Because of the strong trade wind (typically blow at a steady 20-25 knots year-around) and its flat seas, Aruba is famous for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The biggest and best known watersports event of the Caribbean for the past 24 years, the Aruba Hi-Winds, occurs at Fisherman’s Hut (Hadicurari) annually in June/July.
Hadicurari, known to the locals as Fisherman’s Huts, is located just north of Palm Beach. It is just a short 10 minutes walk from the Marriot Resort. If you are driving, you will see a dirt road intersection about ¼ mile north of the last Marriott. Follow this road for about 100 meter and you will see a few huts and lots of colored flags, where you can rent gears or get lessons. Fisherman’s Huts is a beautiful white sand beach, with the light blue stretching far out into the sea. It is a good spot for photos.
At any time of the year, this is one of the best spot in the Caribbean to learn how to windsurf or kitesurf. It is also a fun spot to watch beginners struggle with their sails inside the protective reef and experts glide at amazing speeds half-mile out. What make this spot so special compared to other places in the Caribbean is that it has a shallow water as far as 300 feet from shore, so when you fall off your board, there’s little chance of drowning. Also, for those beginners like me, we often get frightened when we go too far away from shore, and it is always a comfort to know that the water below you is only waist deep. So when you cannot turn back because you only know how to go in one direction, you can easily paddle back or even get off and walk-pull the board/sail back to where you started. (Believe me, this is a big plus because the first time I windsurfed was in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia and the lifeguard had to haul me back with their speedboat. I could only go in one direction and couldn’t turn back.)
With no reservation necessary, one can walk-in and get a beginners lesson from one of the vendors for $50 (1 hr instruction + 1 hr practice). It was really more like 15 mins instruction and 1:45 mins practice. If you don’t need a lesson, you can rent their equipment for $45/half day, $50/full day, $245/full week. This is the standard price for Fisherman’s Huts area, but it will be about $10-15 more at/around the Marriott Surf Club (next to the hotels area on Palm Beach). I ended up getting my windsurfing lesson from Aruba Active Vacation (www.aruba-active-vacations.com). The owner of Aruba Active Vacation was really nice. He is from the Netherlands and moved here a few years ago, set up this shop, and enjoying the nice perfect life.
Lesson took place by the beach. The instructor taught us how use the equipment and techniques that we need to know. After 15 minutes of instructing, he just let us go off on our own. I explored the different techniques and was able to turn without falling after an hour. The difficulty I had was preventing myself from drifting out (wind/current drag and the ruder didn’t help too much)with each back and forth turns and eventually had to lie down on my board and swam back. The instructors were always watching and yelled out whether you needed help each time he sees you struggling. For those who are afraid to do this, it is very safe, so just go out and do it. You do really need a strong shoulder and upper body strength as the sail is heavy, and to hold it against a strong wind is even worst. My shoulder was so sore the next day. Do put tons of sunscreens on your neck and back as they will face the sun light all the time while windsurfing. It was so much fun that I spend the next 3 morning renting the equipment for ½ day each to try to perfect my skills.