Family Vacations to Aruba

Family Overview - Aruba
Take a dip at Palm Beach, one of the best swimming spots in Aruba (Digital Vision)

Aruba Family Travel Tips

Aruba is part of the Dutch "ABC" islands, along with Bonaire and Curaçao, off the coast of Venezuela. The island spreads out in a dry desert landscape of red dirt, cactus, and volcanic rock, interspersed with divi-divi trees, their branches bent from the ten- to 25-knot breezes. With less than 24 inches of rain a year, mostly in November and December, Aruba virtually guarantees sunny weather for your vacation, tempered by the constant trade winds that keep temperatures at a comfortable average of 82 degrees year round.

The non-stop breezes make Aruba a windsurfing Mecca and host to international competitions. At Hadikurari Beach you can watch experts skim the waves. The two most popular beaches for swimming and sunning are the long, wide sands of Palm Beach, fronted by high-rise hotels, and Eagle Beach, lined by time-shares. Baby Beach, on the island's southeast side, gets its name because the waters of this lagoon are favored by young swimmers.

The island also offers interesting encounters with critters. Over 30 species of brightly-colored insects flit about at the Butterfly Farm. Children discover how these creatures morph from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. Wear red and increase your chances of having these winged beauties land on you. The highlight of a visit to the Aruba Ostrich Farm is feeding these long-necked birds. During the visit, you'll hold an ostrich egg and learn about ostrich behavior. The farm's restaurant serves ostrich dishes, but that may be a bit much for some kids, after befriending these big, feathery birds.

'Tweens and teens love the guided jeep tours of the rugged northeast coast, a landscape of rocky shores and fast-breaking surf. Bounce along dirt roads, stopping at the ruins of the Bushiribana gold mine, whose thick stone walls rise apparition-like from the deserted plain, and at the "natural bridge"—a rock wall whose base has been eroded by the splashing waves. De Palm Tours combines the jeep outing with an afternoon of water play at De Palm Island, a seven-minute ferry ride from the mainland. The island's Blue Parrotfish Water Slide Park has a shallow pool, geysers, fountains, and jet sprays for little kids. Older children and adults can explore underwater by donning a Seatrek helmet or a Snuba mask; in both cases, oxygen tanks float on the surface. Avoid De Palm Island on days when cruise ships are in port.

An option to see the underwater wonders without getting wet: dive with Atlantis Submarines. From the portholes of the recreational sub, which descends 140 feet, you'll see schools of tropical fish and maybe even a sea turtle float by.

Bustling Oranjestad blooms with examples of the island's Dutch influence from the gabled architecture to the cuisine. Along with restaurants serving such typical Dutch dishes as bitterballen (meatballs) and fricandel (Dutch sausage), you can find a wide mix of Caribbean and international cuisine as well as pizza and fast-food.

Tip: On the beach, the constant breezes can cause the sand to blow. Be sure to bring some sort of wind protection to prevent your family from being sandblasted.'s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 26 Nov 2007 | Last Updated: 8 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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