Oranjestad, Aruba

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Located off the coast of Venezuela, the windswept Dutch island of Aruba is otherworldly. Here, the beaches are spectacularly pristine, the waters are romantically restless, the island interior is lunar-like and filled with cacti, and the trees are—quite famously—bent in the wind. The island's consistent trade winds are part of the destination's allure: They keep the humidity, rain and hurricanes common in much of the Caribbean during its off-season at bay.

The main port and capital city, Oranjestad, is a maze of Dutch-colonial architecture painted in a palette of Caribbean pastels. There are some historic sites of note and myriad shops, from boutiques to megastores, selling all sorts of keepsakes, with jewelry and gold being popular items—in fact, gold was mined here in the 19th century. In Oranjestad and along the beaches you'll also find a treasure trove of excellent seafood restaurants, while farther afield are lighthouses, gold mine ruins and natural wonders that reflect the rugged appeal of Aruba.

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