its seemingly endless supply of white sandy beaches and turquoise blue
waters, ARUBA is one of the more popular Caribbean destinations for many
sun-worshipers and cruise-ship passengers. The smallest of the ABC
islands, Aruba is 25km north of Venezuela and only 30km wide. Over one
million visitors a year come to this tiny island of 90,000 to indulge in
the glitz associated with its luxurious beachside resorts, elegant
restaurants, 24-hour casinos, shops and boutiques. The harbourside
Oranjestad attracts many of
the visitors, as do resort-filled
beaches just north of town. In stark contrast to
these glamorous areas, the rugged interior is dotted with stands of
cacti, twisted divi divi trees and herds of wandering goats. In the
Mars-like landscape of
Arikok National Park
, mysterious boulders painted with ancient petroglyphs and limestone
caves are sights not to be missed.
Aruba offers a wide selection of water sports and related
activities, many of which are based on the stretch between
excursions to nearby coral reefs and shipwrecks can be arranged with Fun
Factory Sailing Adventure (tel 297/862017), departing daily from the De
Palm Pier behind the
Radisson Hotel at 9.30am. The four-hour trip
on board the catamaran ($55) includes an open bar, hot buffet lunch,
snorkelling gear and visits to a couple of reefs and to the Antilla , a
sunken World War II German freighter off the coast of
For an extra US$45 they offer the unique sport of snuba, which combines
snorkeling and diving. Diving lessons and packages to area dive sites
can be arranged with Pelican Watersports (tel 297/872302), located next
to De Palm Pier. They offer a variety of dive packages starting at
US$160; a fully certified Open Water Certification course costs US$350.
Red Sail Sports (tel 297/861603), behind the
Hyatt Hotel and
Allegro Resort on
Beach, also has a series of dive courses, charter tours to area
reefs and night dives.
Deep-sea fishing with Pair-a-dice Charters can be arranged by calling
Captain Monty (tel 297/929586). His crew usually fishes for marlin,
wahoo, kingfish or barracuda. Half-day charters run US$280.
Aruba's only kayak company, Aruba Kayak Adventure (tel 297/824400),
offers a four-hour guided kayaking trip along the southern coast of the
island near Spanish Lagoon, a legendary hiding place for pirates. The
fee of US$65 includes hotel pick-up and delivery, use of kayak and brief
instructions, lunch and snorkelling gear. They depart every morning at
surfing is the hottest water sport. This sport is
practised on the water with a board and a kite. Lessons
(safety and knowledge of equipment)
Starting and landing
of the kite
Navigate the kite
Body dragging through
Learning how to kite
surf your first meters.
The lessons of approximate 3 hours now only for US $ 99
(including equipment and free transportation)
Click here to make your online reservation
and experience the challenge !
A variety of sailing trips and sunset tours can be
arranged with several agencies. Jolly Pirates (tel 297/5837355) operates
a 70-ton schooner and organizes sailing and snorkelling trips departing
from De Palm Pier (tours start at US$46). Mi Dushi Sailing Adventures
(tel 297/5862010) sets sail Monday to Saturday on a sunset cruise
Divi Winds (tel 297/5837841), between the
Tamarijn resorts on Druif Beach, offers windsurfing lessons
($45), sailing lessons ($50) and board rental ($15/hr). At
Hadicurari Beach, Aruba Boardsailing
Productions (tel 297/5860989) rents windsurfers at US$20 per hour or
US$55 for the day; lessons start at US$135/day.
A different and exciting way to explore Aruba's
underwater realm is on board the island's only passenger submarine . The
Atlantis Submarine (tel 297/5886881) descends to 150ft and passengers
can view schools of tropical fish, coral reefs and the remains of the Mi
Dushi shipwreck. It leaves from the Atlantis Pier located across from
Renaissance Resort in downtown
Eating and Drinking
Captain Cooks Bakery Seaport Marketplace Mall. Serving
delicious breakfast specials for US$5. Fresh bread, fruit shakes plus
deli meats available daily from 7.30am until midnight (open 9.30am on
Cuba's Cookin' Wilhelminastraat 27 tel 297/5880627. Genuine Cuban
cuisine and lively entertainment are on offer at this traditional
nineteenth-century country house. Try the lobster enchilada. Entrees
US$20-30. Daily from 6pm until 10 or 11pm.
Don Carlos L.G. Smith Boulevard tel 297/5836246. You can't get any
closer to the water than this place serving reasonably priced authentic
Italian cuisine directly on the waterfront in the heart of town. Very
popular with young families, it can get rather busy. Daily
11.30am-4.30pm & 5pm-midnight.
El Gaucho Wilhelminastraat 80 tel 297/5823677. Tender, juicy Argentine
steaks grilled to perfection; for a real treat try the 16oz gaucho
steak. Cosy atmosphere with an adjoining cocktail lounge and an
extensive wine list. Mon-Sat 11.30am-11pm.
Joe's 2nd floor, Royal Plaza Mall tel 297/5839373. Long one of Aruba's
most popular restaurants. Delicious dishes include quesadillas and
crispy calamari; vegetarian options also available. Don't miss out on
their enormous tropical drinks like the famous Pink Iguana, a smooth,
refreshing strawberry colada. Mains under US$20. Open Mon-Thurs 11am
-11pm, Fri & Sat 11am-1am & Sun 4-11pm.
Qué Pasa? Wilhelminastraat 2 tel 297/5834888. Popular dinnertime
restaurant and bar with a small art gallery offering moderately priced
Italian meals and other international dishes. Mains US$25. Daily
Taj Mahal Wilhelminastraat 4A tel 297/5884494. The only Indian
restaurant in town. Delicious authentic dishes, averaging US$6, all
prepared to order. Mon-Sat 11am-10pm & Sun 6-11pm.
Villa Germania Seaport Marketplace Mall tel 297/5830078. One of the few
places in town open for breakfast ($5-8), Villa Germania also has
home-made European cuisine like schnitzel and sauerkraut and desserts
for lunch and dinner (mains US$12-20). Open terrace faces the harbour.
The Waterfront Seaport Marketplace Mall tel 297/5835858. Specializing in
seafood dishes as well as burgers and chicken dishes. Open for breakfast
($6-10), lunch and dinner (mains US$7-15). Daily 8.30am-11.30pm.
At night, the dazzling lights of
attract party buses and scores of revellers who visit as many bars,
nightclubs and casinos as possible before daybreak. Many of the
restaurants and bars have live local bands on weekends, and most hotels
and resorts offer theme nights and activities for their guests. If
you're heart is set on spending an elegant evening, the glitzy Las Vegas
style dance shows at the Crystal Theater in the
Renaissance Resort are well worth the price of admission.
Crystal Theater Downtown at the
Renaissance Beach Resort on L.G. Smith Boulevard tel
297/5836000. An impressive heart-thumping "Let's Go Latin" dance show
($37) with live music and dancers. Show times are from Mon to Sat
beginning at 9pm. The resort also has a 24-hour casino.
Carlos 'n Charlie's Weststraat 3A tel 297/5820355. A
popular bar with tourists who dance to tunes from the 1960s to the
1980s. The music gets going after 11pm. US$3 cover charge.
Café Bahia Weststraat 7 tel 297/5889982. A staircase
leads upstairs to an open-air dance floor. Local bands usually play on
weekends, happy hour is on Fri 5-7pm and ladies night is Wed. Closes
3.30am on weekends and 2am on weekdays. No cover charge.
Club E-Zone Bayside Mall on Weststraat 5. The largest indoor dance floor
in town plays European music and attracts a fairly young crowd of
La Fiesta 2nd floor Adventura Mall on Klipstraat tel 297/5889982. This
trendy terrace bar attracts both locals and tourists. Latin beats are
mixed with European and American tunes.
Jambos 2nd floor Royal Plaza tel 297/5833632. Tables are removed on Fri
and Sat for dancing; other nights this place is great for hanging out
and listening to music. It's also a restaurant serving sandwiches and
snacks. Latin tunes played throughout the day. Daily 10.30am-4am.
Radisson Aruba Caribbean Resort Casino on Palm Beach tel
297/864045. Casino surrounded by lavish drapery and Caribbean palms. The
lounge and sports bar are also popular.
Stellaris Casino At the
Aruba Marriott on
tel 297/5869000. One of the island's favourite casinos.