Bon Bini

Hanging out in Aruba's underwater café

By Clair Horwood

Hanging out at an underwater café, some 20 feet under the Caribbean Sea, a cheeky little yellow and black fish nips my bottom. Welcome to Aruba or Bon Bini as the locals say!

I had always wanted to travel to the Caribbean - but as a fair-skinned redhead the prospect was challenging, and the idea of a week sitting in the shade just didn’t do it for me. I wanted to find somewhere to explore and have an adventure.

So, when the brochure described Aruba as an adventure playground with year-round sunshine, cooling trade winds, vibrant nightlife, and new direct flights from Gatwick thrown into the bargain, I could not resist a week away to this small and friendly island paradise.

Aruba, I later discovered, lies just off the coast of Venezuela, and is the 'A' in the ABC islands – its counterparts being Bonaire and Curacao. As a former colony of The Netherlands, Aruba still has a strong Dutch influence visible in the colourful colonial architecture in Oranjestad, the island’s capital.

Although the official language is Dutch, nearly everyone on the island speaks English, so no worries there, as well as the local tongue Papiamento.

This is a lilting mix of a number of other languages - including Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, English and French with a sprinkling of Arawak – and it’s utterly baffling.