Located in the Southern Caribbean approximately 18 miles north of Venezuela, this tiny islet forms part of a group referred to as, The ABC Islands of the Leeward Antilles. It gained its independence from Holland in 1986, however technically it’s still a member of what is called the Dutch Kingdom, with Queen Beatrix as Head of State. Its climate is dry and the landscape arid, with cactus-strewn hillocks to be found everywhere. The island has a natural appeal with warm sunny weather and candy colored houses, not to mention the white sandy beaches that hug the shores. Situated within the Caribbean but lying just out of the hurricane belt, gives Aruba a little extra appeal.
Water sports are top of the list given the emerald colored water and its come-hither appeal. Windsurfing, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and pretty much any other waterborne activity not mentioned above can be found. Nearby coral reefs can be explored for hours, and fishing just outside the local waters is a popular pastime. Take heed however as not everything you catch on your line is a safe bite to eat. If in doubt ask a local and they will give you a quick rundown of the fish that feed on the nearby coral. These are the poisonous ones to avoid, at least for consumable purposes.
Aruba is also an up and coming popular destination for same-sex marriage “commitment ceremonies”. Unlike other parts of the Caribbean, the Arubans are remarkably liberal and non-judgmental. This really is the gay-friendly Garden of Eden. In recent years there has been quite an influx of gay Latinos giving the island a salsa style topping, so where better to betroth your love than here.
On land there are some interesting places to visit that are a little out of the ordinary. Renowned for its abundant source of Aloe Vera, Aruba wouldn’t be complete without its own little factory production of this natural healer. Whilst there, be sure to invest in one of their local products in the shack style shop adjoining. This stuff is great and really works.
Another quirky addition is the Ostrich farm, where you can pet these big birds or one of their smaller feathered friends, the Emu. Both are flightless birds but can run up to speeds of 40 mph so if you plan on jumping in the play pen, be sure to have your sprinting shoes firmly on your feet. The Butterfly Museum is another exotic experience and guides recommend you wear your brightest shirt and strongest cologne in order to attract these fragile winged creatures for closer viewing.
The “Bon Bini Festival” takes place every Tuesday, and is a local folkloric music and dance event where you can breath in the flavor of Aruba. “Bon Bini” means, “Welcome” in Papiamento (the local language), which sends out the hospitable signals that are key to the island’s appeal. Aruba has played host to many movies requiring a breathtaking stage of tranquility and beauty. The Aruba International Film Festival takes place in June and steps up the pace and the party scene. This is truly a little slice of paradise.
Photos: Aruba Tourism Authority