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Aruba Arriba!

Words by Carolyn Steere
Photos courtesy of Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort and Casino

Imagine a world-class Caribbean destination with 365 days of sunshine cooled by balmy trade winds, offering a modern infrastructure fused with distinctive history, incredible beaches and nightlife which pulsates to the beat of Caribbean Jazz.

Aruba is unmatched as a romantic destination for those wanting everything under the sun. With miles of pristine white beaches, luxurious resorts and continuous island festivals throughout the year, this is one happy island.

After a short two and a half hour flight from Miami, I arrived in Aruba to enjoy the annual Caribbean Jazz Festival and sample all the island has to offer.  Exiting the airport you are greeted by a sign, "Aruba – One Happy Island." Looking back I found the true charm of Aruba lies in the local people who were indeed happy, genuinely warm and eager to share their island with visitors.

A quick cab ride from the airport brought me to the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort and Casino, winner of the 2012 Four Diamond Trip Advisor Travelers' Choice Award. There is a three-level pool complex facing the beach and over 357 guest rooms, ZOIA Spa and four world-class restaurants.

After a great night's sleep it was time to explore the island. First stop was an off-road safari adventure through the Arikok National Park hosted by De Palm Tours. This band of joyful guides took great pleasure in finding the most challenging and (oh, yes) butt crushing roads to showcase Aruba's diverse desert vegetation and wildlife. With a welcome break and a chance to cool off at a natural pool along the coast, we continued to circle the island, stopping at several historic landmarks. Passing by brightly colored homes in the welcoming neighborhoods of Oranjestad, the tour guides constantly honked their horns greeting people we passed on the street.

As the sun was setting, the Caribbean Jazz Festival was heating up. Over 7,000 Arubans and tourists danced to the sizzling hot and very cool sounds of Jazz artists including Chaka Khan, Fourplay, Oscar D' Leon and my personal favorite Kuenta I Tambu, which had a kind of Latin/African/Techno beat. Aruba boasts a staggering calendar of events. Check them out on aruba.com for updates on all the latest festivals.

Aruba is a very easy place to navigate if you are considering a destination wedding or honeymoon. English is spoken effortlessly and there is no need to convert dollars into the Aruban currency.

On my last day in Aruba I sat by the pool enjoying the local cocktail the "Aruba Arriba," and realized this phrase summed up my feelings about Aruba. “Arriba” means upwards or up and so it is with Aruba; from the people to the unique natural beauty, the sunshine and the amenities, Aruba is a destination that is always "up!"

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