Postcard from Aruba
Aruba is well known as a sunny beach destination, but there’s plenty of activities to keep visitors busy from exploring the coast on an all-terrain vehicle to diving sunken wrecks. The great news is, there’s no rainy season and the island escapes the hurricane belt, meaning any time of the year is a perfect time to visit. When you do visit, make sure you check out some of my favorite things to do.
Driving around the island, visitors can’t miss Aruba’s trademark divi-divi trees. They always point in a southwesterly direction due to winds blowing from the northeast, which means you’ll never lose your way. With its chiseled cliffs, sweeping windswept sand dunes, and cacti groves, its arid landscape is cooled by constant trade winds, making for a comfortable all-year-round climate.
Explore the Town of Oranjestad
The bustling town of Oranjestad’s European influences shows in its architecture with sherbet colored Dutch colonial buildings. It’s also evident in language, with English, Dutch, and Spanish spoken alongside the local tongue, Papiamento. When someone says “Bon Bini,” smile and say thank you because they are giving you a warm welcome to the island. The lovely boutiques, duty-free shops, and restaurants are all in easy walking distance. When in town, try the traditional Pastechi, a deep-fried pastry which comes stuffed with either ground beef, ham, and cheese, or chicken. These half-moon savory pies, flavored with spices, are Aruba’s national snack.
The crystal-clear Caribbean Sea that surrounds Aruba feels like a warm bath, providing perfect conditions for diving and snorkeling. Experienced divers can explore a vast underwater kingdom with rich marine life, as well as interesting shipwrecks. The most famous is the sunken wreck of the Antilla, a WWII German freighter. Snorkeling to the wreck was an adventure I just couldn’t pass up.
Booking a catamaran snorkeling tour, our group sailed along the coast admiring Aruba’s expansive and pristine white sand beaches. The clear cobalt blue seas gave way to the site of the massive 400-foot wreck, just 50 feet below. Sometimes I forget what an amazing world exists underwater. Schools of fish, like yellowtail snapper, graceful angelfish, and colorful bluehead wrasses, greeted us as we floated over the entire circumference of the wreck. The bleached ivory sand bottom played host to huge elkhorn coral and sea anemones.
Discover Fantastic Beaches
After a few hours of snorkeling, it was time for a break and Aruba has no shortage of relaxing beaches. Eagle Beach, rated one the of the best in the world, draws visitors to its soft sand, gentle surf, and incredibly clear turquoise water. Another pristine beach, Malmok, offers great offshore snorkeling in small shallow coral bays.
Family Friendly Things to Do
Aruba is a family-friendly destination and there’s plenty to keep the kids busy. Palm Beach, with its vast array of activities ranging from parasailing and banana-boat rides to water trampolines and hoverboarding, is like a Disney World of sorts, keeping kids and adults alike entertained all day long.
For an exhilarating way to explore the land, rent a 4 x 4 jeep through Viator. Go off-road on the wild side of the island and get up close to several sites that are not accessible to traditional vehicles. Visit the California Lighthouse, the Natural Bridge, the Bushiribana gold mine ruins, the Ayo and Casibari rock formations, and the Alto Vista Chapel.
Time will slow to a pleasant crawl as you linger over a tropical cocktail or peacefully lounge on a beach chair under a divi-divi tree. Find the perfect place to stay and discover there’s no bad time to visit Aruba. You might never want to leave. I know I didn’t.
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