Flat, arid and outside the hurricane belt, this Dutch island off the coast of Venezuela is the “A” island of the so-called ABC Islands (Bonaire and Curacao complete the trio). A true paradise, Aruba enjoys low humidity and breezy blue vistas year-round. The island’s not much for tropical foliage — instead, you’ll find rocky deserts, silky sand and the trademark divi-divi tree (bent at a 45-degree angle by strong trade winds). It’s tough to miss the “ka-ching” of casinos, and you’ll be rocking to the infectious steel-band beat of beach barbecues and fish fries. This is, as car license-plates proclaim, “one happy island.”

Before You Go: Need-to-Know Info

Language: Dutch and Papiamento are the official languages, but most Arubans speak English.
Flight time: 4.5 hours from New York City; 11 hours from LA; 9 hours from Chicago; 8 hours from Dallas
Getting around: Taxi, bus and rental car (follow the southwestern-pointing divi-divi trees if you get lost)
Entry requirements: Passport and return ticket
Currency: Aruban florin (AFl)

When to Go: Aruba at its best

Best weather: Aruba enjoys a mean temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit, a fairly constant 10 mph to 20 mph breeze, and blissfully low humidity year-round. July and August are less windy, and short showers occur more often from mid-October through December.
Best prices: April to August; exact dates vary by hotel
Festivals: Colorful Carnival events whirl through the streets each winter (during the two months preceding Ash Wednesday)

What to Do

Underwater sightseeing: Sunken ships include the eye-popping, bombed-in-half German freighter Antilla — its shallow wreckage is easily and eerily visible in the clear ocean waters — and the Jane Sea, a freighter lying in an almost vertical position. Baby Beach is best for shore diving, while Mangel Halto Reef offers fascinating night dives.

Hit the jackpot: Feeling lucky? Aruba has the games for you: blackjack, poker, craps, roulette, baccarat, slot machines and an island original, Caribbean Stud Poker, invented in 1988. This high-stakes game is like blackjack, but tempts players with a progressive jackpot that can skyrocket!

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When you plan travel with Vacationisms, you're shopping small and supporting a privately owned business based in Goffstown, NH.

We're owned by a husband and wife power duo living locally with their two-nager. Yes, two-nager. When you plan your travel with us, you aren't only supporting our amazing team, you're supporting the community, too. We reinvest heavily in our community in social advocacy, youth development and athletic programs, and we too shop small. We believe that our community is important and we appreciate your business to allow us to continue.