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Palms sway and rustle in the Aruban breeze. Beaches sparkle and glow Caribbean-white. The gnarled trunks of Divi Divi trees sprout from the dusty backcountry and the mondis forests of spiked cacti pepper the rolling hills. Welcome to the ‘A’ of the ABCs – unquestionably one of the most coveted holidaying destinations of the Lesser Antilles chain (and that’s saying something!).
An exclave of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba makes its capital amidst the bustling duty-free shopping strips of Oranjestad. Here, the ports and harbours magnetise cruise ships right throughout the year, while remnants of Dutch colonialism (think Fort Zoutman and the Willem III Tower) belie the deep European influences on the island. However, in true Caribbean style, it’s the beaches and hinterland that really pull visitors to this tropical enclave. Baby Beach with its shallow waters and sun-splashed sands is great for families, while Hadikurari draws surfers to its lines of ramshackle fishing huts, and Dos Playa offers a more rugged and wild picture of the ABC coast. Aruba tour guides also provide 4X4 riding over the backcountry dunes, hiking and rock climbing over the chiselled cliffs, and of course more scuba diving than you can shake a cold Balashi Beer at!