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Aruba – one happy island for families

Written by editor

ORANJESTAD, Aruba – Sand castle building, shell hunting tours, art classes, Papiamento language classes and merengue dancing are just some of the many activities offered at Aruba’s resorts and hotels

ORANJESTAD, Aruba – Sand castle building, shell hunting tours, art classes, Papiamento language classes and merengue dancing are just some of the many activities offered at Aruba’s resorts and hotels – most of which boast special kids’ programs, deals and all-day camps. Resort fun is just the beginning, as families seeking something more than a traditional Caribbean experience will discover countless kid-friendly attractions and activities throughout the One happy island.

Miles of pristine, white-sand beaches along the southwestern coast beckon families to try Aruba’s many signature land and sea activities. Thanks to highly favorable wind and water conditions and year-round 28-degree weather, Aruba is the windsurfing capital of the world. Avid windsurfers of all ages and levels slice the water as kiteboarders glide through the trade winds on Hadicurari Beach, known as Fisherman’s Huts. Offshore beneath the glittering waves, snorkelers and divers marvel at living reefs, coral, colorful marine life and some of the largest shipwrecks in the Caribbean— including the famous Antilla.

Athletic families who prefer to keep their toes in the sand can take a shot at the island’s national pastime, beach tennis. Simple to play, the sport is popular with everyone from worldwide pros to amateurs. It’s easy to reserve a court and paddle at MooMba Beach Bar & Grill for five dollars or take it a step further by signing up for lessons with a local expert.

Discovery and excitement only continue as families venture beyond the world-famous beaches and into the wilds of rugged Arikok National Park, which covers nearly 20 percent of the island. Children and adults alike rejoice as they explore 32 square kilometers of desert-like terrain on a Jeep Safari, an ATV adventure, by horseback or on foot – all the while seeing exotic cacti; caves; hidden beaches and coves; natural pools and bridges; and indigenous flora and fauna, including the Aruba rattlesnakes, burrowing owls and blue whiptail lizards. The park’s visitor center provides an enriching overview of the land’s culture, history and conservation efforts, and local experts are eager to share the secrets and stories of Arikok. Admission is free for children, as the park is invested in future generations, who will be the ones to carry on conservation efforts.

Among the most ideal timeframes to visit Aruba is this summer – thanks to an island-wide program featuring attractive deals, incentives and activities. Aruba Tourism Authority and more than 10 on-island properties have partnered on a “One Happy Family” campaign, which includes an interactive VIK (Very Important Kid) component and culminates with a week-long trip giveaway to the One happy island.

Visitors who book a stay at a participating hotel or resort and mention the “One Happy Family” package receive free nightly accommodations and daily breakfast for children under 12 years old, a souvenir gift for the family, VIK benefits, and discounts and special offers on island attractions and activities through Red Sail Sports, De Palm Tours, Pelican Adventures, Mermaid Divers, Jolly Pirates Sailing & Snorkeling, Gold Mine Ranch, Discovery Glass Bottom Boat Cruise, Butterfly Farm, Fofoti Tours and more.

Upon check-in at participating hotels, children enjoy a VIK cocktail and are awarded with a VIK passport featuring several of Aruba’s kid-friendly hot spots, including the world-famous Baby Beach, Archaeological Museum, History Museum, California Lighthouse, Aruba Aloe Factory and Arikok National Park. As families visit and explore each of these locations, the VIK-holders are challenged with answering questions and completing puzzles. Once finished, kids submit their passports to the hotel and are entered into a drawing for the chance to win a one-week trip for four (airfare included) back to Aruba. Winners will be announced in December.

Participating hotels and resorts include:

Aruba Marriott Resort & Casino
Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort
Divi Aruba All-Inclusive
Divi Village Golf and Beach Resort
Divi Dutch Village
Divi Aruba Phoenix
Holiday Inn Resort Aruba
Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino
MVC Eagle Beach
Occidental Grand Aruba
Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino
Tamarijn Aruba All-Inclusive
The Mill Resort & Suites
Tierra del Sol Resort, Spa & Country Club