As some of you know, I'm lucky enough to get to Aruba most years to enjoy some of the best flat water sailing in the world. I thought you might be interested to know more about it, especially as some others have now sampled it too, like Gary.


Aruba is a small Caribbean island which is actually close to Venezuela. It's former Dutch colony and a massive destination for Americans. It's seen as a very up market and desirable place to go, so cheap and cheerful it isn't. However if you're looking for one of those rare spots which combines great windsurfing with luxury holidaying for the family, then it might be for you. Flights are expensive, but it's quite easy to combine Aruba with a stop over in the USA so at little extra flight cost you can also do Orlando, New York or Boston. In fact we spent a few days in Boston and even got on the water - although this was on a Duck Tour. There is windsurfing on the Charles River BTW, but it's pretty tame. One oddity - they have a specially adapted windsurfer (actually 2 strapped together) so that they can take out disabled windsurfers and sail. Nice facility.

Ducking on the Charles


As I've said, Aruba is flat water. All the local kids go out all the time and if you can't flat water loop by the age of 12 you're a failure there.


And you never know who you will be sailing with - Sarah Quita is the current world freestyle champion and I've seen her sailing here since she was 12.



There is excellent kit hire available including Isonics and lots of full carbon boards. The best time is end of June as the wind is at its best and the big High Winds event is on - normally a number of the big names turn up for this.


You can take a chair out onto the reef and sit in 1 foot of water and watch the action really close up. A cool beer in the hand helps too....


The temperature and weather don't change much. Expect 27 degrees and windy almost always. Even in the hurricane season, they don't hit Aruba, but they do affect its weather and can induce windless or mad windy days.

Cool drinks out at sea

One nice thing about Aruba is that all of the water comes from a desalination plant so you can drink water safely from anywhere - even a standpipe at the side of the road. It's all great, even ice cubes and no need for bottles.


Fisherman's Huts is the main windsurfing area and it has a massive area of waist deep water for beginners. There is a reef which runs out perpendicular to the shore which is your get out of jail card. It's off shore wind, so if you find that your next destination is Venezuela,  then you can always walk upwind on the reef. The big issue here is the new Ritz Carlton hotel which is now up but not open. As the photographs show its upwind of the current hire shop and it has badly affected the wind here.

That bloody hotel


However in practice, windsurfing has moved to the other side of the reef (the hire shops are moving there shortly) and the wind here is actually more consistent.

Seeing double

We went a little late this year in August. Despite this, I still got 11 out of 13 days planing on a mixture from 5.7m to 7.2m. Mostly I was on 6.7m on 111 ltrs and I'm a heavier sailor. The big problem with Aruba is that the water is so flat that you can learn any move - there's excellent coaching available. Then you come back to NI and you just can't do the moves in our chop! It was years after I duck gybed in Aruba that my 'friends' at home believed that I could actually do this.


There's an excellent blast available, about 3 miles straight up the coast to the northerly tip, the Californian Lighthouse. All along here you get a succession of gin palaces going past - catamarans and pirate ships loaded with tourists who cruise up the coast (drinking), swim and splash (drinking) and then cruise home - for a drink. It's a matter of noblesse oblige that all (good) windsurfers have to buzz these ships and show them how cool we are. Naturally I did this quite a lot and of course if you sail close enough they'll occasionally hold out a glass for you to grab in passing. The only thing is that you have to fly past them on the windward side otherwise it's all going to end in tears!


I noticed in sailing there that there were 2 windsurfers who sailed up to the Lighthouse and back everyday but always close together and somewhat slowly. It turned out that this was a blind windsurfer! He'd become blind in his teens and has since learned to windsurf. One of the instructors sailed with him each day and gave him directions. Talking to this guy and watching him sail was pretty inspirational. Literally he'd get off the water and then pick up his white stick.


I hope this gives you a fair picture of Aruba.

You might also enjoy the 2004 Boards article about Aruba which is in this Newsletter section. And also take a look on our home page to the links to the more recent Aruba videos - especially the one where we carve gybed a tandem!