Lucky enough to be heading to Aruba for a break? You’re not alone……
There are over 1.25 million tourists heading to this Caribbean paradise this year alone – that’s 13 times more than the local population! Get your timing wrong and you could be fighting thousands of others for a slice of this tiny island off the coast of Venezuela.
And there’s no wonder why Aruba is so popular. Remember those photos of idyllic holiday destinations in brochures and guides? There’s a good chance the photos were taken in Aruba! There’s sand so fine you could be forgiven for thinking it is manmade, clear blue Caribbean Sea stretching out forever, not to mention awesome scenery – the beaches of Aruba have all the ingredients necessary for a laid back, Caribbean holiday. So much so that many will never venture out of the resorts.
How to get off the beaten track in Aruba, you ask?
It doesn’t really sound like a destination for the independent traveller who is looking to get off the beaten track, does it? But look again, and you may be pleasantly surprised….
Follow these tips and discover the island for yourself, away from the crowds….
It sounds simple, but not many people actually do it. Hire yourself a car and just drive! Bypass the hotels and tourist restaurants in favour of beautiful landscape, untouched countryside and villages that remain unspoiled by tourism.
Eat fish in a local restaurant, drink a bottle of balashi beer in a bar, and absorb the atmosphere that you’d otherwise miss in one of the resorts.
Plenty of tourists may book a guided tour through the rugged landscape of Aruba, but who actually hires their own jeep? It’s a great way to snub mass tourism as you bounce around the wild outback yourself and do your own thing. The north shore is particularly rugged and out of the way – head past the California lighthouse for some of the best offroading around.
If you want a slice of real Aruban life then stay away from the resorts altogether. Hire a villa, or better still, rent an apartment in Oranjestad or perhaps one of the small fishing villages. You’ll be forced to shop in the local supermarkets, meet your neighbours and become a real part of everyday life….for a while anyway.
Ask around for a beach that’s tucked away from the tourist trail. If you’re lucky, you may be invited to a local beach party!
When your fellow travellers are rolling off their sun beds and heading to the all inclusive buffet lunch in their hotels, you’ll already be halfway up Hooiberg. Aruba’s highest mountain is 541 feet high, and offers superb views of the island and beyond.
On the other side of the island, away from the tourist centres, is the interesting and slightly precarious natural bridge. Apparently the largest natural bridge in the world, it’s definitely worth a look, and is far away enough from the crowds.
Head to Savaneta, a traditional fishing village on the way to San Nicolas. Unspoilt and welcoming, you’ll be able to get the best fresh fish on the island straight from the fishermen themselves. Have a beer in the wonderful Zeerover, and even eat there if you want to. It’s packed with locals treating themselves to the wonderful seafood that Aruba has to offer.
Although packed with tourists from the large cruise liners berthed nearby, Oranjestad has quite a few interesting sights that they will miss, and will appeal to those fed up with the beach. Try the Numismatic Museum for some interesting old coins, the Butterfly Farm, and the very interesting archaeological museum.
Whatever you decide to do on this beautiful island, you’re sure to have a ball. From the culture, which still bears a Dutch influence, to the welcoming people, you’ll certainly be glad you made the effort to delve a little deeper into Aruban society. Whatever you do though, be sure to reserve just a little time for the beach……it would be a real shame to miss it!