Sun, Sand, and Surf
Aruba is perhaps best known for its gorgeous beaches—sun-kissed strips of sand that are the very definition of a tropical paradise. And all of Aruba’s beaches are open to the public.
For glamorous people watching, head north from Oranjestad along the coast to Palm Beach, a two-mile-long seashore often ranked among the world’s finest beaches, where water-sports concessions, beach bars, restaurants, and shops are all flanked by high-rise resorts and hotels. Malmok Beach is a narrow, sandy stretch backed by sprawling homes. The waters offshore are often dotted with sailboats and catamarans carrying eager snorkelers. Steps away, the secluded Boca Catalina Bay is a superb place to take a private swim.
The beaches on the windward coast, however, are a different story—secluded coves and inlets carved from limestone by constantly pounding waves. There’s a strong undertow, so swimming isn’t recommended on the windward side.
The contrasting coastal conditions are caused by Aruba’s ubiquitous 17-mph trade winds, which affect almost everything on Aruba, right on down to the near-perfect weather. The breeze keeps the temperature hovering around 82 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, drives out the humidity, and keeps the clouds at bay, so rain showers are a rarity. The trades also cause the rough conditions off the windward coast and even stir up the surf in certain areas to the south and east. One end result: some stellar water sports.
Windsurfers and kite surfers flock to Aruba from around the globe, drawn by the excellent water conditions. Harness the wind’s power without getting wet by sailing, parasailing, or even land sailing.
Experienced scuba divers can view the remnants of the California Lighthouse’s namesake wreck on the seafloor off the island’s northern coast. However, novice divers shouldn’t fret; there are more than 20 dive sites—including eight wrecks—in the waters surrounding Aruba, where plentiful coral reefs are swarming with aquatic creatures of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Divers may encounter queen angelfish, damselfish, octopi, giant sponges, sea horses, stingrays, rainbow runners, and many other intriguing species.
Off the northwestern coast of Malmok Beach, divers can descend to the wreck of the World War II German freighter the Antilla. The 400-foot-long wreck—one of the largest in the Caribbean—is covered by tube sponges, orange anemones, and coral formations. The Pedernales, another popular wreck dive, is just south of the Antilla. This oil tanker was sunk by a German submarine during World War II. The US Navy salvaged parts of the ship, but the remaining wreckage is in remarkable shape, and even some of the furnishings are still recognizable. The dive site is only 25 feet deep, so it’s a great spot for novices to test their sea legs—or flippers, as the case may be.
All snorkelers will find pleasure in the waist-high waters off De Palm Island, where Aruba’s endemic blue parrot fish mingle by the dozen. At De Palm, guests can also sunbathe, swim, enjoy the water park and waterslides, play a game of volleyball, take a banana-boat ride, and dance to Caribbean and Latin tunes. Much like Aruba itself, De Palm Island offers a diverse array of activities for all visitors to revel in.
Embark on a scenic sunset cruise with tropical views, Caribbean music, and unlimited cocktails and snacks.
Visit three of Aruba’s most famous landmarks in a colorful open-air bus. Then hit Palm Beach to lunch and relax on a complimentary lounge chair.
Enjoy a picturesque island tour of the Casibari rock formations, gold mill ruins, beaches, and the former Natural Bridge.
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