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
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
There is another Aruba panorama of the Arikok national park: