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Travel: A guide to Aruba

By// Miki Turner

If you’re looking to score a nice Rolex on your relaxing Caribbean holiday, Aruba is the place for you.

The island is located in the southern Lesser Antilles stretch of the Caribbean Sea. It has great beaches — especially the popular Moomba Beach, which is party central during the Soul Beach Music Festival in May — a lively strip where you can find great restaurants, clubs and casinos, and a nice rugged side where the waves are fierce but the view is divine.

Aruba is a place you can go any time of year and enjoy great weather, but check out our tips below on what to do, where to go and how to get there.

Shopping

You’ll find a variety of stores featuring fine jewelry and watches. Some of the best deals can be found at Columbian Emeralds. You might want to stay clear of the smaller shops, however. Or if you go, may the buyer beware. Another good spot is the Renaissance Mall, which is loaded with luxury retailers that offer duty-free perfumes, jewelry, accessories and swimwear. There’s also the Village Mall, South Beach Mall, Paseo Herencia and Palm Beach Plaza, the largest mall in the Southern Caribbean.

The People

They’re very friendly but you won’t see as many dark-skinned folks as you do on the other Islands. Aruba is a Dutch colony, so a large percentage of the population hails from the Netherlands. It’s home to a lot of mixed-race citizens. There are at least 40 different ethnicities inhabiting the island including the Arawak Indian that speak English, Spanish, Dutch and a Creole dialect called Papiamento.

Safety: There’s very little crime in Aruba, but note this is the island where Natalie Holloway went missing.

Top Attractions:

  • California Lighthouse — you can stop and have fresh coconut water along with some other local delicacies.
  • Aruba Ostrich Farm — you can have a picnic while you watch the birds at play.
  • Pedernales Wreck — this was a WWII tanker that was torpedoed and sunk. It’s a great opportunity for certified SCUBA divers.
  • Bon Bini Festival — kicks off every Tuesday when the locals dance, sing, serve up tasty grub, too!

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Where to Stay:

Renaissance Hotel (the Marina side) — The Ocean side is for kids. This hotel also comes with its own private island! And, it has some pretty good restaurants, a top-notch spa (try the hot rock massage) and a really cool lobby bar for those who want to see and be seen.

How To Get There:

American Airlines is your best option. There are direct flights out of Miami.

To experience the real Aruba, check out our video below: