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Aruba is famous for beautiful beaches lapped by gentle waves and the constant trade winds that freshen the coast. With consistent temperatures around 27 degrees and very little rain, the island offers idyllic sun and beach holidays, especially on Palm Beach, on the Caribbean coast, where the best hotels in Aruba are found. Luxury resorts welcome guests who want to spend their time swimming, sunbathing and enjoying delicious gourmet meals and tropical drinks. But the beaches are only the beginning. Tourists staying at one of the finest hotels in Aruba can also enjoy water sports and explore some truly fascinating places.
North of Palm Beach, Aruba hotel guests will find Hadicurari Beach, where strong winds provide the ideal conditions for windsurfing. Colourful sails stand out against the sparkling waters of Hadicurari, a former fishing village now dedicated to water sports. Hi-Winds windsurfing and kitesurfing tournament is held here every June. Continuing north, travellers will find California lighthouse, which stands guard over the north-western tip of the island. Named after a steamship wrecked in the area (rather than the American state), the lighthouse offers stunning 360-degree views. Exploring the Atlantic coast, tourists will be struck by the spectacular views of rugged cliffs and powerful waves on the wildest side of the island. Another tourist attraction is the Bushiribana ruins, the remains of a gold mine that extracted 3 million euros worth of precious metal in the 19th century. Inland, travellers will find Aruba's Donkey Sanctuary, where these friendly animals nuzzle visitors' hands and happily eat the treats on offer. At the nearby ostrich farm, these wide-eyed birds strut and peck at any food presented to them. Knowledgeable guides are on hand to explain the habits of the ostriches. Did you know, for example, that the story of burying their heads in the sand is a myth? No visit to Aruba would be complete without a visit to Arikok National Park, with its varied landscapes of caves, sand dunes and limestone cliffs, all densely populated with wildlife. Goats, donkeys and iguanas roam free in this arid terrain.
Urban attractions are concentrated in Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba. The narrow buildings in the city showcase the Dutch influence on the city. Structurally, these houses would be at home in Amsterdam, but these island versions are painted in tropical shades of pink, aquamarine and lime green. Aruba is an autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which acquired the island in 1636 from its previous Spanish rulers, who gave it away when they failed to find gold. Over time, it became an important hub for international trade. As a result of this mixture of inhabitants, the local dialect is a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and English, known as Papiamento. Bon Bini means "welcome" in this language and is also the name of a folk festival celebrated every Tuesday in Oranjestad, when traditional dancers, small food stalls and craft vendors take to the streets for several hours. This is a taste of the Amerindian culture that prevailed before the arrival of the Europeans.