All along Palm Beach are a dozen or more independent operators with tents that provide spur-of-the-moment, unscheduled activities. These could be banana boat rides, tubing, waverunners, and parasailing, usually sold in blocks of 15-30 minutes. Each resort has at least one vendor; prices and services are the same from one to the next. Fisherman’s Huts, north of the Marriott, is Aruba’s windsurfing and kitesurfing center, with kiosks and tents where lessons can be arranged or equipment rented to those with experience.
Aruba Active Vacations
Dedicated to extreme sports, Aruba Active Vacations (Fisherman’s Huts, L. G. Smith Blvd. across from Bakval, 297/586-0989, 9am-7pm daily, windsurfing $50-135, kitesurfing $110-160, mountain biking $25-100, landsailing safari 2.5 hours, $60) is aptly named. Owner Wim Eehlers is the president of the Aruba Windsurfing Association, which conducts the annual Aruba Hi-Winds Pro-Am. He and his crew are fanatical about their activities, offering patient, expert instruction. Aruba is considered to have some of the most ideal conditions for windsurfing in the world: Calm waters and steady winds make it easy to master the sport. Discover a new obsession.
Aruba Surf School
Due to Aruba’s calm waters, surfing does not have the thrill of the Pacific or north Atlantic coasts. There is only one operation dedicated to pursuing this activity here: Aruba Surf School (Irausquin Blvd, 297/593-0229, by appt. daily, 2.5-hour lesson and tour $95, rental $35, SUP class $60, $25/hr rental). Still owner and surfing fanatic Dennis Martinez does his utmost to provide a fun day of riding the waves. He picks up guests at their resorts and takes them to the best surf for that day—at out-of-the-way coves along the north coast. Expect an outback adventure and surfing safari experience all in one. They also rent stand-up paddleboards (SUP) from their center on the beach directly in front of the Marriott Surf Club.
Native Divers Watersports
You can always count on a friendly chat and conscientious service with Vanessa at Native Divers Watersports (Washington 16, 297/586-4763, book at the tent in front of the Marriott Surf Club, 9am-5pm daily, float rental $5/day banana boat; tube rides $20 for 20 minutes; waverunners $65/half-hour; additional $5 per child to share with up to two small children; driver must be at least 16 years old; parasailing $60). She will be happy to arrange all sorts of family activities for playing in the waves, such as tubing, banana boat rides, parasailing, and waverunners, as well as renting out floats, at standard rates. She makes it a practice of directing clients to the most safety-conscious and reputable operators. Her tent is a hospitable place to relax, and she is a fountain of information regarding activities and operators.
Fun for Everyone
At the north end of the Riu Palace beach is George Tromp and his tent offering Fun for Everyone (Borancana 128, 297/640-6603, 9am-5pm daily, float rental $5/day, banana boat and tube rides $20/half-hour, waverunners $60/half-hour, parasailing $60, beach umbrellas $25/ day, beach lounges $5/day). George runs a very friendly operation. He has four fast boats of his own to accommodate all comers. Banana boat rides offer a complete tour of the coastline from Palm Beach to the Westpunt.
He also has beach lounge rental by the day and shade umbrellas for those who are not guests of Palm Beach resorts but wish to spend the day here. This is particularly handy for cruise ship passengers.
Vela Surf Center
On the beach between the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton sits Vela Surf Center (L. G. Smith Blvd 101, 297/586-3735, 9am-6pm daily, $60-$125) and a full menu of surfing options. Two-hour beginners’ group windsufing and kitesurfing lessons are scheduled four times daily. Advanced private lessons can be set up as well. They also rent kayaks, snorkeling gear, and SUPs. This is one of Aruba’s longest established and most respected operators.
Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Aruba.