When you see a Nathan’s hot dog vendor on the beach and groups of men going orgasmic when the New York Giants make a three-yard gain, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in New York, albeit a much warmer version. Indeed it is Americans from the east coast fleeing winter that make Aruba the most touristed of the ABCs.
And that’s not really surprising given that it has miles of the best beaches, plenty of package resorts and a compact and cute main town, Oranjestad, which is ideally suited for the two-hour strolls favored by day-tripping cruise-ship passengers. It’s all about sun, fun and spending money (lots of money – it’s an expensive island).
But venture away from the resorts and you’ll find that Aruba offers more. At the island’s extreme ends are rugged, windswept vistas and uncrowded beaches. Arikok National Wildlife Park is an alien landscape of cactuses, twisted divi-divi trees and abandoned gold mines.
Mostly, however, Aruba is a place to do as little as possible. It wears its hospitality on its sleeve and in the national anthem, which includes the unlyrical line ‘The greatness of our people is their great cordiality.’