Aruba – One Happy Island
Aruba is a generally flat island renowned for its many white sand beaches; its tropical climate is moderated by constant trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean; the temperature is almost constant at about 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit). Aruba is an ideal vacation spot with it’s beautiful beaches, resorts, sight seeing, and activities.
Tourism is the mainstay in Aruba, with offshore banking,oil refining and storage also being important industries . Over 1.5 million tourists per year visit Aruba, with 75% of those from the US. Construction continues to boom, with Aruba hotel capacity now five times the 1985 level. In addition, the reopening of Aruba’s oil refinery in 1993, a major source of employment for the people of Aruba, has further spurred growth. The island or Aruba experiences only a brief low season, and hotel occupancy averages 80%, compared to 68% throughout the rest of the Caribbean.
Aruba’s first inhabitants were the Caquetios Indians from the Arawak tribe, who migrated there from Venezuela to escape attacks by the Caribs. Fragments of the earliest known Indian settlements date back to about 1,000 A.D. Due to Aruba’s mostly distant location from other Caribbean islands and strong currents in the sea which made canoe travel to the other islands difficult, the Caquetios remained more tied to South America than the Caribbean.
Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda is regarded as the first European to arrive in about 1499. Although he established a colony there, it never amounted to much. Unlike many other Caribbean islands, no plantations evolved on Aruba. Instead, the Spanish sent many Caquetios to Hispaniola, where they were enslaved in the mines.
In 1636, Aruba was acquired by the Dutch and remained under their control for nearly two centuries. In 1805 the British briefly took control over the island, but it was returned to Dutch control in 1816. The last decades of the 20th century saw a boom in the tourism industry, which became Aruba’s primary industry. Because of the focus on tourism and the number of resorts on the island, Arubans enjoy a very low unemployment rate.
Aruba is given the reputation as the Las Vegas of the Caribbean. In 1986, Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, under the Dutch crown. Movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba’s request in 1990. Aruba has a mixture of people from South America, Europe, the Far East, and other islands of the Caribbean.
Visit Aruba to explore the beautiful beaches, resorts, outdoor activities, shopping and all that a Caribbean vacation has to offer.
Aruba’s 5 Best Beaches
Eagle Beach is the longest on the island and boasts bone-white soft sands and is a very family-friendly beach. Popular activities include enjoying the shade of swaying palm trees, palapas and umbrellas and, for the more energetic beach visitors, hitting up one of the many water-sports outfitters that offer catamaran sails, snorkeling excursions and dive trips.
Aruba’s interior is dry and rocky, dotted with scrub and cactus. But the west coast is graced with sandy shores that are the pride of area islands, and the most famous of these is Palm Beach. Strolling the high-rise-lined two-mile stretch provides ample opportunities for people watching. A carefree vibe encourages lazy afternoons spent lounging on a float and bobbing on gentle waves.
Before the appearance of the tall hotels that buffer the offshore winds so cherished by windsurfers, this beach was festooned with brightly colored sails. Eeven before that, fishing boats laded with the day’s catch lined the shore, their captains sharing fish tales and negotiating fish sales. Today both share the sand. Seasoned windsurfers and kiteboarders streak across the horizon while beginners hang close to shore.
As you head northwest toward California Lighthouse, this last stretch of sand begins to resemble a rugged moonscape. Try to arrive early or bring your own umbrella, as only a handful of palapas are available on Arashi’s sands. Visit this beach and you’ll find yourself in one of the island’s best snorkeling spots, with the wreck of Antilla, a 400-foot German freighter, nearby.
On many days, there isn’t much of a scene here, and for many that’s the big attraction. (Note, however, that this tranquil spot is less so when cruise ships are in port, and it’s popular with locals on weekends.) Aptly named, with placid, bathtub-warm waters and soft, silky sand, the shallow bay invites even the most timid swimmer. A man-made reef enhances the allure of the natural coral formations, making this one of Aruba’s best snorkeling spots. Grab a mask and look for parrotfish, blue tang and the occasional octopus.