Here's the scoop.
It's variety of activities and cultural attractions make it a great escape. From windsurfing, diving, and sailing to hiking, horseback riding, and 4x4 safaris your vacation days will be filled with fun. Enjoy a day of snorkeling, take a submarine ride or practice your tennis swing. You will find something for each member of your family. It’s always summer in Aruba.
One of the most southerly islands in the Caribbean in a cluster known as the ABC Islands, Aruba is located just 12 degrees north of the equator, and only 20 miles off the northern coast of South America. For a relatively small island, just 19.6 miles long and six miles across at its widest point with a total land area of 70 square miles; it offers families plenty to do. The Old Dutch capital city of Oranjestad with its tall multicolored houses is the place to do some duty free shopping for luxury items, or to browse in the marketplace for Aruban art and local handicrafts. Play in the sand.
On the southeastern end of the island, in the Seroe Colorado area is Baby Beach offering calm, shallow waters, making it the ideal spot for families with young children. Out the water snorklers will love the gorgeous coral reefs, and the massive sand dunes along the coast are magnificent. Several other ideal beach spots lie nearby to Baby Beach – check them out, soak up the rays and hit the waves. SNUBA anyone?
For families not yet ready to SCUBA dive together this is a thrilling option. SNUBA
means SNorkeling+snUBA. Quite simply it is a way to breathe underwater yet be tethered to one shared air supply. The water is warm and clear and the marine environment awesome. See blue tang, exotic angelfish and curious clown fish without the stress of keeping track of kids. Bonus points:
It is also possible to take a Sea Trek
which is walking under water using a specially designed helmet with an air supply system. The helmet allows its user to walk to a depth of 20 feet. Seek a private island.
Snorkel heaven, De Palm Island about seven minutes by ferry from the mainland. It is a postcard-perfect island with clean beaches and crystal clear waters which are ideal for snorkeling. Abundant with spectacular coral formations and colorful marine life, this island paradise is a "must see" during your visit. Bonus points:
The Blue Parrotfish Water Park debuts this year on the private island later this year. The state-of-the-art water park will feature various slides as well as 70 fun-filled water attractions. (De Palm Tours L.G. Smith Boulevard 142 Oranjestad, Aruba (297) 582-4400 www.depalm.com
) Ride the wind.
Almost constant 15-knot trade winds, along with the variety of flat-water locations and challenging wave conditions, have made Aruba one of the most popular spots on earth for windsurfers and kitesurfers. For families with teens this is the place to take lessons and practice skills. You will find the gentler winds, calm waters, rental equipment and instructors along the island's southern shore. Advanced students and experts have a choice of any number of prime locations along the northern and southeastern coasts. Bonus points:
Each June, Aruba hosts the Hi-Winds Amateur World Challenge windsurfing tournament. This ten-day competition attracts the most competitive professional windsurfers and hundreds of amateurs to the island of Aruba and is sanctioned by the Professional Board Sailors Association. Walk on the wild side.
Taking up 18% of Aruba’s total land mass, Arikok National Park is an area of unique scenic beauty, a multitude of flora and fauna, and the highest point in Aruba, Mount Jamanota (188 meters). Animals within the reserve include the indigenous conejo rabbit, Kododo Blauw lizards, and the rattles-less Cascabel rattlesnake. Numerous trails crisscross the park land, showcasing au-natural Aruba. Several tour companies offer guided tours of the park. Bonus points:
Look for the Arawak petroglyphs in the Fontein Cave. (Toll-free 1-800-TO-ARUBA www.arubatravelinfo.com/arikok.html
) Fly away.
Aruba’s Butterfly Farm is an unforgettable up-close encounter with butterflies in all their beauty and diversity. The main exhibit is a tropical garden, home to butterflies from all over the world, as well as some of the world’s most colorful and unusual creatures. Visitors are invited to observe the life cycle of a butterfly from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis and finally to butterfly. Lucky visitors that arrive early may get to witness butterflies emerging from their chrysalises and taking their first flights. Bonus points:
An admission ticket serves as a free pass for the duration for your stay in Aruba – visit early and return at no charge. (Palm Beach, toll-free 1-800-TO-ARUBA or www.thebutterflyfarm.com
Explore the dark.
With the advent of popular tales of pirates and buried treasure, the caves of Aruba have gained significant notoriety. Anyone looking for a feel of Aruba’s swashbuckling history should check out the caves along the southeast coast. Guadirikiri Cave’s sunlit main cavern is a wonderful photo op, while the adventurous will love the 100-foot long tunnel, home to hundreds of harmless bats. Although unconfirmed, it is rumored that Guadirikiri Cave and others nearby were once the hiding place of pirates. Located in Arikok National Park, Fontein Cave is on of the most popular on the island. Fontein Cave is the only cave on the island with actual Arawak Indian petroglyphs along the ceiling. Need to know:
The Huliba Cave is known as the Tunnel of Love due to its heart-shaped entrance. Visitors to Huliba should bring flashlights in order to fully explore the 300-foot long passageway. (Toll-free 1-800-TO-ARUBA or www.aruba.com/thingstodo/attractions/caves.aspx
) Leave it to the birds.
The Aruba Ostrich Farm on the dramatically wild, rugged and beautiful North Coast offers a unique opportunity to interact with tame ostriches; visitors can see and touch and feed the tall birds; sometimes even have a chance to balance on an ostrich egg. After the ostrich experience go to the Savanna Lodge, located on the property and try ostrich dishes. Bonus points:
The Lodge also offers a savanna-style cook out complete with torches and a campfire. (The ostrich farm is located along the road leading to the Natural Bridge: Matividiri 57. 1 (297) 585-9630 or www.arubaostrichfarm.com
) Vacation Book Connection - Staff Favorites Jamaican Folk Tales and Oral Histories.
by Laura Tanna, DLT Associates, Inc.; (August 9, 2000). This book provides many rare insights into Jamaica’s culture and unique heritage. This is an excellent reference for growing young citizens of the world. Anancy-spiderman.
by James Berry, Walker Books; (July 27, 1989). Every young child will be enchanted by the folktales of Anancy (Anansi). This book contains a collection of 20 tales about the antics of the West Indian trickster and his companions Bro Monkey, Bro Dog, and Bro Tiger. This collection is ideal for an airport layover or a prelude to naptime. A Caribbean Counting Book.
by Faustin Charles. Houghton Mifflin; (March 3, 1996). The perfect trip companion for parents with young travelers, this book engages tykes in the island culture with rhymes and rhythms typical of Jamaica, Martinique to the Dutch West Indies. Count pawpaws and breadfruit, guava, centipedes, and fish. This book works really well with the lighthearted A Caribbean Alphabet by Frane Lessac's. Both create a sense of place for young children by making them a part of the learning base. Pirates.
By Dina Anastasio & Donald Cook, Grosset & Dunlap; (March 1, 1997). This book is both fun and educational. Illustrations on every page create a sense of what a pirate’s life was like. A replica of the "Pirates’ Code of Conduct" shows the odd sense of honor among thieves. Elementary school children will enjoy the examples of pirate flags and the stories about infamous pirates too. (Ages 5-10)
The Voyager's Stone: The Adventures of a Message-Carrying Bottle Adrift on the Ocean Sea.
By Robert Kraske & Brian Floca, Orchard Books (NY); (March 1, 1995) Providing an unusual and inventive introduction to nature and geography, this is a clever story that about a boy who sets adrift a bottle containing a letter and a special charm. The journey spans from the Caribbean Sea to Australia. A young girl finds it and replies. The bottle's journey includes the stresses of nature like waterspouts and tidal waves. (Ages 9-12) Content researched and created by Travel Communications Inc. Images provided by Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino. Copyright 2013.