Review: Special moments on an island of surprise - Aruba


Oranjestad - Credit: Archant

Andrea Powell gets the giggles as she and Hubby keep going round in circles as they visit the Caribbean island of Aruba.

Windsurfing off the coast

Windsurfing off the coast - Credit: Archant

You want to do what?” Hubby asked in amazement. “Go kayaking?” I had never shown the slightest inclination of ever being remotely interested in such an activity. Rather, upper body strength was not – well, my strength! “Are you sure?” he insisted. But I was adamant. Today I fancied getting away from it all for a bit.

Aruba is a fabulous island. Even its number plates exude the Caribbean spirit, each carrying the slogan “one happy island”!

The American influence is very much evident in the south. “The Caribbean Las Vegas” is often how locals on nearby Bonaire described it. The island’s capital, Oranjestad, combines casinos and jewellers with US-style fast food outlets. The water sports – windsurfers, water-skiers, paragliders and of course giant blow-up bananas, are a magnet for those wanting to enjoy the beautiful, azure, warm seas.

But it is possible to still see the older, more traditional side as well. Just fifteen minutes from Oranjestad in the right direction and you come to “the Low-Rise area”. Boutique hotels, uncrowded beaches and low-rise resorts.

Rugged Aruba

Rugged Aruba - Credit: Archant

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And there is still room for nature. Today our kayaking would be to the southeast coast and the mangrove forest. Small boats/kayaking and so on always give you an opportunity to see an island from a different vantage point. With snorkelling at a deserted beach thrown in as well, it would be a real Away-From-It-All Day.

Arriving at the meeting point, our group all gave the customary “hellos” before splitting off into our pairs. I knew I would be OK on the paddling side with Hubby in the kayak. He loved it and had been many times before – but only in the warmth of such destinations as the Caribbean, I hasten to add!

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The running through of the Eskimo roll as “the way to get yourself back up should you capsize” did nothing to quash my nerves, being not good at swimming and already somewhat apprehensive about falling in.

Despite the initial unease, we had a lovely trip. On the way out, the seas were calm and oh so blue. The beach, when we landed, was totally deserted except for our small group, and the sand almost white. The snorkelling had also been a huge success. Some went out to the shipwreck but even those like me who decided to stay closer to shore saw an array of colourful fish and coral.

Sunset in Aruba

Sunset in Aruba - Credit: Archant

And so to the paddle back home. Setting out, all seemed to be going fine. However, being initially in the sheltered cove, I was unaware that the breeze had picked up a bit and the seas had turned from calm and tranquil to somewhat choppy – especially in a small kayak. What’s more, we would now be against the tide.

As we rounded the corner and moved out into “open seas”, a whoosh hit the kayak, nearly spinning it over. “Push, push,” Hubby started to shout from the front. “I’m not having a baby, dear,” came back the retort. But for some bizarre reason, the thought just set me off. Instead of helping to get us out of trouble, I collapsed in a fit of giggles. “Look, come on; help then.” Hubby was desperately trying to motivate me back to paddling. But it was no good. The more he encouraged, the worse it got.

We were now literally going round and round in circles. The harder Hubby paddled, the tighter the circle. As he glanced behind, I sensed he had lost it – just in a different way. “For goodness’ sake, stop dangling your paddle in the water.” His tone firm, his expression one of exasperation. “There’s me trying to get us out of trouble and you dangling your paddle is just slowing us down.” But that was even funnier. Everything he said made me giggle more, making him even angrier.

By now the rest of the group were almost dots on the horizon. But even then I did not seem to care – though hubby did.

Pretty Oranjestad

Pretty Oranjestad - Credit: Archant

“Oh, I love kayaking,” I piped up through the laughter. Giving Hubby a big bear-pat on the back ? “you’re doing such a great job.” As I was afforded a glance from Hubby nearly akin to one of my killers, the giggles started again. Seeing him in a mood was just so rare – and funny.

As I realised, though, that one of the guides was paddling over to our rescue, I decided it was time to sober up and get serious a bit. Hubby was still having to paddle first one side and then the other, but all he had managed to do was keep us from going around in a circle. We were making little progress home. The appearance of the guide, though, was enough. I resumed my own contribution and, though somewhat slow, we were now at least moving forward. Finally, back at base; and I was exhausted. Not just my arms, but my stomach muscles too – from all the giggles. It had been a thoroughly enjoyable day. A chance to see a whole other side of Aruba – and hubby, too, for a while …..

Andrea Powell is owner and managing director of Idelo Travel in Ipswich. Contact: 01473 231181.

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