Aruba

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Most visitors make home base on the southwestern shore, on the hotel strips along Palm and Eagle beaches. The colorful capital of Oranjestad is a few miles east of these, and the Queen Beatrix airport about two miles further onward. The northwest tip of the island, marked by the California Lighthouse, is known for its dusty plains, wild waves, abandoned farmlands, and Aruban wildlife; the southeast, where industrial San Nicolas is found, is home to Aruba's oil factory.

Things to do in Aruba

Aloe Museum

Take an educational tour before choosing from dozens of locally made aloe creams, gels, shampoos, and other products at the museum's well-stocked gift shop.

Pitastraat 115, 011-297-588-3222, www.arubaaloe.com
Tags: budget | shopping | things to do | accessories

Horseback Riding Tours

Explore the incredible volcanic terrain and lesser-known beaches on the eastern coast of Aruba while on horseback. Even kids and first-time riders can trot on these well-trained, docile horses. Tours include stops to a beach cove, the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, and an ostrich farm (really).

Rancho La Ponderosa Aruba, Papaya 30, 011-297-587-1142, www.rancholaponderosaaruba.com
Tags: off the path | things to do | horseback riding

Jeep tours

Explore the rocky northwest coast via 4X4 and cover sights like the Old Dutch Windmill, California Lighthouse (built in 1916 and named in tribute to the California, a passenger ship that sank just offshore), Alto Vista Church, and Bushiribana Ruins (old gold mines thought to have produced 3 million pounds of gold in its 90 years of operation).

De Palm Tours, L.G. Smith Boulevard 142, 011-297-582-4400, www.depalm.com
Tags: things to do | history | tour | adventure

Quad racing

Speed along Aruba's dusty frontier via ATV. Rancho Notorious runs three-hour tours to the Alto Vista Chapel and along the coast to Bushiribana, the Ayo Rock Formations, and the natural pool. Goggles and refreshments are included.

Rancho Notorious, Borancana Noord, 011-297-586-0508, www.ranchonotorious.com
Tags: things to do | tour | adventure

Royal Plaza Mall

Great for local products, this shop carries native art, Cuban cigars, handcrafted jewelry, Dutch Delft ceramics, and hand-carved trinkets.

Across from the cruise ship terminal, 011-297-583-7949
Tags: shopping | art | things to do | souvenirs | crafts | eclectic

Sunset Sail

Sail along the Aruban coastline in a catamaran while watching the sun set over the Caribbean. It’s probably best to keep the kids away from this excursion – the sail includes an open bar for the full two hours, which results in adult antics and a black light dance party after the sun goes down.

Red Sail Sports, J.E. Irausquin Blvd. 348-A, 305-454-2538 or 011-297-586-1603 (weekdays), 011-297-586-0006 (weekends), www.redsailaruba.com
Tags: romance | cruise | things to do

Tierra del Sol Golf Course

For secluded opulence, reserve a private villa at this four-star refuge on 600 acres, complete with championship golf course, pools, and spa, on the island’s northern tip.

Tierra del Sol Aruba Resort & Country Club, Malmokweg z/n, 011-297-586-0978, www.tierradelsol.com
Tags: golf | things to do

Windsurfing and kitesurfing

Thanks to constant winds of around 15 knots, windsurfing and kitesurfing are very popular here; beginners should stick to the southwest shores, but seasoned surfers can hit up the best locations along the northern and southeast shores, like Boca Grandi, one of the ultimate surf zones. Dare2Fly arranges both options.

Dare2Fly, on the beach at the Marriott Hotel, L.G. Smith Blvd., #101, 800-223-5443, www.dare2fly.com
Tags: editor pick | things to do | adventure

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