"One Happy Island" - The Dutch paradise in the Caribbean
This island must really be from a dream… Sparkling white beaches, turquoise water and wonderful resorts that just invite you to relax and forget your troubles.
I have some awesome tips for Aruba, if you fancy a holiday on an island that the locals call “One Happy Island?” Everyone is welcome here and all are greeted with a smile. Whether the positive mood comes from the Caribbean sun and the average temperature of 29°C, I don’t know. But whatever it may be, I’m sure you’ve heard of this Dutch island, off the coast of Venezuela, which is known for its white beaches. On my visit I definitely found myself a little slice of paradise and was just blown away by the exotic beauty of the place.
Aruba, alongside its neighbours Bonaire and Curaçao, actually belongs to the Netherlands Antilles and is still today an autonomous part of the Dutch kingdom. Needs a bit of getting used to, right? A Dutch island in the middle of the Caribbean?! You only have to walk through the streets of Oranjestad, the capital, to notice that it really is a complete mix. The brightly coloured houses are in traditional Dutch confectioners style and create a truly unusual flair in the harbour town. There is always something going on here in the biggest city on the island, it doesn’t matter whether you want to browse the shops or relax on the waterfront, colourful Oranjestad is the perfect place for it. There really are very European vibes going on here, but don’t worry, just a quick look at the palm trees and you remember that you’re actually in the Caribbean.
Another special thing about this island? It’s not just a paradise for sun worshippers, but also for those that like to trawl the shops. Are your ears pricking up already? Well, here in Aruba there is no VAT, which means you can pick up that new outfit for a little less. Thousands of visitors come here to try to snap up the latest luxury items or jewellery for the best deal. No Value Added Tax is the perfect excuse to go shopping. Many cruises also take advantage of this and unload their passengers here for a day, not just to enjoy the white beaches.
Caribbean beaches of your dreams, as far as the eye can see
Seeing as we were just talking about the legendary beaches, I want to show you my personal favourites. Eagle Beach leads the way. Right in the west of the island, this beach has also been named the prettiest beach in the world on more than one occasion! It wows with its fine, white sand and crystal clear waters and with the emblem of the island – the Divi-divi trees. These funny trees that bend to one side can be found everywhere on the island and make for a great photo, as they sum up the Caribbean beauty of this beach. What I would give to feel the sand between my toes and the light ocean breeze on my skin…
Directly next to it you find Palm Beach, which is, fitting to the name, saturated with palm trees. The oddly-named Baby Beach is also just as pretty, lying on the north coast. Here you can truly relax and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the shallow, turquoise blue waves hitting the beach.
Mangel Halto Beach on the south west coast is the perfect island idyll. The bay is surrounded by rocks and beautiful landscapes and a little jetty leads out into the flat water. The conditions here are just perfect for activities like stand up paddling for example, which is very popular here, and you definitely shouldn’t leave your snorkelling mask at home! Who knows what glorious, colourful fish and coral you could find when you go diving further out…
The colourful underwater world in Aruba
And speaking of the wonderful underwater world, you definitely shouldn’t miss out on a little diving trip. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional or not, the colourful underwater world and diverse species will have you under its spell in no time. If I close my eyes, then I can almost see the coral reefs in all their different shapes and colours, looking like a fascinating underwater garden. You can either bring your own equipment and stay close to the coast or you can book on a trip and get taken to all the best spots by boat. One of these has got to be the Antilla shipwreck, which you can also explore with a professional tour. A true paradise for diving fans!
A little refreshment after a long day on the beach
I expect you’re wondering what’s on offer to eat after all the activities? No worries, you definitely won’t go hungry here. From beach bars to high class restaurants, there’s everything you could possibly want. One of my highlights are the pancakes at Linda’s Dutch Pancakes & Pizza, which have got legendary status on the island! These little pancakes are just to die for, but they taste even better in the Caribbean sun and with some tropical fruit. At the notorious Bugaloe Beach Bar you can really get that holiday feeling, on the weekend you can enjoy American fingerfood with live music and even try out your talents at the Karaoke night! There is always something going on here and the relaxed atmosphere is hard to beat.
On Playa Linda you will find Eduardo’s Beach Shack for some fruity refreshments. Eduardo serves fresh Pitaya and Acai bowls, that are not just a treat for your taste buds but also look awesome too! It’s almost a shame to eat them….
A photo posted by Angela Terrill (@travelinang) on
Experience colourful animals from up close: Flamingo Beach
I’ve got one last card up my sleeve to finish with. Have you ever seen flamingos on a beach? No? Well then it’s about time that you fly off to Aruba and have a look at these astonishing pink birds on Flamingo Beach from close up! This is possible by taking a trip to the smaller, private Renaissance Island, directly before Oranjestad. You can get there easily with the water taxi, but you’ll have to pay the hefty price of 99 dollars for a day pass onto the island. Alternatively you can spend a night here in the Renaissance Hotel and save the costly trip over.
A trip into paradise
Unfortunately the best journeys always have to come to an end and I too had to leave One Happy Island, but I’m sure that I will soon be back on this wonderful island again. It really is only here in Aruba that you can find the more gorgeous beaches with that unique Dutch twist.
A perfect holiday in the Caribbean – how to make it happen