At just 19.5 miles long and 6 miles wide, Aruba is the smallest of the Leeward group of Dutch Caribbean Islands—and it is mostly desert. Yet it boasts one of the highest rates of repeat visitors in the Caribbean. Part of the lure may be that this island paradise sits cozily outside the hurricane zone and has an average temperature of 82 degrees. Then there’s the abundant sunshine, crystal-clear skies and virtually rain-free days. Don’t forget the friendly atmosphere and courteous nature of the locals. Whatever the reason, Aruba getaways are captivatingly alluring, and to make your vacation experience more enjoyable, here is a list of Aruba Vacation tips that will expose you to a number of local experiences.
Dive Right In!
With little or no current and 60 to 100 feet of visibility, Aruba’s shallow waters provide ideal conditions for snorkeling adventures. Snorkels, masks and fins can be rented at numerous shops across the island—so getting started is easy. Dunk your head, kick your feet and glide along the surface of the water. This spectacular underwater kingdom is teeming with colonies of picturesque coral reefs, incredible diversity and schools of Spotted Goatfish, Four Eye Butterflies, Black Bar Soldiers, Yellow Damsels, Rock Beauties and Sea Cucumbers as well as many other exotic species of fish and aquatic sea life.
You can also peek under the sparkling blue waters at different kinds of inhabitants—wrecks! Aruba is known as one of the premiere wreck diving destinations in the world—and its submerged bottom dwellers attract the curious as well as seasoned divers. Among the most popular sunken ships is the 400-foot German freighter Antilla. Red Sail Sports offers snorkeling tours and instruction that will take you to its final resting place. Excursions during these Aruba getaways include a light, healthy lunch and an open bar on a beautiful luxury catamaran.
On Dry Land
Arikok National Park takes up approximately 20 percent of Aruba’s already limited space. But it makes the most of it. With miles of meandering hiking trails, this wilderness preserve offers up-close and personal views of tradewind-shaped divi-divi trees, hearty desert vegetation and rare cactus. Fascinating critters such as the Conejo rabbit, burico (wild donkey), boisterous Pega Pega gecko (from the prehistoric era) and indigenous Kododo Blauw lizard are likely to cross your path. Be sure to give them the right of way.
If you like venturing off the beaten path, all terrain vehicles (ATVs) are a great way to explore the Aruban countryside and visit some of the areas that are not always accessible by foot. Action Tours Aruba provides guided ATV Quad Racer Tours that offer plenty of excitement, great views of the rocky coastline and stops at famous sites including the Gold Mill ruins at Bushiribana. Here’s an Aruba vacation tip: Wear something you’re not afraid to get dirty, as the ATVs kick up a lot of dust.
You won’t have to dig deep to see what people use to buy, barter and trade with. From Feudal Europe and the Roman Empire to civilizations long forgotten, The Numismatic Museum of Aruba will show you the money.
Having fun in the sun can certainly make you thirsty. So fill a glass right from the faucet. Those horror stories you’ve heard about drinking water when traveling outside the United States just don’t apply in Aruba. That’s because the island’s tap water has been purified in one of the largest desalination facilities in the world.
Here’s another comforting thought: the aloe vera plant covers two-thirds of Aruba’s surface. So live it up. These soothing, restorative plants are basking in the sun—so you can, too!
For good bargains and a haggling experience like no other, be sure spend some time on Main Street. This is the mainstay of Oranjestad’s shopping. It is lined with duty-free stores that are open during lunch when cruise ships pull into port—otherwise shop doors are closed mid-day when proprietors take a two-hour break.
From torch-lit dinners prepared on the grill to the soothing sound of waves around your table, Passions on the Beach provides the perfect ambiance for a romantic dinner. Bring your appetite and someone you love.
Is it possible to enjoy gourmet food and still be able to pronounce every name on the menu? At the Chalet Suisse Restaurant it is! Enjoy a world-class dining experience with an incredible selection of wines and champagnes that go with any dish during an Aruba getaway.
The Flying Fishbone brings European influences to the alluring Caribbean beaches of Aruba. Fresh seafood and specialty meats are prepared and served daily—always with artistic flair.