You may recall from my last post that approximately 20% of the island of Aruba is made up by Arikok National Park. For a girl who loves nature and hiking, that is pretty much heaven. I strongly recommend that you make some time to go to Arikok National Park if you are visiting Aruba. It is spectacular! The park’s website has a great list of some of the park’s highlights, including Dos Playa, Boca Prins, Fontein Cave (which contains some of the island’s oldest Arawak paintings, Quadirikiri Cave, Moro, and Conchi (Natural Pool). There are also several popular hiking trails in the park that lead to great views of the island. This map shows where everything is within the park. I’ll give you some details about each location a little farther down in this post.
Below, I’ve included photos of our favorite hikes and sights in Arikok National Park.
- Arikok Hilltop: A viewpoint with 360 degree views of the island. If you have a 4×4 vehicle, you can drive to the top of this mountain, but we opted to walk. If you continue on the trail pastArikok Hilltop, you will eventually arrive at Natural Pool.
Below: looking back on the trail.
- Jamanota Hilltop: The highest point on the island, 188 meters, slightly higher than Arikok Hilltop. You can drive part way up (I do not recommend trying this unless you have a 4×4 vehicle. Our little car could not handle the drive and we did not make it to the top).
- Miralamar: A short hike from a pull off on the side of the road with ruins of a gold mine.
- Fontein Cave: A limestone cave with brownish-red pictographs drawn by the Arawak tribe, as well as some more recent drawings and writings made by colonial European settlers.
- Quadirikiri Cave: Another limestone cave with many openings in the ceiling. I enjoyed this cave a lot more than Fontein because there is more space to explore the caves. Also, because of the natural lighting, you can see more of the cave. Legend has it that the daughter of an Indian chief who fell in love with a man who was unacceptable to her father was imprisoned and died here, her spirit vanishing to heaven through the holes in the roof of the cave. I don’t know if it’s true, but I love it! Very romantic.
- Boca Prins: Sand dunes and beach where turtles nest. There is also a small bar/cafe if you need a snack or drink.
- Moro: Two bays with a rock shaped like Aruba in the center. You can swim or surf in these areas, but I would only recommend it if you are a strong swimmer. The undertow can be quite strong!
- Natural Pool (Conchi): A calm pond created by waves crashing over the surrounding rocks. There are a lot of fish in the Natural Pool so bring goggles or a mask (and a waterproof camera if you have one)! There is also a great place to jump off of the rocks into the pool. The only way to get to the Natural Pool is to drive a 4×4 vehicle through the park OR to hike from Daimari Ranch. We chose to do the latter. You just walk past the ranch and take the trail along the coast to Natural Pool. The signage isn’t great but as long as you stay near the coast, you’ll get there after hiking along a relatively flat and easy trail for about 20 minutes. You can also ride horses from the ranch to Natural Pool for around $100 pp in total.
We also did a few activities that were not a part of Arikok National Park.
- Arashi Beach: We met an Aruba native on our flight who recommended Arashi Beach as an alternative to the hotel beach zone. We stopped by for a walk to check it out. I don’t think the beach wasn’t as nice as the hotel beaches, but apparently there are places for snorkeling right off of the shore.
- California Lighthouse has beautiful views of the whole island although you can’t go into the lighthouse. There is also an Italian restaurant where we grabbed a drink after one of our days of hiking. If you’re not in the mood for a restaurant but still need a snack, there is a little food stand next to the lighthouse that sells fresh coconut cocktails.
- Sunset Sail with Jolly Pirate Cruise: We did a fun 2 hour booze cruise around the sea one night. You had the option to jump off of a rope swing and swim if you had your swimsuit, but we just stayed on board and enjoyed the cruise. The company also has some options to snorkel in the morning and afternoon. The staff was very lively and enthusiastic and we had a lot of fun!
If you’ve been to Aruba, did we miss anything? Are there any other activities that you think can’t be missed? Let me know and I will hit them up on the next trip! Next up on the blog, PERU!! I cannot wait to tell you guys all about our amazing week in Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Lima! I’ll be covering the hotspots in Peru through a series, like I did for Ireland. Can’t wait to share all of the details!