Aruba used to be a very foreign destination for Montrealers, but that is all about to change.  Sunwing airlines has announced a new direct flight from Montreal to Aruba starting up in December, offering Montrealers easy access to this once difficult to reach caribbean destination.

Photos by Philip Tabah

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Know This

  • Currency: Aruban florin (AWG)
  • Language: Papiamento, Dutch, English
  • Weather: Sunny with nice breezes year-round (no joke)
  • When to go: High season is Mid-December to Mid-April
  • Time Zone: UTC (-4:00)

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“One Happy Island”

The island of Aruba is a magical place. It is a small island just 27km from the coast of Venezuela and located right outside the hurricane belt, meaning you can safely travel there year-round without fear.  It has a heavy Dutch influence, which is evident from the architecture, however the island has become a one-of-a-kind destination thanks to some South-American influence in the mix. On top of this, it is sunny 365 days a year with a constant, slight wind that makes for the most ideal beach conditions imaginable.

Flights to Aruba take around 6 hours from Montreal, longer than your average Caribbean vacation, but the overwhelming happiness you’ll experience during your stay make it totally worth it. If you ask anyone who’s ever been to Aruba what they think of it, you’ll most likely hear one of two things: “Its heaven on Earth!” or “the people are so nice”. Either observation gives you the impression that Aruba is a truly special place. About 85% of Aruba’s economy is based on tourism, so you can imagine how welcoming the locals are to tourists from around the world.

Activities

Catamaran snorkelling

Snorkelling is one of the best and easiest ways to discover Aruba’s Underwater Marine life. Massive catamarans to take you to three of Aruba’s best snorkel spots, among which the Antilla Ship Wreck, a 400’ sunken German freighter, and some beautiful coral reefs. (Tour operators: Red Sail Tours)

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Kite-surfing

Kite-surfing is exhilarating, although it usually takes a couple lessons to finally have the opportunity to go out on your own. It combines aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics into one extreme sport. The weather conditions in Aruba are more than perfect to kite-surf thanks to the constant warm breeze on the island. (Lessons from Armando’s Kite Shack)

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Beach Tennis

Beach tennis is a very popular and competitive sport in Aruba. The best part is that it’s so simple to play, it appeals to beginners and professional athletes alike. Beach tennis islike regular tennis except it is played on a regulation beach volleyball court. Using paddle rackets, players on each team volley back and forth, hitting a slightly depressurized tennis ball directly over the net without letting it bounce in to the sand.

 

Attractions

Arikok National Park

Arikok National Park is 34 square kilometers of natural reserves, located at the north-eastern part of Aruba. It contains examples of most of the island’s flora and fauna against a beautiful example of Aruba’s geological diversities and is truly a sight to be seen. You have the option to hop aboard an off-road tour bus which takes you through the park on an organized tour. This is the best way to see the best of the park without getting lost. (Tour operators: De Palms Jeeps)

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Aloe Museum and Factory

The Aloe plant has been grown on Aruba since the mid-1800’s and has been a major part of their history ever since. It is said that the best Aloe in the world comes from Aruba, and your best bet is to get some Aloe products from the factory itself.

Described as the ultimate caribbean beaches, the beaches in Aruba are crystal-clear, seaweed free and most-importantly, very clean There are over 10 unique beaches to choose from, all of which will blow you away.

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Accommodations

The recently opened Ritz Carlton Aruba is without a doubt the highest-end hotel on the island. There is also the Hyatt, Westin, and Radisson hotels on the higher-end of the spectrum that will still undoubtedly offer exceptional service and equally memorable experiences. However, if you’re looking for something a little more unique and romantic, the island is filled with smaller, exclusive boutique hotels to chose from.

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Eating

Big Mama’s

Locate on Baby Beach, one of Aruba’s top beaches, Big Mama’s is definitely a lunch spot you have to check out. It has a thatched roof and huge dining tables made out of the largest single pieces of wood you’ll ever see. The menu is full of traditional Aruban dishes, and the ambiance is very laid-back and casual – perfect from a quick lunch break while you’re at the beach.

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La Trattoria

La Trattoria is definitely the finest Italian restaurant in Aruba. Located inland and high above the ocean, the restaurant offers a beautiful view of most of the island thanks to the open-air dining experience. As if this wasn’t enough to convince you, the Italian food is truly exceptional as well.

Driftwood

Driftwood is a must-try for any seafood or meat lovers. The seafood is very fresh and overall the food is delicious . Just remember to reserve in advance, because it’s one of those places everyone tries when they visit Aruba.

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