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Gaining an off the beaten track view of Aruba is just a walk in the park – or rather, it’s wheely easy!
Four wheels or two, petrol or pedal-powered, Aruba has a host of ways for visitors to cruise its roads and tracks without worrying about shoe leather.
For those who want to digest the island’s scenery in manageable portions, cycling is a way to go. Aruba is largely flat, so cyclists will rarely find the terrain exhausting, although a mountain bike is probably the best option, given that some of the roads are sand covered and other tracks lead to more inaccessible scenic spots.
Trails, for example, lead up to the Alto Vista Chapel, originally constructed in 1750 and the first church on the island. Today, with its elevated location, it offers prime viewing of romantically colourful sunrises and sunsets.
Trails continue along the rugged north-eastern coast, where waves crash over the rocky shoreline, in contrast to the calm sandy beaches on the opposite coast. Opt for the one heading up to the north-eastern tip and another local landmark, the California Lighthouse, built in 1910. Then it descends past Arashi Beach, Boca Catalina and Malmok Beach before making its way inland again.
Mountain bike rentals are available from a number of island outlets, including TriBike in Santa Cruz, Rancho Notorious, Melchor Cycle Rental, Pablito’s Bike Rental and at companies in the main hotel area.
For those who prefer an engine to provide the power, try a tour from the back of a Harley Davidson.
These legendary motor-cycles are available for daily, morning or afternoon small group tours, with experienced tour guides, through Aruba Motorcycle Tours. Alternatively, the machines can be hired for a regular rental period.
Four types of machine are offered – the Roadking, ideal for the experienced rider; Heritage Softail, which offers easy handling; the powerful Dyna, with sporty riding position; and the Sportster, with 1200cc of power, easy to handle and a shorter build, making it ideal for women riders.
Tour fees are from US$20 (£12.50) per person and half-day bike rental is from $US25 (£78). For bookings, visit www.arubamotorcycletours.com
Easier still, Jeep safaris are a popular way of seeing the island, again taking visitors off road to get a greater insight into Aruban landscapes. Usually organised in small convoys, most itineraries take in the Alto Vista Chapel, abandoned gold mines, or the Arikok National Park, which covers 20 per cent of the island.
Various companies offer Jeep safaris, usually with a pick-up and drop-off at major hotels. Suppliers include De Palm Tours (www.depalmtours.com), Red Sail (www.redsailaruba.com) and ABC (www.abc-aruba.com)
For an added shot of adrenaline, see Aruba’s wild side from behind the wheel of an all-terrain vehicle. Getting genuinely down and dirty, these two-seater vehicles blaze an off-road trail through the island’s remote outback.
Usually operated in a caravan with a safety-oriented professional guide, routes include the rugged north-eastern coastline with visits to the Alto Vista Chapel, gold mine ruins and the lighthouse.
Typical prices are US$199 (approx. £124) per vehicle (two people) and operators include De Palm and Kini Kini Tours (www.kinikinitours.com)
Less bumpy but no less fun, see Aruba with a swing aboard a Kukoo Kunuku bus. The company’s dinner and nightlife tours – and now their pub crawls – have been entertaining visitors who love to hop on these single-decker, music-filled, colourfully-decorated vehicles, which have become a familiar sight around the island.
Every month scores of birthdays, anniversaries, honeymoons, engagements, hen parties and all kinds of creative milestones are celebrated. Alternatively, the buses can be hired for private island tours, complete with Caribbean rhythms and maracas to shake along the way (www.kukookunuku.com