White sandy shores contrast against dry fields of cacti, whimsical divi-divi trees and rough rock ledges on the paradise of Aruba. A small island located in the Dutch Caribbean about 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba’s 70 square miles support a vast array of vegetation, sea life and landscapes.
With Spanish and Dutch influences, the official language of Aruba is Dutch, but much of the population speaks a uniquely native blend of Dutch and Spanish called Papiamento, as well as English. Natives are friendly, beeping and waving as they pass each other on the roads and beaches throughout the island.
This friendliness is extended to tourists, as well. The people of Aruba are extremely proud of their slice of paradise and truly want others to enjoy themselves while experiencing it. The small population of Aruba is committed to making visitors feel relaxed, eagerly greeting and helping tourists as if they were old friends. Even the national anthem of the island tells visitors of their great hospitality, saying, “the greatness of our people is their great cordiality.”
The economy of Aruba was originally based on gold, then aloe, and now much of the island is geared toward tourism. Although they strive for more and more people to celebrate and appreciate their little island, they have made a firm commitment to preserve the environment and have put a limit on the number of resorts on the island.
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The divi-divi trees of Aruba point toward the white-sand beaches. Due to refreshing trade winds sweeping the island, the divi-divi trees grow in a permanent 45-degree angle. Appreciative residents follow the signs to the quiet beaches of Aruba. With crystal-clear water and whispering waves, the beaches of Aruba soothe the weary.
On the other side of the island, dramatically carved lava rocks line the edge of this paradise. Waves crash high against these divine barriers, creating a visual border to the sanctuary of Aruba. Along this edge of the island, native beliefs support an ongoing tradition of the Wishing Gardens. A stretch as far as the eye can see produces a touching monument of the wishes of thousands. Local lore says that stacking ocean-weathered rocks in this area will make a hope come true. A tiny rock metropolis sets the stage for hopes and dreams along this beautiful expanse of paradise.
The island’s interior is distinctly unique. Iguanas scamper across rocky roads and cacti create natural fences. The pancake landscape, white sand and multitudes of cacti attempt to convince travelers that the ocean is more than a mere 50 yards away, creating a tripartite diversity throughout the island. A quaint donkey sanctuary welcomes the inquisitive creatures, ensuring their safety and encouraging visitors to treasure the noisy animals. Windows and doors are left open in the clusters of homes that spot the island, attesting to the cool breezes, safe surroundings and trusting nature of the island.
Whether you are seeking a quiet day at the beach or an afternoon of scuba diving through sunken shipwrecks, the island of Aruba presents a vast selection of activities for visitors. The waters surrounding the island support myriad species of fish and welcome sea turtles happily swimming through. There are a number of shipwrecks to explore, one of which is from World War II. Catamarans lazily coast across the waters with basking bathers eager to snorkel, as 4-wheel drive adventurers scour the rustic sands. The trade winds make Aruba’s water one of the best sites for windsurfing and kite surfing. The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino owns a private island a short boat ride away with a European beach for tan-lineless sun worshipers.
The Natural Bridge is a coral formation 25 feet above sea level which affords a picturesque view of the expanse of water beyond. An abandoned gold mine encourages rock-climbing visitors to explore the building’s multilevel rooms built more than a century ago. Shopping offers guests an array of knickknacks, local art and products. Spa services at many of the resorts are renowned for their professional relaxation techniques and services.
Many of the resorts provide day activities for children beyond the typical day-at-the-beach fun. The Wyndham Aruba Beach Resort & Casino has Sponge Bob Square Pants-themed activities and prizes for lucky youngsters.
The island of Aruba is as unique as the culture that resides there. The people of Aruba know how to pamper their guests and do so every second of the day. Their hospitality extends beyond congenialities, beyond beauty – Aruba is the perfect destination to realize dreams of paradise. H