Picturesque. Exotic. Sociable. Welcoming. Historical. Just a few of the words to chronicle the island of Aruba, which is as warm and happy as its individuals. Whether you need to experience a unique Caribbean vacation or just need to get away from it all, Aruba is a destination that will seize your heart and keep you coming back for more.
Where it is:
Aruba is an island surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. It is located about 20 miles off the coast of Venezuela and was portion of the Netherlands Antilles. It became an autonomous member in 1986. Its capital city is Oranjestad, located in the western end.
Aruba has a dry, sunny climate that maintains an regular annual temperature of 27 degrees Celsius. Its sunny climes are made cooler by trade winds and rain occurs principally in October and November. There’s also no need to bother about strong weather since Aruba is unaffected by hurricanes, making your vacation that much more enjoyable and worry – free.
A minimal history:
The initial inhabitants of the island of Aruba were Arawak Indians, recognized as Caiquetios who came from South America. Evidence of their culture is still found in different locations in the island – drawings are found in caves at the Arikok National Park while pottery and artifacts are kept in historical museums in Fort Zoutman and William III Tower.
In 1499, the island was claimed by the Spaniards for Queen Isabella and named it Oro Hubo, pertaining to the gold they hoped to find there. The name Aruba, however, is believed to come from ‘oibubai’, an Arawak Indian expression meaning ‘guide’. When the Spaniards couldn’t find gold, they decided to quit and set their sites someplace else.
Aruba was captured by the Dutch in the 1600s and became part of the Netherlands Antilles. Aruba became one of the major satellites of the Dutch West India Company.
In 1824, it was found out that the Spaniards should have stayed for the gold because it was discovered on the northeastern coast near Bushiribana. Mining operations lasted until the early 1900s, when prospecting became unprofitable. Less than 10 years later, oil replaced gold as an prominent commodity and put Aruba on the map as one of the largest oil refineries in the world.
The overabundance of petroleum closed the industry in 1985 and so it turned to its other major origin of income, tourism. To this day, even after the reopening of oil refineries in the early 1990s, tourism is still the island’s main source of fuel for its economy.
The pirates of the Caribbean:
The romance of Aruba’s legend is partly due to its connection with pirates and buccaneers. After the Spaniards left, the island became a sanctuary of sorts for these seafaring bandits who attacked ships on their way to the Old World containing treasures. As a testament to their presence, the ruins of a pirate castle still stands at Bushiribana.
The culture of Aruba:
The individuals of Aruba are a proud mix of different races and ethnic backgrounds. Although its official language is Dutch, the island’s native language is Papiamento, a form of Creole dialect. It is a mixture of Dutch, Spanish, French, English, Portuguese, Arawak Indian and African languages. Spanish is also a language that is spoken extensively in the island.
Business in Aruba is traded through the Aruban florin, although U. S. Dollars are widely accepted. U. S. and Canadian citizens do not have to offer passports nor visas, although immigration requires birth certificates with an ID portrayal or an Alien Registration Card to be presented upon arrival. Visitors from other countries are required to give both a passport and a visa.
Getting to and around Aruba:
Numerous air transportation services regularly ply the route from Venezuela to Aruba. Other common airlines are American Airlines, KLM, Air Transat and Royal and Air Canada. Chartered flights are also available from Canada and from several cities in the U. S.
There are many forms of transportation to use to travel around Aruba, including limousines, jeeps, cars, bicycles, motorcycles and scooters. Taxis are also available.
Sights to see:
Aruba is not all beach and sand and exotic flora and fauna. It has numerous historical sites that are worth visiting, including the William III Tower which is Aruba’s oldest building. There is also an ancient 19th century smelting plant in Balashi that was used for processing gold.
For diving enthusiasts, the southwestern coastline provides numerous sites – 42 in all. Beginners will appreciate diving for the Pedernales wreck, which was sunk by German torpedoes during WWII. Environment – conscious divers can even participate in one of Aruba’s reef clean – up programs.
There is an endless array of activities visitors can enjoy in Aruba – shopping, sightseeing, golfing, deep – sea fishing, horseback riding, snorkeling, windsurfing and watersports – the list is virtually endless. With so much to do in such a beautiful paradise, it’s no wonder that visitors keep coming back to Aruba. Bonbini!