Aruba: A cultural melting pot
Aruba is an idyllic island in the Southern Caribbean Sea. The island was originally inhabited by the Caquetio Native Americans of the Arawak Tribe from Venezuela. The pre-colonial history of the island is preserved in the ceramics, pottery and jewellery of the Arawak Tribe, which you can see today in the Archaeological Museum of Aruba.
In 1513, the Spanish took over, enslaved many of the Caquetio tribe and ruled the island for 137 years. In 1636 the island was colonized by the Dutch. During the Napoleonic Wars, the British invaded, attempting to take control of Aruba but ultimately failing.
From 1845 onwards Aruba has been held as a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Such a complex colonial history has made Aruba a unique cultural melting pot. There are over 90 nationalities represented in its small population of 110,000. Aruba is certainly a multi-cultural society.
The tropical climate, white sand beaches and cultural diversity make Aruba one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region.
District 7 – The heart of Aruba’s Gay Scene
The Caribbean islands are stunning but they can be tricky destinations for gay travellers. Whatever gay scenes you may find in the Caribbean will be hidden or non-existent. As a Dutch outpost, Aruba is more socially liberal and something of an exception. It’s the ideal Caribbean getaway for gay travellers.
In the pastel-coloured coastal city of Oranjestad lies District 7, the heart of Aruba’s gay scene. Home to multiple gay bars, District 7 is the perfect place to party in between trips to the beach.
Formerly the popular bar, Jimmy’s Place, District 7 is something of a breakthrough: the Caribbean’s first dedicated gay entertainment complex.
Where to Party in District 7
One of the most popular venues in town is 7 Club Lounge and Bar. Known locally as @7, the newly refurbished club is open until the early hours. Championing the “beauty of diversity”, the club and bar promises an inclusive and dazzling experience, complete with internationally renowned artists, DJs and regular drag shows. Located close to the port, this is an ideal spot to visit if you’re on a cruise. It tends to get busy around midnight.
Where to eat and drink in District 7
If you fancy something a little more lowkey head to Gin & Olive Garden Bar. You can wine and dine on international cuisine. A wide range of gins are served, including exotic ones you’ve never heard of. It’s also a good spot for pre-drinks before you hit the clubs.
The newly opened Jimmy’s Kitchen is worth checking out. They serve dinner platters, finger foods and takeout. Jimmy’s Place isn’t just a restaurant. After happy hour, it becomes more of a party venue – from about 11:30pm onwards.
The Chapel Restaurant Bar Lounge will be open any day now, adding more excitement to District 7.
Where to stay
Monastery is an aparthotel in a colonial building. Most rooms come with a dining area and kitchenette. Downtown Oranjestad is within walking distance. It’s a brand new hotel with a quirky, boutique vibe. It’s also very welcoming to gay travellers. Monastery is a good choice if you prefer a hotel with a bit of character. Check out our Gay Aruba Hotels hotels page to book.
Things to See & Do in Aruba
Oranjestad – The charming capital is home to stunning Dutch colonial architecture with museums, galleries and a growing gay scene to explore.
Wilhelmina Park – The waterfront park is one of Oranjestad’s main attractions, particularly in June, September and October when the flowers are in bloom.
King Willem III Tower at Fort Zoutman – Oranjestad’s oldest building dates back to 1798 has functioned as a fort and a lighthouse over the years. Now it is the Historical Museum of Aruba.
Arikok National Park – For outdoor enthusiasts, Arikok is an absolute must. Stunning rock formations known as Ayó, the Natural Bridge at Anicouri or the Bushiribana Ruins are just a few of the incredible sights.
Boca Prins – In Airkok National Park, near the Blue Lagoon and Fontein Cave, Boca Prins is a magnificent part of the coast with wondrous sand dunes.
Alto Vista Chapel – This modest chapel is one of Aruba’s beloved landmarks. Built in 1750 by a Spanish Missionary, the church sits high with beautiful views.
Dive Sites – Aruba is famed as a site for wreck diving. Sunken vessels litter the coast and continually fascinate divers.
California Dunes and Lighthouse – The star of many an Aruban postcard, this spot is great for viewing sunsets and enjoying panoramic island views.
by Alex | On: Gay Aruba