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In Aruba, life's a beach

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“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand
there is the story of the earth.” –Rachel Carson

Some people love a parade, some love a rainy night. Many love a beach. After a long, hard winter, we are so ready for the beach. Aruba, here we come!

Aruba, called “The One Happy Island,” is a 19 mile-long island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea and just 15 miles from Venezuela. Together with Bonaire and Curacao it forms a group referred to as the ABC islands. As its turquoise waters collide against the desert-like terrain of the north shore, Aruba is celebrated as one of the most revisited destinations in the Caribbean. Luckily, it is located below the hurricane belt and has a temperature of 82-degree days year round; in fact, it has the most sunny days in all of the Caribbean.

Beaches here are spectacular – Eagle Beach has been named one of the top 10 in the world. On your visit, it will seem that the beach is a part of everything you do– from water activities to riding a horse on the sand to lunches, cocktails and dinners, all – where else? On the beach.
The Aruba government has launched a $350 Million project upgrading sites in Oranjestad, the capital, as well as building Linear Park, which will be the longest of its kind in the islands; it will create an accessible, scenic link between the airport and resorts along Palm Beach. To include bike paths, pedestrian paths, kiosks and an abundance of trees, this will be a location where visitors and locals can relax, kick-back, and enjoy.

Shake, Rattle and Roll
It is time to shake off your winter cabin fever and get movin’! The De Palm UTV experience is known to be fun and one you won’t soon forget. Each vehicle carries two and you’ll drive in a bumpy caravan formation led by a professional tour guide who shows you the best landmarks of Aruba. UTV tours just happen to be all the rage on the island. There are also loads of water sports: windsurfing, paddle boarding, kite boarding.

It’s Cuckoo
That may be the sound of an island bird but for now, let’s consider one of the silliest good time tours you can have: The Kukoo Kunuku picks you up at the airport and later takes you on an island tour. What the heck is it? Simply a wacky, wonderful, one-of-a-kind open air bus, Reggae blasting, the driver blowing his singing horn, and loonies on board shaking maracas and calling out to pedestrians as you ride by. The company says it’s “the perfect way for the old and the reckless and the young and the restless to tool around.”

White Wedding Day
Another activity quite popular here: Getting hitched. Aruba has been named one of the world’s top wedding and honeymoon destinations by Brides Magazine. From the Divi Resort to the Renaissance Resort’s private island to the drop-dead new Ritz Carlton (the first 5-star on the island) – everyone’s goin’ to the chapel – and there’s not a more romantic place to do it.

Speaking of romance, there’s a hidden gem on this island known as Boardwalk. Run by charming Belgian-raised twins Stephanie and Kimberly Rooijakkers, and considered by many as the most romantic hotel in Aruba, this small, Caribbean-colored property is situated across from the famed Palm Beach. Boardwalk has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today and National Geographic Traveler. Its lush gardens, hammocks on terraces and champagne breakfasts delivered to your room make this a perfect oasis for couples, honeymooners or anyone wanting a peaceful, serene, truly intimate home base from which to explore the environs.

Munching Mania
On this island, it’s easy to do. No less than 90 nationalities influence Aruba’s cuisine, and the local offerings more than hold their own. If talk about Caribbean culinary creations makes your mouth water, consider these 3 top Caribbean restaurants in NYC:
Negril Village ($38), www.negrilvillage.com, Sazon ($47), www.sazonny.com and Sofrito ($50), www.sofritony.com, all guaranteed to satisfy your Aruba taste buds.

Festivals in Aruba take place all year long on the island. The Bon Bini Festival is a weekly folkloric music and dance affair, the perfect introduction to the warmth and hospitality of Aruba’s people. The action commences in downtown Oranjestad every Tuesday at 6:30 pm in the outdoor courtyard of Fort Zoutman, Aruba’s oldest building - and it’s just $5 to attend. Gearing up for Memorial Day weekend, the Soul Beach Music Festival is a multi-night concert with beach parties, concerts and comedy shows. In June, there’s the Film Festival that brings the international film community to Aruba. And perhaps the most prestigious musical event in the Caribbean, the Aruba Piano Festival, takes place in September and has built up a world-wide reputation because of the renowned artists that perform.

Bon Bini
Bon Bini means “welcome to my country.” It’s a Papiamento word, the official and most common language in Aruba and it is something you’ll hear often on your visit. Perhaps you’ll never learn the word for “Goodbye,” undoubtedly because you won’t want to say it. You’ll much prefer the local phrase Te Aworo – see you later - thus insuring your return.

Aruba 411:

Aruba Tourist Authority
www.aruba.com

Hotels: Divi Resorts,www.diviresorts.com, Renaissance Resorts, www.marriott.com, RitzCarlton, www.rtzcarlton.com/Aruba, Boardwalk, www.boardwalkaruba.com

Restaurants: WestDeck, Papillion, Elements, MoombaBeach, Passions, Manchebo,White Modern, Flying Fishbone, Bucuti,www.restaurantsaruba.com

Activities: De Palm UTV,www.visitaruba.com, ABC Jeep,www.abc-aruba.com,Kukoo Kunuku Bus, www.kukookunuku.com

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