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It may be renowned for its white sand beaches, year-round sunshine, cosmopolitan cuisine and vibrant nightlife but Aruba also has a quieter side.
Away from the internationally-rated hotel resorts, the buzzing bars and array of watersports, Aruba is also home to a kaleidoscope of wildlife. From lizards and monarch butterflies to mountain-climbing goats and cave-dwelling bats, Aruba can also be a fascinating destination for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful diversion from the customary holiday schedule.
You could start when relaxing on the beach. For below the surface of the sand there might just be an Atlantic ghost crab, an entertaining creature that can waggle its eyes and throw heaps of sand across the beach.
A cycle ride or walk around the island will quite likely introduce visitors to some of the Caribbean animals most common to the island. Whiptail lizards are among the resident reptiles, together with iguanas. The island is also home to the Aruba rattlesnake and the venomous pit viper – certainly not dangerous unless they feel threatened, so leave them to themselves!
Long-haired goats and wild donkeys are the largest mammals found on the island and you can enjoy a close encounter with the latter at the island’s Donkey Sanctuary which offers a safe haven for sick or injured animals.
Seven species of bat have been identified in Aruba, some of them insectivores and others fruit-eating and the caves in Arikok National Park are home to substantial colonies.
Birdlife is also abundant on this Dutch Caribbean haven. The Aruba burrowing owl or shoco is the island’s national symbol and, at 20cms high, is arguably the cutest bird around.
Sadly, the shoco’s population has greatly diminished in the last few decades and is now considered endangered, with estimates of less than 200 pairs remaining on the island. While the owl is not currently officially protected on Aruba, many conservation efforts are being made to save them.
Flamingos can also be spotted in Aruba – particularly on Renaissance Island, just off the coast from capital Oranjestad. Parakeets, macaws, spoonbills and even humming birds can also be found. For the enthusiast, grab your binoculars and head to the Bubali Bird Sanctuary, a stretch of wetland that is home to a range of species, some endangered – entry is free, including for those who just want to walk.
Nearby is the island’s renowned Butterfly Farm, hosting dozens of species and hundreds of free-flying butterflies. And also in the same area is the Aruba Ostrich Farm, also offering close-up experiences
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.