Just when you think the Caribbean is all the same, you find something different – a unique place that has all of the charms and attractions of other islands, but with a flare that is out of the ordinary. Aruba, officially part of the Netherlands and featuring a different climate than most Caribbean countries, is something a little different for the seasoned Southern traveler.
Located in the very southern portion of the Caribbean, not too far off shore the mainland of South America, Aruba is separated from many other popular Caribbean destinations culturally and climatically. Due to the influence of Dutch colonists and the relatively small size of the island (it is only 33kms long!), Aruba developed a unique culture that is rooted in recognizable Caribbean vibes, but with elements you won’t find anywhere else. Friendly and open locals will allow you to experience this culturally unique destination in all its glory, from coast to coast.
Along with its culture, Aruba has a climate that is unlike most Caribbean islands. Rather than humid and wet, this island is sunny and dry. The benefit for you? Almost guaranteed full days of sunshine with not a cloud in sight! With a consistent climate all year round, you can never go wrong travelling to Aruba. Want the driest and warmest season? Travel in the late spring months, when most other Caribbean destinations start shutting down for rainy season.
The majority of tourists come to Aruba for its endlessly beautiful and pristine sandy beaches. While the island is dedicated almost exclusively to tourism, the beaches remain in immaculate condition and secluded spots are still commonplace. The most popular beach, Eagle Beach, is one of the favourites for tourists because it is situated close to the primary resorts on the island. If you want a bit more quiet time, head over to Baby Beach, a less developed area where you can experience the perfect Caribbean piece of relaxation. If you want to travel to see something different, head south to Manchebo Beach in the southern region of Aruba. With so many great beaches lining the coast of this small island, you cannot go wrong.
While you spend some time on a beach in Aruba, you will probably be tempted to dip into the water and view some of the unique marine life that populates this island. For the best snorkeling, head over to Boca Catalina. Excellent spots can be found right off the beach in this calm inlet of beautiful turquoise water. For diving, venture to Malmok reef, one of the best preserved reefs in the entire Caribbean. Whether you head out with a tour group or on your own, the underwater sights are spectacular, so prepare to be amazed.
When the beaches and sun of Aruba get a little too much for you, head further inland to check out some of the most popular attractions. Arikok National Park covers a significant part of this small island and features flora and fauna that can only be found here! Get up close and personal with some of these unique features on a guided tour of the park by a ranger. There are multiple options to tour the park, including by horse, car, foot, or buggy. If you prefer your Aruban nature a little more ‘tamed’, head over to Philip’s Animal Garden. More personal than a zoo, many of these animals have been trained to feed right out of your hand.
Believe it or not, Aruba isn’t all natural beauty – there is plenty of history and culture to the Aruba island that is open for your enjoyment. During the day, you can enjoy the Museo Arubano, a converted 18th century Fort Zoutman. This museum and fort tell the story of Aruba as a country before colonization and the transformation of the island after the arrival of Europeans. This museum is very accessible during your trip to historic Oranjestad, home to many of the oldest buildings on the island.
After full days of touring, it is always a bonus to check out the nightlife in your destination. The main feature of Aruba’s entertainment industry is the large number of casinos. Ranging from the luxurious modern complexes to smaller old world glamour, the large number of casinos within close proximity means you can visit a new place every night of your stay!
You’ve been to the Caribbean a number of times. You know the vibe, you know the culture, you know the weather and you’ve seen all the scenery. But until you have been to Aruba, you have not experienced all of the uniqueness to be found in the Caribbean. With all of the features you have come to expect, but with a different flare, Aruba lives up to its reputation as “One Happy Island”.