Hikes and activities in Aruba

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.

Windmills in the distance at Arikok National Park
Hiking
Hiking
Lots of cacti in Arikok
Lots of cacti in Arikok
Plantage Prins, former coconut plantation
Plantage Prins, former coconut plantation

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.

    View from Arikok Hill
    View from Arikok Hill

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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.
Hike up Miralamar
Hike up Miralamar

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Quartz from the gold mine
Quartz from the 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.
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Arawak drawings
Fontein Cave
Fontein Cave

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  • 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.
Inside Quadirikiri Cave
Inside Quadirikiri Cave

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  • Boca Prins: Sand dunes and beach where turtles nest. There is also a small bar/cafe if you need a snack or drink.

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  • 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!
Moro, shaped like the island of Aruba
Moro, shaped like the island of Aruba
Me in front of Moro so you can see the size
Me in front of Moro so you can see the size

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Alex swimming near Moro
Alex bravely swimming and body surfing near Moro
  • 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.
Hike from Daimari Ranch to Natural Pool
Hike from Daimari Ranch to Natural Pool

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Natural Pool
Natural Pool (you can see someone jumping off of the rocks in the background)

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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.
Arashi Beach
Arashi Beach
View of the California Lighthouse from Arashi Beach
View of the California Lighthouse from Arashi Beach
  • 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.
California Lighthouse
California Lighthouse
California Lighthouse
California Lighthouse
Outside the Italian restaurant near the California Lighthouse
Outside the Italian restaurant near the California Lighthouse
Beautiful views from the California Lighthouse
Beautiful views from outside the Italian restaurant
  • 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!
Jolly Pirate Cruise
Jolly Pirate Cruise
Alex and I on the Jolly Pirate Sunset Sail
Alex and I on the Jolly Pirate Sunset Sail
Rope swing/swimming location
Rope swing/swimming location
Queen of the world!
Queen of the world!

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!

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8 comments

  1. Thank you so much for your awesome post! I’m going to Aruba next week and I tend to travel more off the beaten path. This is be best post I’ve found about visiting the park with out a group.

    Did y’all just park on the street near the Ranch to hike into Natural Pool?

    • Thanks Megan! I’m so glad my post is helpful. That is exactly what we did! We parked on a hill just outside of the ranch entrance be we didn’t have a 4WD vehicle. It was maybe an extra 500m away from the ranch. A few other cars parked there as well. Have a great time in Aruba!

  2. I was just going to ask the same thing! My friends and I are going on Sunday and I’m not a big fan of organized tours and we’re active so I figured we could park the car and hike to Conchi and the caves. Do you think both could be reasonably done in a day or better to spread it out? Parking at the ranch is an awesome tip, as 20 minute hike is very doable. Did you hike to the caves also, or park nearby? We’ll most likely have a normal car and not a Jeep.

    • Hi Tara! Thanks so much for reading. I hope you love Aruba! You can do both in one day if you drive between the two. I wouldn’t advise hiking from Conchi to the caves. It would be quite a long hike in direct sun (I’m not sure of the distance, but I would guess 4-5 miles one way) and might be a bit too ambitious. However, you could easily do the Conchi hike and then drive into the main entrance of the park and hike around the caves. We had a normal car as well and found that there were a few roads we couldn’t navigate, but for the most part it was ok. Enjoy your visit!

      • Thanks for the advice! We did have a blast. I had a really hard time navigating as most roads weren’t marked at all so we couldn’t find that ranch you mentioned. It ended up being okay because the water was so rough, we weren’t allowed to swim in Conchi anyway. The caves and the other beaches/sites definitely made up for it!

      • I’m so glad I could help, but I’m sorry you had trouble finding the ranch! Sounds like it might have been lost time since you couldn’t swim anyway. Thanks again for reading and commenting!

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