Award-winning beaches, designer shopping malls and a capital city with a distinctly Dutch feel – it’s all on the cards on a holiday to Aruba.
The Happy Island
Aruba calls itself One Happy Island, and it’s pretty easy to see why. The Arubans’ reasons to be cheerful start with their beaches – the island is circled by almost 70 kilometres of sandy shoreline. The stretch that gets the most attention is the 11-kilometre sweep linking Palm and Eagle beaches. The latter even made it into the top 10 on TripAdvisor’s 2012 poll of the world’s best beaches.
Head to the capital, Oranjestad, and the Caribbean influences take a backseat. Here, there’s no hiding the island’s ties to the Netherlands. Gabled roofs are everywhere and the buildings are painted in merry-go-round colours.
Arikok National Park
Aruba’s interior is the cherry on top of the island’s cake. The walking trails in Arikok National park will introduce you to shoulder-high cacti, skittish iguanas, and two species of bird that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
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Set on Aruba's western coast, Druif Beach fits the Caribbean job description well. It's a small, quiet place with just a few hotels, restaurants and shops on its resort CV. But where it really blows the competition out of the water is the beach – a Robinson Crusoe-style stretch that goes on as far as the eye can see.
This high-rise, high-glamour resort on Aruba’s northwest coast dishes up the kind of swish offering you’d expect from a place like Vegas. Super-sized hotels, malls, casinos – they’re all here. But unlike Sin City, it’s got a white-sand beach that would make Robinson Crusoe green with envy. No wonder Palm Beach is the island’s top tourist destination.
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