You probably know the aloe plant, but did you know that aloe plays a big part in Aruba’s history? The Dutch introduced the aloe plant to Aruba’s desert-like environment in the 1840s, but it was 1890 when a man named Cornelis Ema began cultivating aloe vera commercially and made Aruba one of the largest players in the aloe vera industry. At the time, Aruba wasn’t exactly known as a place where much could be grown or harvested. Fortunately, this dusty rock of an island was perfect for growing aloe. By 1905, Aruba was the world’s largest producer of aloin, the medically-preferred substance derived from the aloe plant.
Now, the same company that started in 1890 still exists as Aruba Aloe Balm N.V., the oldest aloe company in the world. When you visit the company’s museum, the Aruba Aloe Museum, Factory and Store, you get a first-hand look at the plant’s history and production today. Museum’s free tours are about 45 minutes in duration, held every 15 minutes Monday through Friday and available in English, Dutch, Spanish and Papiamento.
If you’re not up for a guided tour, explore the museum on your own. Highlights include the factory facilities, aloe cutting room, testing lab, filling room and more. Don’t forget to pick up some of the facility’s famed aloe products while you’re there!