Aruba, the most-visited of the three, isn’t your average tropical island. The climate is drier than you might expect, and the island is dotted with forests of cacti. If you explore them, you could see some animals found nowhere else, including the Aruban Whiptail – a blue-hued, long-tailed lizard – a brown-throated parakeet, or the endangered Aruba rattlesnake (don’t get too close).
The glittering casinos in the port of Oranjestad are an attraction, but many visitors choose Aruba due to its wonderful beaches. The southern and western shores are mostly sheltered from strong ocean currents, with stretches of soft white sand. One of the most popular is Eagle Beach – long, wide and often included on lists of the world’s best beaches. If you’re there during sea turtle nesting season (March through September), red-and-white markers will alert you to the protected nests. You might even see some tiny hatchlings make their way to the ocean.
If you have young children with you and want the calmest water, take an excursion to Baby Beach. Lovely Palm Beach, backed by resort hotels, is a good place for watersports. If you’re really feeling adventurous, Hadicurari Beach on the north shore offers strong waves and breezes for experienced swimmers and kite surfers.
The wreck of the SS Pedernales, a World War II tanker sunk by a German U-boat, is a relatively shallow but interesting snorkel site. Experienced divers can take a catamaran tour out to the wreck of the Antilla, a German freighter.
To see Aruba’s interior, choose from ATV, horseback, Jeep and bike tours. You can visit Arikok National Park to see wildlife, caves, sand dunes and limestone cliffs. Around the island, there’s also an ostrich farm, a butterfly farm, a lighthouse, and a donkey sanctuary that cares for the descendants of donkeys that were once the island’s main form of transportation.
Cruise itineraries that call on Aruba are usually seven days or more, departing from Ft. Lauderdale, Miami or San Juan. Ask Anita, your professional travel advisor, to help you select a cruise that will bring you to this one-of-a-kind island.
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