A tourist hotspot, Aruba is autonomous territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and is part of the group of islands called the Lesser Antilles, situated off South America's Caribbean coast.
The stunning beaches are the highlight of Aruba. The two-mile-long strip known as Palm Beach is home to glamorous hotels, restaurants and shops and the calm waters make this spot ideal for swimming. If it’s more secluded beaches you’re after, head to the windward coast, where you’ll find limestone-carved coves and isolated inlets.
The capital of Oranjestad, with its colourful colonial architecture, offers tax free shopping – the perfect afternoon activity after a morning on the beach.
There’s far more to see than just the beaches, however. You will find some of the best wreck diving in the Caribbean in Aruba, where the seas are rich in exotic marine life and most of the island's dive sites lie along the protected western and southern coasts.
There are over half a dozen wrecks submerged in its waters, including the spectacular Antilla, a 400-foot German freighter which dates from World War II, which is the largest wreck in the Caribbean.
Arikok National Park makes up nearly 20 per cent of the island's total landmass and is home to a number of indigenous species of wildlife, flora and fauna characteristic of Aruba's unique tropical desert climate, as well as historical sites such as the Fontein and Quadarikiri caves, which feature ancient Indian paintings.
Discover Aruba's desert-like landscape with cacti forests, the ruins of 18th century Spanish gold mines and beautiful natural bridges.
Aruba Essential Information:
Time Zone: GMT -4
Language: Dutch (official), Papiamento
Currency: Aruban guilder (AWG). For up-to-date exchange rates see: www.xe.com/ucc
International dialling code: +297