Caribbean / Mexico

Aruba: Get off the beach

Photo credit: Aruba Tourism Authority

Aruba is famous for its powder white sand beaches – but there’s much more than meets the eye, so after a swim in the turquoise crystal waters, visitors can, and should, take advantage of a variety of activities on the island.

So typically, here is a “Top Ten” list of things to do while here:

One of the funnest (we know funnest is not a real word!) things to do is rent a jeep. Get an off-road Jeep and explore Aruba’s desert-like landscape, tearing across rocky tracks and through cacti forests. You can explore the ruins of 18th Century Spanish gold mines, admire the beautiful natural bridges and then take in magnificent views stretching as far as Venezuela. And after the journey, cool down with a swim in the crystal clear waters of the Baby Beach.

Be sure to visit Aruba‘s untouched environs in Arikok National Park. Making up nearly 20 per cent of the island’s landmass, Arikok National Park is where you will find a number of indigenous species of wildlife, flora and fauna characteristic of Aruba’s unique tropical desert climate, as well as historical sites such as the Fontein and Quadarikiri caves, which feature ancient Indian paintings.

Experience the best wreck diving in the Caribbean: Aruba‘s waters are rich in exotic marine life and most of the island’s dive sites lie along the protected western and southern coasts. Aruba has a reputation as the premiere wreck dive destination of the Caribbean: there are half a dozen wrecks submerged in the coastal waters, including the Antilla, a 400-foot German freighter which dates from World War II, which is the largest wreck in the Caribbean.

Head for a view at the California Lighthouse: One of Aruba‘s scenic trademarks, the California Lighthouse was named after a ship called the Californian, which had received distress signals from the Titanic as she went down in 1912. The Californian’s radio operator was off-duty at the time of the disaster. The Californian went down off the Aruba coast a few years later. Today the ship is a popular dive site, while the area around the lighthouse is very popular for dune surfing.

Photo credit: Charlie’s Bar Aruba

Enjoy an Ariba Aruba at the famous Charlie’s Bar. Located in San Nicolas, Aruba‘s second largest city, Charlie’s Bar, encrusted with all kinds of memorabilia, opened in 1941 and has survived Nazi torpedoes and several economic recessions. Ariba Aruba, the island’s best-known cocktail made with Coecoei (a crimson liquor unique to Aruba) will, no doubt, quench your thirst.

Visit with Aruba‘s colourful marine life by submarine. The Atlantis Submarine Tour is the most popular way to explore Aruba’s kaleidoscope of exotic marine life. As you descend to a depth of 130 feet, you can explore Aruba’s mysterious underwater realm of breathtaking vistas – and be sure to bring your camera to record the amazing world of brilliantly coloured coral reefs, sunken wrecks and a rainbow fantasia of tropical fish.

Wander around Oranjestad, the colourful capital and treat yourself to some tax free shopping. Or you can just browse the plethora of shops and boutiques selling local handicrafts.

Visit a tropical butterfly paradise: Step into a tropical garden teeming with butterflies from around the globe and prepare to meet some of the world’s most colourful creatures: a visit to Aruba‘s Butterfly Farm is an unforgettable encounter with nature in all its beauty and diversity – and a rare opportunity for photography.

Taste Aruba’s cuisine: Food is simply exquisite, blending Aruba’s culinary traditions with flavours of international cuisine. The many restaurants on the island cater to all tastes; freshly caught Caribbean fish is, of course, a speciality and a favourite dish, with traditional meals accented by native herbs and spices. Aruba has attracted a multitude of gastronomes and talented chefs, with food from almost every continent represented.

Number One or Number 10. Meet the locals: take some time to say hello. You will be welcomed. And who knows, you may just want to visit your new friends on your next trip back to this most popular of island destinations.

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