Aruba is the smallest of the 'ABC' group of islands, only 25 km north of Venezuela. It has been closely linked with the Venezuelan oil industry for most of the 20th century, but when times were hard, a decision was made to diversify into mass tourism. The coastal strip on the Leeward side of the island with the best beaches is now wall-to-wall hotels, with all those of more than 300 rooms allowed to have a casino. A wide range of watersports is on offer, including excellent windsurfing, which is world class. On land there is a golf course among the sand dunes in the north.
Like the other Dutch islands, there is a scheduled flight from Amsterdam with
, but otherwise poor connections with Europe. More flights, bringing sun-worshippers, honeymooners and gamblers, come from North and South America.
There are buses and taxis, otherwise you can hire a car, motorcycle or bicycle. Most people don't bother and simply book a seat on a tour bus if they want to get away from the beach and hotel for a while but a car is useful for dining at restaurants away from your hotel. The airport is only 3.5 km south of Oranjestad, the capital, but nearly all the hotels hug the coast north of town; there are buses on the route from Oranjestad to San Nicolas in the extreme southeast, and taxis, which have a set charge for each hotel based on distance.
This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF