town of Aruba, the morning’s already hot but nothing much is stirring. The building by which we park, with shutters pulled down against the sun, looks just like any other. Just like any other, that is, except for the striking eyes and Amerindian face staring out from above the entrance with swirling peacock feathers for hair.

Street art in Aruba

We’ve arrived at the Artisa gallery and headquarters of Aruba Art Fair where we’ve come for a painting workshop with local artist Vanessa Paulina. We find Vanessa busy painting a mural on the walls of a local shop, which is yet to be finished. A string of Indian beads like those that would have been traded by the first inhabitants of Aruba, is ornamented with African masks, Indian faces and the head of the Spanish queen who funded Christopher Columbus to adventure here. Vanessa tells me how the beads represent a circle of life that connects us all, from the native Indians, the colonists and traders, to the artists of today.

Vanessa Paulina in San Nicholas, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Vanessa Paulina – local artist in Aruba

She’s a well known artist on Aruba, with paintings on exhibition in the Historical Museum at Fort Zoutman and plenty of experience of community street-art projects, from her time studying and living in the Netherlands. The mural has been commissioned by the Ministry of Culture and as we walk around we realise that it’s only the latest in a street-art gallery that covers the buildings of San Nicholaas. This may be the Caribbean, but it’s an unexpected contrast to the white sand beaches and palm leaf beach umbrellas that you’ll find elsewhere on the island.

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba by Street-art Chilango Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba – by Street-art Chilango

By comparison with the bustling shopping malls of Oranjestad, packed with cruise visitors, San Nicholaas feels sleepy and somewhat down-at heel. When the oil refinary closed in 2009, people and jobs moved away from the town and there was little to bring tourists here unless they were driving to the popular Baby Beach nearby. But since the Aruba Art Fair took place in September 2016, there’s a new reason to visit this quiet corner of Aruba, and that’s the Street Art.

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Aruba Art Fair organiser Tito Bolivar and his mother and co-organiser Diana Croes

Art Fair organiser, Tito Bolivar, told me how he’d come up with the idea after a trip to Colombia when he’d seen so much amazing art on the streets of Bogota. “I came back to the island and thought – why not here?” he told me, and in less than a year the project took shape, with the first Aruba Art Fair being held in September 2016.

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba - Iguana by Bordalo II from Portugal Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba – Iguana by Bordalo II from Portugal

One of the first international street-artists that Tito invited to be part of the project was Bordalo II from Portugal, who is known for recycling rubbish to create his large scale “Trash Animal” pieces. To create the iguana that we saw clinging to the side of the building in San Nicholaas, the team drove around the island, picking over car wrecks, scrap metal and rubbish washed up on the beach.

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba - Pan Box by Leon Keer of Netherlands Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba – Pan Box by Leon Keer of Netherlands

Next on board with the project was Leon Keer of the Netherlands who is known for his surrealist pieces. In a disused building next to the old customs house, he painted the 3D cardboard ‘Pan’ box, which would normally contain a well known brand of corn meal from nearby Venezuela. The custom house doorways on either side of it are a reference to the large numbers of Venezuelans who arrive on Aruba for economic reasons, since the mainland is only 500 miles away – watch the video here.

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba - by Bond Truluv from Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba – by Bond Truluv from Germany

As we circled the side streets around the gallery we found striking murals covering the buildings wherever we looked. In the parking lot, was a piece by Bond Truluv of Germany, which he painted when he arrived as a ‘tryout’ piece, and then went on to create a large dolphin, next to the “Daddy Cool” mural by Amsterdam Streetart. My favourite murals were the colourful carnival-like faces of a man and woman by Guache from Colombia which covered the entire height of a building.

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba

As Tito gave me an impromptu tour, he told me how his initial idea for an art fair expanded to eventually include seven different art related projects. Before the main art fair there was a culinary competition with a twist, in which six teams from Aruba’s cookery schools, each headed by an executive chef, were tasked to create a new desert inspired by canvases from local artists.  There was an auction dinner and a fashion show to showcase the work of local and international designers, as well as video interviews of local artists filmed by Conocemi, an Aruban TV show.

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba - by Guache from Colombia Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba – by Guache from Colombia

During the art fair itself, Tito was able to enlist the support of Aruba’s Ministries of Culture and Tourism as well as sponsorship from Aruba’s banks and business community, so that the artists themselves could sell their artwork in outdoor galleries without any charge. Several empty buildings were loaned so that Aruban art organisations could hold their own exhibitions as part of the show and provide a space for more established contemporary artists.

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba

Tito’s mother and co-organiser Diana Croe showed me the mosaic benches around the town that had been created as part of a community project with different groups contributing the designs. The work is planned to continue with more benches and canvas sun shades which will be painted in bright colours.

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba – Infinity House of Cards by Chenis from Czech Republic

Despite the success of the Aruba Art Fair, which is now established as a regular event, Tito has plenty more plans in the pipeline. His hope is to use the Art Fair and other projects to infuse art into the local community on Aruba, and he told me “I’m not an artist myself, but I feel it’s important to make a change. I see a lot of talent, and beautiful art, I want to start tapping into that talent and pushing those artists forward.” Next on the agenda is to establish a website and mobile app for the Artisa (standing for Art Is Aruba) organisation which will give information about the artists and artisans on Aruba, so that they can be more easily found.

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba – Infinity House of Cards by Chenis from Czech Republic

With so much creative energy on Aruba it seems sure that this year’s Aruba Art Fair will be even bigger and better. Last year the Aruba Art Fair was held in mid September 2016, so look out for announcements of the next date on the Aruba Art Fair website and social channels: Twitter| Instagram | Facebook. For an alternative taste of the Caribbean on Aruba, head to San Nicholaas for a walk around the streets to see all the murals and call in at the Artisa HQ and gallery at Theaterstraat 20, San Nicolaas, Aruba.

San Nicholaas is around 30 mins drive from Oranjestad at the south-east end of the island and buses run several times an hour. A morning seeing the street-art could happily be combined with lunch at the quirky Charlie’s Bar, and a relaxing afternoon on nearby Baby Beach.

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street Art in San Nicholas, Aruba – by Robert Solognier of Aruba

Where to Stay on Aruba

During my week in Aruba, I stayed at the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort, a delightful hotel that’s just across the road from Eagle Beach. The hotel is family owned and was built 25 years ago in traditional style with Dutch gables, painted in the warm yellow that you see everywhere on Aruban buildings. I was extremely comfortable, sharing a suite with two bedrooms and a first floor balcony looking towards the sea, furnished in traditional Caribbean style with dark wood furniture, brightly coloured walls and citrus shades of lime, lemon and tangerine.

Amsterdam Manor Hotel Aruba Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Amsterdam Manor Hotel Aruba

The outside areas of the hotel were beautifully maintained with paved areas, trees and immaculate planting, with a welcoming pool area and the shady Mango restaurant, where we had breakfast. The hotel is ideal for couples who want to relax by the pool or on the beach, while having a well located base for exploring Oranjestad and all the other sights of Aruba.

The staff could not have been more friendly and helpful and they even have a dedicated Romance Co-ordinator to help you organise your beach wedding or celebration event. The Fofoti trees opposite the hotel are a favourite for wedding photos and the Passions on the Beach restaurant where we ate one evening is an incredibly romantic setting to have a cocktail and dinner as the sun sets over the ocean.

Amsterdam Manor Hotel Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Amsterdam Manor Hotel

For more information, visit the Amsterdam Manor Beach resort website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. Address: J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 252, P.O. Box 1302, Oranjestad, Aruba.

Visitor Information for Aruba

For more information to plan your holiday in Aruba, visit the Aruba Tourism Website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Pinterest

Thanks to Aruba Tourism for hosting my week’s stay in Aruba to discover the island.

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This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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