The first stop on my Panama Canal cruise was on the island of Aruba. It took us two full days to get down there from Fort Lauderdale, but when I saw how far south it is in the Caribbean, it made more sense. Aruba is just north of Venezuela, so it’s a bit of a journey by sea to get there.
History of Aruba
In Aruba, you may hear a mix of English, Spanish, and Dutch. At first I was confused, but it makes sense when you know the history. The first people who lived on Aruba were Indians from Venezuela who were trying to escape attacks that were happening in their area. In 1636, the Netherlands took control of Aruba for almost two full centuries.
Around the beginning of the 1800s, the British Empire briefly took over the island before giving it back to the Dutch in 1816. In the 19th century, a gold rush happened followed by a crude oil facility opening. After that, an oil refinery opened and stayed open for many years. This brought even more people to the island until the refinery closed in 1985. Tourism is now the leading industry in Aruba.
If you like to be active, Aruba is the place to be. It’s easy to rent a car to explore on your own or just join a few tours. Here are some of the top ways to stay active in Aruba.
I joined Jolly Pirates for their snorkeling tour on a schooner. They took us to three different locations so we could see different parts of the sea. The first was where the Antilla shipwreck was, which was a little eerie! You jumped off the boat and suddenly an old, sunken ship was 60 feet below you. Once I got over the fear that sharks might come out of it (I’ve watched too many movies), I really enjoyed snorkeling around.
The company also has an open bar on the ship, which I assumed meant unlimited water and soda. No, they actually meant alcoholic beverages were unlimited. They offered a variety of mixed drinks, which most people took advantage of. Who cares if it was 8 AM – it’s vacation, right?
The wind off the coast of Aruba is perfect for kite surfing, which is a popular sport. This can take a little practice, but there are several places that will show you the basics first. Once you get going, you can go pretty fast!
I can’t think of a more scenic place to go sailing than in the Caribbean. The water is crystal clear and a beautiful shade of blue for miles. The constant breeze makes it an easy place to sail around the island. I’d recommend doing a sunset cruise and bringing some dinner and a bottle of wine to enjoy while the sun goes down. Nothing beats a Caribbean sunset!
I’ve paddle boarded several times in Seattle before, but being on the open ocean is the best way to do it in my opinion. You can really work your core and test your balance when there are constantly waves coming at you. The waves are pretty tame in Aruba unless it’s a stormy day, plus the water is extremely clear and warm so it’s not so bad if you fall.
If you’d prefer to explore Aruba in a slower way, you can take a bike ride on the trails around the island. There’s a trail that goes from the airport to downtown For a scenic view, ride along the coast to the California Lighthouse.
This post was in partnership with Princess Cruises, but all opinions are my own.
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