6 Things You Didn't Know About Aruba
There are so many things to do in Aruba. Before your all inclusive Barceló Aruba visit, learn all about this amazing destination.
Think you know Aruba? Here are just a few fascinating facts about Aruba. The beautiful Dutch Caribbean island may be tiny, but its history and culture go deep – and of course, there are so many things to do in Aruba. Before your all inclusive Barceló Aruba visit, learn all about this amazing destination.
Aruba Was Once Known As “The Island of Giants”
The history of humans on Aruba stretches back as far as a millennium. Archaeologists have found fragments of the earliest known settlements on the island that date back to at least 1000 AD. The first Arubans that we know of were the Caquetío Amerindians, who traveled by canoe the 15 miles from Venezuela to the island. The Caquetío are the source of Aruba’s original nickname: “The Island of Giants.” They weren’t really giants, however – the Caquetío were just much taller than the European explorers who arrived here at the end of the 15th century.
- Aruba Travel Tip: Descend into the Fontein Cave in the expansive Arikok National Park, with ancient rock formations and impressive pictographs, etched on the walls by the Arawak people centuries ago. It's one of the most interesting things to do in Aruba.
The Island Has Deep Dutch Heritage
Aruba is one of the four countries that make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The other three countries are the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten. But Aruba hasn’t always been Dutch. It was originally colonized by the Spanish; famed explorer Amerigo Vespucci (who later supplied the name for America) visited the island in 1499. It wasn’t until 1636 that the Dutch took charge. Every April, the island celebrates the birthday of King Willem-Alexander of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with a day full of sports, kite flying and other fun activities.
- Aruba Travel Tip: You can get a flavor of old school Dutch architecture in downtown Oranjestad, where you’ll find the oldest still-standing homes in Aruba.
Aruba Is A Multilingual Destination
Today, the 100,000+ population of Aruba speaks up to four different languages: English, Dutch, Spanish and Papiamentu. What is Papiamentu? It’s a creole language that blends together elements of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English and French, as well as bits of African and Arawakan languages. It’s not just spoken in Aruba; you’ll encounter it in the other so-called ABC Caribbean islands – Curaçao and Bonaire.
- Aruba Travel Tip: Before your Aruba vacation, learn a few key Papiamentu phrases. “Con ta bai?” means “How are you?” “Bon, danki” means “Fine, thank you.” “Hopi bon” means “Very good.” “Pasa un bon dia!” means “Have a nice day!”
The Island Is As Good As Gold
Never mind California – Aruba had its own Gold Rush back in the 18th century. Over the decades, more than three million pounds of the shiny stuff was discovered here.
- Aruba Travel Tip: You can get a glimpse of Gold Rush Aruba at Bushiribana on the island’s north coast. Built in 1872 by the Aruba Island Gold-Mining Company Ltd., the ruins of the gold mill are easily accessible and offer their own kind of ruggedly picturesque beauty. It's one of the best things to do in Aruba.
Aruba Loves Aloe
Gold isn’t Aruba’s most precious natural resource these days. It’s aloe. Founded in 1890, Aruba Aloe is the oldest aloe company in the world, bringing the restorative powers of this succulent plant to the world for more than a century. Many island spas use locally grown aloe in their treatments; the plant is a powerful antioxidant and contains vitamins that are great for your skin.
- Aruba Travel Tip: One of the best things to do in Aruba is a guided tour at the Aruba Aloe Museum & Factory. There, you'll see exactly how aloe is “fileted” and learn the many benefits of Aloe Vera. Afterwards, take a walking tour the Factory itself, including the aloe cutting room and the testing lab.
Aruba Has A Wild Side
The people of Aruba are just part of the island’s diversity. There’s also an array of amazing animals that you can encounter during a vacation here. The island’s many animal sanctuaries are the perfect place to get up-close-and-personal with some of nature’s most colorful characters – donkeys, butterflies, even ostriches! And of course, the undersea world is filled with dazzling marine life, too. Scuba diving in Aruba will get you up-close-and-personal with turtles, lobsters and dolphins.
- Aruba Travel Tip: Aruba Butterfly Farm is a one-of-a-kind attraction that is home to hundreds of free-flying exotic butterflies. Open year-round, the enormous meshed enclosures here create the feeling of a lush tropical rain forest, with beautiful flowers and trees for you to experience.