Beautiful, warm, crystal-blue and clear water with several hundred yards of sandy bottom.  Exciting conditions outside on "The Blue Highway" with rolling swell and a bump & jump playground. Strong off-shore winds mean flat water but a boat to fetch you if you can't get back. Aruba is part of the A-B-C's known for good winds.


 "Bon Bini!"  means "welcome" in Papiamento, the native language, which is a mix of African, Creole, Portuguese, Dutch, English and Spanish influences.

Aruba bounced among Spanish, Dutch and English rule. Today, it functions as an independent entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In Oranjestad, the capital, you'll find distinctive Dutch-style architecture -- tall, multicolored buildings with gabled roofs.It  is about 15 miles from the coast of Venezuela, and it's outside the hurricane belt, which means it is much less likely to be affected by a hurricane during hurricane season (June-November) than most other islands in the Caribbean,, with an average temperature of 82 degrees.

Fishing enthusiasts can cast a line for marlin, wahoo, amberjack, kingfish and tuna, and many restaurants will even cook your catch of the day. Divers can explore more than half a dozen shipwrecks off Aruba's shores, including the remains of a 400-foot-long German freighter called Antilla, and part of the tanker Pedernales, which is a shallow dive that's said to be good for beginners.

Aruba's steady trade winds provide ideal conditions for windsurfing and kiteboarding. Both sports are very popular on the island, and if you want to give it a try, head to Hadicurari Beach (also known as Fisherman's Huts), or contact my good friend and a great instructor Sijtze at Happy Boarding to get a lesson. This also is the site of the Aruba Hi-Winds, a summer competition that draws professionals, amateurs and spectators from around the world.

The island's semiarid interior is quite a contrast to the sparkling turquoise seas. It's a landscape of dramatic rock formations, cactuses and brushy plants. Look for the distinctive, gnarled divi-divi trees, permanently bent by the winds and pointing in a southwesterly direction. Its good for some mountain biking.  Arikok National Park encompasses about one-fifth of Aruba's land mass. Hiking trails and paved and gravel roads lead to caves, rocky coasts and pictographs left by Caquetio Indians. The Bubali Bird Sanctuary is home to more than 80 species of migratory birds, such as herons, skimmers, cormorants and egrets.

After a day of adventure sample the coconut candy known as cocada or the liqueur called coecoei, which is made from a centuries-old recipe and used in a variety of island cocktails. Keshi yena reflects Aruba's Dutch roots -- it's a mixture of chicken, capers, green olives and raisins baked in a hollowed-out Edam cheese rind.


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