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The Aruba you never knew

INSIDE GUIDE

One Great Day
Heading north from the hotel district, stop at the California lighthouse. Pass through Casibari rock formations on your way to the Natural Bridge. Visit the Ayo rock formations before heading to Arikok National Park for scenic driving, cave exploring and sunning on deserted beaches. Continue on to San Nicolas for a drink at famed Charlie’s Bar. Get a treatment at Cosmos Spa in Savaneta. Head back to Oranjestad for some last-minute shopping before enjoying a fabulous meal and a night on the town.

What the Guidebooks Don’t Tell You
The main rule of Oranjestad shopping: If you’re looking for bargains, go to Main Street. If you’re looking for designers, go to the malls.

What to Avoid
There are so many great places to eat, don’t just go to the same chain restaurants you have at home.

What to Bring Back
Colorful masks made of mopa mopa (a bud boiled into a resin that’s then stretched, colored and hand-laid on the wooden masks) from Art and Tradition; Gouda and Edam cheese; skin-care products from Aruban aloe; amber and larimar jewelry; hand-crafted souvenirs from Just Local.

Where’s the Beach?
The beaches on the northern side of the island are beautiful, but their choppy waters can be dangerous. The more tranquil spots are on the southwestern side of Palm Beach, which is great for swimming, sailing and fishing. Baby Beach, on the eastern tip, is ideal for snorkeling.

Where to Eat
Le Dôme’s
(011-297-87-1517) fine Belgian cuisine uses only the freshest ingredients. Madame Janette (011-297-87-0184) is a creative experience with food prepared by an internationally educated staff. At Nos Cunucu (011-297-82-7122), hearty local food and friendly service are the order of the day. The Papamiento Restaurant (011-297-86-4544) prepares chicken, meat and fish dishes on a stone in front of diners.

What to Do
Hikers will want to climb 541-foot-high Hooiberg. Marvel at the Natural Bridge, which was carved out of coral rock and stretches more than 100 feet in length and 25 feet above sea level.

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