Region & Time Zone: Caribbean, Eastern Standard Time
Passport Required: Yes
Languages Spoken: Dutch (Official), Papiamento (Official), English, Spanish, Portuguese
Currency: Aruban Florin (US Dollar is widely accepted)
Power: Standard US Plug at 110 Volts
A little background
Located just 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela, and the "A" in the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao), Aruba has become known as one of the favorite vacation destinations in the Caribbean. Because it is located so far south, the island is located outside of the "hurricane belt" - so your vacation is sure to be peaceful, warm, and sunny at any time of year! Unlike many other destinations in the Caribbean, Aruba has a dry, arid climate. In fact, Aruba is known as the sunniest destination in the Caribbean. While the island itself is quite small, there are over 20 beautiful and secluded beaches to enjoy - including one of the top 10 beaches in the world! Aruba is also home to great casinos, diverse culture, and delicious food.
The best dives
Aruba is home to some of the best diving in the Caribbean. One of the most famous dive sites is the Antilla, a German freighter which sunk in the waters at the start of WWII. The wreck is so large that it actually goes from the ocean floor to the surface, so snorkeling is just as popular as diving. Although mostly famous for "wreck" diving, the south coast of Aruba is also home to some beautiful reefs - and visibility usually ranges between 35 and 85 feet. There are many dive shops on the island which offer equipment rental, as well as diving lessons and guided tours for divers of all ages.
Spread your wings
To really top off your trip to Aruba, visit the Butterfly Farm - a truly magical, tropical garden that hundreds of species of butterflies call home. In addition to seeing all stages of the butterfly life cycle, visitors are presented with one-of-a-kind photo opportunities and unique learning experiences. Your admission to the Butterfly Farm is valid for your entire stay in Aruba, so make sure to visit early and often!
Dip your toes in the water
Home to 19 stunning beaches, Aruba boasts great swimming in the crystal clear, warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. During your stay in Aruba, be sure to head over to Eagle Beach, which consistently ranks among the top 10 beaches in the world. Here, you can enjoy the quintessential Caribbean beach: dazzling fine white sand and clear ocean waters.
Located right in the middle of Aruba, Arikok national park spans 34 acres and is often overlooked by tourists. The highest point on the Island of Aruba is located within the park and boasts views over the entire island. At a height of just 188 meters, visibility is rarely obscured on this sunny Island. Close by is Fontein Cave, which features pictographs left behind by the Arawak tribe, who originally inhabited the island.
Because of the island's unique location and diverse landscape, there are a number of micro-climates on the island which are easily explored on horseback. Whether you want to ride on the beach at sunset or navigate your way through the dunes in the middle of the island, horseback tours are available at many locations around the island - and are a great way to try something you might not always be able to try at home.
Ride like the wind
Aruba is home to approximately 217 miles of bicycle trails. While tours of some of the more unique parts of the island are available, you can also rent a bike for the duration of your getaway and bike at your leisure. As an added bonus, many of the island's rental companies will drop off the bikes at your hotel on your arrival and pick them up when you depart.
The island's original inhabitants
Aruba's Archaeological Museum is one of the few museums in the Caribbean which showcases the Arawak tribe, who originally inhabited Aruba. The museum provides its visitors with insight into the cultures of those who established the island nation and how those later formed the unique, globally-inspired culture Aruba enjoys today.
Visit the California Lighthouse
On the northwest corner of Aruba stands California Lighthouse, built in 1916, and named after a ship which washed ashore nearby in 1891. The lighthouse, at just over 100 feet is one of the tallest structures on the undeveloped northwest shore of Aruba. Although the lighthouse is no longer open to the public, it is still a great spot to watch the sun set while enjoying food and drinks by the water!
The Orange Town
Oranjestad, translated as "orange town" from Dutch, has been the capital of Aruba since 1797. The name is derived from two characteristics: the first is the beautiful orange color with which the sun bathes the island in the dawn and evening hours. The second is the tropical pastel colors of the buildings. The best way to explore Oranjestad is by foot, so you can stroll through the local marketplace and pick up souvenirs for your friends and relatives.
The island by Jeep
Although rental cars have good availability in Aruba, many of the island's attractions are accessible only by dirt road or by doing some off-roading. We recommend a guided bus or jeep tour of the island. Tours are available on an hourly, half-day and daily basis, depending on how much you wish to see. Because of the many different options when it comes to jeep tours, we recommend asking your hotel concierge for details when you arrive.
The Bon Bini Festival
Held every Tuesday night, the Bon Bini festival is a spectacular way to experience local culture. Watch local artists perform traditional dances and music, while visitors can sample local delicacies and mingle with the friendly locals.
Dinner and the sunset
A number of the island's favorite dining spots are located on the beach, so you'll have a front row seat to the beautiful Caribbean sunset while on your Aruba getaway. Most of these restaurants even allow you to walk up from the beach, so you never have to be without the soft, fine sand for which Aruba is famous.