Aruba just a short 17 miles north of Venezuela is geographically part of South America yet in terms of conversation is considered as part of the Caribbean. Situated just off the South American northern coastline, Aruba is flanked by sister island Curacao 42 miles to the east and sister island Bonaire 30 miles to the east Curacao.
Aruba is not only the 2nd largest of the so called ABC islands, (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) but is also the most populous of the 5 islands of the Netherland Antilles. With an island population of almost 105,000 people, Aruba’s capital city of Oranjestad is also home to 2 prominent Caribbean Universities, Xavier University School of Medicine and Universitet van Aruba.
Aruba is about 2.5 hours by air from Miami and is easily accessible from other United States locations. It's close enough for a weekend extravaganza and easily starts to feel like a second home. The people are warm and inviting and the island is home to beautiful turquoise waters and white sand beaches that will make you never want to leave.
In 1499, Alonso de Ojeda, a protégé of Christopher Columbus, while on his first solo trip to the New World was the first European to set eyes on Aruba. In the years to follow the Spaniards settled the island and exported the Indigenous Arawack Amerindians to neighboring islands as workers. It was not till 1634 that the Dutch settled the island and with the help of the Dutch West India Company made Curacao a center for the slave trade. Willemstad, with its natural harbor became the center point of trade and commerce on the Island of Curacao.
First, Aruba is a prime destination for all types of tourists. It has beautiful resorts for those that love the pool and the beach, and a wide array of tours and other activities for those seeking more than a lazy day by the sea. Some of the attractions include the California Lighthouse, Arikok National Park, Bubali Bird Sanctuary, caves, fine dining, and historic gold mills. Aruba is a nature lover's dream come true both in and out of the water. Snorkelers and divers alike can lose themselves for an afternoon under the sea taking in all the beauty under the surface. If you'd rather be on the water and not in it, opt for a full or half-day fishing trip or party cruise. Stop by the picturesque Palm Beach for some photo opportunities.
Next, the Historic Museum of Aruba is the oldest building on the island and houses Caiquetio artifacts from the prehistoric past. There are also remnants from the Dutch colonial period which are on display there. If you're thirsty after a long day of sightseeing, head over to Balashi Brewery. Aruba's national beer, Balashi, is produced here in this modern brewery. It is open daily for tours that follow the process of brewing beer from fermentation to bottling and distribution.
If you're more the adventurous type, take a helicopter tour and see the stunning aerial views of the island. For those that like to shop, head downtown to check out the local delights as well as stunning gold jewelery. Aruba is also home to a championship 18 hole golf course. If you're more into nightlife, Aruba offers many casinos, theaters, restaurants and bars to keep you busy. Aruba is an island paradise and is not to be missed.