Niagara Gazette


July 27, 2006

Aruba offers plenty to do

From gold mines to white beaches, welcome to paradise

In the 1400s and 1500s, this Caribbean island that would become Aruba lured prospectors for its legendary oro ruba, or red gold.

Today, abandoned mines harkening to the 1823 gold rush, churches dating to the early 1800s, white-sand beaches, a world-famous butterfly conservatory, restaurants internationally celebrated for fresh-daily seafood, sunset-cruise weddings, golfing and casino gambling are foremost among Aruban attributes.

The culture is eclectic, reflecting 40 ethnicities around the world. You’ll see most of them in the arts, crafts, clothing and other goods sold the last Sunday of each month at the central flea market.

“Aruba is a very small island,” said Cathie Barile, co-owner of Travel Emporium of WNY Inc. of the Town of Tonawanda. “You can rent a Moped for a day and see the whole island and meet some of the world’s most fantastic people, many of Dutch and Venezuelan extraction. Venezuela is just 15 miles off the coast of Aruba.”

Barile visited Aruba in 2004, finding the Natural Bridge a must see.

“It’s a famous piece of rock eroded in the center and you walk on top,” she said. “It’s beautiful to see what nature has done.”

While the island may be small in size, it warrants a large chunk of time in terms of sightseeing.

“Absolutely, you could spend a week there,” Barile said. “There’s a great PGA golf course at Tierra del Sol Restaurant and Country Club. You can have your own three-bedroom condo with private pool for slightly more than $2,000 a week.”

As one of the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) Islands, “this one never has been hit by a hurricane,” she said. “That’s a big part of the popularity of the ABC chain.”

Casinos are a major attraction.

“A big one is La Hambra,” Barile said. “Many visitors like it because it’s unattached to any property — its only thrust is being a casino.”

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