“Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama.”
First of all, which rock have you been hiding in if you don’t know this Beach Boys song and second, don’t you want to just jump on the first flight to Aruba every time you hear it?
But before you book that flight, make sure that you know at least a couple of things about Aruba to enjoy your sunshine-filled holiday in this Dutch Caribbean island.
So what is Aruba famous for? The ‘One Happy Island’ slogan of Aruba makes tourists flock to this place – the happy people of more than 90 different nationalities. It is also home to the whitest-sand beaches, Arikok National Park (covering 20% of the island), Aruba Aloe, amazing Carnivals, it’s the safest island in the Caribbean, not to mention potable tap water, and it isn’t in the hurricane belt which means good weather all year round.
But there’s more to learn about Aruba and I will share a list of these things with you.
This blog post includes places, attractions, things to do that you wouldn’t want to miss while there, what to eat and drink, and a lot of unknown, but note-worthy facts, about the country.
A Part Of The Kingdom Of The Netherlands
Yes, Aruba is actually a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands along with two other Caribbean islands, Curacao and St. Maarten, and the Netherlands, of course.
This also means that the Arubans can speak Dutch, along with their Aruban language called Papiamento, and also English and a bit of Spanish. And they do have Dutch citizenship.
One Happy Island
This is the tourism slogan of Aruba and it’s really contagious!
If you have summer all year round, great food, warm and hospitable people surrounding you, and not to mention pristine white sand beaches, why wouldn’t you be one happy island?
It might be a big claim especially when countries like Denmark, Finland and Norway already has the titles of the happiest countries in the world. But hey, Aruba is one little island that touches your soul and will keep you coming back for more.
Conde Nast puts this 2-mile white sand strip in its list of the 24 best island beaches in the world.
It’s a very popular tourist destination and has the highest number of high-rise hotels in Aruba.
NOTE: Unlike the other beaches, Palm Beach has calm waters, which is great for swimming.
This beach has both the party vibes and the relaxing, suntanning feels.
Tap Water Is As Good As Bottled
There aren’t a lot of places in the world where you can drink tap water and not worry if you’ve drunk stuff that can make you sick and not enjoying your vacation.
Thankfully, Aruba has water so clean that you can drink it from the tap!
And this is even so surprising as the island doesn’t have a source of fresh water and gets its supply from a saltwater desalination plant.
Postcard Worthy Eagle Beach And The Famous Fofoti Tree
Postcards from Aruba often show this scenic view – white sand, blue water, and a Fofoti tree growing from the sand, slanted towards the southwest direction. This is the Eagle beach, and the famous Fofoti tree.
The Fofoti tree is noted for facing southwest because of the tradewinds that passes through Aruba.
There’s no wonder why this beach has been mentioned in National Geographic’s 24 Best Spots in the Carribean in 2018!
Fort Zoutman and King Willem III Tower
Fort Zoutman is the oldest structure in Aruba and was built in 1798, by the Dutch Army. And now it’s home to the Historical Museum of Aruba.
So when you visit this fort in Oranjestad you actually tick off a couple of things on your Aruba list. You’ve been to the oldest building on the island and visited a historical museum at the same time.
The King Willem III tower was an addition to the existing structure and built in 1868.
Aruba Is A Melting Pot Of Nationalities
Over 90 nationalities live in Aruba.
The odds of you finding someone from your own country or neighboring countries is a big one!
With this many people of different origins living in this 178.9 km² of land, you’d always find someone to have an interesting conversation with and learn a thing or two.
Or even if you won’t find someone from your country or neighboring countries, you’d always stumble upon a person with a different nationality!
Almost 365 Days Of Summer
You don’t need to chase summer around the world. Aruba can offer this to you at any time of the year!
Since Aruba is not in the hurricane belt, it has mostly sunny weather. You won’t have to worry about being swept away by a tsunami.
In fact, their weather is considered to be dry and arid (which is why you can see a lot of cacti).
But don’t worry that the weather is too hot, they have their famous trade winds to keep you cool and to get that surfboard going.
Arikok National Park
Before you say that you came to Aruba for their white-sand beaches and not for their national park, think again.
Arikok National Park, which is 18% of the whole island, is not your average park.
This is where you can find Aruba’s Natural Pool. It’s a swimming hole that is surrounded by a volcanic rock wall. The locals call it Conchi.
So make sure you stop by and take a dip in there on your travels.
Sarah – Quita Offringa
No, she’s not a beauty queen nor a political figure.
You might have heard Sarah – Quita Offringa in the water sports buzz. She is the Women’s PWA World Champion Freestyle Windsurfer winner for the past 8 years.
But did you know that this Dutch windsurfer hails from Aruba and is the youngest woman to become a world champion and win a gold medal?
Possibly reaping the benefits of Aruba being a top kitesurfing destination.
Rio isn’t the only place to go loco during the Carnival season.
Aruba has its own festivities and is celebrated like there’s no tomorrow. It ran from January to March in 2019. Imagine three months of festivities!
And they also even have their Carnival Village to boot!
If you want to experience how the Arubans do their carnival, visit around this time and make it one of your best memories, ever.
TIP: Don’t forget to bring a colorful costume.
Safe and Sound
South American countries, which are near the Carribean islands, are not really known for their safety. This is why Aruba takes pride in the fact that their island is safe.
The US State Department puts the island at level 1 precaution, which means exercise normal precautions.
Compare to Brazil at level 2, exercise increased caution, Haiti and Honduras are at level 3, reconsider travel, and countries like Afghanistan, which is at level 4, do not travel.
So you can have all the fun Aruba has to offer with no worries!
The AIFF – Aruba International Film Festival
Yes, it happened on this tiny Caribbean island.
You’d think only Cannes or New York can host a film festival, but this one happy island made it happen.
Imagine red carpets, paparazzi, and elegantly dressed celebrities everywhere.
The AIFF hosted film enthusiasts, artists, and filmmakers from around the world in 2015.
Celebrities like actor/musician Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia), attended the event.
Hi-Winds Amateur World Challenge
Or for those who aren’t sports enthusiasts, it’s just windsurfing.
Every year, around June or July, Aruba hosts the Hi-Winds Amateur World Challenge windsurfing tournament.
Aruba has consistent wind speeds of 14- 21 miles all year-round. Which is why this island is great for a sport like this.
This tournament has been happening in Aruba for the past 3 decades. That’s 30 years straight!
If this doesn’t scream windsurfing mecca, then try and think of another windsurfing event in another country being celebrated for 3 decades.
Aruba’s aloe vera is dubbed as the world’s finest aloe.
Aruba is one of the major producers of quality aloe vera products in the world. The desert-like environment of the island is responsible for intensifying the plant’s healing qualities.
They also hand cut the leaf just within hours after harvesting to not lose the nutrients in it. This makes the aloe vera products of Aruba the most potent in the world.
They have been harvesting aloe for 125 years and counting!
Their products range from toiletries to sunblocks, and now even accessory bags. Visit their museum and factory as well.
No Taxes For Gambling Wins
Yes, you read that right. You won’t be taxed if you win money from gambling in Aruba’s casinos.
If you have a lucky hand and want to bring home more money from gambling, this place is for you.
Imagine having to bring your exact winnings, the exact amount of money, without taxes! Or you don’t even have to bring your winnings and spend it right here on the island.
You Can See Venezuela
Aruba is just 15 miles off the northern coast of Venezuela.
Imagine that’s more or less 24 km, which you can reach by car in less than 20 minutes.
So on a clear day, you’d be able to zoom in on the neighboring country!
But the best views can be seen by going up Hoiiberg, Aruba’s third-highest point.
The climb though is at least 500 steps, so get your body ready and get rewarded with views of Venezuela’s Paraguaná Peninsula.
If you’re looking for authentic arts and crafts done locally to bring home as a souvenir, then head onto Cosecha.
Their products range from paintings to jewelry, to bags and household accessories.
NOTE: They have two shops on the island, one in Oranjestad and one in San Nicolas.
All handicrafts have a SEYO (Seal of Authentication) ensuring that it was made on the island. Support the local trade and help spread the word by bringing these goodies home!
Even though Aruba is just a small island, they are still doing what they can to fight against climate change.
Aruba’s Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort is the first CarbonNeutral® resort hotel in North America. The numbers prove it!
They have been able to save 82 trees by switching to eco-friendly materials. reduced their water waste by 37,617 gallons, their solid waste by 2,315 pounds and greenhouse gases by 7,936 pounds.
They are sourcing their suppliers locally, are using solar panels for heating, are using water reducers, among others!
June is their Aloe Wellness Month
Aruba is famous for its aloe vera products, and aloe is being used to make our body heal and feel better.
No wonder Aruba came up with Aloe Wellness Month.
Imagine, when you visit Aruba during their wellness month, your overall well being is also going to be looked after! It’s definitely not just another beach island vacation.
INFO: For June, Aruba hotels will offer special booking rates that come with spa offers, yoga classes, cooking classes, and other wellness activities!
Aruba Island Takeover
Move over Woodstock and Coachella!
The Aruba Island Takeover is going to take the world by storm! It’s live music, Aruban island style!
This music festival started officially in 2018 and is scheduled for another 5-day run from October 30th to November 3rd.
Some of the artists that are set to perform are Colombian Alex Sensation, Panamanian singer Sech, Puerto Rican singer Lunay, the English band UB40, and Aruba’s Jeon, to name a few.
The Unique Aruban License Plate
There are different reasons why people bring home license plates from the different countries that they visit.
Some are collectors, while others just can’t resist bringing home a piece of that place.
Well lucky you! The license plates in Aruba are unique and get tossed every year.
The license plates of cars registered in Aruba has their slogan, One Happy Island, written on it.
And since they are required to change license plates each year, there is a lot of these for sale and is, in fact, one of the best island souvenirs that you can bring home.
Queen Beatrix International (Aeropuerto Internacional Reina Beatrix)
Aruba has only one airport, Aeropuerto Internacional Reina Beatrix. It is located on the outskirts of its main city Oranjestad.
With the airport code of AUA, flights servicing the only airport come mostly from South America and neighboring Carribean islands, the United States of America, and selected countries from Europe (United Kingdom, Netherlands).
Casabiri And Ayo Rock Formations
There are two distinct rock formations in Aruba. One is the Casabiri and the other one is the Ayo.
They are both made up of huge rocks put together (by nature) from all directions to build one huge formation.
Both rock formations require a little bit of walking towards the top, so wear good shoes, and of course, it will be a breathtaking view from up there.
You’d think you’re in the set of Jurassic Park!
Oranjestad, the capital city of Aruba
True to its odd and quirky name, the city of Oranjestad boasts of colorful buildings and has a little bit of everything in it.
There is a lot of Dutch colonial architecture, but don’t forget the island vibes all throughout.
It’s good to know that the name Oranjestad literally translates to “orange town” in Dutch.
It is a port city, which adds a lot more life to it, you can sit and relax and watch the cruise ships and yachts pass by.
TIP: Don’t forget to visit Wilhelmina Park, it is a sight to see. There is also a butterfly farm if that is your thing.
The Antilla Shipwreck
There’s no doubt that wreck diving should also be on top of your to-do list while in Aruba.
Some call Aruba the shipwreck capital of the Caribbean and it might be because it houses the Antilla Shipwreck.
The SS Antilla, originating from Hamburg, was a cargo ship made for trade between Germany and the Caribbean.
This wreck has been on the coast of Aruba since 1940.
It is found just 10 miles off the coast of the island, and is 400 feet long, making it the biggest shipwreck in the Caribbean.
Bushiribana And Balashi Gold Mill Ruins
It might not be anything like the ruins in Athens, but when in Aruba a little view of the gold rush history will bring you this kind of feeling.
The Bushiribana gold mill on the northern coast of the island and the Balashi gold mill at the tip of the Spanish Lagoon, are two ruins worth visiting.
The good news is that the ruins are not as huge as it sounds so you can probably fit visiting them both in one day and still have some beach and relaxing time.