A member of the Lesser Antilles islands in the Caribbean Sea's West Indies, Aruba is a charming vacation destination that spreads across 75 square miles. The western shores of this desert island boast pristine stretches of leisurely beaches, while the eastern coast of the island bears a rugged cliffside carved from limestone. From the sophisticated, bustling capital of Oranjestad to the historic relics found in the Arikok National Park, Aruba offers enough variety to please any traveler.
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Although the island only stretches 20 miles in length, Aruba offers a variety of enticing attractions that range from historical landmarks to stunning natural formations. The different regions of the island offer plenty of options to keep any vacationer occupied, but the small size of the island promises that tourists can easily reach any destination in Aruba.
On the western side of Aruba, near the capital of Oranjestad, tourists will find Fort Zoutman and Willem III Tower, a historic pair of Dutch-style architectural landmarks built to protect the island from raiding pirates in the 18th century. Another excellent illustration of the Dutch influences in Aruba is the Old Dutch Windmill, situated on the coast between Oranjestad and Palm Beach. Neighboring the Old Dutch Windmill, the Bubali Bird Sanctuary offers a wonderful retreat for nature lovers. This site has become a breeding ground for more than 80 species of migratory birds, and a tall observation tower provides patrons with unparalleled views of these amazing creatures.
Sweeping across the mid-eastern portion of Aruba, the Arikok National Park occupies a large percentage of the island. Guests here can enjoy lava formations, ancient Arawak paintings and four species of creatures that solely reside in Aruba. Sitting north of the park, tourists can make a visit to the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins. Atop this historical landmark, guests can enjoy breathtaking views of the sea. Another great attraction is the Ayo Rock Formations, located inland near the northern edge of the Arikok National Park. The petroglyphs on the boulders indicate that the area was utilized as housing or had religious purposes for the early inhabitants of the island, making the formations an excellent place to absorb both natural wonder and Aruba's historical past.
Despite the seemingly small size of the island, Aruba is home to several distinct areas offering concentrated lodging and attractions. The majority of the action takes place near Palm Beach, Eagle Beach, Malmok Beach, and in Oranjestad.
Situated on the northwest part of the map, Palm Beach houses high-rise resorts, beautiful gardens and inviting beachfront property. Guests will enjoy waterside activities like swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, sailing and people-watching. The area around Palm Beach is known for being the busiest region in Aruba, so it's ideal for people looking for excitement, nightlife, and plenty of people watching.
Eagle Beach is located south of Palm Beach on the western coast. This part of Aruba is a slightly more tranquil version of its northern neighbor, offering some of the best beaches on the island, shady picnic areas and spread out lodging facilities. If you're interested in motorized water sports, Eagle Beach is an ideal place to fulfill your itch for adventure.
Sitting north of Palm Beach, travelers will find the relaxing area of Malmok Beach. This shoreline is part of the Arashi Underwater Park, and offers a superb venue for anyone interested in making a splash in the crystal clear Aruban waters. Malmok Beach boasts superior underwater visibility and gentle currents, making it a perfect place for snorkeling.
The capital city of Oranjestad is another great place to stay in Aruba. Located on the southern coast, this city exudes Dutch influences that range from colorful housing structures to traditional Dutch tile work. If you're keen on seafood, be sure to stop by the wharf for fresh fish that is sold directly off the boat each morning. Shoppers will enjoy the hand-crafted goods and art found at local markets throughout the city. Throughout the year, many festivals and events are held in Oranjestad, including the popular annual Carnival.
Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA), located just south of Oranjestad on the map, serves as the central hub of Aruba's arrivals and departures. Flights serve the United States, Canada, Europe, South America and numerous destinations throughout the Caribbean.
If you're visting on a cruise, your ship will dock at the Port of Aruba, located adjacent to downtown Oranjestad. The port is within liesurely walking distance of shopping and many of the town's main attractions, giving cruise passengers easy access to the sights and sounds of this bustling area. Or, you can take a taxi or bus to other parts of the island.
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