What Makes Aruba So Special (and What Do I Really Need to Know Before Traveling There)?

With Aruba’s relatively quiet reputation, compared to the rest of the Caribbean’s noisy, rowdy, fun, and cheaper delights, Aruba is best reserved for those seeking a certain refinement, with a side of interesting evenings, and unlikely island terrains.
What Makes Aruba So Special
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The island’s neverending quirkiness is one of its rather overlooked draws, from a blended cuisine, and even more, blended people group, contrasting natural features, and seas that are just divine as the rest of the Caribbean. Aruba never runs out of reason to stay at the top of its tourism game.

Where in the World Is the Island of Aruba Located?

Nestled at the Lesser Antilles, miles off the coasts of Venezuela in South America, south of the Caribbean Sea. Aruba is one of the small islands that make up the ABC Islands, also called the Leeward Antilles.

Tucked in the northern coasts of the South American continent, Aruba is a gifted slice of heaven on the Caribbean. Its rather unique climate and terrain make it a thing of curiosity and beauty. Aside from its tropical climate with searing temperatures and windy northern coasts, the island is a desert – where it has cacti forests instead of tall, green leafy trees.

The island is approximately 21 miles or 33 km long, 6 miles or 9 km wide, and has a total land area of about 75 square miles or 193 square km. The island is generally flat with few small elevations like hills. Its main draw, the white sandy beaches are prominent around its 40 miles worth of coast.

What Is Close to Aruba?

With Aruba’s geographical location it’s affiliated with many of its neighbors, especially its ABC Islands sisters, Bonaire and Curacao. These little islands have been Aruba’s Dutch sisters as the trinity used to be a part of the Netherlands Antilles along with Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten – the Leeward Islands.

Venezuela in South America is Aruba’s closest neighbor, with only a distance of 313 km or 194 miles, many of today’s Spanish-speaking Arubans have descended from Venezuelans that have immigrated over the decades.

What Is the Closest Island to Aruba?

Just lying 15 miles between each other, Curacao is the nearest island to Aruba. This fellow former Netherlands Antilles island is similar to Aruba in many ways but also has plenty of differences that make it another island that is worth visiting.

Is Aruba a Pretty Island?

With its characteristic inland terrains, immaculate beaches, sweeping ocean views, and loving people, Aruba is indeed a beautiful island. From its laid-back atmosphere, fun, interesting evenings, family-friendly beaches, and quirky cities, Aruba has every draw that lures tourists in.

Even with its unusual desert characteristics, and windy northern coasts that are considered dangerous for swimmers of any level, Aruba never ceases to give eager visitors reasons to visit and return to this little piece of Caribbean paradise.

Is Aruba a Desert?

One distinct thing about Aruba is its characteristic as a desert island. The island has a noticeable scarcity of fresh water, and cacti-studded forests seem to be prevalent here. First-time visitors to the island need to be informed about the possibility of searing temperatures, especially during the dry season where it can go over the 30s C (90s F).

The island’s desert characteristic is prevalent in the northeastern and some of the southwestern parts of the island. You can see more of these parts when you on jeep or ATV/UTV tours around the island. A lot of the excursions take you to many of the off-beaten paths of the island, which is just as charming as the beaches you know.

Are There Mountains in Aruba?

The island country is generally flat, with hills as the only form of natural elevation. If you take a look at Aruba’s geographical map, there isn’t much significant elevation around. The highest notable elevation on the island is the Jamanota, a hill located in the Arikok National Park, east of the island. The hill stands at about 189 meters or 620 feet above sea level and is considered the island’s true highest point.

Does Aruba Have Volcanoes?

The Lesser Antilles arc rest on a series of volcanic rock that formed the island of Aruba some 145 million years ago. But, despite sitting in volcanic rock, Aruba doesn’t have any volcanoes, only a volcanic formation called the Hooiberg right at the heart of the island.  However, Hooiberg isn’t the highest point on the island but rather the Jamanota, a hill that can be seen everywhere on the island.

Was Aruba Formed by a Volcano?

Aruba was formed from the oozing lava pushed out by tectonic forces, also causing underwater igneous and sedimentary formation to rise from the sea. The lave subsequently became the Lesser Antilles. As time passed, the sea eroded and carved Aruba and made it what we see today.

What Is the Nickname for Aruba?

With the island’s famous motto “One Happy Island”, the reception it has gotten from the international traveling community has garnered Aruba the nickname “The Happy Island”, and with good reasons.

Beautiful beaches together with the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Caribbean isn’t only Aruba’s big draws. You’ll see that the island’s rather mixed and quirky culture makes for an interesting trip, the desert terrains, the island’s fun evenings, and ultimately, the people’s happy island.

All these mixed with low crime rates, and relatively higher standards of living, Aruba has all the recipes of a simply happy island. The island’s “One Happy Island” tourism campaign pushes even further with their “One Happy Workation” that allowed US nationals to work remotely basking at the beauty of the island for three months.

Why Is Aruba Called the Happy Island?

It isn’t only called the “Happy Island” just because of its beautiful white sand beaches, full of fun activities that everybody can enjoy. The island also has a mixed culture that stemmed from centuries of colonial rule, and immigration. You’ll see that the local is full of interesting and quirky details.

Apart from the culture, the people constitutes one of the main reason that makes Aruba indeed happy. The people are some of the warmest, and happiest people you’ll encounter, and their ability to speak possible 3 languages make it easier to go around and get acquainted.

The island doesn’t suffer from hurricanes, and is sunny all year round, plus, the lower crime rates, and high quality of living help with the happiness index as well. Aruba’s “One Happy Island” campaign makes the happiness of eager travelers a priority.

What Is Aruba’s Saying?

When you come to Aruba you might see the words “One Happy Island” almost everywhere, and pertaining to the island’s slogan and perpetual practice and way of life. Now, these words have transcended slogans and have made it to the country’s tourism campaigns.

Known for its vibrant scene, and natural beauty Aruba has made happiness its number one priority. With soft border policies with certain countries, and vacation packages and programs fit for first-time comers and frequent visitors, Aruba keeps putting smiles on the faces, of both tourists and locals.

Is Aruba Family and Kid-Friendly?

Staying true to its “One Happy Island” ideals, Aruba is for everybody. Whether you’re honeymooning couples, a group of friends, or a whole family, Aruba has a long list of things you can do adn enjoy while being on the island. Aruba’s reputation, mixed open culture, and commercialized cities make it a hotspot for global visitors, young and old.

Is Aruba a Good Place for Family Vacation?

With a wide array of resorts that are family and kid-friendly, Aruba is one of the best places in the Caribbean to vacation in with your family. Most of the island’s family-friendly resorts are around the western coast of the island right at the beaches of Noord.

What Is Aruba Known for?

Boasting some of the Caribbean’s most stunning golden beaches, hurricane-free weather all year round, and the best conditions to have fun in, Aruba is known for many things. Flourishing and vibrant, Oranjestad is the heart of the island, speckled with Dutch-style buildings, a top shopping scene, and quirky finds, the capital is one jewel that stands out.

Another thing that is notable in Aruba is wreck diving. Between the Arashi and the Malmok, you can dive into the Antilia, the Caribbean’s largest shipwreck, and popular site for divers of different levels.

Despite its miniature size that can be overshadowed by its Caribbean sisters, and neighboring Venezuela, Aruba has its own claims to fame. From its natural beauty, and curiosities like the desert terrains and the strong trade winds, to its commercial features like premier resorts, luxury shopping scenes, and fun evenings.

Is There Anything to Do in Aruba?

To say that there isn’t much to do in Aruba is one big mistake. If you’re an avid explorer or an outdoor lover, chances are you might find that Aruba has more than what you bargained for. For one, Aruba’s natural beauty and outdoor leave so much for exploration. You can enjoy the island’s quirks via open-air jeep, or ATV/UTV tours outside of the major urban areas. Take Arikok National Park for a start.

When you feel like exploring the city, you can always check out the myriads of things and places to enjoy and dabble in Oranjestad. Check the downtown area and ride the shuttle service, revel in the Americanized feel of the area and some colorful buildings and murals.

You can also opt for spending high-rollers style in the many shopping stores and casinos that are lined in the area, and around the famed Palm Beach just at Noord for that classic Aruba nightlife.

And while you’re in town, you can always book trips and tours from the many companies that can be found there. There are several tour companies that can take you scuba diving, hiking/trekking, and even sunset cruising by the Caribbean waters of Aruba.

How Do You Get to the Natural Pool in Aruba?

You can get to the famous Natural Pool via Arikok Park, where you can take a 4×4 ATV and a guide that can take you to the pool. However, you need to secure authorization first from your rental company to drive.

Another way is via Daimari Beach. You can hike from the beach going to the Natural Pool just up north, and don’t forget to make stops in between and revel in the views and appreciate nature on the way.

How Much Is a Day Pass to Renaissance Island Aruba?

A day pass costs around 125 USD per person, and you can purchase up to a maximum of 5 in a group. However, buying passes can be quite challenging as the island usually limits the number of passes each day based on the occupancy rate.

Contrary to the government ruling of public beach access in Aruba, Renaissance Island is the only private beach on the island. You can do plenty of things in Renaissance Island, including meeting flamingos and renting a Cabana for a day which comes with its own fun inclusions.

Are There Dolphins in Aruba?

Dolphins can be spotted any time around the Caribbean as they are said to be native to the region. You can even spot a few in Aruba, but you might need to visit an area where they are known to frequent.

One such area is the Boca Catalina, on the northwestern side of the island. Experience swimmers can venture off the beach, but some may prefer to go to the area directly via snorkel boats. You can swim with dolphins, if you ever get to encounter them, by snorkeling or scuba diving.

Can You Swim With Dolphins in Aruba?

There are no aquariums or ocean parks where you can encounter dolphins in Aruba. However, you can swim with dolphins if you encounter a little further from the coasts. The best spot to see them is in Boca Catalina, on the northwestern side of Aruba. You can take a charter boat, like a snorkel or dive boat from the coast, and get closer to where dolphins congregate and swim from there.

Can You Swim With Pigs in Aruba?

If you’re thinking about the Pig Beach where you can meet and swim with adorable friendly pigs, you won’t find that in Aruba. Unfortunately, the pig beach that you probably saw on the internet, was actually in Pigs Beach in Exumas, Bahamas.

Located on Big Major Cay in the islands of the Bahamas, Exuma is home to a whole host of wild pigs living the island life. What Aruba has, however, is Flamingo Beach, found right on Renaissance Island. They might not be as adorable swimming wild pigs on a sunny day, but flamingos are beautiful and majestic, and incredibly rare to encounter – that’s a draw in itself.

Can You See Whales in Aruba?

Aruba and the rest of the Caribbean have their share of native whales and dolphins in their waters. There are over 20 species of whales and dolphins in Aruba’s waters alone, making whale and dolphin spotting a must-do on the island.

However, while encountering them can be very special, it’s advised not to get near them or be around them often as they have their needed space, interfering with them can have dire consequences for their welfare.

What Type of Fish Do do You Catch in Aruba?

Aruban waters are especially famous for having a plethora of different fish that you can catch. There is not one popular fish to catch in Aruba as you have a wide selection and possibilities of catching them.

Many of the types of fish you’ll see are the Albacore, Atlantic Bonito, Atlantic Sailfish, Blue Marlin, Great Barracuda, King Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Rainbow Runner, Wahoo, White Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna, and the Billfish.

Do You Need a Fishing License in Aruba?

One thing that’s great about Aruba;’s fishing is that it doesn’t give tourists complications because you will never be needing one to fish. If you’re fishing from the shore or aboard a vessel, securing a fishing license isn’t required.

What Is Aruba Carnival?

Carnival is celebrated around the world in many countries, usually predominantly Catholic ones as a pre-Lenten celebration, brimming with fun, vibrant energy, music, and pageantries – and the Aruba Carnival isn’t different. A jampacked month-long celebration, filled with music competitions and festivals, street parties, and parades, the carnival month is one of the best months to visit the island.

The unofficial first carnival parade took place in San Nicolas in 1945, initiated by a group of immigrants from the different British Islands in honor of the victory of the Allies after the Second World War. It was only three after that the same group was officially appointed to organize a parade in the streets of San Nicolas celebrating the 50th-anniversary jubilee of Queen Wilhelmina.

Since then the traditional Carnival has evolved each year becoming grander, more vibrant, and fun, especially after the tourism boom.

What Is the Most Popular Sport in Aruba?

As a windy island with a thriving beach scene you’d assume aquatic sports like windsurfing or kitesurfing would Aruba’s best bet, but no, the island happens to love Baseball. This small Caribbean island has managed to produce some of the best baseball players from the Major League like Xander Bogaerts, Calvin Gregory Maduro, Eugene Kingsale, and Sidney Ponson.

Other than Baseball, Arubans also happen to love football, (or called soccer in some counties like the US), and sailing.

What Do Locals Do in Aruba?

Other than living their daily lives making ends meet in a non-pitiful way as the island lives a higher standard compared to its neighbors as big as Venezuela, locals enjoy opening their island to eager travelers and curious tourists.

Locals create and craft local goods, and products that seem to be enjoyed by other locals, and almost everyone who visits the country. Living on an island is relatively simple and unassuming, given as most of their livelihood is centered on the sea and the natural resources of the island.

But, the island’s beauty and growing fame has provided several other industries and jobs to the inhabitants. This growing economy has made life for most locals relatively easier compared to its Caribbean neighbors.

Other than the traditional farming, and fishing livelihood, many Arubans sell local crafts and products to eager foreign buyers, its growing commerce has made the demand for commercial work increased, and in the low days, enjoying the beautiful home they found themselves to be in. One happy island, indeed.

How Many Days Do You Need in Aruba?

If you want a quick getaway, 5 days will give you ample time to explore the island, and enjoy the city and the beaches. But, if you’re the type to slow travel and want to live like a local, anytime more than a week is ideal. This gives you time to mingle with more locals, get to know them better, and explore many of the island’s hidden gems, and cultural quirks.

Aruba may be little, but its long interesting list of characteristics and natural beauty will give you more than enough reasons to stay a bit longer. It may even get you to come back over and over again. Many of the island’s expats started out this way, you might become one too.

How Many Days Is Enough in Aruba?

5 days in Aruba will work for a quick getaway, give you enough time to explore the island and enjoy the beaches but not so much on absorbing and living like a local and be in the Aruban spirit. Anything beyond that can be better, but it always depends on how much time, and money you got, and the kind of experiences you want to have on the island.

What Should I Pack for a Trip to Aruba?

The essential should always be thought of first. Beach necessities like sunblock, sunglasses, hats, bathing suits, cover-ups, medicine, and first-aid kits, and cash, are always the most important. Especially when you love spending the whole day just lounging and swimming on the beach.

Make sure you also brought credit and debit cards, cash in Aruban florins or US dollars will do, and other documents like passport books/cards, and international driver’s license in case you might want to rent out.

As for street style, make sure you pack light, and cool clothing as Aruba can be searing hot, especially if you visit during the dry season (also, the island’s peak season). For the ladies, tank tops, thin dresses, light tank tops, shorts, and a pair of sandals or flip-flops, if you plan to stroll around during the day.

As for the men, tank tops, light button-downs, simple basic shirts, shorts, and a pair of sandals or flip-flops will do. The key is to wear light, or thin fabrics to stay cool and regulated under the Aruban sun.

What Should I Pack for a Week in Aruba?

Make sure to pack a week’s worth of clothes if you plan to stay for a week or less. If you’re planning on hiking and trekking around the rugged city outskirts like the desert terrains and the Arikok National Park – which is almost an Aruban rite of passage, bring activewear.

Apart from the needed wears, make sure to bring a week’s worth of budget, or more, its always better to go over the top with your budget rather than short estimated, this is Aruba, after all. You can bring Aruban florins or US dollars, and make sure to exchange your money on banks and withdraw from ATMs accepting Visa or MasterCard.

Make sure to bring any other important documents and identification as well, like passport IDs/books, driver’s license, medical certificates if you have an existing medical condition, and credit or debit cards.

What Clothes to Wear in Aruba?

As for proper style, make sure you pack light, thin and cool clothing as the island can have scorching heat, especially if you visit during the dry season (also, the island’s peak season). For the ladies, tank tops, thin dresses, light tank tops, shorts, and a pair of sandals or flip-flops, if you plan to stroll around during the day.

And, for the men, you can go with tank tops, light button-downs, simple basic shirts, shorts, and a pair of sandals or flip-flops will do. The key is to wear light, or thin fabrics to stay cool and regulated under the Aruban sun.

What Should I Wear on a Plane to Aruba?

Planes going to Aruba don’t have a dress code, thus, you have the freedom to wear casual clothing, and make sure it doesn’t have a lot of metal on it, like belt buckles if you don’t want to be held longer in a metal detector.

Other than that, Aruba is a liberal island to be in. What you need to worry about though is the appropriate clothes to wear under the heat of the sun. It’s best to look up online about the weather during your visit before going.

What Else Should I Bring to Aruba?

Make sure to bring any other important documents and identification as well, like passport IDs/books, driver’s license, medical certificates if you have an existing medical condition, and credit or debit cards.

Is There a US Embassy in Aruba?

While the US is one of Aruba’s biggest trade and diplomatic partners, the North American country doesn’t have an embassy on the island, but rather, on its Caribbean neighbor, Curacao. You can get to Curacao via plane only. Charter flights cost around 120 to 400 USD and would take around 40 to 45 minutes of fly time.

Is Aruba Really So Nice and Beautiful?

Aruba is an island of many quirks and contrasts. Where else can you get a desert terrain, cacti forests, lovely beaches, a relatively flat island, and an upscale capital all in one island, where the sun always shines, crazy winds, and happy warm people? Aruba has all its draws enough for people to visit, stay, and come back one too many times.

Why You Should Visit Aruba?

The island may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but to those who do, it’s a little underrated piece of heaven in the south of the Caribbean. A lot of people might choose to opt out of visiting Aruba if they have been to bigger more exciting places like the Bahamas, Barbados, and Antigua, but Aruba is best-reserved to those who still see its uniqueness despite seeing others.

Aruba has its fair share of claims to fame, and the classic draws of a sunny holiday destination but when you live the island’s slogan of “One Happy Island”, you’ll find that there are a lot more reasons to visit and stay on the island that a holiday postcard can’t quite cover.