Lonely Planet Writer

Watch out Cuba: Aruba is becoming the Caribbean’s fastest-growing destination

Aruba, one of the islands described as being ‘the Dutch Caribbean’, has seen a 16.2% growth in its tourism last year, outstripping it’s much larger and more well-known rivals Cuba and Barbados.  Already well established with the US holidaymakers, the past year has seen a significant growth in travellers from Europe.

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Sailboat anchored along the tropical shores of Aruba Image by Getty

According to UK holiday company, Holiday Hypermarket sales of packages to the island known for its expanse of beaches are up 71% this year.   Part of this increase can be put down to flights now departing from Manchester Airport, along with regular charter flights  from Gatwick. With unrest in Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey, the choices for those looking for two weeks in the sun have been restricted.

Port at Oranjestad, Aruba.
Port at Oranjestad, Aruba. Image by Linda Thompkins

The island which is only 20 miles long and 10 miles wide, is known for its rugged, windswept vistas and uncrowded beaches and weather that remains close to perfect for 12 months of the year. Aruba has more sunny days per year than any other island in the Caribbean and is also outside of the hurricane belt.

The cute main town of Oranjestad is a popular choice with day-tripping cruise-ship passengers but transforms into a booming party town by night.

Ian Crawford, representative for Holiday Hypermarket, says “It’s not very often we see destinations grow in popularity so quickly, but Aruba is definitely up and coming”.

Low angle view of buildings, Oranjestad, Aruba
Low angle view of buildings, Oranjestad, Aruba Image by Getty

Luxury hotels include the Riu Palace Aruba, a beach-side hotel specialising in coastal weddings. The Riu Palace has already seen a staggering 468% increase in visitors for summer 2016.

According to Crawford: “This little island has a lot of competition from its bigger and more famous neighbours, many of which are already very established tourist locations. Despite that, Aruba is continually growing in popularity and attracting new visitors year on year.”