Aruba, Where One Happy Island Means One Happy Family
By Sascha Zuger
Plenty of Caribbean islands offer romance and relaxation, but it's not always easy to find an island not overrun by cruise ships that meets the needs of active kids and parents in need of a recharge.
The tiny Dutch territory of Aruba is just the place.
The northwest coast of Aruba offers a string of idyllic beaches. White powder options like Surfside and Eagle beaches are island favorites for their mellow, clear aqua waters and sprinkling of shady palms. The near-flat surf make these a great pick for beginner standup paddle boarders or for nervous snorkelers to get used to their gear.
Afterward, the kids can see fisherman sail in with their catch, and watch them clean the fish (some, like barracuda, with a buzz saw) at ZeeroversOpens in a new window in your browser fish shack. Fried plantains, onions in vinegar (pika), and Aruban cornbread (pan bati) accompany the daily catch of wahoo or kingfish.
Just up the coastline, guests at the all-inclusive Divi Village Golf & Beach ResortOpens in a new window in your browser enjoy access to similarly tot-friendly Divi Beach, with loungers, water sport gear and umbrellas. Poolside bingo, dance performances, live jazz at sunset and privileges at gourmet restaurants in several Divi Resorts that are just a short golf cart ride away make this a good value. Palm Beach, an easy walk from many of Aruba's high-rise hotels, is dotted with souvenir shacks, water sport rental kiosks and beach cafes. MooMba Beach Bar & RestaurantOpens in a new window in your browser is a perfect open-air spot to sample the local seafood stew and sweet potato soup, or indulge in a platter of coconut shrimp.
For families who want to take in the underwater scene, consider breaking out the snorkel with the Jolly PiratesOpens in a new window in your browser tours. The friendly crew uses pirate banter to instruct new snorkelers and assist kids of all ages in rope-swinging off the sloop into the bright turquoise water.
Families looking for an adrenaline fix can connect with marine life in a more immersive way via a Seabob ArubaOpens in a new window in your browser tour along the reef north of the resort district. Handheld, torpedo-shaped jet machines propel participants across the water's surface at speeds up to 20 kilometers per hour, and under the swells to race the fish. Explore the remote far north shore after a rollicking jeep or UTV ride through the wild craggy desert of Arikok National Park.
Regardless how you spend your days on the Caribbean's sunniest island, Aruba's motto of "One Happy Island" means this is just the place to create a memorable family vacation.
Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of CIBC or their partners.
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