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Biking and Motorcycling

Biking is a great way to get around the island: the climate is perfect, and the trade winds help keep you cool. If you prefer to exert less energy while reaping the rewards of the outdoors, a scooter is a great way to whiz from place to place. Or let your hair down completely and cruise around on a Harley-Davidson.

Organized Excursions

Harley-Davidson Aruba Tours. Hog fans will adore this novel way to tour Aruba. On your own with a rental, or in one of their guided group Harley-Davidson Madness Tours—a four-hour trip that takes only the back roads to bring you the island's best sites—you will enjoy the open road like a rebel with this outfit. Motorcycle license and $1,000 deposit required. L. G. Smith Blvd. 106, Oranjestad, n/a Aruba. 297/582–8660. www.harleydavidson-aruba.com.

Rancho Notorious. One of Aruba’s oldest tour operators, Rancho Notorious offers horseback riding for all levels and many different guided tours, including ATV outback adventures and mountain biking. All adventures are a great way to experience the island’s rugged arid outback and scenic rocky seasides where cars cannot venture. Boroncana, Noord, n/a Aruba. 297/586–0508. www.ranchonotorious.com.

Rentals

There are plenty of dealers who will be happy to help you in your motoring pursuits.

Bowling

Dream Bowl Aruba. Dream Bowl does it right with eight glow-in-the-dark bowling lanes, hip music, computerized scoring, and all kinds of special theme nights with prizes. It's part of the larger entertainment emporium on the top floors of the modern new Palm Beach Plaza that includes a huge video arcade, a big modern sports bar, billiard tables, a food court, and prize machines. Palm Beach Plaza, Suite 310, L. G. Smith Blvd. 95, Palm Beach, n/a Aruba. 297/586–0809. Daily from 4 pm-11 pm.

Eagle Bowling Palace. Arubans love to bowl and often compete off-island. The newly modernized Eagle emporium is close to the high-rise strip and has computerized lanes, a snack bar, and a cocktail lounge. Equipment rentals and group rates are available. Sasakiweg, Pos Abou, Oranjestad, n/a Aruba. 297/583–5038. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eagle-Bowling/188310420972?sk=info&tab=page_info.

Day Sails

Aruba is not much of a "yachtie" destination; you won’t see a lot of sailboats, but you will see lots of luxury catamarans taking big groups of tourists out for a fun day of party sailing, snorkeling tours, or sunset dinner cruises. There are a few smaller private yacht charters available as well. The weather is typically ideal, the waters are calm and clear, and the trade winds are gentle, so there’s never really a bad time to hit the waves.

Day sails usually take off from either DePalm Pier or Pelican Pier on Palm Beach. Many tour companies include pickup and drop-off service at the major resorts.

Mi Dushi. This romantic, two-masted ship ("My Sweetheart") offers daytime snorkeling trips that include breakfast, lunch, and drinks for $59 per person. It also offers popular sunset happy-hour cruises. Turibana Plaza, Noord 124, Noord, n/a Aruba. 297/586–2010. www.midushi.com..

Octopus Sailing Charters. Captain Jethro Gesterkamp is at the helm for snorkel instruction and hosting aboard his small vessel—a 40-ft. trimaran that’s limited to 22 passengers, so the experience is highly personal. Champagne brunch and sunset sails also available. It’s an economical alternative to some of the bigger snorkel tour operators. Private charters also available. Pelican Pier, Palm Beach, n/a Aruba. 297/593–3739. www.octopusaruba.com.

Tranquilo Charters Aruba. Captain. Mike Hagedoorn, a legendary Aruban sailor, has recently handed the helm over to his son Captain. Anthony after 20 years of running the family business. Today, The Tranquilo —a 43-foot sailing yacht—still takes small groups of passengers to a secluded spot at Spanish lagoon named "Mike's Reef" after his father where no other snorkel trips venture. The lunch cruise to the south side always includes “Mom’s famous Dutch pea soup,” and they also do private charters for dinner sails and sailing trips around Aruba’s lesser-explored coasts. Look for the red boat docked at the Renaissance Marina beside the Atlantis Submarine launch. Renaissance Marina, Oranjestad, n/a Aruba. 297/586–1418. www.tranquiloaruba.com.

Fishing

Deep-sea catches here include anything from barracuda, tuna, and wahoo to kingfish, sailfish, and marlins, and a few skippered charter boats are available for half- or full-day excursions. Package prices vary, but typically include tackle, bait, and refreshments. If you go with Driftwood Charters, they will cook your catch for you at their Driftwood restaurant if you like.

Teaser Charters. The expertise of the Teaser crew is matched by a commitment to sensible fishing practices, which include catch and release and avoiding ecologically sensitive areas. The company's two boats are fully equipped, and the crew seem to have an uncanny ability to locate the best fishing spots. Captain Kenny and Captain Milton run a thrilling expedition. Renaissance Marina, Oranjestad, n/a Aruba. 297/582–5088. www.teasercharters.com.

Golf

Golf may seem incongruous on an arid island such as Aruba, yet there are several popular courses. Trade winds and the occasional stray goat add unexpected hazards.

The Links at Divi Aruba. This 9-hole course was designed by Karl Litten and Lorie Viola. The par-36 flat layout stretches to 2952 yards and features paspalum grass (best for seaside courses) and takes you past beautiful lagoons. It's a testy little course with water abounding, making accuracy more important than distance. Amenities include a golf school with professional instruction, a swing-analysis station, a driving range, and a two-story golf clubhouse with a pro shop. Two restaurants are available: Windows on Aruba for fine dining and Mulligan's for a casual and quick lunch. Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort, J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 93, Oranjestad, n/a Aruba. 297/581–4653. www.divilinks.com. 9 holes, 2952 yards, par 36.

Tierra del Sol. Stretching out to 6811 yards, this stunning course is situated on the northwest coast near the California Lighthouse and is Aruba’s only 18-hole course. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Tierra del Sol combines Aruba's native beauty—cacti and rock formations, stunning views, and good conditioning. Wind can also be a factor here on the rolling terrain as are the abundant bunkers and water hazards. Greens fees include a golf cart equipped with GPS and a communications system that allows you to order drinks for your return to the clubhouse. The fully-stocked golf shop is one of the Caribbean's most elegant, with an extremely attentive staff. Caya di Solo 10, Malmokweg, n/a Aruba. 297/586–7800. www.tierradelsol.com. 18 holes, 6811 yards, par 71.

Hiking

Despite Aruba's arid landscape, hiking the rugged countryside will give you the best opportunities to see the island's wildlife and flora. Arikok National Wildlife Park is an excellent place to glimpse the real Aruba, free of the trappings of tourism. The heat can be oppressive, so be sure to take it easy, wear a hat, and have a bottle of water handy. Get maps and information at Arikok National Park Visitor Center.

Arikok National Park. There are more than 34 km (20 mi) of trails concentrated in the island's eastern interior and along its northeastern coast. Arikok Park is crowned by Aruba's second-highest mountain, the 577-foot Mt. Arikok, so you can also go climbing here.

Hiking in the park, whether alone or in a group led by guides, is generally not too strenuous. Look for different colors to determine the degree of difficulty of each trail. You'll need sturdy shoes to grip the granular surfaces and climb the occasionally steep terrain. You should also exercise caution with the strong sun—bring along plenty of water and wear sunscreen and a hat. On the rare occasion that it rains, the park should be avoided completely, as mud makes both driving and hiking treacherous. At the park's main entrance, the Arikok Center houses offices, restrooms, and food facilities. All visitors must stop here upon entering, so that officials can manage the traffic flow and distribute information on park rules and features. n/a Aruba. 297/582–8001. www.arubanationalpark.org.

Arikok Park Visitor Center. Built in 2010, this massive, modern visitor center was constructed with the environment in mind by using sustainable materials and incorporating all kinds of eco-friendly practices to cool the interior. There are some live exhibits of Aruba’s endemic creatures like the blue whiptail lizard, the endangered cascabel rattlesnake, and the Aruban cat-eye snake, and there's lots of information about the other types of wildlife you might encounter on a hike or drive. There are also bathroom facilities, a souvenir shop, films about the flora and fauna, and a snack shop. Park rangers will take you on a guided tour of the wildlife and historical sites free of charge if you reserve a day in advance. Groups of up to 15 can be accommodated. The admission fee goes toward the conservation of the region. Note that you are not allowed to be in the park after sunset unless you have a camping permit. San Fuego 71, Santa Cruz, n/a Aruba. 297/585–1234. www.arubanationalpark.org/main/. Adults $11, children under 17 free. Daily 8–4.

Donkey Sanctuary Aruba. Aruba's donkeys were brought by the Spanish, but once they were no longer needed for transportation, they were basically left to fend for themselves in the wild. Unfortunately many get sick while unattended, or injured from car traffic, and need human help. Fortunately, there is a sanctuary for them run by Desiree Eldering and a team of dedicated volunteers. The nonprofit Donkey Sanctuary Aruba gives animals a safe place to heal or simply spend the rest of their years. The donkeys are friendly and love visitors (bring apples and carrots to really impress), and visitors can adopt a donkey at the sanctuary. Your donation goes to one specific donkey and pays for its care and feeding for a year. You can also adopt one from their website. Sta Lucia 41, Santa Cruz, n/a Aruba. 297/593–2933. main.arubandonkey.org/portal/.

Nature Sensitive Tours. Eddy Croes, a former park ranger whose passion for nature is infectious runs this outfitter with care. Groups are never larger than eight people, so you'll see as much detail as you can handle. The hikes are done at an easy pace and are suitable for just about anyone. Moonlight tours also available. If you'd rather not hike, Eddy also has a 4X4 monster jeep guided tour of the arid outback for up to 20 people as well. Pos Chiquito 13E, Savaneta, n/a Aruba. 297/585–1594. www.naturesensitivetours.com.

Horseback Riding

Ranches offer short jaunts along the beach or longer rides through the countryside and even to the ruins of an old gold mill. Riders of all experience levels will be thrilled that most of Aruba’s horses are descendants of the Spanish Paso Fino—meaning "fine step"—which offer a super-smooth ride even at a trot!

Rancho Daimari. This operation offers some of the best horseback ridings tours on Aruba. Choose from a trek to the incredible natural pool in the heart of Arikok National Park, or to a scenic and secret surfer’s beach. Tours are very family-friendly and accommodate all levels of riding skills. Complimentary return transportation from hotels. Reservations mandatory. Daimari Beach, Arikok Park, n/a Aruba. 297/586–6284. www.arubaranchodaimari.net.

Kayaking

Kayaking is a popular sport on Aruba, especially because the waters are so calm. It's a great way to explore the coast and the mangroves.

Aruba Kayak Adventure. Start with a quick lesson, and then get ready to paddle through caves and mangroves and along the scenic coast for an exceptional half-day kayak trip. The tour makes a lunch stop at De Palm Island, where snorkeling is included as part of the $100 package. J.W. Irausquin Blvd. 81B, Palm Beach, n/a Aruba. 297/582–5520. www.arubakayak.com.

Aruba Watersport Center. This family-run, full-service water activity center is right on Palm Beach. They offer a comprehensive variety of adventures including diving, snorkeling, parasailing, jet-skis, wave runners, tubing, hobie cat sailing, stand-up paddle-boarding, kayaking, wakeboard, and water-skiing. Speedboat and bike rentals as well. L.G. Smith Blvd. 81B, Noord, n/a Aruba. 297/586–6613. arubawatersportscenter.com.

Kiteboarding

Thanks to constant trade winds, kiteboarding (also called kitesurfing) has become huge on this island. The sport involves gliding on and above the water on a small surfboard or wakeboard while hooked up to an inflatable kite. Windsurfing experience helps, and practice time on the beach is essential.

Aruba Active Vacations. Located at the best spot on the island for optimum wind and wave conditions—this operation has been the go-to for many years as the place to learn windsurfing and kite-boarding. Their expert instructors ensure even first-timers are riding the waves in no time. Local alums of their school include world-class competitors like eight-time Women’s World Champion windsurfer Sarah-Quita Offringa. They also offer mountain biking, stand-up paddle boarding, and the unique sport of “blokarting”—sail-powered land carting. North end of beach, Malmokweg, n/a Aruba. 297/586–0989. www.aruba-active-vacations.com.

Multisport Outfitters

There are a number of outfitters in Aruba that can handle nearly all your water- or land-based activities with guided excursions and rental equipment. Here is a list of a few of our favorites.

De Palm Tours. Aruba’s premier tour company covers every inch of the island on land and under sea, and they even have their own submarine (Atlantis) and semi-submarine (Seaworld Explorer) and their own all-inclusive private island destination (De Palm Island). Land exploration options include air-conditioned bus sightseeing tours and rough and rugged outback jaunts by jeep safari to popular attractions like the natural pool. You can also do off-road tours in an UTV (two-seater utility task vehicle) via their guided caravan trips. On the waves, their luxury catamaran DePalm Pleasure offers romantic sunset sails and snorkel trips that include an option to try SNUBA®-deeper snorkeling with an air-supplied raft-at Aruba’s most famous shipwreck. DePalm also offers airport transfers. L.G. Smith Blvd. 142, Oranjestad, n/a Aruba. 297/582–4400. www.depalmtours.com.

Pelican Adventures. In operation since 1984, this company arranges sailing and boating charters for fishing and exploring, as well as jeep adventures and guided excursions to Aruba's caves and historic sites. Scuba and snorkeling trips are available for divers of all levels. Novices start with midmorning classes and then move to the pool to practice what they've learned; by afternoon they put their new skills to use at a shipwreck off the coast. Enjoy daytime snorkeling trips to two different reefs for about $47 per person. The company also offers sunset sails for $45 that can be combined with dinner at the Pelican Restaurant on Palm Beach. Pelican Pier, near Holiday Inn and Playa Linda hotels, Palm Beach, n/a Aruba. 297/586–3271. www.pelican-aruba.com.

Red Sail Sports Aruba. A dynamic company established almost 15 years ago and experts in the field of watersports recreation, Red Sail offers excellent diving excursions, snorkel sails, sunset, sails, and full dinner sails. They even have their own sports equipment shop. They are also the original operator to introduce the cool new sport of Jetlev®—a personal jet pack over the water—and jetblades—like roller blades on the waves. They also have the island’s only certified instructors for these activities, and have recently opened their own beach tennis club with expert instruction as well. Palm Beach, Noord, n/a Aruba. 297/586–1603. www.aruba-redsail.com.

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

With visibility of up to 90 feet, the waters around Aruba are excellent for snorkeling and diving. Advanced and novice divers alike will find plenty to occupy their time, as many of the most popular sites—including some interesting shipwrecks—are found in shallow waters ranging from 30 to 60 feet. Coral reefs covered with sensuously waving sea fans and eerie giant sponge tubes attract a colorful menagerie of sea life, including gliding manta rays, curious sea turtles, shy octopuses, and fish from grunts to groupers. Marine preservation is a priority on Aruba, and regulations by the Conference on International Trade in Endangered Species make it unlawful to remove coral, conch, and other marine life from the water.

In 2010, the Aruba Marine Park Foundation was established to protect the island’s reefs and waters. It’s a not-for-profit government organization, and they have been busy studying and defining the parameters that will best serve the island. One big issue they are tackling is the invasion of the non-native lionfish that threatens reefs throughout the Caribbean. If you spot a lionfish, report it to their organization, and do not touch it. The venom is poisonous and the sting very painful.

Operators

Aruba Pro Dive. The fact that this is a small outfit that only caters to small groups (six max.) helps make each dive more personal, flexible, and unique.They also do night dives and all levels of PADI certification. Ponton 90, Noord, n/a Aruba. 297/582–5520. www.arubaprodive.com.

Dive Aruba. Resort courses, certification courses, and trips to interesting shipwrecks make Dive Aruba worth checking out. Small groups make it more personal. Wilhelminastraat 8, Oranjestad, n/a Aruba. 297/582–7337. www.divearuba.com.

JADS Dive Center. JP Fang has moved his dive operation out to Baby Beach in San Nicolas where they have built an entire complex around the old Esso Social Club. There is a dive shop and snorkel equipment rental, and they have their own boats to charter for experienced divers. They also specialize in first-rate instruction for beginners. After the briefing, you head to Mangel Halto nearby for an easy shore dive that takes you to a little ship they scuttled to make an artificial reef. The complex also has washroom facilities, a playground, an outdoor shower, and a full beach bar/diner that has great local food, specialty cocktails, and sometimes live music. They are also planning a new dining spot next to an infinity pool there. Seroe Colorado 245E, San Nicolas, n/a Aruba. 297/584–6070. www.jadsaruba.com.

Native Divers Aruba. A small, personal operation, Native Divers Aruba specializes in PADI open-water courses. Ten different certification options include specialties like Multilevel Diver, Search & Recovery Diver, and Underwater Naturalist. Their boat schedule is also flexible and it’s easy to tailor instruction to your specific needs. Marriott Surf Club, Palm Beach, n/a Aruba. 297/586–4763. www.nativedivers.com.

S.E.Aruba Fly 'n Dive. One of the island's oldest diving operators, S.E.Aruba Fly 'n Dive offers a full range of PADI courses as well as many specialty courses like Nitrox Diver, Wreck Diver, and Deep Diver. They can also instruct you in rescue techniques and becoming an underwater naturalist. L. G. Smith Blvd. 1A, Oranjestad, n/a Aruba. 297/588-1150. www.se-aruba.com.

Unique Sports of Aruba. Diving is the specialty here, with scads of one- or two-tank dives scheduled weekly, but they also offer a snorkel sail on a luxury catamaran and a SNUBA (deep snorkeling with an oxygen raft), snorkel, and sail trip for those who are not yet certified. The staff teaches beginner resort courses as well as a wide range of PADI courses, including dive master and rescue. They depart from both the DePalm Pier and the Pelican Pier, depending on the trip. Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino, J. E. Irausquin Blvd. 81, Palm Beach, n/a Aruba. 297/586–0096 or 297/586–3900. www.uniquesportsaruba.com.

West-Side Dive Sites

Antilla Wreck. This German freighter, which sank off the northwest coast near Malmok Beach, is popular with both divers and snorkelers. Scuttled during World War II not long after its maiden voyage, the 400-foot-long vessel—referred to by locals as "the ghost ship"—has large compartments. You can climb into the captain's bathtub, which sits beside the wreck, for a unique photo op. Lobster, angelfish, yellowtail, and other fish swim about the wreck, which is blanketed by giant tube sponges and coral. Malmokweg, n/a Aruba.

Black Beach. The clear waters just off this beach are dotted with sea fans. The area takes its name from the rounded black stones lining the shore. It's the only bay on the island's north coast sheltered from thunderous waves, making it a safe spot for diving. n/a Aruba.

Californian Wreck. Although this steamer is submerged at a depth that's perfect for underwater photography, this site is safe only for advanced divers; the currents here are strong, and the waters are dangerously choppy. n/a Aruba.

Malmok Reef. Lobsters and stingrays are among the highlights at this bottom reef adorned by giant green, orange, and purple barrel sponges as well as leaf and brain coral. From here you can spot the Debbie II, a 120-foot barge that sank in 1992. n/a Aruba.

Pedernales Wreck. During World War II this oil tanker was torpedoed by a German submarine. The U.S. military cut out the damaged centerpiece, towed the two remaining pieces to the States, and welded them together into a smaller vessel that eventually transported troops during the invasion of Normandy. The section that was left behind in shallow water is now surrounded by coral formations, making this a good site for novice divers. The ship's cabins, washbasins, and pipelines are exposed. The area teems with grouper and angelfish. n/a Aruba.

Skeleton Cave. Human bones found here (historians hypothesize that they're remains of ancient Arawak people) gave this dive spot its name. A large piece of broken rock forms the entrance where the cave meets the coast. Noord, n/a Aruba.

East-Side Dive Sites

Captain Roger Wreck. A plethora of colorful fish swish about this old tugboat, which rests off the coast at Seroe Colorado. From shore you can swim to a steep coral reef. n/a Aruba.

DePalm Island. A must-do for a full or half-day trip is a visit to this terrific little private island outpost full of incredible adventures for the entire family. Their all-inclusive offerings include snorkeling with giant neon blue parrotfish, a giant waterpark, banana boat rides, salsa lessons, beach volleyball, zip-lining, and a massive all-you-can-eat buffet plus open bar and snack shack. For additional cost, you can also try Snuba@—deep snorkeling with an oxygen raft—and children 4–7 can join their parents with their unique SNUBA Doo® set-up. Motorized Power Snorkel is another fun undersea option. They also have Seatrek®—underwater walking tours with air-supplied helmets—and have added zip-lines over the water recently as well. There’s also a small seaside spa on site. Complimentary bus transportation from all major hotels includes access to the island by water taxi. De Palm Island Way Z/N, Balashi, n/a Aruba. 297/522–4400. www.depalmtours.com.

Jane Wreck. This 200-foot freighter, lodged in an almost vertical position at a depth of 90 feet, is near the coral reef west of De Palm Island. Night diving is exciting here, as the polyps emerge from the corals that grow profusely on the steel plates of the decks and cabins. Soft corals and sea fans are also abundant in the area. The current is strong, and this is for advanced divers only. De Palm Island, n/a Aruba.

Punta Basora. This narrow reef stretches far into the sea off the island's easternmost point. On calm days you'll see eagle rays, stingrays, barracudas, and hammerhead sharks, as well as hawksbill and loggerhead turtles. n/a Aruba.

Vera Wreck. In 1954 this freighter sank while en route to North America. The crew, saved by an Aruban captain, claimed the ship held Nazi treasures. n/a Aruba.

The Wall. From May to August, green sea turtles intent on laying their eggs abound at this steep-walled reef. You'll also spot groupers and burrfish swimming nearby. Close to shore, massive sheet corals are plentiful; in the upper part of the reef are colorful varieties such as black coral, star coral, and flower coral. Flitting about are brilliant damselfish, rock beauties, and porgies. n/a Aruba.

Skydiving

SkyDive Aruba. There's nothing like the adrenaline rush when you are forced to jump out of a perfectly good airplane at 10,000 feet because you are attached to your instructor. You have no choice but to free-fall at 120 mph toward the island for 35 seconds until your chute opens, and then your downward journey has you floating to the sand in a little over five minutes. Tandem sky jumps over Aruba cost $250 per person. Afterward you can purchase a video of your courageous leap. Group discounts are available. Malmok Beach, Malmokweg, n/a Aruba. 297/735–0654. www.skydivearuba.com.

Submarine Excursions

Atlantis Submarines. Enjoy the deep without getting wet in a real U.S. Coast Guard–approved submarine with Atlantis, run by De Palm Tours and operating on the island for over 25 years. The underwater reefs are teeming with marine life, and the 65-foot air-conditioned sub takes up to 48 passengers for a two-hour tour 95 to 150 feet below the surface along Barcadera. The company also owns the Seaworld Explorer, a semisubmersible that allows you to sit and view Aruba's marine habitat from five feet below the surface. (Children must be a minimum of 36 inches in height and four years old.) Renaissance Marina, L. G. Smith Blvd. 82, Oranjestad, n/a Aruba. 297/583–6090. www.depalmtours.com/atlantis-submarines-expedition.

Tennis

Aruba Racquet Club. Aruba's winds make tennis a challenge even if you have the best of backhands. Although visitors can make arrangements to play at the resorts, priority goes to guests. Some private tennis clubs can also accommodate you, or you can try the facilities at the Aruba Racquet Club. Host to a variety of international tournaments, the club has eight courts (six lighted), as well as a swimming pool, an aerobics center, and a restaurant. Rooisanto 21, Palm Beach, n/a Aruba. 297/586–0215. www.arc.aw.

Windsurfing

Aruba has all it takes for windsurfing: trade winds that average 15 knots year-round (peaking May–July), a sunny climate, and perfect azure-blue waters. With a few lessons from a certified instructor, even novices will be jibing in no time. The southwestern coast's tranquil waters make it ideal for both beginners and intermediates, as the winds are steady but sudden gusts rare. Experts will find the waters of the Atlantic, especially around Grapefield and Boca Grandi beaches, more challenging; winds are fierce and often shift without warning. Some hotels include windsurfing in their water-sports packages, and most operators can help you arrange complete windsurfing vacations.

Every July sees the Hi-Winds Pro-Am Windsurfing Competition, attracting professionals and amateurs from around the world. There are divisions for women, men, juniors, masters, and grand masters. Disciplines include slalom, course racing, long distance, and freestyle.

Sailboard Vacations. Complete windsurfing packages, including accommodations, can be arranged with Sailboard Vacations. Equipment rentals and full week clinics also available. L.G. Smith Blvd. 462, Malmokweg, n/a Aruba. 800/252–1070. www.sailboardvacations.com.