Aruba: Divi-divi tree on Eagle Beach with the perfect sunset
It started with a Beach Boys song. I may have only been five years old when the song Kokomo hit the airwaves in 1988, but the opening line of ‘Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya’ has long stuck with me.
While the latter Caribbean island is well established as a UK tourist hotspot, Aruba has flown below the radar, mostly because it has been trickier to reach until recently.
Now, with direct flights (of around nine hours) operating from both London and Manchester, this tiny sun-soaked island off the coast of Venezuela is increasingly attracting British holidaymakers.
With near-constant sunshine, only 16 inches of annual rainfall and an average temperature of 28˚C, Aruba is the perfect holiday destination year round.
The fact that it lies south of the hurricane belt is good news, too, especially in the wake of the September hurricanes, which missed Aruba but caused widespread devastation across the Caribbean.
Aruba, in fact, hasn’t been hit by a major storm since Hurricane Felix in 2007.
Known for its perfect soft white sand and azure blue sea, I was spoilt for choice when it came to sunbathing and swimming spots.
Eagle Beach and neighbouring Palm Beach, located on the western coast, are beautiful and there are plenty of shady spots beneath the island’s iconic divi-divi trees – which line these bays – when the midday sun becomes too oppressive.
I would also recommend a visit to Baby Beach on the south-east coast.
Aruba is perfect for snorkelling and has the most sunken wrecks in the world
Named after its calm paddling pool depth, this is the perfect destination for those with small children or for anyone who wants to lounge in its shallow waters. If you’re lucky, you may even spot sea turtles further out.
If you’re after a more adventurous pastime, Aruba has plenty of other activities on offer. Arikok National Park, which accounts for almost 20 per cent of the island, is the place to see wildlife and a variety of caves and abandoned gold mines.
While some parts of the park can be explored by foot, it’s worth booking with Action Tour Aruba, for a 4×4 tour that will take you off road.
Head to California Lighthouse, situated to the north-western of the island, for spectacular views
Top 10 things to do in Aruba
1. For a spectacular 360-degree view of the island, take a Snorkel and scuba dive – Aruba has the most sunken wrecks in the world, perfect for finding Nemo.
2 Walk around downtown Oranjestad and marvel at the architecture.
3 Sign up with Action Tour Aruba and go off-road in Arikok National Park (see action toursaruba.com).
4 Attend the Bonbini Festival every Tuesday evening at Fort Zoutman and King Willem III Tower in Oranjestad.
5 Spot turtles at Baby Beach.
6 Feed the flamingoes on Renaissance Island.
7 Indulge in some retail therapy. With only three per cent tax, there’s plenty of luxury shopping on offer.
8 Visit Mangel Halto Beach. Locals head to these mangroves for picnics and barbecues and to paddle in the secluded inlets among the fish (take mosquito spray though!).
9 Head to California Lighthouse, situated on the north-western tip of the island, for spectacular views.
10 Soak up the sun on the beach with a cocktail in hand.
Palm Beach is a must-see attraction for visitors
Way to go
Thomson (thomson.co.uk) offers seven nights at the Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive from £1,560pp* departing on May 3, 2018.
The price is based on two people sharing an oceanfront deluxe double room with balcony or terrace and includes return flights from London Gatwick on the Dreamliner.
Price is correct at time of printing, but subject to change.