BON BINI! It means “Welcome”
…On the island of Aruba, you truly are.
Big on beaches, comfort, and organized activities, this amenity-rich island aims to make visitors feel right at home.
Picture your perfect island: If the vision encompasses long gleaming beaches, almost any imaginable water-sports activity, a familiar and friendly infrastructure, and easy access from major American gateways, place Aruba high on your list. With its array of duty-free shops and casinos, the island is a favorite port for cruise ships, but visitors also lodge here to take advantage of upscale restaurants, lively nightclubs, and some of the best windsurfing in the world.
Most of the beaches are found along Aruba’s Northwest coast. The main road leading north from Oranjestad takes visitors through the two main resort areas one with low-rise buildings, the other with high-rises with a series of glorious beaches: Druif, Eagle and Palm, much of it fronted by a pedestrian walkway where strolling honeymooners and families alike parade in a carefree fashion in the evening.
The Palm Beach area offers the greatest concentration of sun ‘n’ fun possibilities. You’ll find parasailing, where you’ll hang from a parachute while being towed by a speedboat; glass-bottom boat rides; and excursions aboard the submarine Atlantis. Or, you can sign up for high-octane thrills aboard a turbocharged jet boat that screams along the open sea at bracing speeds. Just north of Palm Beach is a world-renowned windsurfing and kite-surfing mecca.
Amazing Aruba Facts!
Sometimes, for a destination, having a long-standing reputation as one of the world’s “island paradises” doesn’t always give the traveler a complete picture of what makes the place a living, breathing, fascinating place to explore. Yes, Aruba is home to beautiful beaches and warm waters, and if you’re looking for a place to stretch out, relax, and be pampered, you’ll find it here.
Aruba has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world.
No matter where you’re from, it’s likely you’ll encounter someone on Aruba who speaks your language. Much of the population is fluent in English, Dutch, and Spanish — as well as the local Creole language, Papiamento. In fact, this nation of 112,000 is home to 90+ nationalities and ethnic groups. Among them are sizable European, East Indian, Filipino, and Chinese communities, whose native traditions and cultures are all celebrated on the island.
Aruba has the most sunny days of any island in the Caribbean.
Aruba consistently ranks as having the least amount of rainfall in the Caribbean — an average of about 15 inches, all year! You’re practically guaranteed a sunny day in Aruba. Bonus fact: Aruba lays on the outside fringes of the hurricane belt, so hurricanes rarely touch Aruba’s shores.
On a clear day, you can see Venezuela.
At its closest point, Aruba’s only nine miles off the coast of Venezuela, and those willing to test their fitness by climbing the 500+ steps to the top of the Hooiberg — Aruba’s third-highest point — can get incredible views of the mainland’s Paraguaná Peninsula. You can also see Venezuela from Seroe Jamanota or Arikok — the highest and second-highest points in the country — and their summits can be reached by 4×4.
Nearly 20% of the island is a dedicated national park.
Arikok National Park is home to dramatic coastlines, natural bridges, and one of the island’s best natural features: the Natural Pool. Known to locals as “Conchi,” the pool is a pristine, secluded swimming hole protected by a wall of volcanic rock.
Aruba’s white sand beaches are barefoot-friendly, even at high noon.
The unique crushed coral and shell composition of Aruba’s fine, powdery white beaches keeps the sand comfortably cool, even during the hours when the sun is most intense. That means long walks along the shoreline are perfect at any time of day…footwear not required!
Thanks to those steady trade winds, you’ll always find your way.
The cooling breezes that gust steadily from the northeast have carved the native divi-divi trees into fantastical shapes to rival the most artistic bonsai. And they’re a boon if you’re looking to explore the island’s more remote areas — the local adage of “follow the bend of the divi-divi trees and they’ll lead you to town” is totally true.
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Under the sea
Scuba diving is popular, with good visibility year-round. A coral reef extends along the southwest coast, beckoning with a multitude of fish along with hawksbill, green and leatherback turtles. A couple of wrecks lie offshore, most notably the Antilla, a German freighter sunk during World War II, which is the largest in the Caribbean.
The country –
Bus tours are a popular way of exploring the 20-mile-long island, but you can also tour the cunuku in a convoy of Range Rovers or ATV’s with you at the wheel, if you like or on a guided excursion. In addition to the geological scenery, you’ll visit the Chapel of Alto Vista, built in 1750 on a desolate hillside by Spanish missionaries, and the Bushiribana gold mine ruins.
While the island’s beaches and water sports get most of the attention, Aruba goes out of its way for landlubbers. At the north tip, golffers will enjoy Tierra del Sol, an 18-hole championship course designed by Robert Trent Jones II or the new nine-hole Divi Links near Orangestad.
Visitors can sign up for a half-day horseback tour that takes them along beaches and into the cunuku. Several rock-climbing outfitters host regular trips for those who want to try their hand scrambling along the craggy cliffs that dot Aruba’s east coast.
You’ll probably work up an appetite after a busy day on and off the water and, with 200 restaurants to choose from, Aruba’s lively dining scene offers a great variety of international cuisines. Local specialties include pastechi, a fried ham-and-cheese turnover you’ll even find on the menu of the local McDonald’s; keri keri, a fish hash made with cumin and garlic; and spiced Aruban fish. For dessert, try quesillo, the island’s version of caramel flan. Local liqueurs worth investigating include Ponche Crema, made with eggs and rum; and Coe Coei, concocted from the kukwisa plant, better known as agave. Sign up for the Aruba Gastronomic Association’s dine-around or wine-around programs, which sell discounted meal and wine tasting packages redeemable at 25 island restaurants.