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Organising holidays can sometimes be a stressful process but when the plans are for large families or groups of friends, the issues literally multiply
The choice of destination is the first question and the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba has all the right answers. Fully geared-up for large families, groups of friends or wedding and honeymoon parties, this year-round destination can host you and your entourage in all seasons.
While many of the large resort hotels offer family rooms, with such a wealth of accommodation available, finding enough rooms in one property is never going to be an issue.
Getting there has also been simplified with the launch this year of twice-weekly direct flights to Aruba by British Airways from London-Gatwick.
Local transport companies have vehicles of all sizes available and with mini-bus hire also available, getting around the island is completely straightforward.
And with a host of activities, Aruba is able to offer fun and entertainment for groups of all tastes and budgets. Chilling out on Aruba’s white sand beaches is likely to be high on the agenda, together with safe swimming in the azure-blue Caribbean.
Families and groups who want to take a break from the more popular beaches but still aim to soak up the sun often opt for a day trip to the all-inclusive destination of De Palm Island, a short boat journey from capital Oranjestad. Enjoying exclusive island access and a perfect dose of action, visitors can plunge headfirst into activities, like Sea Trek underwater helmet walking, SNUBA (a cross between snorkelling and scuba), snorkelling, banana boat rides and water parks.
Adults kick back in a sun lounger on the private beach or relax with a massage overlooking the Caribbean Sea, while children splash around or indulge in De Palm Island’s unlimited food and drink menus.
Staying with the water, remember that Aruba is the windsurfing capital of the world, thanks to favourable wind and water conditions, plus year-round sunshine. Watersports operators and instructors are plentiful, providing equipment and lessons to everyone from youthful and older beginners to advanced sailors.
Back on shore, there is still plenty for the family to enjoy. Sprawling across nearly 20 per cent of Aruba’s land mass, the government-protected Arikok National Park is a playground for those seeking a break from the beach. All ages thrill as they venture across the 20 miles of rugged and wild, desert-like terrain via ATV, Jeep safari, horseback or on foot.
Tucked along the northern shore, the park also boasts a number of hidden beaches, cacti, natural bridges and pools, ancient cave paintings and indigenous flora and fauna, including the Aruba rattlesnake and burrowing owls. The park’s visitor centre offers an enriching overview of Aruba’s culture, history and conservation efforts.
Back on the water, an array of sailing charters offer family and group-friendly catamaran sailing and snorkel excursions, including lively music, open bars and snacks or light lunches. Equip yourselves with snorkel gear and plunge headfirst into turquoise waters to see an array of colourful marine life. Among the most popular snorkel spots is the wreck of the Antilla which, at 400 feet, is the largest shipwreck dive in the Caribbean.
After a busy – or not so busy on the beach – day, it’s time to immerse yourselves in Aruba’s nightlife. The island has an extraordinary choice of restaurants, covering cuisines from around the world and easily able to provide large tables or, in some cases, separate rooms or areas, depending on the size of the party.
A number of hotels stage cabaret dinner shows, which are a popular choice for families and groups while if you are even more of a party animal you might want to opt for one of the party busses that operate on a musical and fun trail around the island.
One of the best-known is Kukoo Kunuku, whose philosophy is to enable guests to catch the Island spirit and paint the town red. Kukoo Kunuku aims to help people make new friends while having fun. Every evening on board their colourful party busses there will be celebrations of birthdays, anniversaries, honeymoons, and the end to many a lazy day in Aruba. From a champagne toast at sunset to a casual Caribbean dinner to a parranda (party on wheels) the tours visit favourite bars in Aruba, clubs, and other watering holes.
Guests are of all ages, both young and old. The tours are the perfect way for the old and reckless and the young and restless to spend an evening an evening of fun and entertainment together.
We’re just getting started with the amazing effects Aruba has to offer. Dig into your trip details below to unlock a Caribbean experience that will leave you sunnier, happier, and (of course) a little more tanned.