Jason Lee Parry has a tough job. First he had to fly to the white-sand beaches of the islands and meet up with four beautiful models. Then he had to take pictures of them wearing this season's sexiest swimwear. Did we say tough? We meant seriously envy-inducing. The arrival of the highly anticipated (and, in our case, shamelessly devoured) Surfing Magazine swimsuit issue on Friday has us pining for a trip to the shoot's location: the sun-soaked shores of Aruba. But if slinking around in swimwear isn't enough activity to fill your time there, the island offers plenty in the way of adventure. Follow in the footsteps of the swimsuit-issue crew to their beautiful-beyond-words shoot locations with this edition of "Living Local." Model entourage not included.
Fly into: The Queen Beatrix International Airport, a newly renovated hub for the Caribbean served by Aruba Airlines and a slew of international carriers, including direct flights from many major cities in North America. (You'll need a passport to enter.) The U.S. dollar and major credit cards are widely accepted, but it's a good idea to carry smaller bills, since $50s and $100s may not be accepted due to counterfeiting problems. Dutch and the local language, Papiamento, are the official languages of Aruba, but most Arubans speak a minimum of four languages, including English and Spanish.
Check in: While the swimsuit-issue crew settled in at the beachfront Holiday Inn Resort Aruba, they also scouted out the Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba, a boutique-style hotel made up of 14 casitas spread out in the gardens of a historical coconut plantation at Palm Beach. Each house comes with a fully equipped kitchen, a private patio with your own hammock and BBQ grill, air conditioning, and free Wi-Fi. For a cheaper alterative, check out sites like AirBnB for local daily and weekly rentals.
Get wet: Located just 15 miles north of Venezuela, Aruba is home to that bathtub-warm water famous in the Caribbean. Add white-sand beaches and consistent 82-degree sunny days to the mix and you have the recipe for the perfect shoot. The swimsuit issue was shot on Dos Playas, Baby Beach, Mangel Halto, Renaissance Island, and Palm Beach, all of which offer a long list of water activities; windsurfing, kite surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, sailing, kayaking, and submarine tours top the list. You can take a Resort Certification Scuba Diving Course if you've never been below the surface; it's worth the money, since visibility is up to 90 feet. Off the northwest tip of the island, near Palm Beach, you'll find part of a German ship that sank there in the beginning of World War II—now a popular dive spot. If sail sports are more your thing, Aruba is host to the annual Hi-Winds Windsurfing Pro-Am Grand Prix World Cup every June.
Dry off: The swimsuit-issue models got the chance to explore the backdrop of one set at Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, the remnants of an abandoned gold mill that once processed ore from mines in the nearby hills during a gold rush that happened on the island during the 1400s and 1500s. (Gold was discovered and the island produced more than three million pounds of the shiny stuff!) You'll find this one on the northern coast, halfway down the island. Arikok National Park is part of the 20 percent of the island dedicated to nature preservation, offering up dramatic landscapes filled with hiking trails and wildlife.
The windy coastline of Aruba is home to cave formations and ancient rock drawings. Try Guadirikiri Cave if you're looking for bats, Fontein if you want cave paintings, and Huliba if want to see the heart-shaped opening at its entrance (dubbed the "Tunnel of Love"). In addition to endless rock formations and hiking opportunities, the island offers up pristine golf, horseback riding, sand dunes, ATV and Jeep tours, spas, skydiving, a donkey sanctuary, and the Aruba Aloe Museum and Factory, where you can pick up some skincare products to soothe that sunburn you're accumulating.
Chill out: After a long morning shooting (hey, they were working, after all) the swimsuit-issue crew ate at Zeerover for lunch, a sea-to-grill restaurant that serves up wahoo, snapper, barracuda, or kingfish; the price you pay is determined by weight. (Don't forget to order the fried plantains.) At night, they ate at the Flying Fishbone, a gourmet seafood and meat restaurant where guests dine sans shoes; the tables are actually in the water. To cap off the day, they suggest hitting up Charlie’s Bar for drinks (and island tradition) or The Old Man and The Sea, a private residence-turned-hideaway with hand-painted menu covers, a cushioned lounge area, and a beach-bungalow feel. Hey, it's no swimsuit photo shoot, but we have a feeling you won't mind the view.
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