07 Jan, 2009

The most popular member of the ABC islands, Aruba is always one of the top choices when someone is planning a vacation in the Caribbean. Though it is a miniscule island of only 70 square miles, it makes up for it makes up for its size through its long line of white sand beaches and crystal clear water. Furthermore unlike other Caribbean islands, it is actually outside the space frequented by hurricanes during the summer. Add to the fact it surprisingly stays off-peak during the summer season, it allows you to have a good time without breaking a hole in your pockets.


The Best Time to Visit
As mentioned above, budget minded travelers would save a lot when traveling during the months of June, July and August. You may miss out on the Carnival celebration and other national events, which happen in the beginning of the year and a part of the peak season. This means though that there may be a few people to interact and eventually reduced nightlife. However, if you simply want to get away from the busy schedule and relax, you wouldn’t mind the reduced crowd (and probably love it). You also wouldn’t feel shortchanged when visiting in those months, climate is plainly tropical and temperature remains 81 degrees Fahrenheit.


Getting to the Island

Best way is through planes landing on the Reina (Queen) Beatrix International Airport south of the capital city, Oranjestad. A lot of American and European airlines are able to connect the airport at least once a week. Major cities in the USA are carried by American Airlines, US Airways and JetBlue. Tourists from the UK fly through First Choice Airways while KLM connects the rest of Europe. Asian travelers though will have to make a connecting flight with the airlines mentioned above. More adventurous would be to travel by boat, though several cheap flights have already been offered allowing you spend more time at the island itself.

Island Accommodation

Several high end hotel chains have set up shop in Aruba, taking advantage of island’s excellent weather and picturesque beaches. Hyatt, Marriot, Renaissance, Westin and Radisson have high rise hotels with complete amenities. These hotels also have an expansive casino, save for the Westin. There are also low rise resorts lining up the edges of the country. Though not necessarily cheaper than the previous hotels, the smaller resorts evoke a quieter and more personal experience on the island. Most of these resorts also offer excellent Spa services. One can try Divi Aruba, Bucuti Resort, Caribbean Palm Village, and Talk of the Town Beach Resort. And just like tourism heavy destinations, there are numerous small resorts and hotels operated by both locals and foreigner who have fallen in love with the place. These places offer value for money albeit with limited creature comforts. On a side note, most of the island’s places to stay are concentrated on the southwest part. This is because the northeast faces the Atlantic, resulting in rougher seas and a bad shoreline.

Top Sites

While simply strolling down the beach and relaxing with a tropical concoction are already reason enough to stay in Aruba. There are several places of interests that tourist should not miss. First of these are the Natural Bridges, coral formations which are a direct result of constant water carving underneath. There were eight of such structures around the island but in 2005 the largest collapsed. Another natural formation can be found in the northern part of the territory. Dubbed the Natural Pool, it is another example of how water can shape a landscape, causing a huge portion of the sea water contained large basin. And if the destination is breathtaking, getting there is also an adventure in itself due to the rock formations that makes a 4 x 4 a necessary.

Divers will also enjoy the thrill of experiencing World War II anecdote. A popular diving site is the Antilla Shipwreck. The captain reportedly sunk the cargo ship after refusing to surrender. Many years later the surviving crew including captain, purchased the area where they were held and converted it to a beach resort. Other historical sites include the King William III tower which is now the home of the Aruba Historical Museum. Other museums include the Numismatic Museum for coin lovers and the archaeological museum.

Several interesting architecture include the Protestant Church and the Santa Anna Church. There is also the Plaza Daniel Leo, with its collection Dutch inspired buildings. One can also take a look at the California Lighthouse, a centuries-old windmill with the simple name of the Old Mill and the Alto Vista Chapel. The Bushiribana Ruins also gives a window of the gold rush the happened in the late 19th century. This was the site of a smelting area by the local mining company. Due to the necessary need for heat insulation, the building was built on solid foundation and thick walls, all of which are what is left of the company.

Events after the Sun Sets

Though the sun has gone down, one can still participate in Aruba’s nightlife. Most hotels and resorts already prepare shows for their guests especially during peak season. Guests can also simply enjoy the casinos lined up to their hotels. The Paddock located in the capital is a well known cocktail lounge visited by tourists. A popular way of hopping the different bars is through the Banana Bus, where a group of visitors are given a night tour of several popular watering holes. Clubs with the best music include Euphoria, Café Bahia, Karma and Club City One. Of course the highlight of the entire year is the Carnival which is celebrated all throughout the Caribbean.

With the territory’s impressive amount of places to stay, and things to do, no wonder they have become such a prime destination. Such examples show Aruba’s diverse characteristics and definitely prove that though the land area maybe small, once can still live larger than life.

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