A Caribbean paradise or an overdeveloped vacationers’ resort. It took me a while to answer that question. I first arrived there not overlanding but as part of one of my trips to South America. My first impression was that it’s one of the places that only people with a lot of money can afford. Especially when I found out that my hotel, which was the cheapest, was
also a place where you could stay for a couple of hours and have sex with your partner. But all that was about to change.
So Aruba, one of the ex Dutch Antilles and now a free and independent country, is a small but beautiful piece of land in the light blue waters of the Caribbean. My opinion changed rapidly as I started exploring it. Yes, it’s expensive and yes, lots of rich people go there. So what? That doesn’t make it any less beautiful. Local people still live normal lives and as I found out through my travels, even in the most developed place there are corners that are
I did not have a lot of time, only one week but what a week. During the day I spent lots of time on the beach, doing all sorts of fun stuff. Swimming, meeting people, flirting with local girls who want to know things about you, sipping refreshing juices from street stalls, you name it. The water had the perfect temperature, at least for me that I hate cold water swimming. The coral reef was in swimming distance, blocking the waves on the outside and making a paradise of tropical fish on the inside. All that at your feet made it easy and beautiful. At night all types of hang outs from fancy bars and casinos to small bars with locals drinking rum of course, what else.
It had a lot of those typical characters, real tourists, first time away from home but even that had its fun moments. The local street boys could smell them and would come up with the smartest way to get some of their dollars into their hands. Never aggressive though. I remember there was a little coffee shop across from the casino where I always had my coffee and I could spend hours watching them on action.
Almost 60% of the locals have something to do with tourism (the rest 30% are fishermen and 10% have others jobs) as this is the main source of income for the small island, legal or illegal at least with the unique Caribbean way. All of the locals speak English perfectly and other languages. As for their local language, it’s Dutch basically but with a local twist to it, as one Dutch friend that I met there smartly pointed out to me.
One week of sun and fun. Not bad for anyone who wants to get out of his normal life, out of his monotony. I am not going to recommend any places because there is only one city and the rest is beaches with resorts. Some of them really ugly, spoiling the natural beauty. The reality is that they bothered me the way they dominated the beach. Here I have to say that no one forbid me to go into the resorts, something rare for this type of places. So resorts, locals and nature are in balance in Aruba.
No, Aruba is not the kind of place that you are going to have adrenaline rushes constantly from the things you can do. It’s an island where the locals used to say “loosen up. You are in Aruba, the happy island. There is nothing more than what you see around”. So this is what I kept from this part of the world which I undoubtedly recommend.