San Nicolas

A unique Caribbean city is San Nicolas, which is Aruba’s second largest town. However, until the late 19th century, it was the oldest and largest city in Aruba. It is located about 12 miles southeast of Oranjestad, and the majority of its residents are from the British Caribbean.

It is also known as the Sunrise City and it was a booming town when the oil refinery company, Lago Oil, opened and operated in the town from the years 1924 to 1985. It was once one of the world’s largest oil refineries, which attracted people from other islands in the Caribbean, South America, and those from as far as Europe. During World War II, the United States troops landed in San Nicolas to protect the complex, which at that time supplied their aircraft fuel. However, Aruba had a major economic crisis when the factory closed down, but recovered when Coastal Corp reopened the refinery in 1990. Today, the island’s major source of income has been replaced by tourism instead of oil.

San Nicolas does not have much to offer except for a few abandoned old building that gave a glimpse of the British Caribbean charm. Despite this, for many years visitors have found themselves going to Charlie’s Bar for one certain reason that attracts them. Initially, visitors went to Charlie’s Bar to hang out with friends or have dinner. However, Charie’s Bar got increasingly famous not only for its delicious food, but because scuba divers began to hang their underwater discoveries on the walls. It is truly a fun place to be at as it has become almost like a mini museum.

San Nicolas is currently developing its township into an alternative tourist vacation spot. Hotels are being built while older buildings being renovated to reclaim the town’s past history when seamen around the world arrived to enjoy the Aruban hospitality. There are two small popular beaches nearby called Rodger’s Beach and Baby Beach, they are about 6 kilometers to the east of San Nicolas.

The beaches nearby are very popular with both the tourists and the locals. It can get very busy past 11:30am. It is well worth the trip as the snorkeling here is wonderful. The sheltered waters of the beaches offer safe swimming conditions for families with young children as well as for beginners. At Baby Beach, some European visitors prefer to engage in topless sunbathing.