Aruba Vacations

Key West Vacations
History

Located just fifteen miles off the coast of Venezuela, the gorgeous island of Aruba attracts vacationers from throughout the Americas. This culturally diverse island is an autonomous nation within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which also includes the five Caribbean islands of the Netherlands Antilles (Curacao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius) and, of course, Holland.

The initial residents of this island paradise were the Caquetio Indians of the South American Arawak tribe. The Caquetios initially colonized the island as a hunter/fisher/gatherer society before settling in advanced socio-political villages that were established around agricultural lands. These Arawak settlers lived on the island for three thousand years before being conquered and enslaved by the Spanish in the early Sixteenth Century.

The Dutch originally occupied Aruba in the early Seventeenth Century in order to establish a naval presence in the region in order to protect the trading of the Dutch West India Company during their eighty year war with Spain. Besides a brief period of English rule during the Napoleonic Wars, Aruba remained fully under Dutch control until 1986, when the country became a separate entity within the Dutch commonwealth. The country's main industries over time have included gold mining, aloe cultivation and oil refining. The oil industry is still viable today, rivaling only tourism.

Although Dutch and Papiamento are the official languages of Aruba, most residents also speak both English and Spanish. Papiamento, a pidgin mix of Afro-Portuguese Creole with Dutch, English and Spanish influences, is the perfect language for an island that embraces cultural diversity. Vacationers to this island getaway immediately notice the warm welcoming atmosphere in this tropical nation.

Things to Do

The amazing island paradise of Aruba attracts innumerable vacationers to visit its immaculate beaches and enjoy Sunbathing, Swimming, Snorkeling, Horseback Riding and Jet Skiing. Visitors can head offshore on the cerulean Caribbean waters for an afternoon of Scuba Diving, Sailing, Snorkeling, or Deep Sea Fishing. Nature enthusiasts can explore the fabulous coral reefs offshore on a Scuba or Snorkeling tour, but can also go hiking, horseback riding or off-roading to remote beaches, mysterious seaside caverns, and wildlife sanctuaries.

There always seems to be a party going on in Aruba, which has a rich tradition of festivals, resplendent with dancers in colorful costumes and intoxicating Caribbean rhythms. Annual cultural festivals include Carnival (Aruba's version of Mardi Gras), the harvest festival of San Juan Dera Gai (also called St. John's Day, Dande (the traditional Aruban New Year's celebration), and Christmas-time activities throughout December (St. Nicolas Day or SinterKlaas, Gaitas performances, and the Aguinaldo (Christmas caroling).

In addition to music and dance festivals, Aruba has a thriving cultural atmosphere which includes local artists, galleries, and museums. If you're on vacation to party, the nightlife in Oranjestad is always hopping with rollicking nightclubs and bars, elaborate shows and plenty of casino gambling.

Shopping

In addition to the plentiful art galleries and shops featuring souvenirs as well as local and regional crafts, Aruba has plenty of high-end luxury stores filled with finely crafted jewelry, high-end electronics, perfumes and cosmetics, fine linens, china, resort and beach wear, designer clothing and accessories, and much more. Although Aruba is not completely duty free, there are some great bargains and some duty-free allowances for U.S. and Canadian visitors, so be ready to go shopping.

Accommodations

Once you arrive in Aruba, you will be astounded by the breathtaking beauty of your seaside accommodations. Aruba has a splendid selection of luxury resorts, casino hotel complexes, family-style hotels, and romantic beach side bungalows. No matter where you stay in Aruba, you'll be steps away from some of the most spectacular beaches in the world.

Climate

The weather on the island of Aruba is generally clear, sunny and warm, with relatively low humidity. The island averages only sixteen inches of annual rainfall. Even though the average high temperatures range from the mid-eighties to low nineties (Fahrenheit), refreshing trade winds usually transform the hottest of days pleasant for any beach outing.

Average Water Temperature

Since the water temperature averages from seventy-eight to eighty degrees (Fahrenheit) during the winter, and climbing up to eighty-two degrees in the summer, most Scuba Divers will feel comfortable utilizing a light wetsuit, short suit or dive skin. Those participating in surface water sports should be fine in just a swimsuit. The protected western side of the island is generally calm, allowing for excellent underwater visibility ranging from fifty to one hundred feet.