Once upon a time, Caribbean holidays were all about lounging on pristine beaches, sipping exotic cocktails and generally enjoying the unhurried hospitality over long, languorous days in the sun. Of course you can have all that in spades, but if you prefer to get active on your Aruba holidays there’s no shortage of options.
Aruba is fast building a reputation for being one of the best new golfing destinations in the Caribbean. The island is now home to three courses, each offering unique challenges for players of varying abilities. Leading the pack is Tierra Del Sol, Aruba’s only championship course, on the north westerly tip of Aruba. The Par 71, Robert Trent Jones designed course makes the most of the rugged terrain as you tee off to an ocean view. Elsewhere, there’s the Aruba Golf Course, the island’s oldest, where you may share the greens with curious goats, and the newest addition, the Links at Divi Aruba, a 9-hole course in the North West, set amid beautifully landscaped lagoons.
Tennis can be enjoyed in numerous resort hotels in Aruba. It’s best to seek out courts that offer some protection from the fierce winds that can make the sport rather challenging here. Most of the best ones are clustered around the Palm Beach resort. Some are illuminated and many have a beachfront setting. Aruba is known as ‘the home of beach tennis’, and Moomba Beach Bar on Eagle Beach is a fun place to get some pro lessons before unwinding with a few drinks and a delicious, energy-replenishing plate of grilled grouper.
You’ll find the best hiking routes in Arikok National Park. The heat can be intense and shady spots few and far between, especially in the desert regions, but if you take sensible precautions you can enjoy hiking in some challenging, and surprisingly varied terrain, taking in caves, limestone cliffs and abandoned gold mines. To get perhaps the best panoramic views of the island, hike to the summit of the 620 foot Mount Jamanota. The island’s highest peak is home to many wild goats, donkeys and parakeets.
There can be few ways to better appreciate Aruba’s landscape than from the saddle of a gentle, reliable Paso Fino horse. You can either trek your way through well-marked countryside trails or gallop along the beaches on the island’s north shore, organised for you by experienced guides from one of a handful of ranches who can even collect you from your hotel. These horseback riding tours often set off early in the morning to include plenty of time for photography and make scheduled stops in places like California Lighthouse and the Alto Vista Chapel, while those that follow the shoreline pass through the beaches near Malmok, a spectacular stretch of coastline popular with snorkelers.
Aruba’s not the only island in the Caribbean to be a draw for the adventurous crowd either: try St Lucia for cycle tours and walking through the rainforests, while the watersports and coastal scene in Dominican Republic will leave you breathless. Wherever you plan your holidays to the Caribbean, the islands are diverse enough to allow you to adjust the relaxing and energetic to the exact level you want.