18 September 2017
The very definition of a sun-soaked, Caribbean paradise, Aruba is a must for any travel enthusiast’s bucket list. Of course, it boasts pristine beaches and lush landscapes, but Aruba has so much more, so keep reading to find out why you should make this island your next holiday destination.
Aruba, an introduction
Situated just off the Coast of Venezuela, Aruba is a tiny island in the Caribbean Sea. Aruba is the kind of place you can go, whether you’re looking for summer or winter sun, with temperatures ranging from 27°C in January to 29°C in May, it’s hottest month. Your gateway into Aruba is Queen Beatrix International Airport, which is located in Oranjestad, on the island’s Central Western Coast.
It will hardly surprise you that Aruba is a popular beach destination. With effortlessly clear turquoise waters and stretches of white sandy coast, the beaches of Aruba are some of the best in the world. Eagle Beach, in Oranjestad, is perhaps the most renowned. Not only is it a great spot for turtle watching, with species such as the Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles nesting here, it features two of the most photographed fofi trees in Aruba, and hosts various motorised water sports facilities.
Are you a surfer? Wariruri Beach on the island’s northern rocky shore is your best bet, with waves that climb extremely high. Mangel Halto Beach, on Aruba’s South-East coast, is a fantastic snorkelling site, as its shallow waters host various sea life, such as yellowtail snappers and parrot fish. To go off the beaten track, try the Arashi Beach in North-Western Aruba; a quiet stretch of shore which is a favourite with locals and features a local attraction in the California Lighthouse. Whatever kind of beach you want, you’ll find it in Aruba.
Aruba’s glorious natural heritage extends beyond its beaches, with a selection of beautiful natural sites. No trip to Aruba would be complete, without a stop at Arikok National Park, based on the East of the island. Covering almost a fifth of this sunny Caribbean Island, Arikok is especially known for its Conchi Pool, a natural pool shielded from the sea by jagged rock formations, and the Quadirikiri Caves, which have impressive stalagmites and stalactites. Arikok is also home to the Fontein Cave, with its historic painted walls, as well as Jamanota Hilltop, which provides panoramic island views.
One other natural attraction destined for your itinerary is the Bubali Bird Sanctuary, located on the island’s northern shore. A scenic wetland preserve, the Sanctuary is home to over 80 species of migratory bird, such as the Groove-billed Ani, Purple Gallinule and the Caribbean Coot. Roughly 10km away, you’ll find the Casibari rock formations. Composed of massive tonalite boulders which sit together, some weighing several tonnes and many taking on peculiar forms, the sites has various trails to please even the most seasoned of hikers, as they trek through lush Caribbean landscapes.
Explore the island
Aruba boasts a treasure trove of cultural and historical attractions too. There’s so much to see and do in the national capital, Oranjestad. Popular attractions include Fort Zoutman, a late 18th Century structure around which the city was built, the National Archaeological Museum, where you can see collections dating back to 2,500 BC, and Plaza Daniel Leo, an idyllic square lined with traditional multi-coloured Dutch buildings, near the city’s coastline. Top tip – tour Oranjestad via the battery-powered trolleys which loop the downtown area, as you get to really see the city this way.
On the other side of Aruba, you’ll find Alto Vista Chapel. Known as the ‘church of pilgrims’ this small Catholic chapel has become a very popular place to visit over the years, as it stands on the site of what is said to be the first church ever built in Aruba. Other must-see sights across the island include the ruins of the limestone Aruba natural bridge, which collapsed in 2005, and the SS Antilla shipwreck, which you can reach by scuba diving off the coast of Aruba.