This article originally appeared in Delta Air Lines’ 2012 Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America Travel Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full travel guide, visit the digital edition.
Aruba’s capital of Oranjestad is one of the Caribbean’s most modern cities, peppered with upscale boutiques, hip restaurants and plenty of exciting nightlife. It’s a cruise port, but there’s more to this town than duty-free shopping—though there is a wealth of designer clothing, accessories, jewelry, liquor and more to choose from. It’s also home to action-packed casinos, like the ones at the Renaissance Aruba. Many have theaters attached that draw in gamers with Vegas-style shows featuring flamboyantly dressed dancers and singers. Not far from there, Palm Beach is Aruba’s traditional tourist hotspot: a wide, serene beach lined with resorts from the subdued Westin Aruba to the active and family-friendly Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Aruba and Hotel RIU Palace Aruba. The beach itself is a playground for young and old alike, with banana boat rides and other watersports available from any of the tour operators along the shore. The best way to see the rest of Aruba—and there is plenty to see—is via Jeep tour. From the open-air backseat of a large vehicle specially outfitted to rough it in Aruba’s diverse terrain, visitors have the chance to see its many attractions. There’s the California Lighthouse, a tall landmark on a picturesque bluff; and the site of the former Natural Bridge, an arch formed by the erosion of the waves that collapsed several years ago. The Aruba Aloe Museum & Factory shows off the island’s unique aloe industry, while several other farms, including the Butterfly Farm, Donkey Sanctuary and Ostrich Farm, show off the island’s friendly and exotic wildlife. You’ll see more of that at Arikok National Park, too, home to fascinating rock outcroppings, lava formations, and rare species of snake, lizard and bird.
- Best time to go:
Year-round—Aruba lies outside the hurricane belt
- Fun fact:
“Bon bini” means “hello” in Aruba’s native language, Papiamento
- Getting there:
Delta flies from New York (JFK & LGA) and Atlanta to Aruba
- Entry documents:
- Must-try local food:
- Best buys:
Duty-free goods like liquor, jewelry and designer clothing
- Information please:
Aruba Tourism Authority—aruba.com