Surf Sitters

Why didn’t I have a sitter like that!

ANOUK RAAPHORST CAME TO ARUBA for a vacation and never left. To make a living, she started making souvenirs out of pottery and shells and sold them at the pool side of hotels. There the tall blond from Holland attracted attention as kids and parents flocked to see her goods. Seeing her natural interaction with the kids, parents began asking her to babysit during their stay. It wasn’t long before she got so busy that she needed help from friends and stopped making souvenirs altogether.

A year ago, the twenty-nine-year-old Anouk windsurfed for the first time and fell for the sport. She began spending more and more of her time on the beach at Fisherman’s Huts. There she met a totally different set of people:  windsurfing parents. “Being on the water without a thing to worry about is really important to them,” Anouk described her new found clientele. “Most of them come to Aruba just to windsurf and appreciate so much going on the water and not worrying about their kids. For the parents, windsurfing together, sort of like old times before the kids came, is a luxury.”


As for the kids, Anouk describes them as mostly “little daredevils”. “They already look like little windsurfers with their pieces of lycra, hats, and sunglasses. They want to copy their parents and it’s amazing how well four-year-olds can balance themselves on boards and pull up 1.0 sails. They can’t wait to be old enough to windsurf.” Knowing their kids are nearby, in good hands and enjoying themselves playing on similar boards is a great source of pleasure for the visiting parents. “This is just what the parents need to see in order to get on the water without any feeling of guilt and discomfort.”

Siri Bode, another recently indoctrinated windsurfer from Norway, has teamed up with Anouk since she arrived on the island with her boyfriend Paulo. The two were on sabbatical from the ski hills of Italy where they taught skiing and snowboarding. When they found their way to Aruba, they found it hard to move on.


Between Anouk and Siri, the two have created a solid support network in what seems to be a booming business. “We love kids and windsurfing!” explained the twenty-four-year-old Siri Bode. “What better way to spend your days near or on the water and provide something that parents really appreciate?”

Taking the kids on the water with a big board are the sitters’ specialty. Not only does this pass the time, “It is a great way to instill windsurfing in the kids who come here with their parents,” remarked Anouk at the end of a perfect and satisfying day.

Parents planning to vacation on Aruba can take note of this very special service. Booking in advance is highly recommended especially at the $8 an hour rate the sitters charge. Between the two sitters, a total of eight languages can be spoken. The best way to make your reservation is to call, 011-276-33501 or via email: —- or, by chance you’re on Aruba, just ask at Vela for the SurfSitters.

article and photos by John Chao

Publisher / Editor is a former photojournalist for GEO, National Geographic and Time-Life Magazines.