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Only 18 miles north from Venezuela, at first glance, Aruba offers all the expected attractions of a paradise island. Count off vast swathes of sandy coastline, opalescent lagoons and that hospitable welcome so typical of a Caribbean vacation. But beyond the powdering beach, adventure beckons. From diving and kayaking to hiking and biking, this little island has guts, making package holidays to Aruba the perfect choice for those daring adventurers who want to grip their rum with freshly whitened knuckles.
Ride’ em, cowboy
Sometimes in life, you just have to be John Wayne, so saddle up, and ride off into the sunset on a horse trek around the island. There’s plenty to explore, from the island’s abandoned Gold Mine Ranch ruins to the rolling sand dunes. Beginner riders needn’t be left home on the range either: there are treks to suit all ability levels.
Race against the wind
What better way to explore the island’s rugged, windswept north than on a ship designed to skim over the land? For those seeking a new adventure, landsailing is remarkably easy to pick up. Reach up to 30mph at speeds three times that of the wind, master 360 degree turns and race your friends for an exhilarating afternoon that’s the most fun you can have in Aruba without getting wet.
Discover an underwater world
Sweeping manta rays, whisking pockets of brightly coloured, neon fish, the looming hulls of long-sunken ships; learning to dive in Aruba will unveil an alien landscape of new discoveries. Beginners can take certified scuba lessons, or those who want to dive right in can hire a snorkel and head for one of the shallower sites.
Get your hiking boots on (or at least a good pair of trainers…)
It might not sound so strenuous, but hiking semi-arid terrain under the hot Aruba sun is not for the faint of heart or weak of limb. You’ll need to pack some stout shoes, but if you do choose to hike some of the 29 miles of trail, you’ll be rewarded with plenty to explore, from the abandoned gold mines, and desert cacti to a panoramic view from atop Jamanota, the island’s highest point.
Once you have had your fill of adventure, there’s plenty in Aruba to soothe a weary, post-thrill swashbuckler. Sharpen up and ship out to one of the island’s casinos to channel James Bond, or enjoy a resort dinner show. The likelihood is you have earned it.