Some places on Earth feel as though nature created them to be an escape from the rest of the world. Aruba is a tropical island in the Caribbean that stands above almost every other island destination. Simply looking at any photo of Aruba shows why it's such an incredible place: dazzling white beaches, foamy blue seas, and plenty of places to enjoy yourself. No matter where on the island you choose to stay, you'll find something remarkable. The resorts along the northern coast make for perfect vacation spots. But if you choose to journey beyond the resorts, you'll find an island teeming with culture and life. Visit windswept beaches and trails that are perfect for horseback riding. Discover the majestic animals that call the island home. There is no incorrect way to enjoy Aruba, regardless of your interests.
Almost a fifth of Aruba belongs to a vast and breathtaking national park. Arikok National Park spans across the island's arid regions to the tropical shores of the northern and eastern coasts. When you visit Arikok, you'll come across many different plants, including ancient cacti and succulents. A hike through the park typically crosses the hotter areas of the island before letting you cool off in the crisp waters just off the sea cliffs.
Because Aruba is a tropical Caribbean island, it has a wide range of animal species that call it home, and one of the most important is the Aruban donkey. Near the end of the colonial era, many people released donkeys into the wild as their usefulness waned. This led to the formation of massive packs, until disease swept through their colonies, devastating their population. Now Aruba's donkey sanctuary provides for and protects the creatures while encouraging visitors to pet and feed them.
Couples everywhere fly across the world looking for a perfect romantic getaway, but many of them make the mistake of forgetting Aruba. There is no doubt that Aruba has some of the best beaches that the world can offer. Because of this, restaurants have begun to offer incredible beach-dining experiences where you can enjoy the island's delights while sinking your toes into the sand. For the ultimate romantic meal, choose to visit during sunset.
The minute you begin searching for information about Aruba, you discover just how beautiful its beaches truly are. It's not just the shining white sands that make the beaches so remarkable, but the shimmering waves of the ocean as well. There's only so much that you can enjoy from the shore. For a true taste of what the ocean is like, take a sailing tour of the island and make a day of fun out on the water.
If you travel the world in search of adventures that end with a remarkable discovery, consider joining a hike to Aruba's natural pool. Though the walk is hot, windy, and long, it's well worth it thanks to the island's dazzling landscapes. You'll end your journey when you find a limestone ridge where the waves have carved a gentle depression into the rock. Feel free to take a refreshing dip in the pool or go snorkeling in the nearby ocean waters.
When you're near the beaches of Oranjestad, you'll eventually come across the towering, sunken cargo ship, the Jane C. Coral coats the ship and its chains and many of its walls have fallen away, making it an incredible diving location. Barracudas, turtles, and manta rays all swim through the strong currents that surround the ship. Advanced divers will be able to swim through the ship's large cargo areas in 65 to 93-foot deep waters.
When you visit a Caribbean island, you have to spend at least some part of your trip at the world-famous beaches. Thankfully, Aruba has no shortage of stunning locations for some fun in the sun. You can spend time at Surfside Beach, which is the most swimmable beach in the area and features an inflatable water park. Alternatively, you might enjoy Aruba's most famous beach, Eagle Beach, and its many resorts.
Although Aruba is a perfect vacation destination regardless of when you choose to visit, you may want to wait to take the trip until January. Between early January and late February, the island explodes into the colorful celebrations for Carnival. Locals take to the streets in ornate masks and costumes as music, food, parades, and dancing take over the island. If you want to make your journey memorable, you have to experience Aruba Carnival.
Throughout Arikok National Park are intricate cave systems that wind through the ground beneath the island. Unlike the massively popular beaches, few tourists tend to visit these caves -- to their loss. Though there are many to choose from, Guadirikiri Cave is a local favorite thanks to its "Tunnel of Love" that bridges its two main caverns. Like many of the caves in Aruba, the tunnel features ancient cave painting and handprints from the native tribes.
One of the best things about traveling is getting to see cultures that are vastly different from your own. Art fans should take time out of their vacation to leave the resorts and tourist-friendly areas of Aruba's northern shores to visit its incredible San Nicolas area along the southern side of the island. San Nicolas is like a painting that became a real city. Many of its buildings feature bright and vibrant murals of everything from religious imagery to tropical animals, making it a treat for the eyes.
Hidden among the various resorts are the charming Butterfly Farm and its many lush gardens. A guided tour of the farm takes you through the life cycles of the many butterflies and moths that fill the area with life. You can find habitats that protect tropical dry forest and rainforest species. Plus, the admission fee covers the entirety of your vacation, meaning that you can visit it as many times as you like without any additional cost.
Aruba is not a particularly mountainous island, but that's not to say that it doesn't have its fair share of climbing adventures. Hooiberg is Aruba's second-highest hill, and it attracts many brave climbers from around the world. It towers over the area at an impressive 540 feet and boasts a staircase of 587 steps. The effort is definitely worth it as the view is absolutely breathtaking, and on a clear day, the vista expands across the sea to Venezuela.