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It may be a holiday idyll, with year-round sunshine and sweeping white sand beaches, but Aruba is also the location for James Bond-style thrills.
Flying like 007 with a jet-propelled backpack is just one of the crazes to hit Aruba’s beaches, offering holidaymakers an adrenalin-fuelled break from sunbathing or sampling the island’s cocktails.
This hi-tech thrill, JetLev, gives visitors the chance to soar 30 feet into the air and hover over the water. It uses a water-propelled jetpack, with the system powered by a floating 225 horsepower unit, pumping up to 1,000 gallons of water per minute. This unit is connected to the user’s back pack by a hose.
Operating on Aruba’s Palm Beach with one of the island’s leading watersports companies, Red Sail, it costs $175 per person for a 35-minute flight.
With safety in mind, the jetpack’s throttle can be controlled remotely by the flight-instructor who will guide the rider on how to use the controls during their initial flight. A flight assistant accompanies each JetLev pilot.
Every user is given a thorough briefing by a certified instructor, who explains its safe use and who is also able to communicate with the user during the flight.
This is just one of the ways visitors can get their adventure kicks in Aruba. Kitesurfing is growing in popularity, having been introduced to the island in the late 1990s. Fisherman’s Huts, just north of the main hotel area on Palm Beach, is the venue for learning and honing the sport that pulls surfers on small boards by soaring kites.
Scuba divers looking for something extra will find ample opportunities to experience a night dive off Aruba. A number of operators provide night dives and twice a year, during the full moon months of September and October, night divers can experience a magical experience watching the coral spawning.
Those with a head for heights can also ‘enjoy’ tandem skydiving. With Aruba offering one of the most scenic drop zones in the world, it provides the chance to free-fall at 120mph while harnessed to an experienced instructor.
Coming back to earth, mountain and trail biking are also available across Aruba’s rugged countryside. Or for an easier ride try getting behind the wheel of an ultra-terrain vehicle on a professionally-guided UTV safari.
Aruba’s local surf community is noted for its friendliness towards visitors. Several surf breaks, most of them located along the north coast of the island, provide an ample supply of ride-able waves, typically of decent size but choppy due to Aruba's trade winds - be sure to bring your short board for these waves.
It is said that if you can surf in Aruba, you can surf most anywhere, as the rapid beach-break requires experience and finesse to jump in and surf the quick but exhilarating ride. Several times a year, the usually calm surf near Arashi Beach (just under the California Lighthouse) is visited by great sets of swells perfect for long boards and extended rides.