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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)



Aruba Holidays

Every side of Aruba is this little island's good side. From some of the world's best white-sand beaches, to friendly faces, pastel-coloured buildings and year-round sunshine, this patch of the Caribbean is gorgeous no matter which way you look.

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Small but mighty

Everything you've heard about Aruba is true. The powdery sands, candy blue waters and seemingly endless hours of sun – they're all there. The Beach Boys didn't sing about this Caribbean island for nothing.

From start to finish, Aruba is a small island at only 30 kilometres long and 10 wide, but it's packed from coast to coast with sunshine-driven activities. This island is technically under the rule of The Netherlands, so you'll see Dutch influences like an old windmill and Dutch Colonial architecture paving the capital city, Oranjestad - which was named after Dutch ruler William of Orange.

In spite of its European influences, Aruba is still rife with a Caribbean air. Part of the ABC Islands and placed conveniently outside of Hurricane Alley, it sees more sunshine per year than any other Caribbean island. Aruba calls itself 'One Happy Island,' and we have to agree. Spend even a few minutes on its show-stopping beaches and you'll be one happy camper.

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  • Roman Catholic
  • Aruban Florin
  • Dutch
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  • GMT -4

The world's best beaches

The beaches in Aruba are consistently named among the most gorgeous in the world. Take Eagle Beach, for example, found on the island's western coast. It's universally adored for its see-through waters, white sands and line of thatched umbrellas, not to mention the unrivalled silence and sense of tranquility.

Along Aruba's west coast is a seven-mile strip of uninterrupted beach dotted with luxury hotels, restaurants and bars. The water here is sheltered from the wind, making the waves an incredibly safe place to wade. There's even a beach called Baby Beach, because it's so suitable for little splashers.

And Aruba's beaches might feel secluded, but they're well-attended to by diving and watersport centres, along with hotels offering watersport rentals and lessons. Head to some of the more popular spots like Palm Beach and Oranjestad and you'll find submarine tours, catamaran cruises and snorkelling excursions too.

Getting outside

Activities in Aruba are all about getting in touch with the local scenery – the colourful reefs here make for amazing snorkelling trips, as do the array of spooky ship wrecks. There's the Arikok National Park whose arid landscape is laden with windswept Divi trees, and a handful of animal sanctuaries around the island. It's there where you can get up close and personal with the local flora at a butterfly garden, donkey sanctuary or petting zoo.

Classic Caribbean with an international twist

Aruba's international influences might have something to do with why this tiny island is packed with quite so many restaurants dishing up worldly cuisine. You'll find everything from German food to American, French, Italian, Creole and, of course, a whole lot of Caribbean.

The settings range from Michelin star-rated establishments to tiny beach shacks, and the views aren't half bad, either. Meals in Aruba usually come with a heaped portion of waterfront vistas.

Chic bars and party cars

Nights out in Aruba can be as laid-back or upbeat as you'd like. You can grab a quiet cocktail from one of the ramshackle beach huts speckling the coast, settle in at your hotel bar with a little live evening entertainment, or dance the night away at a nightclub.

The island is also big on casinos, so you can try your luck at the slots as you sip. Another rite of passage in Aruba is the mega-popular Kukoo Kanuku. They're a fleet of hand-painted buses that cruise around the resort called Noord, picking up party-goers for an unforgettable night of dinner and bar-hopping.

Diamond daze

Shopping for a little slice of Aruba to take home with you isn't your typical souvenir-searching experience. That's because there are more diamond and jewellery stores in Aruba than anything, offering steals on good quality pieces. But you'll find a range of kitschy bits as well, with items like cigars, alcohol and clothing on offer.

Palm Beach is home to the largest shopping centre in Aruba, called the Palm Beach Shopping Plaza. Its designer stores are enough to send any fashionista's brain into overdrive. The Royal Plaza Mall in Oranjestad is another crowd favourite, drenched in the area's classic Dutch Colonial architecture and a sugar-sweet bubblegum pink paint.