The Active Life

One Happy Island

If you can’t find something to like on Aruba, you’re not trying very hard!

There are tons of reasons why Aruba is called “One Happy Island,” and is cited as the most re-visited island in the Caribbean.

  • Located on the southern edge of the Caribbean Sea, just 20 miles north of the South American continent, Aruba is well below the “hurricane belt,” and enjoys consistently wonderful weather year-round, with cooling trade winds, almost constant sunshine, and some of the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets on the globe.
  • Despite its relatively small size (19 miles long and 6 miles across), Aruba offers something for just about everyone. The southwestern shoreline is practically one long, uninterrupted beach, filled with wonderful resort hotels; the amazingly aqua and placidly peaceful waters of the Caribbean, perfect for water sports of every description; a ruggedly beautiful northern shoreline of crashing surf, rocky outcrops (including the famous Natural Bridge and Natural Pool, said to have healing properties), and cacti-filled terrain to explore on horseback or ATV; a central “city,” Oranjestad, filled with wonderful shops and delicious restaurants; and the multi-cultural, multi-lingual Aruban people who are happy that they get to enjoy their island year-round.
  • Need to get away from the stress and strains of our modern world? Aruba has plenty of places to do just that (including some lovely open-air spas). Looking for a place to get married? Aruba leads the league in scenic beauty that will inspire everlasting love. Want a place to bring the kids? It is almost impossible to get bored on Aruba, with its water sports, beachcombing, and natural and animal resources, including a donkey sanctuary, butterfly farm and bird sanctuary.
  • Does good food make you happy? Aruba’s polyglot of national influences–Spanish, French, Dutch and indigenous Caribbean–means that your palate will be overjoyed with the choices and quality of cuisines you can sample.Some must-haves include giambo, a fish gumbo made with fish fillets, shrimp, okra and basil; deep-fried turnovers called pastechi, which are filled with cheese, shrimp or spicy meat; and, pudin di coco, a coconut pudding infused with rum and served with lime sauce.

Maybe finding the nearest hammock and spending your week catching up on the latest bestsellers is the thing that will make you happy. But for those looking for more active pastimes, Aruba fills the bill.

aruba-golfThere are two wonderful golf courses on the island, including the 18-hole, championship Tierra del Sol course, set in the arid, desert-like setting of the north shore. The ocean offers all kinds of activities for visitors, from scuba diving some of the famous wrecks just offshore to paddling over a colorful, fish-filled reef with snorkel gear. Aruba is world-famous for its parasailing, kite surfing, wind surfing, paddle boarding, deep-sea fishing and sailing. And there are even submarine tours that will take you down to the deep sea depths without you having to get wet. Hiking, horseback riding and all-terrain vehicle tours of the island will take you to some of the Aruba’s most famous natural wonders, or you can rent a car and explore the backroads of this friendly island on your own.

The shopping on Aruba is unsurpassed. There are busy malls near Oranjestad, and numerous local shops and galleries offering handmade gift items. You’ll find Aruba’s own home-grown aloe products everywhere (it’s the island’s largest export good), but the island is known for its jewelry, watches, Dutch Delft ceramics, local handicrafts and tobacconists featuring the finest imported Cuban cigars.

Many visitors enjoy the local cultural shows on Aruba. On Tuesday nights, the Bon Bini Festival show at Fort Zoutman offers two hours of singing, dancing, steel drums and local handicrafts and food. Thursday evenings, the Carubbian Festival takes place under colorful tents near the southeastern point at San Nicolas. And Friday nights in Oranjestad feature the Fiesta den Caya, with music and dance performances for the shopping and cruise-ship crowds. On the last Friday of every month, the Korteweg Festival pops up on the small Oranjestad street of that name, an organic arts and crafts fair with music and food that attracts locals as well as tourists.

Aruba, like many Caribbean islands, is a verdant, flowering oasis in the sea. Bird watching is superb (even outside the island’s own sanctuary park) and kids always enjoy the animal garden and butterfly farm. Don’t miss the Aruba Donkey Sanctuary, where the humble animal that once provided all the transportation on the island is honored and saved from once-threatened extinction.

Yes, Aruba is one happy island where you have to try pretty hard to have a bad time.

The Inspired Traveler Contest for May

The Theme: Happy

The Prize: Trip for two to Aruba, hosted by the Aruba Occidential Grand Hotel & Casino

This month’s essay contest is centered on the theme of “happy.” We invite you to share with us your stories of those times when some travel experience or special trip made you and yours happy.

The winning entry will win an all-expense-paid trip for two to Aruba, the Caribbean’s One Happy Island.

Your host for the week will be the five-star, all-inclusive Aruba Occidental Grand Hotel & Casino, which perches right on the powdery sand of Palm Beach, one of the loveliest beaches on the island.

You’ll enjoy the extra service in your Grand Concierge Deluxe Ocean View room, with quick private check-in, assistance of Concierge Staff, bottle of wine and welcome fruit platter on arrival, daily continental breakfast in bed, nightly turndown service, and more.

There are five restaurants on site, including Italian, Tex-Mex, pan-Asian and Aruban seafood. The lobby side casino at the Occidental Grand is popular throughout the island, as is the lobby bar, nightclub and disco. Get your daily workout in the hotel’s air-conditioned gym, or just hike or jog the miles of glorious beach.

By all means, bring the kids! The central pool complex will keep them entertained for hours, and the hotel’s Kids Club offers supervised activities for those ages 4 to 12.

Your prize-winning package will include two Inspired Experiences that will take you out onto the island of Aruba.

Discover Aruba: This full-day tour is the perfect combination of Aruba’s historical, cultural and natural delicacies. You’ll visit the famous California Lighthouse on the island’s eastern edge, the arid expanses of Arikok National Park and have time to shop in Oranjestad. You’ll also have time to explore the warm, shallow waters of Baby beach, which has some of the best snorkeling reefs in the Caribbean.

Sunset Sail: What could be more romantic than watching the sun set over the azure water from the deck of a lavish catamaran sailboat as it gently rides the trades? Witness the tangerine colored skies and watch the colorful sights of the island pass by while you enjoy cocktails from the open bar and listen to the delightful beat of the local music. The sunset sail offers a breathtaking offshore perspective followed by beautiful views of the evening sky.

All this can be yours if your Happy Essay is chosen as the best! Get those pens and pencils out and start writing! For contest details, please visit here.