Aruba Travel Guide
The ABC islands in the Southern Caribbean are known for being located below the hurricane belt and nowhere is that more evident than on the A island, Aruba, which over the past 140 years has had just a half dozen near misses with such storms. But it helps to like breezy weather if you plan to vacation here.
That’s because Aruba, which gets the least amount of rainfall in the Caribbean, lies just nine miles off the coast of South America and is famous for the almost constant trade winds that cool its flat and arid landscape. Windsurfers, kite surfers, parasailers and landsailers (think go-karts with sails) are in luck.
At just 70 square miles, Aruba is a relatively small island—but it is big on sunshine, the best beaches and nightlife. Its colorful capital, Oranjestad, is home to bars, restaurants and shopping, while its two major beaches, Palm Beach and Eagle Beach, are known for their powdery white sand and the best beach resorts and hotels that fit most budgets, including several all-inclusive resorts.
Both in town and at select resorts, visitors can test their luck in the island’s 12 casinos, many open 24/7. Aruba likes to call itself “One Happy Island,” so perhaps a winning hand or lucky roll of the dice is in the cards. There are also many family-friendly resorts and honeymoon resorts and hotels, making Aruba an ideal destination for anyone.
Aruba’s natural wonders create smiles, too. The island is home to Arikok National Park, where visitors can snap photos of intriguing rock formations and towering cacti, and its north coast is famous for its rocky shoreline, eight natural bridges and several cool caves. Equally Insta-worthy are the California Dunes at the island’s northwest tip and the wind-sculpted divi-divi trees that dot the landscape (along with wild goats and donkeys). Explore via ATV, UTV or horseback. Or see it all from above during a sky dive and below during a snorkeling excursion. Of all the things to do in Aruba, a favorite attraction for families is the Butterfly Farm, where those who arrive early can see the beautiful insects emerge from their chrysalis and flutter off on their first flight.
Although Aruba is officially a territory of the Netherlands, it’s a melting pot of nearly 100 nationalities and has two main languages, Dutch and Papiamento (you’ll hear “Bon Bini!” a lot, which means welcome), but English is widely spoken. Befittingly, the food scene is eclectic global fusion, with around 250 restaurants on the island offering everything from Latin and African flavors to Dutch pancakes and fresh local fish spiced up with Creole seasoning. Aruba is also a LGBTQ-friendly island known for celebrating diversity and welcoming all.