Laid-back, ample amount of sunshine, gentle breeze, white-sand beaches, glistening turquoise seas are a blessing to beach-a-holics and sun-worshippers. If you're craving for any of the above, then pack your bags and head out to the island of Aruba which is defined by all these characteristics and more. Residing 15 miles north of the coast of Venezuela, it is perched in the far south of the Caribbean, putting it out of reach of most hurricanes, which makes it easy for tourists to enjoy outdoor activities and water sports comfortably at any time of the year.
Begin the vacation by lounging around on the pristine beaches seen in Aruba. One of the popular ones and a classic favourite is the Baby Beach, housed in the Southern tip of island. The name is such because it is no more than five feet deep and is like a giant wading pool. It is known for its calm waters and is great for amateur swimmers. Often referred to as 'one of the 10 best beaches in the world', the Eagle Beach features translucent deep-blue waters and sweeping soft white sand. One can indulge in water sports such as jet skiing and tubing. Some of the other well-known beaches are Druif Beach, Palm Beach, Malmok Beach and Arashi Beach - fantastic for swimming and snorkelling. Other beaches are Bachelor's Beach and Boca Grandi which are good for windsurfers and kite surfers but not recommended for swimming due to strong current and waves.
There are several attractions in this charming island beyond the stunning beaches as well. Take a trip to the capital Oranjestad and marvel at the Dutch colonial architectural gems spruced around. Stroll around the pastel-hued buildings designed in a Spanish and Caribbean style. Some of the highlights are the Wilhelmina Park on the waterfront; King Wilhem III Tower at Fort Zoutman, home to the Aruba Historical Museum; National Archaeological Museum; Aloe Factory; Access Art Gallery; Butterfly Farm; the harbour market; and the Numismatic Museum. Nature lovers will love visiting the Arikok National Park featuring cacti-covered landscapes, caves, sand dunes and unique rock formations. Parakeets, goats, lizards, snakes and iguanas are few of the creatures seen in the park.
Boca Prins is a striking stretch of coast backed by huge sand dunes. Adventure lovers will love to slide from the peaks of these shifting sands. As for the sea, crashing waves and looming limestone cliffs make for a dramatic and eye-catching coastal vista. Stop over at the northern tip of the island to catch a glimpse of the California lighthouse which has found its place on several Aruban postcards and tourist brochures. One of Aruba's most memorable landmarks is the small Alto Vista Chapel which is frequently referred to as the 'Pilgrim's Church'. Owing to its location of being perched high on the hill, visitors are rewarded with panoramic views of the island's north shore.
Aruba is well-known for its incredible wreck diving sites which is exciting to divers of all levels. Perched between Arashi and Malmok, the Antilia is the Caribbean's biggest wreck and one of Aruba's most famous diving site. Snorkelers can also explore the shallow-water portions of this wreck. If you're fond of swimming, then dropping by at the Natural Pool is a must. It is a protected swimming hole with waves crashing over the surrounding rocks.
Animal lovers will enjoy strolling around the non-profit Philip's Animal Garden - a sanctuary and rehabilitation center of over 52 species of animals including snakes, kangaroos, monkeys and ocelots. Visitors are given the opportunity to touch and feed some of the animals. Viewed as a complete family attraction, take a trip to the De Palm Island - a tiny private resort brimming with activities such as swimming, snorkelling, going on banana boat rides. One can also indulge in beach volleyball, basketball, salsa lessons and so forth. Kids can enjoy the small water park packed with spiral waterslides and splash pools. Visitors can also try out the Sea Trek underwater helmet walk or SNUBA.
When it comes to shopping, due to its 'free zone' status, duty on most of the goods in Aruba are low. Since aloe is cultivated abundantly in this island, skin care products are manufactured and sold locally. After spending a blissful and relaxing day at the beach, cap the day by chugging down Balashi Beer - Aruba's national beer. The night-life in Aruba is fantastic with a plethora of beach bars and pubs spruced around.
The stay options in Aruba are abundant with the millionaires wanting to splurge on the best luxury hotels or swanky private apartments. Similarly, budget tourists have no dearth of cheap and comfortable accommodations available.
Aruba experiences tropical semi-arid climate. The best time to visit the island would be during the off season from April to August. Hotel rooms would be cheaper but the temperatures slightly higher. It is also a good time to visit during the peak season - January to March. Even through the climate would be relatively more pleasant, the prices for the hotel rooms soar during this period.