Imagine there is a place, where you are surrounded by sea, sand and it is sunny all year long. The waves of the Caribbean Sea are the rhythm of this happy island. People are relaxed, friendly and smiling no matter what happens. This is the feeling I got when I first met Niels in Sofia and I want to share the calm vibe of Aruba island with you.
Located 24 km north of Venezuela in the warm waters of the southern Caribbean Sea, Aruba is home to beautiful white-sand beaches, with average temperature of 30⁰C all year long, and some of the warmest people in the world. Situated below the hurricane belt, refreshing winds and low humidity contribute to the Best Caribbean Vacation.
From Europe you can reach the Queen Beatrix International airport (AUA) in Aruba with a flight from Amsterdam with one connection in USA (Chicago or New York city), or book a direct flight to the Oranjestad – the capital of Aruba. Bon Bini! Welcome to Aruba island!
1) Kilometres of spectacular beaches
If you want to escape winter, Aruba is the perfect paradise for your dream destination.
Aruba is happy home to some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. A stunning variety for every beach lover to explore. Two of Aruba’s most popular are Palm Beach and Eagle Beach (the favorite one of Niels too and one of the top ten beaches in the world, according to TripAdvisor.com), with luxury resorts and hotels in the Caribbean. To the north is Arashi Beach, a quiet, crystal-blue gem. Malmok Beach is one of the world’s best spots for kite surfing. If you are a photographer, you can take stunning photos of the sea during the hurricane season in September and October.
The multicultural history is reflected in everything in Aruba, from the language to the cuisine, the colorful architecture and the unique celebrations.
Dutch and the local language Papiamento are the official languages of Aruba, but Arubans speak at least four languages including English and Spanish.
From the beginning of January till the beginning of March you can experience the carnival season in Aruba. Carnival was born in 1954, as a series of small street festivals. In 1955 various clubs and districts were brought together for the first public Aruba Carnival with the first official Carnival queen.
3) Food and drinks
More than 90 nationalities influence Aruba’s cuisine, with local dishes like gouda-glazed keshi yena joining South American, European and Caribbean favorites on menus around the island.
The locals have early dinner usually around 6pm. Don’t miss the chance to choose one of the beach restaurants and enjoy the sunset while having dinner. Crisp salads, locally caught seafood, prime cut steaks and lovely desserts can be tasted at the restaurants in Aruba. You can enjoy authentic Aruban home-style cooking too. The cozy local eatery features Aruban seafood delicacies such as conch, shrimp, lobster tail, swordfish, lion fish, fish cakes and the freshest island catch of the day. If you go deep to the local cuisine, you can taste an Iguana soup. The homemade food of Niels (photo 2) is influenced by the Colombian cuisine, because his mother was born there.
The night finishes with several cocktails or drinks at a beach bar. Some of the popular ones are the Mojito and Aruba Ariba cocktails. You can try the local beer too. It’s called Balashi, and try out the Balashi Chill with some lemon. Salud!
4) Natural sites
Nearly 20% of Aruba is a designated National Park and home to a long list of animal species and plant life.
Within Arikok National Park, lies one of Aruba’s hidden gems. Known to the locals as “Conchi,” The Natural Pool is a pristine, secluded swimming hole protected by a wall of volcanic rock. It’s an adventure to get there and worth visiting.
Hooiberg is a volcanic formation, located at 165 meters above sea level at the center of Aruba. It is a perfect place for panorama view and photo of the island. Although Hooiberg seems like the highest point of the island, it is in fact the second highest. Jamanota, a hill located in the Arikok National Park stands at 189 meters above sea level and is the highest point of Aruba.
A drawing of Hooiberg can be seen on the Aruban Coat of Arms. It symbolizes Aruba rising out of the sea. Geologists have discovered that the Hooiberg is made up of a distinctive variety of quartz diorite only found on Aruba. In 1951 Mr. Eduardo Tromp built a staircase on the Hooiberg consisting of 900 steps. There are now approximately 587 steps. You will often see many athletes working out on the stairs.
A visit to Aruba’s Butterfly Farm is an unforgettable encounter with nature in all its beauty and diversity. Step into a tropical garden with butterflies from around the globe and prepare to meet some of the world’s most colorful and unusual creatures.
Originally designed to warn ships from the coastline of Aruba, the California Lighthouse is now a tourist landmark. This lighthouse does much more that emit a coastal warning light; it invites visitors to the most spectacular views of the island. The old stone California lighthouse stands as a silent watchman in the area known as “Hudishibana,” near the island’s northwestern end.
The lighthouse was named after the S.S. California – which sunk previous to its construction in 1910. Perched on a high seaside elevation, the lighthouse has become one of Aruba’s scenic trademarks and offers a perfect panorama view of the island’s western coastline.
The distinctive call of the donkey rings out in a welcome salute as visitors approach Aruba’s Donkey Sanctuary. The herd of donkeys from grey to chocolate brown, floppy ears and curious personalities, often enchant visitors.
Once the major mode of transportation for island residents, donkeys are replaced now by cars going down the same cactus lined pathways where they once carried passengers and pulled carts.
Hiking in Arikok National Park
At Arikok National Park, a natural preserve that covers one-fifth of the island, there are rocky trails for hiking in Aruba with three different levels. Maps with clearly marked hiking trails inside the park are available at the Visitor Center at the main entrance of the Arikok National Park in San Fuego (St Cruz).
In addition to providing a wonderful Beach Vacation, Aruba island was recognized as one of the top wreck diving destinations in the Caribbean by Scuba Diving Magazine.
One of the most unforgettable experiences in Aruba is scuba diving. Divers see a fabulous array of corals and fish, some even spot a seahorse and see how stingrays hover above the seabed. Swimming slowly over the corals, you’re bound to see lobsters, moray eels and other exotic sea life. If you’re lucky, you may even come across a dolphin or a sea turtle. Aruba is known as one of the main wreck diving destinations in the Caribbean, allowing divers to visit eleven wrecks and over twenty dive sites.
Horseback Riding Tours
There are many ways to explore Aruba and one of them is on a horse. You don’t need to be an experienced rider to join a horseback riding tour; all ranches have well trained horses and friendly and knowledgeable tour guides. Most ranches allow children of 6 years and older to ride their own horse. Children under 6 years can join their parents on the horse. You can enjoy Aruba’s nature during a trip through National Park Arikok, the Sand Dunes, Natural Pool and Natural Bridge, but you can also choose for a relaxing ride along Aruba’s coastline.
Discover Aruba island underwater without getting wet! Take an exciting cruise in the submarine or semi- submarine. During the excursion you will get the chance to view Aruba’s colorful
underwater world and get surprised by a fabulous array of colorful corals and tropical fishes. You can also enjoy a spectacular view of two sunken wrecks.
More: golf, kayaking, kite, surfing, scuba and snorkeling, off-road tours
7) Wedding and Honeymoon destination
Aruba island is the perfect paradise for your dream destination beach wedding. The happy island sits in the crystal-blue waters of the South Caribbean, below the hurricane belt, and is home to year-round 31-degree weather, so you’re almost guaranteed a perfect day. Destination Wedding named Aruba’s Eagle Beach one of the Best Caribbean Beaches for Weddings and Brides Magazine named the island as one of the World’s Top Honeymoon Destinations.
If you are looking for a romantic or family vacation, Aruba island is your place. No matter if you want to go there on honeymoon or just to escape the winter, you will feel the happiness of this island and will return again.
Spera bo pasa dushi = I hope you will enjoy it!
Photo credit: Aruba Tourism Authority