The Party of the Year in Aruba

Few times of year can compete with the fun and festivities that the small island nation of Aruba enjoys from New Year’s Day to Ash Wednesday every year. During the season of Carnival, this small Caribbean nation comes alive with an island wide party that spans two months. Locals young and old come out in droves and dress in fun and elaborate costumes, play jubilant music and dance the night away. A true celebration of life, Carnival is a time to rejoice and a great time to visit Aruba. The weather is as perfect as ever and the night life just can’t be beat.

Carnival was first brought to the island nation of Aruba in the 1940’s, by people immigrating there from the British West Indies. Based upon the Carnival in Trinidad, the version brought to Aruba featured drama and music and artfully crafted costumes. Music teems down the street and seems to pulse through the air, as the whole island comes out to celebrate. There are parades every evening and wonderful “jump ups” every day. As more and more cultures have come to Aruba and called it home, more and more bits of culture have found themselves infused within the Carnival celebrations on Aruba.

If you come to Aruba during the months of January and February, you can expect to hear music from around the world. Tantalizing Latin salsa music plays alongside Steel drums and calypso beets. In the background you may hear Dutch oom-pa-pa’s and Antillean “tumba” music. As Carnival swirls around you, your eyes will feast on colorful floats, luxurious and elaborate costumes and glitter, lots and lots of glitter! The party reaches a fevered pitch with the arrival of the Grand Parade and then the entire island takes the next day off as that Monday is a holiday to rest and recuperate.

Carnival is one of the most vibrant celebrations in the entire world. Celebrated by many different nations across the Caribbean, each country has their own flavor. Aruba, with its ideal weather and harmonious, multi-cultural population is the best of all worlds. Arguably one of the most enjoyable celebrations in the Caribbean, it should be on every Caribbean vacationer’s “To-Do” list. Complete with parades, competitions and costumes it is sure to delight every visitor, both young and old. Less racy than the festivities on some of the neighboring islands it is also largely suitable for families. If you are thinking of spending your winter vacation anywhere, why not look at coming to Aruba and celebrating there?

Visiting Aruba at the Best Time of Year

A vacation in Aruba is a versatile thing. It can be a relaxing, quiet time for you and your family to slow down, enjoy the beach and recharge your batteries. There are many low-key activities that you can spend your days doing and plenty of beaches to rest on when you don’t feel like doing any of them. Aruba is also a great vacation destination if you are looking for a celebration. There are several annual events in Aruba that are totally worth visiting the island to enjoy. Carnival, Dia de San Juan and the Bon Bini Festival are among the best loved celebrations in the Caribbean.

Carnival is the 6 week long festival that takes place between New Year’s Day and Ash Wednesday in Aruba. One of Aruba’s best loved events, it is a raucous combination of music, color and merriment that features near daily parades and nightly “jump ups” or street parties. People travel to Aruba from all over the Caribbean and all over the world to join in the great festivities. Aruba is a harmonious combination of several different cultures and its Carnival is no different. You can hear Latin Salsa music and Dutch Oom-Pa-Pa all at the same time.

The Dia de San Juan or St. John’s Day is another favorite event in Aruba. This festival is only celebrated on the island of Aruba and is marked by a day of singing and dancing. A singer will chant a familiar “bury rooster” tune or “dera gai” as it is called, while players will accompany him with drums, violins and a local instrument known as a wiri. As the song is being sung, someone will be selected to hit a fake rooster with their eyes closed, much like a piñata. A very “Aruban” celebration, there is nothing else quite like it anywhere else in the world.

The Bon Bini Festival is actually a series of year round events that happen every Tuesday, in the capital city of Oranjestad. Bon Bini means welcome, and features local artists and craftsmen displaying their wares, along with steel drum players and dancers showcasing their talents. A short two hour weekly festival, it is a great way to start your Tuesday evening. No matter which of the events in Aruba you are here for, you are bound to enjoy the lively nature of the celebrations. Make your vacation a truly memorable trip and join the party in Aruba.

An Unusual Stop on the Itinerary

For many people, vacation is a time to try out things that you normally wouldn’t do. Some people opt to go snorkeling or scuba diving. Others may try out cliff diving or horseback riding. Many people travel to exotic destinations and just delight in the native cuisine. But for some, a trip to the hospital may become an unexpected addition to the itinerary. Sometimes, all of those fun activities that you are not used to can catch up with you, and you may find yourself bringing back a broken bone or a twisted ankle as a souvenir. If you find yourself injured in Aruba, you can rest assured knowing that you are in good hands.

Most people that get injured or ill enough to require a trip to the hospital on vacation suffer only fairly minor medical problems. Top of the list are digestion issues, caused by differences in the water and the food. Visitors to the island nation of Aruba that find themselves in severe gastrointestinal discomfort may seek treatment at either the medical center in San Nichols or the hospital in the capital city of Oranjestad. Comparable to the level of care that is provided in small hospitals in the United States, the Dr. H.E. Oduber Hospital is capable of providing treatment for most common medical concerns.

Though nobody really sets out to get hurt or get sick, it may be worthwhile to give it some thought before you leave on your dream trip. Check with you medical insurance provider to determine what the rules and regulations are regarding international care. Find out ahead of time whether it will cover you financially for expenses like consultations or hospital stays. Another good idea before coming to Aruba on vacation is to make sure that you have all of your routine vaccinations up to date. Though there are no regional medical concerns that are specific to Aruba, the last thing anyone wants is to fall needlessly ill while on vacation.

Though you certainly won’t hope to visit the hospital while on vacation in Aruba, it is good to know that, should a trip get spontaneously added to your itinerary, you will be in good and capable hands. If you should suffer a life threatening illness or injury you will likely be airlifted to another country that has state of the art equipment available, but truthfully, most ailments befalling tourists are not that serious.

A Proud Aruban Tradition

Many people ask what the best time of year to visit Aruba is. Although an enthusiastic “Anytime!” is a valid answer, thanks to the perfect weather, Carnival season is an easy favorite. The history of Carnival in Aruba is an interesting one. Carnival has been celebrated in Aruba since the 1940’s.and is in the 6 weeks leading up to the Lenten season in the Catholic calendar, which is a time of fasting and penitence. It begins on New Year’s Day and ends on Ash Wednesday. Carnival is a time of great joy and celebration. Originally introduced to the island nation by British West Indian immigrants, the celebration has evolved over the decades to include many multi-cultural flavors.

The original history of Carnival started in the 1940’s and is based upon the Carnival in Trinidad. Known for its vibrant costumes, and wild festivities, the celebration is also widely known as “Bacchanal”. Bacchanal is loosely based upon the ancient Greek and Roman festivities celebrating the Gods of wine, vegetation and cheer. Arubans often mark these celebrations with great artistic expressions, similar to the way that the Greeks and Romans would write tragedies for theirs.

Carnival in Aruba has changed over the years and now has many elements from Holland, North America and even native Arubans. The celebration is marked with many grand parades and parties, known as “jump ups” and reaches its festive peak with the election of the “Queen”. It is an expressive mix of music, color, motion and merriment that is a real draw for tourists from around the globe. Vibrant colors, elaborate costumes and fireworks delight the eyes while music, laughter and merriment fill the ears. The history of Carnival in Aruba has grown over the years to make it one of the most raucous celebrations in the Caribbean today.

If you are looking for a great time of year to visit Aruba, you can’t go wrong in Carnival season. While much of the Northern Hemisphere is mired in the cold gloom of winter, Aruba is alive with warmth and color, and aglow in the happiness of celebration. As is the history of Carnival, you will be treated to near daily parades and parties, so opportunities to join in the celebration abound. Be sure to bring a camera and your dancing shoes, as you take to the streets with the locals in a true celebration of life, music and of course, wine.

Aruba’s Favorite Reptiles

Lizards of all species are abundant in Aruba and many of these reptiles cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Whether you’re an animal enthusiast, an amateur photographer, a nature lover, or simply a traveler in search of an interesting vacation activity, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Aruba.

One place to begin your search is Arikok National Park. This ecological preserve covers nearly 20 percent of the island and is home to various animal species that are exclusive to Aruba. The park contains a variety of lizards including the Aruban Whiptail lizard, or Kododo blauw. The Aruban Whiptail is among the most common, and important, reptiles in Aruba. The males are known for their beautiful turquoise blue color. These omnivorous reptiles are indigenous to Aruba and survive on a diet of fruits, insects, and occasionally eggs and mice. The Aruban Whiptail and a variety of other reptiles, birds, and animals can be seen in part of the park called Cunucu Arikok. Cunucu Arikok is a partially-restored farm that serves as a 45 minute nature hike and gives up-close views of wildlife and vegetation.

Residing largely outside of the national park, Iguanas are also one of the most popular lizards in Aruba. Iguanas range from a bright, neon green when they are young, to a more subdued grey-green as adults. Male iguanas can grow up to more than 6 feet in length. These reptiles can often be found relaxing in the sun, or in trees in search of a snack. Iguanas are known to be quite fast, and much like chameleons, iguanas are known for their ability to blend into their surroundings, especially when they sense danger. The ability to camouflage themselves was once a valuable tool for iguanas because they were widely considered a delicacy in Aruba, and were made into a variety of soups and stews. It is now illegal to hunt iguanas and any restaurant caught serving them can be fined and possibly shut down.

Aruban Whiptails, Iguanas, and a variety of other species of reptiles can be found in most areas of the island. If lizards don’t seem to be your cup of tea, don’t worry. These local reptiles keep to themselves. Unless you try to feed them, they will do their own thing and allow you to do yours. These island natives add to the Aruban atmosphere and provide plenty of photo opportunities.