Aruba’s famous beaches attract more
than one million visitors each year.
Last October, the Fifth Annual Aruba Music Festival brought STYX,
Lionel Richie and an estimated 2,500 tourists to the island. Lionel
Richie’s show sold out a week in advance and the STYX concert also
drew a big crowd.
The event, one of the more popular festivals on Aruba’s
calendar, took place on two consecutive evenings in the balmy
open-air environment of the Aruba Entertainment Center. General
admission tickets were available for a reasonable $44 a piece, with
preferred seats going for $66 and $110, respectively. A number of
hotels on the island offered four- or five-night hotel and concert
packages, making the music festival an attractive draw.
This year’s Aruba Music Festival will feature Richard Marx and
Robin Gibb, among others, and promises to bring in even larger
Though the Aruba Music Festival will no doubt bring many
visitors to the island, there are plenty of other reasons for your
clients to consider a trip to Aruba. Approximately one million
tourists per year visit this destination in the extreme Southern
The island’s location just off the coast of Venezuela places
Aruba outside the path of most hurricanes, allowing the island to
serve as a year-round, warm-weather destination.
Indeed, if there’s one thing more dependable than warm weather
on Aruba, it’s sunshine. Most tourists come to the island for the
beach weather, knowing that Aruba enjoys a sunny climate with an
average temperature of 82 degrees. So little rain falls on the
island that the local flora consists mainly of cacti. If your
clients like the lush rain forests of Puerto Rico or St. Croix,
Aruba might not be their perfect destination, but if they enjoy
vacations in the resorts of Arizona or New Mexico, Aruba might be
just what they are looking for.
The island is famous for its aloe, and
clients can visit the Aruba Aloe Museum.
The low rainfall has brought another unexpected benefit. The
island’s drinking water is incredibly clean, thanks to the massive
desalination plant in the town of Balashi that produces 11 million
gallons of clean, fresh water each day. The World Health
Organization has rated the water from the desalination plant as
being among the best in the world. (For technically minded
visitors, the desalination plant’s free Thursday tours may be of
All that clean water isn’t just used for brushing teeth. It’s
also used to make Aruba’s popular Balashi beer. The Balashi Brewery
offers free tours Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m. with
advance reservations. Or clients can just experience the brew
firsthand at many of Aruba’s bars and restaurants.
Since the sun is so hot, visitors to Aruba will want to make
sure they don’t burn. And, they’ll want to make sure their skin
heals if they have gotten too many UV rays. Fortunately, the Aruba
Aloe Museum (www.arubaaloe.com) features various Aruban sunscreens
and after-sun products containing the aloe that originally served
as the backbone of the country’s economy in the days before
tourism. Tours of the museum and factory are offered throughout the
day for a small fee; visits to the gift shop are free.
Sun lotion rubbed on, it’s time for visitors to get back
outside. There are lots of ways to have fun in the sun, from
lounging on the island’s beautiful beaches to snorkeling and scuba
diving off shore. Various sunken wrecks, including the 400-foot
hulk of a German freighter, provide for fascinating diving
experiences. Rodale Scuba Diving magazine has named Aruba the top
wreck diving destination in the Caribbean.
An adventurous option for landlubbers is to get off-road and
explore the island’s wild desert landscape. It’s possible to see
this side of Aruba on horseback via half-day organized ranch tours
or romantic sunset beach rides.
Alternatively, visitors can bump along in the back of a Jeep in
a DePalm Tours expedition(www.depalm.com). The eight-hour package includes a
half-day in the Jeep past landmarks like the Bushiribana gold mill
ruins and the remnants of the island’s Natural Bridge, plus a few
all-inclusive hours of lunching and relaxing on DePalm’s private
island for $95 per person. Children over 5 years old are allowed to
join the Jeep tours, but the ride may be too bumpy for pre-teens.
Young children might prefer just to visit the new Blue Parrot Water
Park on DePalm Island. A five-hour visit to the Island costs $65
Aruba Tourism Authority
The official Web site of the Aruba Tourism Authority offers a
myriad of vacation-planning tools, including cultural activities,
sports and entertainment events, and musical festivities throughout
Getting There: Aruba is served by American
Airlines, US Airways, Continental, United Airlines, Delta and
JetBlue. The island is 2½ hours from Miami.
Where to Stay:The Westin
Aruba , a 481-room former Wyndham property, was briefly
known as the Aruba Resort, Spa and Casino while it was unaffiliated
with any brand. The property underwent numerous upgrades after
officially joining the Westin family. Located on prime space on
Palm Beach, the complimentary tennis courts and fitness center are
nicely appointed and often empty. Eight restaurants and three
lounges provide lots of different dining options.
Additionally, two new hotel options include the five-star
all-inclusive luxury resort, Occidental Grand .
The property features four restaurants, an array of clubs and
lounges and a casino.
The Hotel RIU Palace is located on popular Palm
Beach, and features spectacular Caribbean views.