Destination of the Week
Hello and welcome to our final Relax Destination of the Week. This series wouldn't be complete without a destination in the Caribbean. We have opted for an island that is often forgotten, but offers all that one can expect: Aruba.
This is how Tripadvisor recommends Aruba: "Aruba is the quintessential Caribbean island, all sun and sea and stretches of powdery white sand. Time will slow to a pleasant crawl as you linger over a tropical cocktail or flutter serenely underwater, where only the parrotfish are in a hurry. The pastel façades of Oranjestad landmarks and shops lend an inviting and playful vibe to the capital city. Enjoy the shade of an Eagle Beach divi tree while the crashing waves of turquoise water create a soothing soundtrack just for you."
Aruba is in the southern Caribbean Sea, about 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) west of the Lesser Antilles and 29 kilometres (18 mi) north of the coast of Venezuela. It measures 32 kilometres (20 mi) long from its northwestern to its southeastern end and 10 kilometres (6 mi) across at its widest point. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba forms a group referred to as the ABC islands. Collectively, Aruba and the other Dutch islands in the Caribbean are often called the Netherlands Antilles or the Dutch Caribbean. Its capital is Oranjestad. Unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape. This climate has helped tourism as visitors to the island can reliably expect warm, sunny weather. It is densely populated, with a total of 102,484 inhabitants at the 2010 Census. It lies outside the hurricane belt.
About three quarters of the Aruban gross national product is earned through tourism or related activities. Most tourists are from the United States (predominantly from the north-east US), the Netherlands and South America, mainly Venezuela and Colombia. Aruba is home to beautiful white-sand beaches, 82F/28C days, and some of the warmest people in the world.
On the northeast coast, along the windward shore, you’ll find the island’s unofficial mascots, the fofoti trees. The constant trade winds have permanently sculpted them into graceful, southwesterly bending forms.
Fringing turquoise Caribbean waters, Aruba’s beaches include wide shaded expanses, quiet retreats, and busy sunbathing and water sports meccas. Much of the seven mile strip along the west coast is lined with
resorts and packed with activity. Beachgoers relax on their comfortable lounges while swimming, snorkeling, kite surfing, waterskiing, tubing, parasailing, bananaboating, and all kinds of wet ‘n wild adventures are just steps away. Fringing turquoise Caribbean waters, Aruba’s beaches include wide shaded expanses, quiet retreats and busy sunbathing and water sports meccas.
In contrast, the beaches along the windward coast are in more secluded and undeveloped areas. There are coves carved out of limestone, inlets formed by pounding waves, unique natural phenomena and craggy desert terrain. Because of strong undertow and crashing waves, swimming here is not recommended. Both coasts afford spectacular Caribbean views. All beaches are open to the public.
An Aruba vacation is the perfect family vacation destination. Kids love exploring the undersea life and making a splash in the pools at Aruba’s all-inclusive resorts. Parents love how easy, safe and fun an Aruba family vacation is. Aruba has calm water for the kids to snorkel, great family dining and unique activities like the Butterfly Farm and the ancient caves. There are also convenient grocery stores and safe drinking water straight from the tap.
Nearly 20% of Aruba is a designated National Park and home to a long list of animal species and plant life. The Arikok National Park is Aruba's national treasure; we protect everything in it and so can you, just by visiting and enjoying the dramatic landscapes. There is a small entrance fee that goes towards the preservation of the park and the animals who roam freely throughout the 7907 acres. The Visitors’ Center has a modern sustainable design and houses an exhibit of Aruba’s endemic animals such as the Aruban whiptail lizard (cododo), Aruban cat eye snake (santanero), The Aruban burrowing owl (Shoco) and Aruban parakeet (Prikishi) and endangered rattle snake (cascabel). Park rangers maintain trails and protect natural resources. They also act as guides, available to take visitors around the Arikok National Park for individualized tours that showcase fascinating flora and fauna and interesting historical sites. Hiking tours are available for groups up to 15 persons. Guided tours by park rangers are free of charge; they only need to be booked at least one day in advance.
Arikok is more than just a park, it’s a beach! Diamari Beach, Dos Playa and Boca Prins are popular beaches to enjoy, the water can be rough and currents strong, so swimming is not recommended. But if you want to cool off, Aruba’s hidden treasure is the Natural Pool, perfect for taking a dip!
Known as the wreck-diving capital of the Caribbean, Aruba’s entire south coast is a coral reef with over twenty dive sites and eleven diver-friendly wrecks such as a plane, tugboats, cement cargo ship, war and historic vessels sunk by destiny or design. Dive operators offer expert instruction and PADI and NAUI courses as well as the basics. After learning how to deal with fins, mask, tank and regulator, many go on to a shallow dive. Reef, wreck and night diving can all be arranged. Shore dives are possible off De Palm Island, Baby Beach and Pos Chiquito. Divers in Aruba will behold an array of brilliantly colored sea life and coral formations.
The secrets of the deep are revealed at amazing wrecks. Resting at a depth of 45-feet are the remains of the century-old California. The Antilla is the largest wreck in the Caribbean; divers can explore its large compartments, anchors, cargo holds and boiler rooms. Only the coral-covered mid-section remains at a depth of 25-feet. Modern-day wrecks have also been created, forming artificial reefs for divers to discover.
Queen Beatrix International Airport (TNCA), located in Oranjestad, is Aruba's airport. It has flight services to the United States, most countries in the Caribbean, the northern coastal countries of South America, Canada and some parts of Europe, notably the Netherlands. It is named after Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, the now-retired Queen and former head of state of Aruba. This airport used to serve as the hub for bankrupt airline Air Aruba, which was for many years an international airline. Before Aruba's separation from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986 it was also one of three hubs for Air ALM. A terminal for private aircraft opened in 2007.
In 2011, the airport was voted fourth in a list of the world's top 10 airport approaches in a survey conducted by PrivateFly.com.
TNCA has a single runway with a great approach:
11/29, 2,743 m, 8,999 ft
Live flight tracking is available here.
We can guide you to charts and scenery files.
And now our video selection. Let's start small, with a Cessna 182 about to land on RWY 11.
Let's go up a step: the same approach but filed from the flightdeck of a B767.
KLM used to fly to TNCA with MD11's. Here is the final flight with that aircraft, before KLM switched to A330's.
And we end with an MD80 about to take off from RWY11.
And that's the end of our Relax series. Next week, we'll have a new DOTW series, and it'll be deadly serious. See you then.