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Aruba is a small and beautiful island located 17 miles off the coast of Venezuela and is part of the group of islands known as the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean. Aruba is different from most other Caribbean islands with its dry and arid climate and the island has many splendid cacti. Temperatures rarely drop below 82F and refreshing trade winds blow across the coastal areas constantly.
Oranjestad is the capital city and here the visitor can enjoy the beautiful architecture which dates back to the time of Dutch colonisation. Old buildings are painted in pretty pastel shades with ornate carved wooden doors. Aruba is only 21 miles long and with a regular and reliable bus service on the island it is easy to visit many of the sights during a holiday. Arikok National Park takes up 18% of the island and is home to four rare species found only in Aruba, including two species of snake and two of birds. The park is also home to some of the oldest known Arawak paintings on the island. Arikok National Park is a popular location for hiking and covers areas that were formerly plantations and gold mines. The Quadiriki Caves are well worth a visit and display Arawak art along the cave walls.
Aruba is renowned for its wonderful beaches with fine soft sand and warm Caribbean sea. Palms trees line the beaches to provide shade and along the west coast of the island there are seven miles of coast with plenty of water sports available to enjoy such as snorkelling, sailing, jet ski, tubing, kite surfing and scuba diving. Along the windward side of the island the beaches are more undeveloped and secluded but because of a strong undertow swimming is not possible. However the craggy rocks and outcrops are spectacular and worth paying a visit to.
After a relaxing day at the beach Aruba has much to offer the visitor in the way of night life. There are plenty of beach bars and restaurants to enjoy where a beautiful sunset can be viewed and night time cruises range from romantic dinner cruises to wild party themes. The resorts offer cabaret shows and barbecues and the island has ten casinos that stay open well into the night. Arawak Garden in Oranjestad has a choice of restaurants offering seafood, Dutch, Italian and fast food as well as a piano bar and small gift shops.
There are plenty of shopping opportunities on the island, especially in Oranjestad where visitors can choose to visit the mall for a little retail therapy and enjoy the elegant boutiques. Royal Plaza is a three storey shopping centre located opposite the harbour markets and makes a great place to stop for a bite to eat and appreciate the excellent view of the harbour itself. The island hosts carnivals and festivals throughout the year including the Bon Bini Festival which takes place every Tuesday at Fort Zoutman with Antillean dancers, steel drums and stalls displaying local craft work.
The island of Aruba is served by Queen Beatrix International Airport which is only five minutes drive from Oranjestad. Car hire is available at the airport, providing the holidaymaker with the independence to explore the island at their leisure. Flights from UK to Aruba leave Gatwick Airport twice a week.