North Americans fleeing winter make Aruba the most touristy island in the southern Caribbean. The draws are obvious: miles of glorious white-sand beach, plenty of all-inclusive resorts, and a cute, compact capital, Oranjestad, which is well suited to the short strolls favored by cruise-ship passengers. At the island’s extreme ends are rugged, windswept vistas and uncrowded beaches – perfect for hiking and horseback riding. Crystal-clear waters are bursting with sea life and shipwrecks (and an airplane wreck or two), providing incredible opportunities for snorkeling and diving.
Aruba's culture has many influences from other countries. Many believe this to degrade Aruba's culture, but the Arubans see this blend as being one of the unique things of the Aruban culture. Old traditions are mixed with modern influences, but the Arubans have their way of making the Aruban culture their own.
Some original Aruban festivities include Betico Day, Dera Gay, and the day of the Flag and Anthem. Of course, Aruba also celebrates the yearly carnival, and many families keep with the practice and festivities of the Catholic liturgical year.
Today the Aruban population is mixed with people from South America (mainly Venezuela and Colombia), China, and The Netherlands. These people bring their traditions and culture to the island.
Since 2016, the annual Aruba Art Fair has attracted top-caliber international artists. They’ve left their mark with 40 bold and colorful murals that have turned the streets into a spectacle of open-air art. Businesses have sprung up around the murals including fresh juice stands and guided art tours, helping to lift the area out of poverty. It’s urban renewal at its finest.
Green Bike has also attracted locals like bees to honey. This bike share program has hundreds of bikes available at numerous kiosks clustered around the capital and beaches. Purchase an inexpensive hourly, daily, or weekly pass and pedal away. Don’t miss taking a spin on the island’s beautiful car-free path.
Aruba's nightlife caters to a variety of tastes. Most resorts offer special entertainment activities such as theme nights, beach barbeques, and cocktail parties. Hotels, nightclubs, and restaurants also present Carnival Shows, folkloric performances, steel pan music, Magic Shows, and much more. Enjoy an evening as carnival dancers entertain guests in their magnificent, colorful costumes to the musical sounds of Tumba and Calypso.
Aruba’s arid climate supports a stunning array of desert flora. Arikok National Park covers nearly 20% of the island, assuring that this dusty wonderland will remain forever wild. Admire the twisted divi-divi trees swaying graciously with the help of steady trade winds. Trumpet-shaped hibiscus and spiky aloe flourish; dozens of species of exotic cacti stretch for miles. Once you’ve been saturated with beauty, head inside one of the caves and view the pristinely preserved ancient drawings by the Arawak people.
Aruba's mainly calm waters and easily accessible reefs are great for snorkeling. Spend some time on one of the catamarans for a day of sun and snorkeling. Many snorkel sites can be reached from the shore, so get your snorkel gear and explore Aruba's abundant sea life on your own.
There are many ways to explore Aruba and one of them is on a horse. You don't need to be an experienced rider to join a horseback riding tour; all ranches have well-trained horses and friendly and knowledgeable tour guides. Most ranches allow children of 6 years and older to ride their horses.
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