The desert-like island of Aruba is unlike most other Caribbean islands. Aruba is a drier island, with less rainfall and fewer tropical plants and flowers. It is easily identified by the divi divi trees, which grow slanted thanks to the ever-present Atlantic winds. Cactus is abundant. The land is fairly flat, and there are no mountains. The north shore of the island is quite rugged, but the south offers pristine white beaches. Numerous airlines serve Aruba, so there is no problem finding your way to this unusual island paradise.
Few islands offer vacationers the ability to sightsee on a Harley Davidson. But in Aruba, contact Harley Davidson Tours for a four-hour guided ride past the lighthouse, Frenchman's Pass, Casibari Rock Formation, Baby Beach and some beautiful scenery. Mountain bikes and ATVs can be rented for island sightseeing as well.
Wear a bright color and spend a few hours at the Butterfly Museum. This mesh-enclosed man-made jungle offers many species of butterflies in various stages of life, many will land right on your shoulder. This is a fascinating guided tour. Be sure to bring your camera. Buy one entry ticket and return to the museum as often as you like for the remainder of your vacation.
Hike through one of Aruba's many caves. The Fontein Cave has Arawak Indian drawings on the ceilings. Walk around the Ayo Rock Formations and take in the serene beauty of this sacred site.
Bird enthusiasts can utilize the lookout tower at Bubali Bird Sanctuary to see many migratory birds. Then head to the Donkey Sanctuary where volunteers have erected a home for the island's donkeys.
Tour the Fort Zoutman/Willem III Tower, also known as the Historical Museum of Aruba.
Learn to salsa dance with Aruba Salsa and its professional instructors.
Hike, ATV or drive a Jeep to the Natural Pool, where you can refresh yourself in a calm, serene natural rock-formed pool. The ride there will jar your teeth, so you might want to hire a guide. There are steep slopes to the pool, so be cautious. Take your goggles and snorkel while enjoying the sea life.
The scuba diving and snorkeling around Aruba is excellent. Explore the sunken WWII German freighter, the Antilla. Bring some corn to attract hundreds of beautiful tropical fish, and examine one of the largest shipwrecks in the Caribbean.
There are several outfitters for equipment rental and charter dives, including Private Dive, Strea Charters and JADS Dive Center.
There is also plenty to do after the sun sets in Aruba. Try your luck at one of the island's many beautiful casinos, or go dancing at Mambo Jambo's, Jimmy's or Escape. There are traditional party bars like Carlos and Charlie's, as well as a biker bar called Black Hog Saloon. Late-night, after-hours bars like Euphoria and Choose-A-Name provide entertainment after all others have turned out the lights.
Most major hotels have theme nights as well as some top entertainment. For a break from resort buffet tables, try some authentic, traditional Aruba dining at Nos Canuku.
The Aruba Annual Music Festival is generally held in October and brings in great talent, a lively group of visitors, and the warm and friendly Arubans themselves.
Article Written By Lea Ann Fessenden-Joseph
Lea Ann Fessenden-Joseph, a professional freelance writer, spent more than 20 years with a major airline and enjoys writing about travel, health, alternative medicine and interior decorating. She is the National Caribbean Travel Examiner and her work has been featured in the "Dallas Morning News," "Caribbean Property and Lifestyle Magazine," Gadling, Travels and numerous other publications. Fessenden-Joseph attended Texas Christian University.