|Endless snow white beaches surrounded by a sparkling turquoise-blue sea. That´s Aruba!
Her Caribbean flair invites you to both sunbathing and every imaginable watersport.
Windsurfers just love the gusty Passat winds and divers treasure the mysterious world under her calm sea.. And Aruba itself has a lot to offer: from the unusual arid and rugged landscape, the various sports and leisure activities, to the colourful and beautiful capital, Oranjestad.
In the language of the original inhabitants "Aruba" means "Shell island". The smallest of the ABC islands lures everyone with its clear turquoise blue waters and invites you to enjoy numerous sporting activities, breathtaking landscapes and the colonial ambience it has to offer.
The Spanish discovered Aruba in 1499. The island is located 30 kilometers off the Venezuelan coast and has been under Dutch ruling since 1636. The sun always shines and the air and water temperatures are pleasantly warm. While the raw and windy northcoast is not really suited for swimming due to the strong surf and undercurrents, the west and south coasts of Aruba have ideal beaches - just what you would expect in the Caribbean!.
Palm Beach, 10 km long and certainly one of the most famous beaches on Aruba, is near the city of Noord. On this wide palm-covered beach you can relax and enjoy the sun or join in a variety of water-sports and leisure activities.
South of Palm Beach are two quieter and smaller beaches - Eagle Beach and Manchebo Beach - ideal spots for romantic sunsets!!
Smaller more secluded beaches can be found also in the northwest, like Malmok and Druif Beach. From Arashi Beach and Boca Catalina, two smaller beaches found on the northern point of the island, you can directly go snorkeling and diving in the Arashi-Underwater Park.
Feel like having a special day at the beach? Then it´s time for a trip to Palm Reef island - a small private island found near Spanish Lagoon and accessible only by ferry.
Every year in May and June the international surfing elite meets on Aruba for the Hi-Winds Windsurfing Tournament. Everyone who just wants to test their luck on a board knows that Aruba has the ideal wind conditions all year long. At Manchebo Beach, at Surfer´s Point or at Fisherman´s Hut, both professionals and amateurs find the best wind and waves. Beginners especially appreciate the calmer tides at Hadicurari Beach, which is located in the Northwest. Those who have tried windsurfing for the first time can work on their technique at the various windsurfing schools. You can also hire all the equipment needed at
the numerous surf shops on Aruba.
The Passat Winds can also be enjoyed by a trip on a catamaran, trimaran or by sunfish and minifish sailing. And under water there is a world just waiting to be discovered. Snorkeling is a great way to discover the home of exotic fish and beautiful coloured coral reefs.
Divers will be pleased to know that Aruba has more than 27 diving sites. In the reefs you´ll see rare sea creatures like the frogfish or the sea turtle and different coral specimens in all their colourful lory. And visibility is fantastic, right up to 30 meters.
You´ll also be haunted and moved by visiting shipwrecks such as the California" or the German supply ship "Antilla". The bottom of the Aruban sea even has a sunken airplane for you to explore.
Drift diving, where you allow yourself to be carried by the undercurrents, is a favourite activity for divers. Or how about a night dive - for an extraordinary look at the underwater world.
Naturally Aruba also offers excellent sports activities on land: How about going horseback riding in the Arikok National Park, where you can also go on great hikes and enjoy the wonderful natural beauty. Tennis lovers and golfers will find all they need. Most hotels have free tennis courts available and on the the north side of the island there is the18-hole golf course, Tierra del Sol, a championship level golf course which has become well known as the "Desert-Course of the Caribbean".
Aruba has an air of the "wild west" about it, particularly because of its landscape and warm dry climate. The unusual and imposing scenery, with its naturally formed "monuments", are a great attraction to be explored by car or even better by jeep.
Rough and rugged limestone cliffs on which the Caribbean surf breaks characterize the north coast. The interior of Aruba is flat and isolated where desert plants like Aloe Vera, the Pillar-Cactii, and Aruba´s landmark - the Divi Divi or Watapana tree (which characteristically grows in the direction the Passat wind blows) grow freely.
Whoever wants to see the coast of Venezuela should climb on a clear day to the top of Aruba´s highest point: Ceru Jamanota the 188 meter high hill found in the Arikok National Park.
Ceru Jamanota is the home of different bird and lizard life. Nearby you can find one of the typical Aruban-style homes: a "Cunucu" house built out of mud with its facade beautifully decorated by geometrical floral motifs. Also very close by you can wonder at the mighty boulders with pre-Columbian rock drawings. North of the National Park and found on the coast is Aruba´s national attraction: the 35 meter long 8 meter high Natural Bridge. It is the largest natural bridge in the Caribbean and formed by the surf washing through the cliffs over millions of years. Couples that kiss on the bridge, so the legend says, will be lucky in love forever. Other attractions not to be missed are the two rock gardens - Ayo and Casibari with their 30 meter high grey-white blocks, as well as the dripstone and fontein caves.
Built on a colonial past, Aruba´s capital, Oranjestad, is a very modern city. With wide boulevards, open plazas and parks and beautiful neo-classical style shops and stores. For those who want to live out their shopping fantasies, Oranjestad offers a vast array of opportunities. Next to various shopping malls, the shops on the Caya Betico Croes shopping strip offer luxury items at low tax-free prices. Oranjestad began as a trading center which exported horses bred on the island throughout the Caribbean from its wind protected Paardenbaai, or Bay of horses.
Today, sailing ships and luxury yachts anchor in the bay and non-divers can explore the underwater environment with the Atlantis submarine or the Seaworld Explorer. An important site on Aruba is the small settlement of Fort Zoutman, built in 1796. Built out of mud and stone, during most of its history it served more often as a police station and jail than as a defensive fortification. Today Fort Zoutman holds Aruba´s historical museum, where you can learn about the early history of Aruba as well as about the short gold rush that occurred in the 1800´s. The museum is found in the dark-red Willem III tower, which was built and added to the fort in 1868.
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