Have you ever thought about taking a Caribbean vacation in the Netherlands? Stop laughing, we're serious! Aruba, you see, is technically a member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands (the one in Europe), Curacao, and Sint Maarten (Saint Martin). Aruba is small, only 69 square miles (about 179 square kilometers), and the population of the entire island is just a bit over 100,000 people. The island's capital (and only major city) is Oranjestad. An incredible 60% of visitors to this island paradise go back at least once - why not join them?
Languages: Spanish, English, and Dutch
Airport: Queen Beatrix International Airport
Time Zone: Atlantic Standard Time (GMT -4); Aruba does not use Daylight Saving Time
WHERE TO STAY
Visitors to Aruba generally stay in one of three areas - there's Oranjestad itself, for those who enjoy cities (and have no fear, the beaches aren't far!); the Low-Rise hotel area (commonly called Eagle Beach) just outside of town, a sleepy, quiet resort area; and the High-Rise hotel area, which is home to restaurants, clubs, and casinos. There are also several options next to and nearby the island's championship golf course, Tierra del Sol. With plenty of options in every price range in each area, you're sure to find the perfect match for your budget and lifestyle, and because the island is so small, moving between the three major neighborhoods is reasonably simple. Why not find out which district suits you best?
Aruba has a mixed heritage - it had a large indigenous population for centuries, then it was controlled by the Spanish, and then the Dutch. Today, it is host to visitors and immigrants from around the Caribbean and around the world. The food of Aruba reflects this multi-cultural history. Cuban, Dutch, Chinese, Indian, and Spanish dishes are all common on the island, as are more traditional meals. In recent years, Aruban cuisine has come into its own, and the beach bars are moving aside in favor of innovative dining experiences.
Hurricanes? What hurricanes? Aruba lies south of the tropical belt where hurricanes are fiercest, and is rarely battered the way other islands are. When hurricane activity is strong enough, it can cause more powerful waves in Aruba, but that is the extent of the effect. Rain in general is uncommon in Aruba; most precipitation occurs from October to January, but even then it is erratic, and humidity is low on the island. With little seasonal temperature variation and a nearly-constant cooling breeze, Aruba weather embraces the Mary Poppins maxim: practically perfect in every way.
INSIDER TIPS FROM OUR TRAVEL EXPERTS
There is definitely a Dutch flair to this island, which you can see in a few small museums, but if you're looking for a cultural experience on your vacation, you might not want to head to Aruba. That said, for being so small, the island has an incredible variety of activities, and each is an adventure not to be missed, whether it's scuba-diving, banana-boat riding, or anything in between. For guests of any age, Aruba is a great island for a Caribbean getaway. Check it out for yourself!