Aruba is among the livelier, more developed islands in the Caribbean. Aruba has high-rise resorts, great restaurants and glitzy casinos lining every white-sand beach. You’ll find plenty of things to do on Aruba, too: sunbathing, world-class windsurfing and waterskiing by day, and discos, cabarets, dinner shows and high-stakes gambling at night.

What you won’t see in Aruba is an abundance of natural attractions. Nor is Aruba covered in lush foliage. It’s about as close to a desert island as you’ll find in the Caribbean, with stands of cacti and aloe vera dotting the dusty terrain. In fact, Aruba is so dry, goats eat the cacti in search of something resembling leaves.

Aruba’s foremost attractions include beaches, shopping, casinos, watersports, excellent restaurants, high-energy nightlife and very friendly people.

If you enjoy good beaches, ethnic food, gambling and quality shopping, Aruba is for you. Don’t expect, however, to partake in a “Bali Hai” island experience (Aruba resembles a flat desert) or to find much distinctive Caribbean culture. If you prefer lush rain-forest-type destinations, Aruba may not be your preference. It’s more like Arizona or New Mexico than Puerto Rico or St. Croix.


Just 15 mi/24 km off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba is the farthest west of the Dutch islands known as the ABCs (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao). It is 19 mi/30 km long and 6 mi/9 km wide, and the land is mostly flat and arid with scattered fields of cacti and aloe plants.