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Swim or snorkel in crystal-clear waters, dive to the wreck of a German cargo ship, or go exploring inland at this picture-perfect island destination.

Known for its beautiful beaches, laid-back locals and year-round warm weather, Aruba also offers beautiful scenery and many outdoor activities such as scuba diving and kayaking. It is home to Aruba National Park with hiking trails, interesting geological formations and caves.

Aruba sits about 17 miles (27 kilometers) off the coast of Venezuela, South America. It was claimed by the Spanish in the 16th century and then annexed by the Dutch in the 17th. Today it is one of four self-governing countries that make up the Netherlands. The Dutch influence on local culture is evident, as is a South American flair.

Rent a trike or four-wheeler and zip around the island and then dismount and go for a climb up Casibari and Ayo Rocks for a great view of the island. To go even higher, climb the steps of Hooiberg, which translates to "haystack,” a small mountain in the center of the country. Trek over to the northern side to see the large natural rock pool known as “Conchi.” 

Head to the coast to cool off at one of many beaches. You’ll find calm waters and white sand all along the southwestern side of the island. Eagle Beach is widely considered the island’s best, but Palm, Arashi, Druif and Mangel Halto beaches are all close competitors. For the best snorkeling, check out Baby Beach or Boca Catalina.

Surfers should hit the waves at Andicuri or Boca Grandi, but note that the waves can be rough. For more adventure, go windsurfing, sailing or kayaking. You can also dive to the wrecks of Dutch and German cargo ships sunk during World War II. 

Visit Arikok National Park, which covers nearly 18 percent of the island. The park offers many miles of hiking trails, along which you can see gold mines and plantation ruins. It also has a number of caves and varied geological formations made from lava, limestone and quartz.

For more details on interesting local attractions and activities, check out our things to do in Aruba page.

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