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Travel souvenirs come in all sorts of guises but one of the most enduring is, of course, the humble holiday photograph.
Whether stored on a laptop or in a hard copy album, holiday snaps evoke all sorts of memories. But years after that delightful trip, can travellers honestly remember where that shot was taken or what they were doing when that selfie was posed?
What is required is a unique and distinctive background and, fortunately, the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba is picture perfect. This 70-square mile holiday idyll, increasingly growing in popularity with UK visitors, due in no small part to the introduction by British Airways this year of twice-weekly direct flights from London-Gatwick, has an array of unforgettable locations.
Take, for example, Charlie’s Bar, a renowned watering hole in the southern coastal town of San Nicolas. A 70-year-old institution, this drinkers’ mecca is festooned with every imaginable piece of memorabilia, much of it left by visitors. From car number plates to part of a brick reputedly from the Berlin Wall and much more besides, this bar is a living museum of travellers’ lives and is a must-see stop for any visitor to Aruba.
But don’t put away the camera just yet. San Nicolas is also Aruba’s centre for street art and Main Street boasts some huge, colourful and indisputably impressive murals, making a really unique setting for those holiday photoshoots.
There are a number of natural phenomena, too, to give those snaps some extra, well, snap! The towering stone boulders of the Ayo Rock Formations, close to the village of Ayo, north-east of island capital Oranjestad create a sense of awe, and an understanding of why the area was once considered a sacred site by the island's original inhabitants, the Arawak Indians. You can even find original rock drawings here, dating back thousands of years.
Head a few miles south and find the Casibari Rock Formations - huge tonalite boulders sitting together in a residential area, just off the main road to Santa Cruz. Walking trails and steps through the boulders allow hikers to reach the top to obtain breathtaking 360-degree views.
Explore the rugged northern shore of Aruba and discover many natural bridges on your way; some small, yet all true gems. For centuries, pounding waves and strong winds have slowly chiselled away at the limestone cliffs along Aruba’s north coast to create several natural bridges.
Before collapsing in 2005, the largest and most photographed of these bridges was the famous Natural Bridge between the Bushiribana gold mine ruins and Andicuri Beach. The remains of this bridge are still a tourist attraction in Aruba, with the adjacent intact Baby Bridge also well worth a visit – and a photo.
The Bushiribana gold mill dates back to the 19th century, when Aruba experienced its own gold rush. Starting in 1824, it ran until 1916 and the remains of the production centre are a fascinating reminder of part of the island’s history.
Another 360-degree island views is captured from Aruba’s famous California Lighthouse. This old stone lighthouse stands as a silent watchman in the area known as Hudishibana, near the island's north-western tip. It was named after the SS California - which sank before its construction in 1910. Perched on a high seaside elevation, the lighthouse has become one of Aruba's scenic trademarks and offers a picture perfect view of the island's western coastline of beaches and coral shorelines.
Oranjestad itself offers numerous photo opportunities. Pastel-coloured traditional Dutch architecture characterise the city. It oldest building is Fort Zoutman, dating back to 1798, and built to protect the city from pirates.
The Willem III Tower was built in 1868, once a lighthouse and public clock tower. The Historical Museum, positioned between the two buildings, houses a permanent exhibition outlining the main events in Aruban history and changing themed exhibitions. Stay in town for the Bon Bini Festival on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm in the outdoor courtyard. Enjoy the island’s history, traditionally-costumed folkloric dancers, local music, culinary specialties and local art and, of course, grab those holiday photos.
We’re just getting started with the amazing effects Aruba has to offer. Dig into your trip details below to unlock a Caribbean experience that will leave you sunnier, happier, and (of course) a little more tanned.