Country: Netherlands
Currency: Florin (AWG)
Peak Season: December-April
Shoulder Season: September-November
Median Temperature: 27.80 C / 82.04 F
Main Languages: Dutch, English, Spanish
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, ferry, bike/scooter rental, car rental
Recommended Duration of Stay: 4 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $120.00/day
Tourist Passes: n/a
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There’s very little to gripe about Aruba; the fact that it’s effectively dotted with Dutch influence makes it a sigh of relief for the Spanish-ridden Caribbean. Sunny weather, pristine beaches and a soiree of nightlife venues makes Aruba an ideal place to spend holidays and vacation leaves. Aruba, a country per se, is often mistaken as only a resort island when in fact it hosts a number of key industries other than tourism.

But we won’t concern ourselves with all the trivialities, would we? Understand that Aruba lives by its motto of being “One Happy Island.” Hospitality is great, but its stellar economy has also bolstered the cost of staying here for a while: a mere taxi ride a few blocks away will cost you a pretty penny. However, here, the rules are loose (or none at all)—and by loose we mean carefree nude sunbathing, high-stakes gambling, and a lot quirkier stuff upon your arrival. It’s situated off the hurricane belt, making it ideal to visit any time of the year, but also making it less exhilarating due to the lack of waves to discourage any surfers from visiting. Still, Aruba is very ideal for sailing and parasailing brought about the amiable winds as compensation for the dull waves.

The island is fairly small for an island and is a part of the ABC Islands: “B” being and Bonaire and “C” being Curacao, all of which closely located in the same latitudinal grid the Lesser Antilles. Aruba is positioned directly above Venezuela, making transport even more convenient. It’s capital and most popular district is Oranjestad, ideally located on the western front of the island, where ocean currents tend to be calmer. As for the prevailing architecture, it retains the Dutch form, color, individualism and a striking resemblance to many homes in Holland. Finding something out of the blue in the Americas? Then Aruba’s Dutch vibrancy and stalwart hospitality are sure to get you enamored.

Packing List

  • Credit cards and local currency for cost contingencies—which always happen in resort destinations; if going shopping, bring extra duffel bags and reliable information of what’s actually made in the island
  • Casual clothing, beachwear and evening apparel—all three are equally important; being mostly warm year-round, it’s advisable to bring layers instead of jackets, and cotton-made instead of polyester
  • Essential medication and toiletries—remember that pharmacies and groceries purvey mostly European brands; aspirin, sunscreen, skin moisturizers and cold compresses are ideal for the breezes and heat
  • Portable electronics (water kettle, hair-dryer) and gadgets (GPS, cellphone) if staying inside a budget hotel room; bring snorkeling gear and personal effects that may come in handy during the trip
  • A recent travel guide containing vouchers and insider information on sought-after island venues; you’ll need to be discerning on costs since Aruba is more expensive than other Caribbean destinations

Things to Do

  • Horseback riding across the Gold Mine Ranch, a family-owned business and one of Aruba’s top attractions; besides stables, there is an actual goldmine in the vicinity which tourists can explore
  • Dipping yourself in the Natural Pool, one of Aruba’s best-kept secrets; the volcanic rocks that cloister a small depression near the sea—forming a pool-like area—is what makes the tiresome trip worth it
  • Visiting a village of humble creatures at the Donkey Sanctuary; due to modernization, donkeys are no longer being cared for much by their previous owners, leading to formation of this non-profit sanctuary
  • Visiting the tranquil shores of Arashi Beach, Aruba’s most popular; the beach stretches 2,000 feet and is famed for its white sands and beautiful reefs, which have been promoted by many snorkelers
  • Taking a boat to De Palm Island near Oranjestad; the small island is filled with attractions, including a water park, massage areas, snorkel sites, and a buffet bar—there’s also a dedicated beach spot

DON'T

  • Stay on one side of Aruba—the island is relatively small to get around in an entire day; consider renting a jeep instead of chartering a private tour, as the island is safe and easy to navigate even without a map
  • Wear bathing suits on public space, or wear house clothing (tank tops, shorts) on the streets —locals consider it bad taste; also, when intoxicated, try to be mindful of traffic—drivers are a tad unyielding
  • Eat out in public, or cause any distraction like cursing and religious preaching; Aruba tends to lean more on libertarian values, having more tolerance for “depraved” acts than those with religious undertones
  • Be rude in government offices, do anything silly/suspicious, or chew a gum for that matter—it can get you detained and questioned; local authorities are very suspicious of tourists in nearby countries
  • Be too cautious in displaying your opulence if your intentions inclined towards meeting new people (business partners, date partner, etc); it’s very common to see a bachelor here brandishing his wealth