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Aruba is one Happy Island is a Caribbean island 15 miles north of the coast of Venezuela, and is one of the four "countries" that together form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This flat island with no rivers is renowned for its white sand beaches and tropical climate moderated by constant trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean. This beautiful island offers many activities and attractions for people of all ages.
Aruba is divided into the northeast and southwest coasts. The southwest has the white sand beaches, turquoise seas, and warm waters. The northeast coast, exposed to the Atlantic, has a few white sand beaches, cacti, rough seas with treacherous currents, and a rocky coastline. The time in Aruba is Atlantic Standard Time; it is the same as Eastern Daylight Savings time all year round.
The climate is tropical marine, with little seasonal temperature variation. Because of its location south in the Caribbean there is very strong sun, but a constant light breeze keeps the temperature pleasant.
The island is flat with a few hills, arid with mostly desert vegetation and negligible natural resources other than white sandy beaches. Highest point: Mount Jamanota (188 m).
Papiamento and the national flag, anthem, and coat of arms are the most important national symbols. They stress the inhabitants' love for the island, the close connection to the Caribbean Sea, and the multi-cultural composition of the population. The national anthem is played and sung on many occasions. The Dutch flag functions as a symbol of the unity of Aruba, the Netherlands, and the Netherlands Antilles.
Get around in Aruba
Like most Caribbean islands, Aruba's transportation network consists primarily of two-lane paved roads.
Oranjestad is often jammed with traffic when Aruba is full of tourists, which means that if you are staying north of Oranjestad, you must budget at least an hour each way to transit through Oranjestad. A glance at the map will reveal several possibilities for going around the worst of the traffic by heading inland, but there aren't any really good shortcuts, just long detours where the time spent going out of your way to bypass Oranjestad is almost as long as the time it would have taken you to just sit through bumper-to-bumper traffic passing through it.
You can conveniently get around Aruba by car, bus, or by foot. As a tourist, it is not completely necessary to rent a car because many restaurants, beaches, and shopping areas are within walking distance. If something is not within walking distances, taxis are always available and the ride is never very long. There is also a bus line that can take you close to major tourist areas.
Driving in Aruba
The most important thing U.S. drivers need to remember is that there are no turns on red. Also, there are several roundabouts, which can be frustrating to some drivers but are quickly gotten used to.
Aruba uses international road signs under the Vienna Convention standard, which generally have no words or any obvious relation to their meaning. Fortunately, tourist maps usually contain quick references explaining their meaning if you are unfamiliar with them.
International road signs are used in Aruba. Foreign driver's licenses and International Driver Permits issued by a member country of the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic are generally valid. If your driver's license is already written in English from such a country, an IDP is not necessary.
Languages spoken are Dutch (official), Papiamento, (also official) (a creole of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch origin), Spanish, and English (widely spoken).
What to see in Aruba
Natural Pool (Conchi) - On the northern side of the island and only accessible via ATV or Trail Rated 4x4. This is a small pool of water hidden in natural rock formation that jut into the ocean, just off the shore of Aruba. .
California Lighthouse - On the northernmost tip of the island. Many scenic views and is also the location where you can access the dirt trails to travel down the northern shores of Aruba.
Our Lady of Alto Visto Chapel - On the northern side of the island. The chapel is very picturesque and historic.
Aruba Aloe Factory – You can take a short tour and learn some interesting facts about aloe farming, production and uses.
Casibari Rock & Ayo Rock Formations – You can climb and explore these formations, the tops of which provide a great view of the countryside.
Natural Bridge @ Boca Andicuri – There are 7 "Natural Bridges" in Aruba.
Bushiribban Gold Mill / Smelting Station – The ruins of the smelting station are the way to the Natural Bridge. Climbing the ruins you can get great photos of the coastline.
Aruba Ostrich Farm – The tour walks you around the ostrich pens and incubator.
Boca Catalina and the Antilla Shipwreck – These are 2 of the many sites snorkel tours will take you. The Antillla Shipwreck is the remains of a scuttled 400-foot German cargo ship that was anchored off of Aruba during WW2. Antilla is the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean.
Divi Flamingo resort. This shipwreck can be explored either by diving or by submarine.
Arikok National Park - The park consists of lava formations, a quartz diorite formation and a limestone formation extending inward from the coastline. These formations have played a pivotal role in the history of Aruba.
The Palm Island
Butterfly Farm - set in a tropical atmosphere, tour guides at the Butterfly Farm will elucidate butterfly habits and metamorphosis.
Bubali Bird Sanctuary - over 80 species of migratory birds reside in the sanctuary. Get the best view of the birds, by using the observation tower.
De Oude Molen/ Windmill First built in 1804 in Holland then shipped to Aruba in 1906.
Donkey Sanctuary. A home for many rescued donkeys, who roam wild on Aruba and are often killed by cars or dogs.