Although Fisherman’s Huts is the most popular windsurfing beach on Aruba, it’s not the reason I came. I soon learn that if windsurfing at the huts was the highlight of your trip to Aruba, then you’ve been seriously missing out. Don’t get me wrong, I had many good sessions, both on my slalom and freestyle gear in front of the Vela centre and the huts, but it’s the rest of the island that intrigued me more. Soon I discovered that it’s those lesser-known beaches that really make Aruba a Caribbean gem. After all, where can you jump on port-tack in the morning, sail flat water in the afternoon, and jump starboard-tack in the evening 97% of days during an 8-month wind season? All in uncrowded turquoise waters only wearing your favourite pair of board shorts! (It’s a rhetorical question, but if you have an answer please do get in touch.)
“Surfside” was the first spot I explored. The name hints at some sort of waves, it’s anything but. Side-offshore wind and flat water is all you’ll find here. Rig either at the parking lot along Looyd G. Smith Blvd or next to the Splash Park. Stepping into the water you spot Orajenstad’s cruise ship terminal to your right, and the airport landing strip to your left. The Watapana or Divi Divi trees line the beach here; they are Aruba’s natural compass, always pointing to the south-west due to the north-east trade winds.
South-east of the airport is “Barcadera”. This became my go-to freestyle spot. It’s best to windsurf here early in the day when the wind has more south in it keeping it side-shore. After 2pm the wind shifts more towards the east-north-east making it gustier. You can still score a decent session if you stick to the far side next to Palm Island. Open fisherman’s houses painted in bright Aruban colours offer respite from the burning sun both on the beach and on Palm Island. Locals sometimes spend the day, or even camp nights in these rustic colourful shelters.