Aruba, the smallest island in the Leeward group of the Dutch Caribbean islands, is best known to tourists for its wonderful variety of beaches and the spectacular quality of its surf; not bad for an island 30km (19.6 miles) long and 9km (6 miles) wide. The west and southwest coast, known as Palm Beach, boast no less than 11km (7 miles) of palm-fringed powder-white sands, while in complete contrast, the east coast has a desolate, windswept shoreline of jagged rocks carved into weird shapes by the pounding surf.
The majority of hotels are in the Palm Beach and Eagle Beach resort area on the southwest coast, offering accommodation of a very high standard. The island can easily be driven round in a day, and cars can be hired without difficulty.
Aruba's Dutch heritage is always present, and nowhere more so than in the capital of Oranjestad, characterised by its pastel-coloured gabled buildings, and a windmill brought piece by piece from Holland, now used as a restaurant.
Foodwise, local Aruban specialities include stoba (lamb or goat stew), cala (bean fritters), pastechi (meat- or cheese-stuffed turnovers), ayacas (leaf-wrapped meat roll) and sopi di pisca(fish chowder).