Despite its small scale charms, or perhaps because of them, Arubans are fiercely proud of their country. Here's the low-down on the island.
Where is Aruba?
Aruba is in the Southern Caribbean Sea, not far from the coast of Venezuela. In fact, when the skies are clear, you can even see Venezuela if you're on Aruba's south-eastern coast.
Here's Aruba on the map.
Getting to Aruba
For a fairly remote island, getting to Aruba is pretty easy.
For example: there are non-stop flights from Curacao (30 minutes) and Caracas, Venezuela (90 minutes). From within the US, you can fly from Miami (3 hours) and Atlanta (4.25 hours).
You can also fly non-stop from two of the world's major airports on both sides of the Atlantic. From New York, you can get to Aruba in just 4.5 hours. The flight from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is 10.5 hours.
Staying in Aruba
Hotels can be expensive in Aruba but if you go at the right time you'll find good rates. In mid-November, for example, you could take a double room apartment for less than $75 per night.
For the best prices, try to go between March and September. In April, a vacation apartment for two people might be as little as $550 for seven nights. Even the Palm Beach Sunset Villa, one of the best situated properties on the island, is around $215 per night during April. At Christmas, a stay at the same villa might cost thousands more.
The national flag flies on every street corner, schools sing the national anthem and on any given evening, tourists can enjoy folk dances performed with a fervent passion in Fort Zoutman. That passion is more than warranted and the welcome is genuine.
“Bon Bini!”, by the way, is how you say "Welcome!": the island's most-spoken language. Spoken only in the Dutch Caribbean islands, Papiamento is a blend of Portuguese, Spanish, African, Dutch and Arawak Indian.
It's quite is easy to pick up, although “Mi stima Aruba! (I love Aruba!)” will get you pretty far.
Visa and travel requirements
If you're from North America or the EU, you won't need a visa to enter Aruba. For a full list of the countries needing a visa, see this list.
To get a tourist visa, find your nearest embassy or consulate of the Netherlands.
Visa or no visa, you'll need to bring a complete and signed embarkation and disembarkation card (you can get one online), and a valid onward or return ticket to another destination.
If you have a residence permit for the country where you live, you'll need to show this too, and (of course) every traveler will need to show a valid passport.
Take proof of your hotel reservations, too. It's possible that you'll be asked to show it at customs.
What to bring back
If a relaxing drink is your thing, stop by the Arubian Taste for a free rum testing – then bring some home. You'll also find lots of Dutch products (including Delft porcelain), so if you live on the other side of the world from the Netherlands you can make some smart buys.
Last, check out Aruba Aloe. You'll find it sold across the island.
Sign up free at TRVL for access to hidden hotel rates - and get paid a commission each time you book. Power to the traveler!