Holiday Will Put a Smile on Your Face; Ben Rossington Flies to the Island of Aruba Where Everyone Is Happy to See You: Night of the Iguana Soup

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Byline: Ben Rossington

AS you step off the plane into the arrivals hall, there it is - the slogan, in massive letters, you will see everywhere you go.

It's on T-shirts, mugs, caps, even the bottom of the number plate of every car.

Aruba - One Happy Island.

And you don't have to step too far outside of the airport to realise why this small Caribbean island is so joyous.

One of the hidden gems on the world map, Aruba is the most southern of the Caribbean islands, making up the A-B-C chain with its neighbours Bonaire and Curacao just off the coast of Venezuela.

Gorgeous sunshine is guaranteed for 12 hours every day and rain hasn't been seen for more than 18 months. It's also handily placed out of the hurricane belt.

Because of that climate, Aruba's landscape and geology differ from the traditional view of how the Caribbean should look.

There are no rainforests here, no lush jungles and magnificent waterfalls. Instead the island is relatively flat and much of the desert and rocky landscape lies undeveloped, particularly to the north which doesn't even have a proper road running through it.

But that means you get to have a different trip from all those people who have been to the other Caribbean islands and yet seemingly all had the same holiday.

When you come back from Aruba, you will be able to say you have had a Caribbean experience unlike any other.

The island has a very American feel and in the capital Oranjestad are your usual assorted Dominos Pizza parlours, Starbucks and chain stores as it is a big draw for the US market (my girlfriend - who definitely doesn't watch too much TV - tells me that Rachel in Friends was planning to have her honeymoon there).

But steer clear of that and you discover the fantastically friendly locals, most of whom speak at least three languages - English, Dutch (it is officially part of the Netherlands) and their mother tongue Papiamento.

And once you're done sunning yourself for the day on one of several spectacular beaches or hiding from the rays under the famous twisted divi-divi trees, they'll be able to point you in the direction of some of the island's best places to eat.

We stayed in the Renaissance Casino Resort (with its own private beach complete with resident flamingos) and the hotels have your standard mix of restaurants with the global cuisine you would expect to find in any destination catering for an international market.

But if you want the real taste of Aruba, head out for one of the many local eateries.

One of the best on the island, and always packed with repeat customers, is the fabulous Pinchos Grill and Bar.

Situated at the end of its own private pier above the crystal clear sea, the food is fantastic and the atmosphere relaxed. …