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Aruba insider tips

Travel Tips by Donald Burleson


Aruba insider tips

We just completed a visit to Aruba, a wonderful island with very friendly people.  A small island, Aruba is only 19 miles wide and six miles long, with about 70k residents, of which only about 60% are Aruban citizens.  Native Aruban's speak a Creole called ?Papiamento?, a Portuguese-like language with a bit of Dutch mixed-in. 

It's always about 85 degrees and windy on Aruba, and while they are below the hurricane belt, they do get heavy winds and rain from nearby hurricanes.  Here is a shot of one of the many marinas in Aruba.

Today, the main industries are tourism, aloe production and refining oil from Venezuela.  Aruba's economy is still stinging from the withdrawal of the Exxon oil refinery in 1985, not to mention the USA boycott from John Walsh of America's Most Wanted, following the disappearance of Natalie Holloway and the secrecy of the Aruban police investigation.

When most folks think about Aruba they think of Natalie Holloway, and now that a Dutch person has confessed to the murder, America tourists are returning in droves. 

It's funny, we expected to see Natalie Holloway T-shirts for-sale in Aruba, but all get got were dirty looks when we asked about Natalie Holloway souvenirs.  Here is Carolos & Charlie's, where Natalie was last seen:

Much of the leeward side of Aruba is lush, but the windward side of Aruba is desert, with towering cacti and Divi Divi trees:

In the local areas of Aruba, cactus fence is used, where they weave the cactus behind a wire fence frame.  Very effective fencing:

The best way to see Aruba is by ATV (all terrain vehicles).  They are street-legal, and perfect for navigating the back-roads, beaches and the amazing Arikok national Park.

Aruba Arikok National Park

Arikok National Park is great, a volcanic mountain area with scattered Basalt rocks that covers over 30% of the island. 

The summit is inaccessible except by ATV, jeep of horseback, and offers amazing views of the whole island of Aruba and the famous windblown Divi Divi trees:

At the summit you can find the rare Turk's Head cactus, and its amazing red berries, the rarest of all delicacies (they taste like a Strawberry Kiwi mix), that can cost up to $100 per-serving in the top NYC restaurants. You can also see indigenous wildlife, including these dwarf owls, only the size of a pigeon:

All of the resorts are on the south shore, but the rugged north shore is rough and gorgeous, so rough that the famous natural bridge collapsed last year:

Here is a shot of the pristine north shore where the hills meet the sea:

The Boca (?mouth?) areas of the north shore are equally spectacular with coves and rocky outcroppings:

Aruba Gold mines

The gold rush on Aruba lasted from about 1824 to 1913, and the remains of the gold mines are a fascinating visit.  We went there with our host Donnie, Matt, Ricardo and his wife Isabel.

There is also an amazing natural outcropping of rocks, (Casibari) a religious site used by the native Arawak Indians:

The Arawaks also left ancient petroglyphs, some dated to the time of Christ:

This is the famous ?monkey face? rock formation:

Native Aruba foods

The staples of native Aruban food are heavy on seafood, goat and Iguana, and the Iguana soup us a local favorite (Iguana soup tastes just like chicken soup).

Tasty goats wander everywhere in Aruba, and there are dozens of ways to prepare Aruban goat, the favorite being a Dutch-style goat stew.

I'm trying-out panorama shots, and here is a panorama of the Aruba downtown tourist area:

There is another Aruba panorama of the Arikok national park:



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