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Aruba is a small Caribbean island located 25 kilometers off the northern coast of Venezuela that has many interesting places to visit. There are many beaches, museums, casinos, land formations, and shopping areas. It is a great place for a honeymoon, family vacation, business convention or port of call for cruise ships.

The beaches in Aruba are well known for their white powdery sand and beautiful teal waters. Palm Beach, Manchebo Beach, Eagle Beach and Surfside Beach are all located near local hotels and offer gentle surfs and calm waters and have ideal swimming conditions. They are also popular for various water sports including snorkeling, parasailing, windsurfing, scuba diving, jet skiing and more.

Rodger's Beach, Druif Beach and Arashi Beach all have excellent swimming conditions. Baby Beach, Boca Catalina, Malmok and Boca Tabla are all excellent for snorkeling. These beaches can be accessed by taxi or car but do not offer changing facilities. The best spot for windsurfing is Hadikurari. It is the annual site for the HI-WINDS PRO-AM WINDSURFING COMPETITION.

Oranjestad, Aruba has several interesting museums. The Archaeological Museum holds many exhibits and artifacts from the island's prehistoric period. These pieces help define the lifestyles of Aruba's earliest Indian settlers. A historical museum, Fort Zoutman/Willem III Tower contains exhibits and artifacts from the early Dutch and Spanish periods. The Numismatic Museum contains a collection of over 30,000 pieces of coin and paper currency. This currency represents Aruba and over 100 other countries through many time periods.

Oranjestad is the capital of Aruba and is located on the southern coast of the western end of the island. The Dutch colonial architecture is very picturesque with its pastel colors. The downtown area has many shopping areas, restaurants and casinos. Crystal Casino and Seaport Casino are two of the more popular casinos and are located in the heart of Oranjestad's Seaport Village. Other popular casinos accessible from the hotel and resort areas include Alhambra Casino & Aladdin Theatre, Casablanca Casino & Music Hall, Stellaris Casino, Casino Merengue, Grand Holiday Casino, Coppacabana Casino, and Royal Cabana Casino.

There are many architectural gems to see as well. The Spanish and Indians built the Alto Vista Chapel, the first chapel in Aruba, at a point high above the sea. The bright yellow chapel is atop a winding road that is lined with white crosses to mark the Stations of the Cross. The Santa Anna Church was built in the 1770's and is known for its carved oak altar. This prime example of neo-gothic design won the exhibition award in Rome in 1870. The Protestant Church, built in 1846, has a Bible Museum on the premises. De Olde Molen was constructed from an old windmill that was first built in 1804 and then shipped to Aruba piece by piece. In 1960, it was reconstructed and now houses a moderately priced restaurant.

The California Point Lighthouse overlooks large rolling sand dunes at the northwestern tip of the island. Also located on the north coast are the Bishiribana gold mines that were abandoned in the nineteenth century. Huge granite boulders that are found in abundance at Ayo formed the Ayo and Casibari Rock Formations. The Caribbean's highest and most spectacular coral structure is the Natural Bridge. It was carved over the centuries by pounding sea waves. It forms an arch that stands 23 feet above sea level and is over 100 feet long. Fontein and Quadirikiri Caves are two of the more popular caves to explore in Aruba. Quadirikiri is noted for its 100-foot tunnel and its two chambers that sunlight shines through. Fontein contains ancient Indian drawings on the walls and ceiling. Hooiberg is a 541-foot mountain that is shaped like a haystack and located prominently in the center of the island. It is not the tallest mountain but it is the most accessible. On a clear day it is possible to see the coast of Venezuela from its peak.

The Bubali Bird Sanctuary is home to over 80 species of migratory birds including coots, cormorants, egrets, gulls, herons, skimmers, terns, and many varieties of ducks. The birds live and nest around two interconnected man-made lakes. Arikok National Park is a natural preserve located near the center of the island. It features some of the oldest Arawak drawings and trails that showcase Aruba's plant and animal life. There you can see divi-divi and kwihi trees, rare and exotic cacti, tropical flowers, iguanas and birds. The park makes up over 25% of the entire island.

Aruba also has some unique experiences worth looking into like the Atlantis Submarine and Seaworld Explorer, which give adventurers a chance to explore the underwater world of beautiful coral formations, tropical fish and the famous German shipwreck, Antilla. Glass bottom boat cruises are available to see the Antilla and the Arashi coral reef.
Helicopter tours, sailing cruises and bus tours and four-wheel drive adventures are also available.

Many water sports are available in Aruba as well. These include snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, parasailing, windsurfing, water skiing, jet skiing, water scooters, and swimming. Equipment and instruction for these are offered at many area resorts and hotels. Tierra Del Sol is a first-class 18-hole golf course that was designed by Robert Trent Jones II. This facility includes a clubhouse, swimming pool, pro-shop, locker rooms and a restaurant all with a beautiful panoramic view.

January, February, and March are the most popular times to visit Aruba since the island is hopping with activities during Carnival. Just before Lent, Carnival offers many parades, festivities, and parties. For smaller crowds and a more relaxed atmosphere you may want to plan your trip between mid-April and September. Many people escape the harsh northern winters by flying to Aruba as well. For such a small island there are so very many things to see and do. The climate is as warm and wonderful as the people are friendly as well. It is a great place to visit any time of the year. For more information, contact a travel agent or you may contact the Aruba Tourism Authority, L.G. Smith Blvd. 172, Eagle, Aruba, Dutch Caribbean.