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Fringed by some of the world’s best beaches, Aruba is a must for anyone who likes to be beside the seaside.
Aruba enjoys one of the highest repeat visitor rates in the Caribbean (60 per cent), with its pristine white powder sandy beaches, idyllic turquoise sea waters and swaying palm trees being a major factor.
Eagle Beach is a frequent award-winner and has recently been voted into the top 10 of best beaches worldwide in a poll of TripAdvisor UK users.
Calm waters make the beaches a comfortable haven for swimmers and snorkellers, while those seeking a wet ‘n’ wild adventure can choose between kitesurfing, waterskiing, tubing, parasailing or banana-boating.
At the end of the day, beachgoers can take in the magnificent Caribbean sunset or enjoy candle-lit, barefoot dining on the sand.
While Palm and Eagle Beach are the best-known to visitors to Aruba, there are a wealth of others to be discovered for their scenic location, safe bathing, sports or nature interest.
Take Mangel Halto, for example. Located in Pos Chiquito on the southeast coast, it is a perfect snorkelling spot with calm, shallow waters rich in sea life, supported by an intriguing network of mangroves. A popular picnic area, it is a secluded spot with white powdery sands and huts for shade.
It’s an excellent shore diving site, too. Walk to the edge of the nearby reef to easily spot colourful parrotfish, yellowtail snapper, sergeant majors and blue tangs as well as deep water gorgonians, sponges and anemones.
Conversely, Andicuri Beach is a body-boarders delight and a perfect escape from the more popular beaches. Halfway along Aruba’s windward, north-eastern, coast, a sandy cove is flanked by dramatic bluffs. Take a few minutes to drive further down the track which leads to the beach to view Black Stone Beach (unsafe for swimming) and a fascinating triple-arch limestone natural bridge.
Baby Beach is another of Aruba’s favourites. Close to Aruba’s second city of San Nicolas on the south-eastern tip, it borders a tranquil lagoon, making it ideal for families with small children – hence its name. Huts provide shade and there are picnic areas as well.
A little further along the eastern coastline is Boca Grandi, a beach which lures both local and international kitesurfers. Distinguished by rolling sand dunes netted in local sea grapes and dune grasses, the colourful kites of surfers dot the horizon above vivid turquoise seas. However, the waters can be rough and swimming is not recommended.
Aruba also boasts numerous reefs, many of them accessible from the beach, with only minimal snorkelling gear needed to view an array of coral and sea life.
On the western coast, the small shelf reef of Boca Catalina and Catalina Cove is one of the most popular and easily-accessible snorkelling sites in Aruba. Occasional Hawksbill turtles are spotted dining on sponges, while other marina species include lobster,Moray eels, French angelfish and cuttlefish.
A short drive to the south is Malmok Reef, boasting unique coral walls with small underwater caves. It is a frequent site for Moray and spotted ells, as well as barracuda and the young of angelfish, squid and octopus.
On the island’s southern coast, about halfway between the airport and San Nicolas, Porto Chiquito is one of the island’s most coral-rich reefs. The entry is easy, although a little rocky, but allows access to brain, pillar, flower, finger-leaf and sheet coral, blanketing this sloping reef. It’s also home to an exceptional array of fish. It is also a popular spot for night diving, under the guidance of experienced operators.
Aruba is also known as the wreck-diving capital of the Caribbean. Its entire southern coast has more than 20 dive sites, with 11 diver-friendly wrecks including an aircraft, tugboats, cement freighter, war and historic vessels sunk by destiny or design.
Best-known is The Antilla, the largest wreck in the Caribbean. Divers can explore its compartments, anchors, cargo holds and boiler rooms. Known as the ghost ship, the 400-foot long German freighter rests 60-feet below the surface.