Looking for brightly-colored, photogenic Dutch Caribbean architecture and rugged coastline windy enough for windsurfers to wave jump? Yet nearby are calm swimmable coves with white sand beaches for sunbathing. Plus shipwrecks, sea turtles, and coral reefs with steep drop-offs providing superior snorkeling and diving. An Aruba vacation rental also supplies relaxing isolation, coveted privacy, and money savings compared to the big resort hotels. The capital city, Oranjestad, pulsates with people when a cruise ship docks. But after a few hectic hours returns to normal when exhausted shoppers head to the next port of call.
Oranjestad, Aruba’s capital, is conveniently situated near the Yacht Basin, Wilhelmina Park’s tropical gardens, Reina Beatrix International Airport, and the high-rise Palm Beach and low-rise Eagle Beach resorts. Start your day at the beach, or have a 6:30 a.m. breakfast at the Balashi Beergarden next door to the local brewery; kids are welcome on the tours, and Friday happy hours feature local bands. For educational shopping tour the Aruba Aloe Museum & Factory, where Aloe vera extracts are blended into herbal sunscreens and lotions. Take the whole family to Fort Zoutman, the Historical Museum of Aruba, and the National Archaeological Museum to learn island history and culture.
Aruba’s southern coast, a mix of industry and beaches south of Oranjestad, is easily reachable from your money-saving vacation rental villa, home, condo, or apartment. Indeed, you can drive the length of the island in under an hour. Take the family kayak touring through the mangroves of the former pirate-hideaway at Spanish Lagoon. Dive and snorkel around De Palm Island, Kantil Reef, Barcadera Reef, and Skalahein Reef. View large elkhorn coral and watch windsurfers wave jump at Baby Beach and Boca Grandi, near the island’s sea-view prison and the San Nicolas oil refinery that kept Allied forces fueled during World War II.
Take the family on an educational drive through Arikok National Wildlife Park. Learn how lava, limestone, and quartz rock formations produce habitats for the Aruba cat-eyed snake, Aruban whiptail lizard, Aruban burrowing owl, and other species unique to the island. See a freshwater spring flowing from limestone rock, the basis for early colonial farms like stone-walled Cunucu Arikok. Early Native American art and settlements are also found here. Miralamar has gold mining ruins.
Palm Beach and Eagle Beach, the major hotel resort areas, are also loaded with money-saving vacation rental alternatives for honeymooners and families. Windsurf at nearby Malmok Beach. Near the northern tip of the island, the most popular shipwreck for snorkling and diving is the World War II German freighter Antilla. To get to California Lighthouse, take the road from Arashi Beach.