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At Home in Aruba

Aruba Palm on Beach Sandy TrunkIn Aruba with miles and miles of sugary, white sand, warm and gentle surf, aqua and turquoise blue sea, and above all, lots of space – what you see is exactly what you get!

Aruba is definitely a tropical Caribbean island paradise! Its pleasant mix of friendly people, good weather, great hotels, resorts and attractions have made this Dutch-influenced island one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the Caribbean.

This Caribbean island’s strong trade winds have a peculiar way of changing the stature of almost everything – from the eerily sculptured boulders in the center of the island to the twisted Divi-Divi trees. You’ll soon discover however, that Aruba is among the more developed, more vibrant islands in the Caribbean, with its fancy restaurants, high-rise resorts and glittering casinos. There are plenty of things to do here whether you select windsurfing, water-skiing and sunbathing by day, or cabarets, high-stake gambling, dinner shows and discos by night.

Aruba Real Estate, Economy and Infrastructure 

The Caribbean Island of Aruba is fairly wealthy, deriving a great part of its income from tourism and remittances from Holland. Since the Lago refinery was shut down in 1985 and the much smaller Coastal Oil refinery was opened in 1991, Aruba has had to start from scratch and build its entire economy by using some of its most abundant natural resources – clear waters, sunshine and beachfront.

Aruba ParachuteAruba’s economy is largely dependent on tourism, which has been its biggest income earner. During the past decade, the island of Aruba has witnessed a dramatic increase in its visitor arrivals and the government presently derives almost 30% of its overall income from the tourism industry. Increased airline flights, the construction of new hotels and resorts as well as cruise ship arrivals have all grown in numbers at a very fast pace. Currently, Aruba is one of the hottest destinations for Caribbean real estate investment, especially among South and North Americans.

Because of the tourism boom, many high-rise hotels were created, and there has been a burst of growth in the numbers of casinos and restaurants on the island. Recently, the government has been trying to attract more new businesses such as finance, high-tech, communications and Aruba real estate.   The official currency of the island is the Aruban Florin. The conversion rate from dollar to florin fluctuates with the world market. Presently, exchange rates are $1 = Af1.77, and 1 Canadian dollar is equivalent to 1.34 Aruban florins, (April 2007). U.S. dollars are accepted throughout this Caribbean Island and banks also exchange other types of foreign currency.   Since the Aruba real estate market is booming, it presents investors and snowbirds with some of the best Caribbean real estate investment opportunities. From luxury beachfront villas to modest condos to vacation rentals or commercial property, Aruba has it all.   A beautiful single-family home with four bedroom ideally located near the ocean would start at about $600,000. A luxury villa located in downtown Aruba within walking distance of the two beaches would cost about $1,700,000. A regular single family home located in the upscale locality of Regent’s Park would start at only about $220,000. Aruba real estate can definitely be expensive if that is what you are looking for, but you can find property for a reasonable price as well.   From residential and commercial property to starting your own business, Aruba has all sorts of real estate options to meet everyone’s needs.

Aruba Activities, Dining and Entertainment
2 Aruba Chairs on PorchThe A in Aruba stands for adventure – like you have never experienced it before! Aruba has a lot to offer when it comes to adventure sports, whether its rock climbing up a pockmarked limestone wall, having the sea breeze hitting you full in the face as you go jet-skiing or getting airborne as you are blown in the wind while kite surfing,. Adventure seekers will relish the challenge of scaling steep cliffs and hills, dashing downhill at full speed along rocky paths, going mountain biking through Arikok Park, or even cruising the civilized roads of Oranjestad on a Harley.
Bowling is a popular sport in Aruba and the local clubs and teams regularly go overseas to compete in competitions. If you are the adventurous type, then the best way to explore the island without a map is to go on a bus or a jeep tour. Being a small Caribbean island, Aruba allows cycling enthusiasts to discover and enjoy some of its most exotic terrain available. If you are a golf lover, then you should probably consider taking your next golf vacation here. From horseback riding to playing tennis, there is something for everyone.
After a day of sightseeing and adventure, you can go out and make new friends at any one of the happening cafes and nightspots that Aruba has to offer. With live music, exotic drinks, exciting shows and its welcoming atmosphere, Aruba’s nightlife is unsurpassed.
The casinos in Aruba are extremely popular among the tourists and vacationers and attract both dabblers as well as serious players. Most of the casinos run Vegas-style shows in their theaters, adding to the fun and entertainment.
If however you are looking for something that’s a little less glamorous, the club and bar scene in Aruba is quite lively. You can start off early at a beachside bar, and then move on to dinner and after dinner cocktails. Through the evening you might progress to a little bit of cigars and jazz, or you could perhaps board a cruise for a period of ‘sea drinking’. Expect DJ’s or live entertainment at most of the bars. If your appetite for entertainment demands more, then you might head to one of the robust, high-energy dance clubs on the island.

Aruba Climate  

Aruba_Chairs_On_DeckThe climate on the Caribbean Island of Aruba is tropical – without being extreme. The weather is one of the main reasons that Caribbean real estate investors come to the island. With a constant and median temperature of roughly 82° Fahrenheit, Aruba is blessed with a moderate climate. The rainy season starts in October and extends to January, with annual rainfall averaging about 18 inches. The rains are also quite erratic and tend to come in short bursts. Aruba lies outside the Hurricane belt and generally only experiences minor effects of some of the nearby tropical storms. The tradewinds provide a great service in moderating the temperatures of the island, making sunbathing a lot more tolerable.   The dress code is casual, and lightweight materials like cotton and linens are appropriately worn during the day. Flat heeled sandals or soft-soled shoes should be worn for walking – hats must be brought along for sun protection. Slacks and shorts can be worn on the streets of Oranjestad. However, swimwear should be confined to the swimming pools and beaches.  

Aruba Location and Travel  

2 Aruba Chairs on PorchThe beautiful Caribbean Island of Aruba is a part of the West Indies and is situated in the Caribbean Sea. It lies at around 12° north of the equator and roughly 29km off the Paraguaná Peninsula of Venezuela. Being one of the Lesser Antilles islands, Aruba is around 30km in length and 8km in width. It has an overall area of 193 square km.   Air Aruba is the national airline of the island. Most other airlines also operate to and from Aruba but there is usually a stopover or a connecting flight needed. Queen Beatrix is the main airport and is located 3.5 to 4 km southeast of the capital city of Oranjestad.   Because of the extensive duty-free shopping on the Caribbean Island of Aruba, many cruise lines and ships stop over on their way to the other Caribbean destinations. The main seaport is in Oranjestad and most boats dock in the heart of the city – just a five-minute walk to the city center. There are ferries that operate daily to De Palm Island and crossings run every half hour or thereabouts.   The road system in Aruba is fairly efficient and the traffic drives on the right hand side of the road. International signals are used and there is free parking all over the island. Right turns on red lights are now allowed. The bus system in Aruba is also quite good. Arubus operates a reliable and inexpensive public bus service between the cities and the hotels on Palm Beach, Eagle Beach, San Nicolas and the main bus depot in Oranjestad.   The taxi system in Aruba is not metered and the main taxi stand is in Pos Abou. Rates are standard and travelers should verify rates before getting into a taxi. There are several car rental agencies all over the island. Travelers can also rent motorcycles, bicycles and scooters.

Aruba Culture & History
Aruba_Straw_Umbrella_Beach_TableIn the year 1499, Alonzo de Ojeda discovered Aruba and claimed the island for Spain, However, the Spanish did not consider this Caribbean island worthy of being colonized, so they left its original inhabitants the Arawak Indians, to live in peace. This lack of interest on the part of the Spanish resulted in the island becoming a sort of shelter for pirates and bandits. Spanish rule and administration continued without any challenges, until the year 1634, when the war with Holland was already into its seventh decade. Dutch interests then switched over in the Caribbean and they took over the neglected Caribbean Island with very little conflict. In the year 1643, the Dutch appointed a governor to supervise Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles. Except for a short period of time in the 19th century when the British troops took over, the Caribbean island of Aruba has remained under peaceful Dutch jurisdiction ever since.
The 89,000 residents of Aruba reflect its early history of settlement, possession and immigration. The locals of Aruba have their ethnic roots in African, European and Arawak influences and they are reflected in its architecture, languages, cuisine and festivals. You’ll even find a healthy blend of expatriates from Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean working in different industries on this Caribbean Island.
Culturally Aruba has very strong ties with Holland, its once-upon-a-time colonial occupant and present-day partner in the kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language of Aruba is Dutch, which can be seen on government documents, street signs and even in the local newspapers. However, English is spoken by most of the locals. Aruba’s lingua franca, on the other hand, is Papiamento, which is a lyrical dialect that evolved from Portuguese, a little bit of French, Spanish, English, Dutch and a smattering of some of the African languages.
The cultural celebrations and festivities on the Caribbean island of Aruba go way back to its history and background, even though some of the culture and musical ceremonies have originated on other Caribbean islands. The music that you will hear at most festivals and hotels is soca, reggae and calypso.

                                                                                  Flag                                            Coat of Arms

Motto “One Happy Island”   Anthem Aruba Dushi Tera   Capital Oranjestad   Official Languages Dutch, Papiamento   Government Monarch Queen Beatrix Governor Fredis Refunjol Prime Minister Nelson O. Oduber   Constitutional Monarchy Independent from the Netherlands Antilles, 1 January 1986   Area 193 km² 74.5 sq mi  Water Negligible Population 2006 Estimate: 103,484 (195th)   Density 571 /km² (18th) 1479 /sq mi   GDP (PPP) 2005 Estimate Total: $3.079 billion (182nd)   Per Capita $23,299 (32nd)   Currency Aruban florin (AWG2)   Time Zone (UTC-4)   Internet TLD: .aw   Calling Code +297


Aruba Island Map

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