Believe it or not, the Spanish colonists who settled in Aruba and her sister islands of Bonaire and Curaçao in 1513 nicknamed them the "Islas Inútiles," or Useless Islands. They couldn’t have been further from the truth. Centuries later, this southern Caribbean cluster is using an arid climate and minimal rainfall in their favor; Aruba in particular lures tourists with its blindingly white beaches and craggy limestone landscape. And with its extensive ... continue»
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The best time to visit Aruba is from April to August -- a huge window of time when the island's high prices take a holiday. And since the island sits well outside the hurricane belt, there's very little threat of tropical storms at this time. January to March features pleasant weather, but the room prices can be a scandal. You could also find discounts if you travel in the early fall. Whenever you visit, keep in mind Aruba is prone to high trade winds -- which makes for a great experience for windsurfers and a hold-onto-your-hat one for others.Best Times to Visit Aruba»
Precipitation [+ enlarge]
On the 75-square mile, foot-shaped island of Aruba, most vacationers stick to the sugary sand strips of the southwest shore. But a few miles east they'll find the capital city, shopping and nightlife hub of Oranjestad. The southeast is home to natural attractions like the the Arikok National Park.
Aruba's capital city, Oranjestad, is an urban area with numerous restaurants, nightclubs and casinos. Hotels in this region tend to be cheaper than some of the beachfront properties, and many especially recommend Oranjestad if you want to be close to the nighttime options or upscale shopping. Oranjestad is also home to Aruba's main harbor and historic sites like the Fort Zoutman and Willem III Tower and the Archaeological Museum of Aruba.
Palm Beach and Eagle Beach
Just north of Oranjestad, Aruba has a west coast highway called the L.G. Smith Boulevard that's littered with the island's major resorts. High-rise, marquee hotels like the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino, the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino or the Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino have spreads directly on the sands of Aruba's Palm Beach, also known as "High-Rise area." The properties get lower to the ground as you go into Eagle Beach or "Low-Rise area." Accommodations are slightly cheaper here, and the views spectacular -- Eagle Beach is considered one of the best shorelines on the island. Many recommend you dive just offshore of this area to the Pedernalis Wrecks.
Writers suggest you spend a few days to explore inland towns like Noord, located just east of Palm Beach, and ride the area's frequently unpaved roads toward the California Lighthouse on Aruba's northernmost tip. Along the way, you should stop at the Butterfly Farm, the unusual rock formations at Casibari and Ayó or the gold mine ruins of Seroe Gerard.
Arikok National Wildlife Park
The island's southeastern coast is dominated by the Arikok National Park. According to Fodor's, "The park is the keystone of the government's long-term ecotourism plan to preserve Aruba's resources and showcases the island's flora and fauna as well as ancient Arawak petroglyphs, the ruins of a gold-mining operation at Miralmar, and the remnants of Dutch peasant settlements at Masiduri." Just north of Arikok National Park in the area of Santa Cruz is one of Aruba's most popular landmarks, Donkey Sanctuary Aruba. To the south of Arikok, travel writers suggest you watch the surfers along a beach called Boca Grandi, or take young kids to the calmer waters of Baby Beach.
Safety has become a concern for some tourists, particularly following the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in 2005. However, travel writers assert that Aruba continues to be a safe destination to visit. Nevertheless, they recommend that you stay in well-lit areas -- especially in the evening and around the nightlife activities -- and that you experience Aruba with a friend.
The best way to get around Aruba is on a bus. Most visitors stay around their resort and the beach (most likely along the northwest coast); if this is you, then you will also find the Arubus sufficient. To get from the Reina Beatrix International Airport (AUA) to your hotel, take a taxi -- the fixed-rate Aruban cabs are another hassle-free way of moving around. Renting a car is a good choice for exploring the island's east coast. Consider renting an ATV in particular, so that you can do a little off-roading in the Arikok National Park.Getting Around Aruba»