Aruba is a Dutch-Caribbean island in the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea. Known as a designer destination, the desert island has one of the highest standards of living in the region mostly thanks to bustling tourism and gold and phosphate mining. This is the place to go if you want all the sun and relaxation of the Caribbean with a bit of a unique vibe all wrapped up in a five star package.
Accommodations in Aruba are characterized by casual elegance. You have your choice of sprawling beach front resorts, Dutch colonial manors, or romantic spa getaways far from the main strip. The top beaches are on the West side of the island: Eagle, with its calm water and beautiful sand, and Druif, which is just a little further down the same coast and has less predictable conditions. All of Aruba’s beaches are public, so you have access to them regardless of where you choose to stay, but the popular ones are lined with top resorts. If you’re looking for a less crowded day at the beach, check out Arashi at the northwest tip of the island. But if you’re looking for calm water and soft sand, stay on the south and west edges of the island. The north and east sides are rocky and the waters are fairly rough. The north coast has been popular with surfers because of the wave activity.
The island has a busy and well-organized tourist industry. Take a tour of the island by jeep and see the most popular spots on the island, as well as the least accessible spots. Start by checking out the Alto Vista chapel, the church built by the first Catholic missionaries, on the cliffs above Aruba’s north shore. Next head to the Gold Mill ruins, a gold mill abandoned on the rocky coast where you’ll learn about Aruba’s gold mining history. Then head out to the Natural Pool, only accessible by jeep or 4×4, to have a refreshing swim in the beautiful volcanic pool, with colourful fish and coral for the snorkelers.
If you’re not the outdoorsy type, take a day trip to Oranjestad, Aruba’s capital city. Spend the day shopping at the island’s designer boutique and upscale chain stores and be sure to have lunch or dinner at Barefoot for some shore-side dining or Gostoso for local Caribbean fare. In the evening, check out Aruba’s nightlife on board the Kukoo Kunuku Party Bus, which offers a tour of bars and nightclubs and makes sure to get you home safely at the end of the night.