There is a natural wonder and beauty that lies in a little-known island in the south of the Caribbean that prides itself as a happy place. Aruba may not be well known, but it offers so much to make memories that last a lifetime.
Eagle Beach – third best in the world and so much more
While relaxing on the picturesque island, tourists must make themselves familiar with Eagle Beach – voted the third most popular beach in the world. The beaches on the happy island are a white sand haven leading to stunning turquoise seas. No matter what you are searching for, Aruba has beaches for everyone - if you want to delve beneath the sea, you can snorkel the delicate reefs and shallow waters of Mangel Halto or take a trip to the secluded cove of Baby Beach. Aruba treats its beaches as sanctuaries, where tourists can walk, swim and become connected to a happy place. The best beaches on the island have pure alabaster sand and crystal clear waters creating postcard quality photos.
Gaze off into the sunset at Hooiberg Hill
Aruba has so many natural wonders that can be found nowhere else in the world. Watching the sunset off the mountaintop of Hooiberg Hill is a must. The ancient volcanic mountain is 540 feet above sea level and is situated in the center of the island. Hiking up 587 steps to the top of the mountain (with a rest stop in between at the Gazebo), Hooiberg Hill provides stunning views of the whole island over the sea and on clear days you can see Venezuela to the south.
Travel Tip: There is a gazebo rest stop half way up the hill for those who need a rest.
Arikok National Park
If you're searching for that picturesque view of Aruba, the best place is from the highest peak – known as Mount Jamanota – located inside Arikok National Park. In Arikok National Park, the exquisite Caribbean beaches open up to rocky deserts, towering green cacti and limestone cliffs. It's also home to the Fontein Caves and the Natural Pool, which are two of the most amazing natural wonders in the world.
For a smallish island, culture and art is alive and thriving in abundance. The culture is seen through spirited rhythms, art and dance that blanket the streets, invigorate the home, fill the galleries and warm the heart. A must-see in Aruba is Sunrise City, a charismatic coastal town blessed with a ray of color in street art and galleries of every kind.
If music and dance invigorate the soul, follow the sounds of the steel drums and calypso to the weekly festivals. On every corner, Arubans share their love of life, culture, art, dance and music for all to see.
Travel Tip: "Bonbini" means welcome in the native language of Papiamento, and each week there is welcome festival held to celebrate the guests to the island.
Dine on delights
The culinary delights on the island really give an experience of every kind. Whether you want to delve into fresh fish straight from the sea, enjoy a subtle wine at sunset or load up on classic Italian dishes in the shadow of a century-old lighthouse, there are dining options to delight and tempt every tastebud.
From Dutch to Asian, African and Spanish, Aruban food is like traveling the world from the comfort of an exotic island. There are over 250 eateries on the island and it really is best to play with the local flavors to enjoy all that the happy island has to offer.
The majority of restaurants in Aruba are located in the high-rise hotel area of Palm Beach, in downtown Oranjestad and alongside the beautiful Caribbean Sea – so it will always be dinner with a view.
Travel Tip: Typical Aruban dishes include pan bati (cornflour flatbread/pancake), carni stoba (beef stew) and keshi yena (stuffed cheese).
Oranjestad’s shopping sanctuary
Not far from the port, you will find a lively shopping strip showcasing jewellery, fragrances and designer stores. But it’s the must-see Dutch delicacies, Aruba aloe products and Cuban cigars that really add to the shopping experience of this paradise.
If you want to forever hold onto your Aruban adventure, take a trip to San Nicolas where authentic Aruba is shown off. Offering colorful galleries, shops and boutiques, San Nicolas has one of a kind gifts, goods and accessories made by local artists and craftsmen.
Travel tip: Aruba is renowned as the shopping paradise of the Caribbean, offering goods 10-35% cheaper than the U.S. and better priced than Europe.