ABC News gives you the rundown on Aruba in the article: 'See This, Skip That: Aruba' written by Gabe Saglie, senior editor for the Travelzoo
As far as Caribbean destinations go, Aruba’s appeal is tough to beat. It has a lot to do with its year-round summer vibe, the powder-soft sand on its beaches, its fresh dining, its countless festivals and the fact that it lures couples and families alike. If you’ve never been to this oasis, here are some of the many unique things to do and see that make Aruba a one-of-a-kind tropical stop.
Skip the Travel Insurance, Bet on Sun
For any Caribbean trip, travel insurance can be smart investing; basic coverage will tack on an extra seven to 10% to your trip cost but gives you peace of mind when, say, weather turns tricky. But Aruba’s location is special in that it makes it a lot less likely to be in the eye of a storm. “Many people don't realize that even though hotel prices go down in the hurricane season in Aruba, the weather remains the same,” says my colleague, Darlene Carenza. Based in Miami, she heads Travelzoo’s cruise content and covered the Caribbean hotel beat for several years. “It's dry and warm all year round because it is below the hurricane belt and rarely gets hit with a storm,” she continues. “I've even see some vacation packagers offer free travel insurance during this time -- maybe because chances are you won't use it for Aruba.” Hurricane season in the Atlantic runs June through November.
Skip Palm Beach, Head East
You’ll find a hubbub of tourism activity, as well as many of Aruba’s top resorts, along beautiful Palm Beach, on the island’s northwestern shores. But if you want to go more remote, head to the east coast, where rugged beaches reign supreme. At Boca Prins, sweeping white sand dunes meet a rocky shoreline (though the water might be too rough for swimmers to tackle), and at Dos Playas, limestone coves cradle white sand stretches ideal for sunbathing; both of these are inside Arikok National Park. Other Aruba beach options include Malmok to the north, with great kite surfing conditions, and Baby’s Beach to the south, with idyllic snorkeling conditions.
Skip the Lotion, Lather Aloe
Turns out, the intense sun and arid conditions on Aruba allow aloe plants to thrive here. In fact, Aruba is one of the world’s top exporters of aloe, which is renowned for its natural ability to repair sun damage and revitalize skin. The Aruba Aloe Factory is a state-of-the-art facility that gives visitors a fascinating look at how aloe is harvested, processed and turned into a wide-ranging line of epidermal remedies. There’s a museum here -- aloe’s history on Aruba dates back to the 1840s -- and plenty of aloe vera products to snag as souvenirs.
Skip the Book, Visit a Museum
Few cultural activities are more relaxing than reading a good beach on the beach. And, for many of us, a museum visit may not be front of mind during a tropical escape. But the handful of quaint museums on Aruba give glimpses into a rich history here, and some fascinating finds. The Archaeological Museum in Oranjestad preserves the island’s Amerindian heritage and features more than 10,000 artifacts, some dating back to 2500 BC. Many teachers and local tour operators are trained here. And the bevy of interactive displays makes this a very family-friendly visit.
The Model Train Museum, on Aruba’s southern tip, is a quick and fascinating stop for its vast array of miniature trains. You’ll see plenty of toy airplanes and cars here, too. Visits are free but you have to make an appointment!
Skip the Fish, See the Birds
The waters of Aruba are teeming with sea life. But, on land, ostriches have become a tourist favorite, too. The Aruba Ostrich Farm, in Paradera, is home to a flock of more than 80 ostriches, as well as several emus. Tours, given every day and every 30 minutes, offer insight into their mating and rearing habits and include feedings and even a peek into the hatchery. It’s not advertised, but some visitors have even been known to ride them. There’s a restaurant and an art boutique onsite, too. Want more birdwatching? The Bubali Bird Sanctuary, located walking distance from the Palm Beach hotel zone, is home to 80-plus species of migratory birds, features an observation tower and is free to visit.
After the Birds, Visit the Butterflies
You can never tire of watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. At the Aruba Butterfly Farm, guides show you every step of the butterfly’s life cycle and, with 35 species from all over the world represented, great photo opps are practically guaranteed. The farm is right on Palm Beach and paying admission once gets you back in for free the rest of your vacation.
Skip Your Hotel, Go All-Inclusive
Many travelers seeking a brief break from the Palm Beach hustle and bustle find respite on De Palm Island, the only all-inclusive option in Aruba. Located a quick ferry ride away, a day pass ($120 for adults and $99 for kids, with transportation) gets you dibs on unlimited food off the grill, drinks (including an open bar) and a batch of water activities. There are three beaches to choose from, a day spa on the sand and a water park. While on De Palm, check out Sea Trek (for an extra fee). This unique underwater experience gets high marks for its specialty equipment: unique diving helmets that offer a wide view of underwater life. No swimming skills are necessary, since you’re sent walking in near zero-gravity along a custom walkway located 20 feet below the surface. Feed tropical fish and snap pictures of a sunken Cessna.
Skip the Car, Walk
The best way to get a real taste for Aruba’s charms is to hoof it. Walking downtown Oranjestad allows you to discover quaint eateries, colorful boutiques, historic country houses. The Willem III Tower (Aruba’s first lighthouse), the Protestant Church (the oldest church on Aruba) and Wilhelmina Park (home to a statue of the Netherlands’’ longest reigning monarch) are all landmarks and all within walking distance of each other.
Gabe Saglie is Senior Editor for Travelzoo, which features exclusive deals to and in Aruba here.