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Aruba, my magical Caribbean island

01/03/2018

Local artist and writer Liliana Erasmus reveals why the tiny island she calls home is the loveliest place on earth

Aruba

Aruba

Aruba may be the smallest of the Dutch Caribbean islands, but on these 69 square miles of rugged land, pristine beach strips and cactus-covered hills, magical adventures await you. 

 

Island touring by bus, safari jeep or helicopter is an excellent way to get an overview of Aruba’s diverse landscapes and natural wonders. Try the Jeep Safari shore excursion, which also includes a stop at the beautiful Arashi Beach. 

 

As a local artist with nature close to my heart, I’d recommend hiking, biking or off-roading to the natural and historical sites of Arikok National Park, which covers 18 per cent of the island. Conchi natural pool, a dramatic seawater pool formed by volcanic rock stone circles, is challenging to reach but if you make the effort, a peaceful slice of paradise awaits. A hike might also result in unexpected encounters with local wildlife such as burrowing owls, caracaras, or the endangered Aruba Island Rattlesnake. 

 

Take the Aruba Sights and Beach tour to see the huge rock formations at Casibari, where climbers and admirers of natural wonders are set free to discover and dream away. For a deeper exploration, visit the Guadirikiri caves. Make your way through the stalagmites and stalactites to the light at the end of the tunnel: the sun peeks down through a hole in the roof of the cave. Look out for ancient native drawings and be mindful of the spirits of this sacred place.

 

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Waves lap the shore in Arikok National Park, Aruba

Arikok National Park, Aruba

The shallow waters of Malmok beach and Aruba’s constant trade wind are ideal for enjoying water sports. At Boca Grandi bay, colourful kites dance underneath a clear blue sky. Watch the surfers on their boards jumping the waves, riding freestyle or simply gliding across these clear, salty waters. Beginners should head over to the Fishermen’s Huts, just past the high-rise area in Palm Beach, where the island’s best surfing schools are located.

 

For a glimpse into the island’s precious marine life, take a deep, stay-dry dive in the Atlantis Submarine, located in the harbour area downtown (try the The Atlantis Submarine Experience shore excursion). A sailing trip along the island’s coastline is another perfect getaway. Enjoy breathtaking views of one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful stretches of beach and take the chance to plunge into the crystal-clear waters.

 

With all that fresh sea air, you’ll need to refuel. Locals love to snack on pastechi – a deep-fried hearty pastry with Dutch cheese, meat, fish or veggie filling. Try with a fresh mango smoothie and you’ll be ready for more action on this island brimming with Caribbean adventures.

 

About Liliana

Writer and illustrator Liliana was born on Aruba and spent her childhood exploring the island’s wilderness. Her adventures fuelled her imagination and honed a lifelong passion for writing and drawing. She blogs, writes travel features and is the author of several children’s books. She is also co-founder of the Papiamente Foundation, an organisation that aims to bring together the island’s schools, teachers and children through book events and readings.

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