Caribbean Aruba

Aruba's world-class windsurfing conditions attract competitors from around the world every June for the Hi-Winds World Challenge, one of the region's most popular windsurfing competitions and the only Professional Windsurfing Association Grand Prix event in the Caribbean. Wind speeds on the island are best in May, June, and July, when they average 20 to 25 knots, and calmest from September through November, when they range from 10 to 20 knots.

The area around Malmok Beach and Hadicurari, or Fishermen's Huts, is the most popular windsurfing spot on the island. Sailed by novices and pros alike, it features slightly gusty offshore winds, minimal current, and moderate chop. The water is shallow more than 60m (197 ft.) out from the shore. Boca Grandi, on the extreme eastern coast, is for advanced and expert wave sailors only. The very strong current here moves out to sea, and on-shore waves rise from 1 foot to mast high on the outer reefs. Around the island's eastern tip, the calmer waters of Rodger's Beach are excellent for beginner and intermediate windsurfers. Offshore winds are moderate, the current is slight, and the waves have negligible chop.

Most windsurfing operations cluster around Malmok Beach, where equipment rental averages $35 to $40 for 2 hours, $45 for half a day, and $55 to $60 for a full day. Two-hour beginner lessons with equipment are about $50; 6-hour introductory courses are $135. Operators include Aruba Boardsailing Productions, L. G. Smith Blvd. 486 (tel. 297/586-3940;; Aruba Sailboard Vacations, L. G. Smith Blvd. 462 (tel. 297/586-2527;; Unique Sports of Aruba, J. E. Irausquin Blvd. 79 (tel. 297/586-0096;; and Vela College of Windsurfing, next to the Marriott, a joint operation of Pelican Adventures (tel. 297/587-2302; and Vela Windsurf (tel. 800/223-5443; Like any good college, Vela has prodigious course listings; its offerings include Intro to Harness Use -- Da Cool Stance and Modern Science of Body Drags. Aruba Boardsailing Productions, Aruba Sailboard Vacations, and Vela are windsurf specialists -- a good bet for novices.

Kitesurfing--With the help of large inflatable kites, about 27m (89 ft.) of flying line, and small surfboards with foot straps, kite surfers at Malmok Beach skim across the water at 48kmph (30 mph) and launch themselves 3 to 15m (10-49 ft.) in the air. Kite surfing has many of the same elements and thrills as snowboarding and windsurfing, but with a relatively easier learning curve. Aruba's calm, shallow waters make the island ideal for giving it a whirl. Kite Surfing Aruba (tel. 297/586-5025 or 733-1515; has 2 1/2-hour introductory lessons for $100. Only comfortable swimmers at least 10 years old need apply. Vela Windsurf and Kite Surf Center, next to the Marriott, is a joint operation of Pelican Adventures (tel. 297/587-2302; and Vela Windsurf (tel. 800/223-5443; It offers a suite of introductory classes that break the art into specialized segments (which means more instruction time and a higher price tag)