The Caribbean island of Aruba is famous for its beautiful white-sand beaches, wide variety of water sports and year-round sunshine. The Island has some of the best scuba diving opportunities in the Caribbean and lies outside the hurricane zone – so it’s a great vacation spot at any time of the year. It offers thousands of palm trees, delicious food, myriad shopping opportunities, and the famous Aruba cocktails served with a surprising Dutch twist.
The first Arubans were Arawak Indians, émigrés from South America. Spanish explorers arrived In 1499 seeking gold, but were disappointed and abandoned the island. For a long time Aruba was a hide-out for buccaneers who attacked colonial ships returning to Europe. The island became part of the Dutch colony of the Netherlands Antilles in the 1600s.Today Aruba is an up and coming beach spot – with an economy committed to tourism.
Located in the Southern Caribbean, Aruba offers some of its loveliest and most popular beaches at the Palm Beach’s west coast. For visitors who want a more relaxed experience, Eagle Beach, Manchebo, and Fisherman's Hut Beach offer more tranquil stretches of sand. Some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, they are relatively untouched compared to those on Barbados or the Dominican Republic.
Surpassing even the spotless beaches, the island’s biggest attraction is its crystal clear water. This water makes Aruba a year-round destination for deep-sea fishing, wind surfing, scuba diving, wreck diving, and many other water sports. As one of the world's best diving sites, the island boasts a number of incredible ship wrecks, including the remnants of a World-War-Two-era German ship. Many hotels have dive schools and organize diving trips where visitors can see Barracudas, Manta Rays and the rare Green Moral Eels. Aruba’s more rugged east coast is particularly good for surfing and wind surfing.
Beach and sea activities are so captivating you might never want to leave the coast. But the island does offer other attractions in its interior. Oranjestad, the island's capital, is a shopping Mecca providing stores full of designer clothes at fantastic prices. The town exemplifies colonial charm with pastel, Dutch-style homes squeezed together – and merchants selling freshly caught fish at the wharf. You can also visit the small Natural History Museum which exhibits Arawak Indian pottery and cave-drawings.
With a wide range of interesting restaurants available, no visitor should leave without trying some local food. The island’s cuisine is a mixture of Dutch meats and cheeses, steaks cooked in a South American style, and spicy seafood and curry delicacies. They all taste their best when accompanied by a local beer or one of Aruba’s famous cocktails.
At night you can visit a wide selection of all-night bars and casinos. Enjoying the night light is simply a matter of hopping on one of Aruba’s colorful party buses which blast music and ferry merrymakers to the island's drinking hotspots all night long.
Less well-known attractions can be found in the interior and on the east coast. Guests can enjoy: pre-historic cave drawings at Canashito, 4-wheel drive excursions in Arikok National Park , and the pirate castle and gold mines at Bushiribana. Aruba also has an authentic Dutch windmill, De Olde Molen, which arrived in pieces from the Netherlands in the 1800s.
Despite its size, Aruba has plenty to offer guests. But maybe the best activity is simply sipping cocktails and watching the Caribbean sun sink into the sea.