Aruba, One Happy Island

I stood in the middle of the teal green ocean with water up to my shoulders, basking in the afternoon sun, rocking with the motion of the gentle waves and enjoying the constant breeze. High-rise resort hotels bordered the white sands beach, lined with lounge chairs, palm trees and thatch-roofed cabanas. I twirled in the water, marveling at the paradise that surrounded me.  I wondered why I had not come to Aruba sooner. Here are five reasons you should not wait any longer:

It’s Beautiful

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Touted by every tour guide and native I met, Aruba has one of the top 10 beaches in the world, noted for it’s calm waters and soft white sand beaches.  Eagle Beach, rated number 3 by Trip Advisor, is known for its renowned fofoti trees leaning toward the Caribbean.  I visited Eagle Beach, Palm Beach and Baby Beach all of which were stunning. Baby Beach is like a pool; you can easily go out into the water for 50 or 60 feet and still not be in over your head. Though the ocean, palm trees and good weather make it feel tropical, Aruba is a desert island. Cactuses, iguanas and aloe plants are ubiquitous but also an interesting juxtaposition Caribbean ocean that surrounds the island. The views are breathtaking.

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It’s Safe

I left my bag on the beach without thinking twice about anything getting stolen. I kept an eye on it the entire time out of habit, but no one even came close to it. The crime rate is merely 2% and it is unlikely that you will see anyone begging, homeless or looking to scam you. I felt safer on Aruba’s shores than in most beaches in the US.  

Even the drinking water is safe. After a day on the beach in 85-90 degree weather, I was delighted that all I had to do was turn on the faucet and drink. Aruba has one of the largest desalination plants in the world. I gulped it down like I was at home.

The locals are friendly

Tourism is Aruba’s primary industry, so locals are invested in tourists having good experiences. Locals are friendly and come in all shades from Holland (Aruba is a Dutch Caribbean Island), to descendants of Venezuelans and other Caribbean islands like Jamaica and neighboring Curacao. Whether their faces were black, white or brown, every local I met had a friendly smile and loved their country (even the non-native residents loved it). The languages spoken are just as colorful as the pastel painted buildings. English, Dutch and Spanish are widely spoken alongside the local tongue, Papiamento.

There is plenty to do

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On day two of my trip, I sipped on a red cocktail named pirates poison as I watched the sunset turn the sky orange while I cruised on the Jolly Rider Pirate Ship. On day three, I went on an all day island tour where I saw the must see sights of Aruba, – the lighthouse, the first church on the island, a natural rock formation and rode through San Nicholas, also known as Chocolate City (where the majority of the black people live, descendants from other islands who came to Aruba in the early 1900’s to work at it’s oil refinery).

Whether you want to relax on one of it’s many beaches with a pina colada, get a massage, enjoy water sports or take an ATV tour of the rugged desert bush, it is all at your fingertips. You can eat everything from upscale seafood to burgers and Italian. My personal favorite was the wine and dine door hosted by Kuku Kanooco. We traipsed around Aruba in a red-painted school bus with no windows where the party music blared and the maracas shook as we ate and drank at 4 restaurants. De Palm or El Tours are pretty popular as well. I gave my $$ to Indulgence Spa, which gave me the best deep tissue massage I have had in my life.

It’s easy to get around

Aruba is 19 miles long and 6 miles wide. You can drive from one end of the island to another in less than an hour. If you rent a car, though there are no street signs and no street lights (namely round-about). However, there are only a few main roads, and one of them takes you straight from the airport to downtown Oranjestad and right through all of the beach and hotel areas. The same is true for Arubus, which comes every 30 minutes and costs $2.60. Shelters are easily identifiable. Taxi’s are also easy to catch, although they can be a bit pricey (between $8-$35), most hotels and restaurants have taxi’s right in front. I took a 10-minute walk daily from my rented apartment to the beach area with no problem. Not only is it easy to get around, you will find most things just feel easy. That is why even the license plates proclaim that Aruba is “One Happy Island.”

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