Welcome to Santa Cruz
A hidden gem of family neighborhoods
Santa Cruz runs through Aruba’s center. If you like being right in the middle of everything, you’re going to love Santa Cruz. This area has a lot going for it. There’s a great combination of friendly neighborhoods, local restaurants and delis, and the beautiful National Park Arikok, which includes natural pools for protected wildlife, ancient rock drawings and caves, and the Dos Playa and Boca Prins beaches. Santa Cruz is all about community, relationships, and nature.
One thing you won’t find in Santa Cruz is crowds. This area is geared more to locals, and its culture reflects that. So while 24-hour amusement might not be available, quiet streets, local delis, interesting independent shops, and the sanctuary of nature always beckon. Many of Aruba’s beaches are hotspots for activity, but in Santa Cruz, the beaches are more secluded and wild for those who crave a meditation-friendly atmosphere. The housing includes luxury villas with stunning beach views, opulent estates, single-family homes with mountain views, and posh condominiums.
What to Love
- Crystal-clear, turquoise blue water of the Caribbean Sea
- National Park Arikok with breathtaking scenery and free-roaming donkeys
- A very low-key lifestyle focused on community
- Nearly perfect weather with year-round sunshine
- A short drive from upscale shopping and the Oranjestad nightlife
- “Conchi,” the natural pool formed by volcanic stones
The vibe in Santa Cruz is decidedly laid back and low-key, which suits the locals just fine. They know the excitement of Oranjestad, Aruba’s capital, is only 15 minutes away if they want it. However, family neighborhoods are the focus here, and so is the enjoyment of nature. The hiking trails in the national park, along with the caves, Indian rock drawings, and protected wildlife areas, give a sense of peace and discovery. Santa Cruz is a well-kept secret for those who live there.
Dining, Entertainment & Shopping
Huchada is a local bakery that also serves an excellent breakfast and lunch, all in Criollojo style. Try their Broodje Gezond sandwich, and bring home a Black Forest cake for a midnight snack. For the “oldest and finest pizza place in Aruba,” head on over to Urataka Center, and make sure you order the Pizza Carbonara. Marina Pirata is a fishing pier restaurant that offers outstanding seafood. The Restaurant Anno 1877 in nearby Oranjestad takes fine dining to the next level. You’re bound to pair an excellent wine from their extensive list with the New Zealand Rack of Lamb.
Nature lovers will love climbing the cone-shaped mountain known as Hooiberg. Scale its 550+ steps for a spectacular panoramic view of Aruba. Continuing the nature theme, because this is Santa Cruz, after all, you will never tire of petting and feeding the donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary. It’s a safe haven for the wild, free-roaming donkeys of Aruba, where they can get “food and water, shelter, quality medical care, and lots of love.” Also you can leave a donation as big or small as you desire to help this non-profit organization keep on going.
Things to Do
There’s always something going on and some sort of event to attend. Check out the Bolas Criollas sports tournament on National Flag and Anthem Day, which also includes many other festivities. The annual Dera Gai tradition is very popular and celebrates the San Juan heritage of Aruba. Or, if you’re adventurous and athletic, consider competing in the Aruba International Half Marathon.
Aruba boasts dozens of excellent schools for all ages, including kindergartens, primary schools, high schools, universities, special education, and specialized education. Education in Aruba is modeled on the Dutch system. Of note are: