Monday, April 16, 2012

Aruba - One Happy Island

"Palm trees, the cool ocean breeze,
salty air, and the sun kissed hair,
That endless summer, its all there." (unknown)

ahh the palm trees and the cool ocean breeze
The one thing I absolutely loved about Aruba was its most wonderful cool ocean breeze. This cozy beautiful island which is about 15 miles from Venezuela in the southern Carribean sea and outside the tropical hurricane belt is a perfect tourist haven.
Divi Tree
the arid country side

It has hot hot sun made bearable by the constant cool breeze, no rain, no humidity, gorgeous white sand beaches, and a very laid back island atmosphere. You can go from one end of the island to the other and see just about everything there is to see on the island in one whole day. The vegetation is quite sparse and arid. While the island is known worldwide for its Divi trees, most of the native vegetation seems to be cactii, aloe vera and tumbleweed trees. We saw only two Divi trees our entire trip. In residential and resort areas, we saw coconut palm, mango, Poinsettia, Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, and a few others. If you are looking for a lush green island, this is not it. There were no signs of poverty, and generally it seemed the island was very well maintained and clean.

Most resorts and most of the popular attractions are located on the north to north west end of the island, and much of it in and around the capital city of Oranjestad. Most of the smaller, low rise all inclusive resorts are located on the Eagle beach (ranked #2 among the world's best beaches) just north of Oranjestad. The larger, newer and high rise resorts are a bit further north on the Palm beach.

The North east coast is fairly rugged, made of volcanic rock, no sandy beaches and very arid vegetation. The ruins of the gold mine and the natural bridge are on this side of the island. The Natural Bridge, once a very popular attraction in Aruba, was a formation of coral limestone cut out by years of pounding surf, and was one of the largest in the world, some 23 feet above sea level and more than 100 feet long. Due to natural causes this bridge collapsed a few years ago, but it still remains a very popular spot to visit. There is no admission fee or specific hours for visiting. This coastline is carved into coves by the wind and water action. Sharks supposedly take shelter in these coves to birth. All along the coastline (eastern shore), you can see small rocks stacked on larger rocks.. a local tradition to make wishes come true. The other popular attractions in this area are California Lighthouse (named after a ship that sank near this coast), Ayo and Casibari rock formations. The rock formations are clusters of huge rocks quite unique to the area, they inexplicably rise up from the desert soil to create an unusual setting. It is believed that these rocks had sacred significance for the Arawak Indians. There is nothing special about the lighthouse except the area is high enough that both east and west coastlines, and the capital city are visible.
Collapsed Natural Bridge

The south east end of the island has Arkok National park (we did not go there, so cant talk much about it). The national park is supposed to have caves with Arawaks cave drawings,and a natural pool worth a visit.

The south west end of the island is more residential as you go towards San Nicholas. San Nicholas itself looked quite deserted. Since Valero oil refinery shut down (located in San Nicholas) most of the island economy is supported by the tourism. At the SW end of the island is a popular beach and snorkling spot named Baby Beach. It is a shallow, sheltered lagoon frequented by locals and tourists. It is named Baby Beach as the water is so calm that it is considered safe for very small children. The beach is popular mostly due to the lack of waves and its shallow waters. The snorkeling here was OK. Most of the fishes were closer to the reef (inlet).. but they were not very colorful. Aruba did not seem to be a snorkling haven. It was very expensive to rent cabanas and chairs on baby beach..approx $25 each for an hour or $30 per day. There were a few trees for shade but not a whole lot.

To tour the Island, there seemed to be two companies that were most popular.. ABC tour company and De Palm tour company. Their Jeep Safari tours (whole day island tours) seemed most popular. Most of the guests in our resort that we spoke to enjoyed these Jeep tours. We did not tour with either of these two companies, but chose instead to rent a van with a driver independantly. He took us to the most popular 4 attractions above, then dropped us off at Baby beach for about 2-3 hours. At the designated hour, he picked us up and brought us back to our resort. The total cost came to approx $350 for about 12 people and 5 hour tour (approx 2.5 hours touring and 2.5 hrs at baby beach). Contact Johnny at if you wish to hire him for a personal tour. He can also help rent vehicles cheaper than what Hertz and other companies provide.

Dutch Colonial Architecture
The downtown was very convinient from our resort. There is a public bus that runs from right outside the resort for $1.25 each way and it takes approx 10 min or less to get to the downtown. It is a touristy port with a local straw market and lots of souviniers and jewellery shops. We took about 2-3 hours just walking around and it was sufficient. The Dutch colonial style buildings were quite unique.. I called them colorful gingerbread houses.


ryan said...

I love visiting Aruba on vacation, it really is one of the most beautiful places.

adernal coop said...

Informative description provided by you.Its true that it well known for good climate and beaches.When people visit here they always look for Fun Tours Services Available In Aruba.Thanks for sharing this.

Daniel Smith said...

Aruba is one of my favourite holiday destination.Sea beaches,under water diving,snorkeling are great fun.

jaxson corey said...

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Anonymous said...

One happy island is right! Aruba RULES. When I'm going on vacation it's always Aruba vacation packages, Aruba vacation deals, etc. all day! No other place I'd rather go then this beautiful & cozy little island. The people are always hook me up and set me on my way.

Kanchana Rathnayake said...

Nice blog

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