I’ve wanted to go to Aruba since I first heard the Beach Boys’ Kokomo as a child. I finally made it there a few years ago and it totally lived up to my expectations. Aruba’s seen a share of bad press in the recent years – through no fault of their own – but I found the island to be charming, friendly, safe and absolutely beautiful. Aruba quickly jumped on to my top 10 best places to vacation list.
Here are 5 things to do in Aruba:
1. Jeep Tours. This is how I saw the island during my visit and I found it a fun, yet bumpy, way to see different parts of this island. We visited the north side of the island with the crashing waves, rock formations and Natural Bridge. Since we were on a jeep tour, we really go to go off road and explore the off-beaten path to the rocky shoreline. After visiting the natural beauty, we stopped at the Aruba Ostrich Farm and then drove along the island’s back roads where we took in the views and famous landmarks: the Bushiribana Ruins of Gold, Alto Vista Chapel and the California Lighthouse. At the end of our tour, we stopped at a local beach to enjoy some down time before heading back to our ship. While it was a whirlwind excursion, I loved that we got to see the resort and wild side of the diverse island.
2. The Famous Sites. Aruba’s known for some famous landmarks: the Natural Bridge, Alto Vista Chapel, and the California Lighthouse. The Natural Bridge was a formation of coral limestone stretching almost 23 feet. Sadly it collapsed in 2005, but today you can still see the remains and other amazing rock formations caused by the crashing waves. Alto Vista Chapel is on the remains of the first Catholic Church in Aruba that was built in 1750 by a Spanish missionary. Services are still held there today. Named for a ship – the S.S. California – that wrecked in 1891 on those shores, it sits on the northwest corner of Aruba. Though you can’t climb the lighthouse, you can eat at the restaurant right next to it: La Trattoria el Faro Blanco. The best way to take these sites in is on a tour – booked locally or through your cruise ship.
3. Beaches. Aruba’s a diverse island and that’s reflected in the type of beaches you’ll find. Aruba frowns upon nude beaches, but you’ll find topless beaches including The Renaissance Island and De Palm island. Most of the beaches are on the West Side of the island including uber popular Eagle Beach. Easily accessible by public transportation, it’s the widest beach on the island and offers shaded picnic areas, hut and motorized water sports. Also, during the year, you’ll find turtle nests there and can watch – safely from a distance – as the hatchlings head to the Atlantic Ocean.
4. Kitesurfing and Windsurfing. Not found in most Caribbean ports, Aruba offers kite surfing because of the year-round trade winds the island experiences. You’ll find world-famous instructors on the island eager to teach you and help you try out this new experience. Want to watch? In June/July, the island hosts the Hi-Winds Amateur World Challenge windsurfing and kitesurfing tournament. You’ll see professionals from all over the world.
5. Scuba Diving. If you’re a certified scuba diver, Aruba’s got some amazing places to explore – both for beginners and experts. The largest wreck in the Caribbean – the Antilla – is over 400 feet long. The Pedernales Wreck – another casualty of World War II – is a great site for beginners where you’ll find groupers, angelfish and unique coral formations. Overall, there are over 20 dive sites on the island.
What’s your favorite thing to do on Aruba? Have you tried any of these experiences before?
pinterest image photo: actor212 on flickr