Aruba for Families

Original open uri20160815 3469 1dqk7mb?1471303468?ixlib=rails 0.3
Aruba for Families
Aruba has so much to offer families that you may find yourself forgetting about long, lazy days on the beach. Trek rugged coastal terrain, explore underwater in a submarine, ride to natural pools on horseback, or sail off into the sunset.
By Flash Parker, AFAR Ambassador
Photo courtesy of Aruba Tourism Authority
  • 1 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1dqk7mb?1471303468?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Come Sail Away
    Spark something within your inner seaman by setting out on a family sailing trip. Aruba Watersports Center outfits adventures on the high seas for first-timers and experienced sailors that let them explore the best of the Southern Caribbean. For those thirsting for more wind and speed, look to the Palm Beach horizon, where high-powered watercraft whip across the sea. For something in between, try a sunset cruise by catamaran courtesy of Red Sail Sports, who offer a number of adventure options for families that often include lunches, dinners, snacks, and drinks.
    Photo courtesy of Aruba Tourism Authority
  • 2 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1qz1gkr?1471303472?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Indoor Amusements
    When you and your crew need a day out of the sun, make a visit to Aruba Fun City, an amusement park featuring a labyrinth, climbing wall, playground, air-hockey tables, and more. Palm Beach Dream Bowl features eight glowing lanes, an arcade, and the chance to compete against players from rival Eagle Bowling Palace. Stellaris Casino is the largest and most beautiful gaming complex on the island, with Vegas-style action just seconds from the beach; while Mom and Dad are tossing chips on the table, kids can enjoy an afternoon in the modern arcade. Finally, there’s the Giant of Tonga, a large, inflatable maze that is packed with zombies.
    Photo by John Greim/age fotostock
  • 3 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 13e3kup?1471303477?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Underwater for Everyone
    Atlantis Submarine Expeditions takes guests deep into the blue—up to 130 feet, in fact—in a cutting-edge submersible called the SubSeeker, a perfect way to view shipwrecks, coral fields, tropical fish, and the odd sea monster. The Seaworld Explorer Semi-Submarine doesn't go quite so deep; the hull sits five feet below the surface, and gives you a bird's-eye view of what lies beneath. If you'd rather be in the water yourself, Sea Trek Underwater Helmet Walks allows guests to wander 20 feet below the surface to scope out a sunken Cessna 414, chill at the underwater Sea Trek Cafe, and play with hundreds of colorful fish, turtles, rays, octopuses, and more.
    Photo by Matt Long
  • 4 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 io2n0z?1471303485?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Overland Adventures
    DePalm Tours is a family-friendly outfitter that provides (among other things) off-road adventures into Aruba's rough-and-tumble interior and barren "other side." Learn about Aruba's colorful history and marvel at the island's varied landscape on a half-day tour of the Casibari Rock Formation, California Lighthouse, Alto Vista Chapel, Butterfly Farm, Natural Bridge, and Natural Pool. These Land Rover tours are wild, bumpy, and exhilarating affairs; for something a little more sedate, hop on a Segway with Segway Tours Aruba and enjoy an easy coastal adventure on a different type of land cruiser—one that makes easy work of sand and stone, freeing you up to enjoy the stunning sea views.
    Photo by Flash Parker
  • 5 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1hstesp?1471303489?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Aruba's History
    The National Archaeological Museum of Aruba may be small, but it offers a big overview of the island's history by way of a collection that includes a skeleton which is thousands of years old, ancient Carib artifacts, and more. The oldest building in Oranjestad is Fort Zoutman, where you can learn about Dutch colonial history and examine Caiquetio artifacts and local Aruban treasures. The Bon Bini Festival, held every Tuesday evening at the museum, features a large arts and crafts sale, food, music, and traditional dance demonstrations—which means you finally get your chance to practice the tumba and the Aruban waltz.
    Photo courtesy of Aruba Tourism Authority
  • 6 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 t6vuyf?1471303493?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Houses of Worship
    Aruba is home to some 115,000 permanent residents from more than 90 different nations. Dozens of churches and other sacred spaces are spread across the island, and while Roman Catholicism predominates, many religions have their own places of worship (most of which are open to the public). The Chapel of Alto Vista is one of Aruba's most important sites, as it was the first permanent Catholic Church, built in 1750. The church's hilltop location provides panoramic views at sunrise and sunset. The altar at St. Ann's Church was built in Rome in 1870 and gifted to Aruba by the Netherlands, and stands as the Caribbean's preeminent neo-Gothic masterpiece. Eastern Jews settled in Aruba in the 1920s, and built the beautiful Beth Israel Synagogue.
    Photo by Flash Parker
  • 7 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 11hkv7z?1471303498?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Animal Encounters
    Aruba is perfect for families who love animal encounters. The African ostrich has made Aruba its second home; the Aruba Ostrich Farm is home to some 80 big birds (including emu), each with its own quirky personality. The Donkey Sanctuary in Santa Cruz is home to more than 120 lovable animals, who are often eager to greet visitors with a wet kiss to the face. The Butterfly Farm is a great place for the entire family to experience the grandeur of these beautiful creatures; every so often it hosts an Attacus atlas, one of the largest moths in the world. Philip's Animal Garden offers close, educational encounters with boa constrictors, Bengal cats, alpacas, alligators, and more. Hundreds of exotic rescue animals call the garden home.
    Photo courtesy of Aruba Tourism Authority
  • 8 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1bzu9do?1471303502?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Explore Aruba on Horseback
    The Gold Mine Ranch offers horseback tours on well-groomed trails as well as on beaches on the northeast of the island for guests of all experience levels and ages. A visit to Wariruri Beach with Rancho la Ponderosa will give you a unique perspective on the untouched northern coast as you ride good-natured horses toward the setting sun. Rancho Daimari's private beach is popular with surfers, who love the big waves and remote location. On the edge of Arikok National Park, it's the perfect base for horseback exploration of towering sand dunes, secluded coves, natural pools, Andicuri Beach, and more.
    Photo courtesy of The Gold Mine Ranch
  • 9 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 yuogt9?1471303507?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Aruba on Two Wheels
    Aruba is small enough that serious cyclists can pedal around the entire island in a single day, though those who prefer to take it easy—and families with young kids—will appreciate the exotic terrain, easy trails, and multitude of beach breaks. For those looking for more of a challenge, the north coast awaits; the unpaved roads are dusty and winding, and take riders to secret beaches, cactus-fringed coves, and hidden tide pools. Aruba Active Vacations can take your family on pedal-powered excursions to the California Lighthouse, Tierra Del Sol, and onto the beach for a picnic. With Rancho Notorious you can ride authentic donkey trails on your way to the Alto Vista Church, before whipping along the coast with the wind at your back.
    Photo courtesy of Aruba Tourism Authority
  • 10 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 5jiola?1471303513?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Family Treks
    What Aruba lacks in mountainous terrain it more than makes up for in scenic oceanside treks, unbroken sunrise and sunset views, and 29 miles of rugged, rocky trails that lead to some of the island’s secret spots. The best walking and hiking trails are found inside Arikok National Park, a nature preserve that includes a strenuous five-hour hike that takes visitors across the island’s desert brush to an old adobe house, through caves with numerous indigenous paintings, and finally up Mount Jamanota—at 620 feet, it's the island’s highest point—for breathtaking panoramic views. For something a little different, the most rewarding island trekking experience is perhaps the Jamanota full moon hike.
    Photo courtesy of Aruba Tourism Authority