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Aruba Things To Do

Enjoying Aruba's beautiful beaches is a main attraction, but for those who would like more active adventure, Aruba offers countless options. Probably the most famous sport on the island is the world-class windsurfing due to the high and steady winds. North of Palm Beach, between Malmok and Arashi Beaches, is the most popular spot. The southwest coast is best for beginners. And Boca Grandi, on the east coast, is the most challenging. Aruba Boardsailing rents equipment and gives lessons for all ages. Call them at 860989.

The Aruba Hi-Winds usually takes place in June. You can windsurf or watch. Everybody can enjoy the music and fun on the beach.

Go snorkeling and scuba diving, with visibility up to 100 feet. Off Malmok Beach is the wreck of the German ship Antilla, popular with divers and snorkelers. It's the largest in the Caribbean, surrounded by lobsters, ruby sponges and coral, and great for night diving. ATA has information on this and other sites for all levels of experience.

The biggest catamaran in Aruba's waters is the Fiesta, which sails from the Hyatt pier. Fiesta and her sister ship, the Balia, offer full or half-day cruises with stops for swimming and snorkeling. Call at 861603.

Sportfishing for bonito, tuna or barracuda is great in Aruba. Many charter boats offer half or full-day outings complete with lunch and drinks. Driftwood Fishing Charters' boats leave from Seaport Marina. Call 832515 for information. An International Fishing Tournament is held in October. Call the Aruba Nautical Club for details at 853022.

For landlubbers, there's the Tierra del Sol 18-hole golf course, designed to display Aruba's natural beauty, with the sea on two sides. Near San Nicolas is the Aruba Golf Club, with resident goats and scenic cactus.

Hiking in Arikok National Wildlife Park is a safe adventure. The many walking trails are well-kept and marked to indicate the degree of difficulty. The highest peaks in Aruba, Mt. Arikok and Jamanota, are located in the Park.

Don't miss the Bon Bini Festival, a folkloric event held every Tuesday in the courtyard of the Fort Zoutman Museum, 6:30 to 8:30. It's Aruba's way of saying "Welcome!"

A tour of the island will reveal the breathtaking beauty of Aruba-its fascinating rock formations, divi-divi trees sculpted by the wind, diverse cactus and crashing waves, plus its interesting architecture.

The Santa Ana Church in Noord (Aruba Map D-3) was founded in 1766 and reconstructed in 1916. The retable, pulpit and communion rails, which originated in the Netherlands, won a prize at the Vatican Council Exhibit in 1870. Today the church, with its heavily carved oak altar, is popular for weddings. Alto Vista Chapel (Aruba Map C-4), the first chapel in Aruba, overlooking the sea on the north coast, is so small that parishioners sit outside on stone pews.

The island's most photographed spot is the Natural Bridge (Aruba Map C-8). This solid coral formation, rising 25 feet above the sea, is the Caribbean area's highest and most dramatic coral structure. The bridge is a buffer between the sandy beach and the surf, making this a great spot for a swim and picnic.

Further east along the north coast you'll find The Caves (Aruba Map E-12, 13 & F-14). Fontein is the most popular because of the Arawak Indian drawings seen on the ceiling. Guadirikiri is known as a wonderful photo spot with its two chambers where daylight shines through. For the adventuresome, there's a 100 foot long tunnel filled with bats!

The rock formations which dot Aruba's landscape are a geological puzzle. Casibari Boulders (Aruba Map E-6), some of which weigh several tons, has walking trails and steps taking hikers to the top for a sweeping island view.

San Nicolas (Aruba Map H-14) was formed in the late 1800's to serve the island's first industry-phosphate mining. Decades later it was the heart of the industrial boom with the development of the oil refinery, which closed in 1985. Today Charlie's Bar is the lively main attraction, a hangout for scuba divers, artists and visitors.

Oranjestad is a busy capital city, whose Dutch heritage is evident everywhere. The traditional carved wood doors, Dutch tiles, and Antillean-style houses add to its charm. The Historical Museum is in Fort Zoutman (Oranjestad Map F-6), the oldest building in Aruba. The Willem III Tower was built in 1868 as a lighthouse. The Museum houses a collection of artifacts from the island's earliest time through the Spanish and Dutch periods, and is well worth a visit. The Archaeological Museum (Oranjestad Map F-5) is filled with Indian relics, ancient pottery and art. Most objects are from the two main excavation sites at Malmok and Canashitu. Along the wharf there is a lively marketplace where merchants sell produce and fish right off the boats each morning.

Duty-free shopping is a favorite sport on Aruba. Shops in Oranjestad's malls and on Caya G.F. Betico Croes, the main shopping street, should satisfy every taste. You'll find luxury items such as jewelry, leather goods and fashion apparel. Local pottery and artwork is also popular. And Dutch treats, like porcelain, chocolates and cheese, make wonderful gifts and souvenirs. The Royal Plaza Mall (Oranjestad Map F-4) also has a post office branch and an internet café for keeping in touch back home while enjoying the many charms of Aruba.

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