How To Get The Most Out Of Aruba
Aruba, part of the Netherlands, lies in the southern Caribbean Sea, a mere eighteen miles from Venezuela. It was believed to be originally settled by the Caquetios Amerinds of the Arawak tribe who came to the island from Venezuela in their escape from the Caribs. Today, it is home to a population of mixed ethnicity - 80% black/white and Caribbean Amerindian and 20% other ethnicities. Dutch is the official language, along with Papiamento, a creole language heard on Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire. Culturally speaking, Aruba is diverse, with over ninety different nationalities living here.
It's also the perfect place to escape to when cold, damp winters have you got you down. The island temperature averages a balmy 82 degrees and the aquamarine waters relax any snowbird flocking to warmer pastures. The pastures here are good for exploring, too. But most bathing beauties who come here are more interested in pulling up a chaise lounge, reaching for a good book and applying a little SPF. The blonde sandy beaches lure upscale visitors here to restore their bodies and souls. And this is exactly what they do here. As Aruba is largely desert, aloe plants dot the landscape. There's an aloe-focused spa at the Hyatt Regency and luxurious spa treatments here are themed around four elements - sand, sea, sun and love. Rum - based cocktail hours abound as do those postcard-worthy sunsets that drop you into an instant state of inner calm.
Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba is a cute little town, with plenty of shopping - high-end diamond outlets, upscale fashion boutiques and typical island souvenir shops offer shopping opportunities for the upscale traveler as well as the budget-minded one. However, Aruba is an expensive island so be prepared to spend some dough.
While in Oranjestead, drop into Aruba's Archaeological Museum, housed in the island's oldest building, Fort Zoutman. The museum showcases Aruba's rich collection of archaeology treasures. This is the spot where the weekly Bon Bini festival takes place, every Tuesday evening.
Palm Beach Aruba
Palm Beach is where all the action on Aruba lies. Situated on the leeward coast, Palm Beach is home to many hotels, restaurants, bars, and water-based activities. Stand-up paddle (SUP) yoga classes here are one of the popular water activities taught by a lovely Dutch yogi. All levels are welcome to try the innovative yoga class as long as you can swim. This area is also perfect for families. Whereas many expensive Caribbean islands cater to couples seeking romance, Aruba offers fun in the sun for all ages. If it's a family vacation you’re seeking on Aruba, take the kids to the Kibaima Miniature Village and Park - home to miniature Aruban villages. Tira Koochi Park is another favorite for the youngsters as is Neptalle Henriquez Playground. Many hotels on Palm Beach offer babysitting and kid-centered activities. The Aruba Marriott is one such resort.
When looking for accommodation, you'll want to consider The Beach House Aruba Apartments. These funky little apartments on the beach are reasonably priced, too. For $85 to $115 per night, you get to stay on one of Aruba's best beaches, lounge in a gorgeous tropical garden, float in a lovely swimming pool and enjoy true privacy. (There are only eight beach rentals situated on the property.) If you're bunking down in Oranjestad and wish to splurge on your accommodations, check into the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts. This is a 4-star resort that will cost you upwards of $300 per night. The place exudes tropical elegance.
Dining on Aruba is diverse, as it is on many Caribbean islands. Dutch pancakes, Brazilian steakhouses, fast-food - it's all here. For casual dining, The Pelican Nest Seafood Grill on Palm Beach is a local favorite. Try the grilled snapper sandwich or the popular "mermaid trio" - a combination of mahi mahi, steak and lobster tail. Since the chef is Peruvian you may want to opt for the traditional ceviche. If you're lucky you'll be serenaded by the Cuban guitar/singer duo playing Spanish ballads.
Andicuri Beach is undeniably beautiful and a world away from the hub-bub of Palm Beach. It's also known to be the perfect beach for body boarding. Located on Aruba's windward side, this is the place to come to escape from it all. Further down the shoreline, there's a natural bridge here made of limestone as well as a unique black stone beach - both worth exploring.
To escape the string of beaches and resorts on Aruba's west side, you'll want to rent a car and drive to open pastures. The Arikok National Wildlife Park surrounds Mount Arikok, and features the island's vast desert geology and landscape. Exotic cacti, kwihi trees, aloe plants, tropical flowers, iguanas, parakeets and the hills formed by the volcanic eruption set the scene of this pretty nature preserve. The place makes up 20% of Aruba. There's lots of hiking to be had here so bring your hiking shoes, water, trail mix and sunscreen.
Whatever your flight of fancy, Aruba is a lovely little island sure to cure any winter doldrum. Escape to Aruba when continental living has got you down. Island life is always the best cure for the blues.
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