Stylish urbanites may have started sipping aloe vera juice for its health benefits in metropolises around the country, but this potent succulent plant has some of its most historic roots on the sunny island of Aruba. Get away from your hectic schedule and unwind with aloe vera-infused spa treatments, luxurious resorts, and gorgeous white-sand beaches in this southern Caribbean hotspot.
Soon after aloe vera was introduced to Aruba in 1840, some two-thirds of the island’s desert-like terrain was covered with low-growing rosettes of this succulent plant renowned for its wellness benefits. Within several decades, this tiny, oblong-shaped island located 15 miles north of Venezuela had become known as the “Island of Aloe” around the world and the largest exporter of the plant. Today, aloe vera remains one of Aruba’s most precious resources used in everything from indulgent spa treatments to rejuvenating home remedies.
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Rainy days are rare on this sun-drenched island because, unlike many of its Caribbean counterparts, Aruba is blessed with a dry climate. Under the sun’s bright rays the stunning white sand sizzles, making it easy to understand why a plant regarded for its cooling properties has been a cornerstone of Aruban history and culture for more than a century. The constant sunshine and arid landscape provide a terroir that produces some of the globe’s most potent aloe vera gel.
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In its raw form, the gel from the thick, pointy leaves has been used for medicinal purposes by traditional cultures around the world. After processing, however, it becomes a substance known for its skin-quenching properties, reputed to do everything from soothe a sunburn to soften damaged skin and even prevent wrinkles. First grown at the historic Hato plantation, a short drive from downtown Oranjestad, today the leaves are still harvested, hand-cut, and filleted within hours at the Aruba Aloe Factory. Visitors can take a tour for an insider’s look at this local process and shop for authentic products, like the upscale Island Remedy skincare line.
At resorts and spas around the island, aloe vera has also been incorporated into therapeutic services, such as relaxing rum-and-aloe massages, moisturizing facials, and lavish body wraps. Beyond its beauty benefits, many locals, who comprise some 90 nationalities, also use aloe in their homes; some dry and burn the leaves as a cleansing incense to freshen their houses, while others hang them upside down above doorways to alleviate germs and bacteria.
From pampering spa treatments to revitalizing beach yoga and other wellness activities, Aruba will leave you feeling refreshed and vibrant. Read more about what to see and do in Aruba at aruba.com.