Believe it or not, the Spanish colonists who settled in Aruba and her sister islands of Bonaire and Curaçao in 1513 nicknamed them the “Islas Inútiles,” or Useless Islands. They couldn’t have been further from the truth. Centuries later, this southern Caribbean cluster is using an arid climate and minimal rainfall in their favor; Aruba in particular lures tourists with its blindingly white beaches and craggy limestone landscape. And with its extensive underwater visibility, this island is a preferred getaway for divers looking to explore buried shipwrecks or to study some magnificent coral reefs up close.

Inflated room rates and airfares (some of the most expensive in all of the Caribbean) have nurtured Aruba’s reputation for exclusivity, but just take one look around Palm Beach and you’ll see that’s not the case. College kids, honeymooners, young families and baby boomers are all jockeying for their own piece of shade under the nearest divi-divi tree. Those colonists be damned: Aruba is indeed being put to good use.

Aruba Culture & Customs

Aruba’s motto is “One Happy Island,” and by all accounts, the residents prove this is so. Arubans are unanimously described as friendly and helpful. Dutch and Papiamento (a patois of Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, English, French and African languages) are the official languages, but most everyone can also speak English.

Like the residents of other tropical islands, Arubans dress casually much of the time. The finest establishments have an “elegant casual” dress code, which means long pants for men and sundresses for women. Call ahead to find out if your restaurant enforces a dress code, and also inquire about the service charge — some restaurants include a 10- to 15-percent charge on the bill that’s distributed among the staff. To specially tip your waiter, leave the money on the table…

Read more: US News

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