travel advice

OFF-ROAD TRIP THROUGH ARIKOK NATIONAL PARK AND OTHER ARUBA HIGHLIGHTS

Our family and my 13-year-old niece recently stayed a week at Barcelo Aruba resort on beautiful Palm Beach. This area is known for its spectacular soft sand, turquoise waters, beautiful resorts, and a wealth of dining and shopping venues within walking distance. We fell in love with the beaches, the weather, and the atmosphere here. However, after a couple of days of sun and sand, we wanted to see what else Aruba had to offer. What better way to explore a 19-mile long island with a diverse landscape than in a Jeep?  When adventure calls, you rent a Jeep and go exploring.  If you think of yourself as an adventurous person and find yourself in Aruba, do it. It was definitely the highlight of our trip. This part of our trip was unanimously everyone’s favorite. Despite the lack of road signs and rocky terrain, we found it safe and fairly easy to get around this beautiful island. They drive on the right side of the road as we do and follow most of the same traffic laws. We never felt unsafe anywhere we went. I hope our photo journey below will help you plan your own adventure next time you find yourself in Aruba.

 

We rented a Jeep to tour the rocky North Eastern coast of Aruba and the Arikok National Park. Best decision we made! Aruba was made to be seen in a Jeep.

img_3284

img_3252-1
Our first stop was a morning shopping trip and tour of downtown Oranjestad. We loved this cute little Dutch town with luxury shops and markets.

img_3259-1img_3263-1

img_3272
Second stop was snorkeling at Arashi Beach. This was our niece Dani’s first snorkeling experience! Great coral reefs and beautiful calm water.
img_3294
Second stop was California Lighthouse (built in 1916) on the Northeast coast. It was named for the steamship California, which was wrecked nearby on September 23, 1891.

Our group in front of the California Lighthouse
The girls loved sticking their heads out of the top of the Jeep and driving along the coastline.

Volcanic crater-like rock all along the Eastern coastline
Giant waves crashed along the shoreline

Rows and rows of Rock Stacks or “Cairns” were all along the coastline. Tourists make a rock stack and make a wish.
The girls wanted to make their own rock stack

A balancing rock we found while driving along the coastline
Alto Vista Chapel, also known as “Pilgrim’s Church”, was originally consecrated in 1750, rebuilt in 1952.

Inside Alto Vista Chapel
Dozens of these little coves can be found driving on the Eastern coast of Aruba
Enter a caption
It is hard to put into words what this view was like. It was breathtaking and scary at the same time with the intense wind and crashing waves. Another person could not be found as far as we looked.

Bushiribana Ruins was the next stop that day. The Aruba Island Gold Mining Company built the Bushiribana smelter in 1825 to extract gold from the ore that was being mined in the nearby hills of Ceru Plat; it operated for ten years. Today is a tourist stop along the trail to Arikok Park and the Natural Pool.

We started our second day in our Jeep at the Ayo Rock Formations. These were really cool. We walked through the caves, climbed on top of the giant formations, and even saw some cave drawings.

Jason and I at the Ayo rock formations.

Rock climbing is their favorite so Dani and Taylor loved this area.
“Circle of Life” demonstration on their own Pride rock
Primitive Cave drawings found in Ayo Rock formations. The Arawak people were the earliest settlers on the island. They used to visit Ayo Rock Formations so that they could hear incoming thunderstorms closing in on the island of Aruba. They also carved paintings in rocks called petroglyphs while performing religious rites.
Our next stop was the Natural Pool. We arrived at the entrance to the Natural pool planning on hiking to the pool. We were told that a Jeep can get down there just fine and the hike would be over an hour and pretty difficult. We made the decision to try to go by Jeep. This was the most intense part of the trip. Driving on the extremely rocky roads in a Jeep to get to the tall staircase down to the Natural pool was quite the trek. Jason was really anxious that our tire would rupture or we would get stuck. Luckily we did arrive safely and the Jeep did remarkably well. The end result was as shown in this picture. An incredible Natural pool filled with fish and sea life. Lots of other people were jumping off rocks into the pool below, snorkeling, and relaxing in the cool water. I was the only one in our group who got in. It was definitely difficult to get in and out and there were a lot of crabs everywhere waiting to bite your toes. Once in a lifetime experience though.

img_3463
We stopped for lunch at a hidden gem right in Arikok National Park- Boca Prins Bar and Restaurant
img_3464
We loved the authentic Aruban Cuisine. Pictured above is Keshi Yena which is made from Gouda cheese covering spicy chicken, caesar salad, and Fried Plantains. We also enjoyed Pan Bati which is sort of a smashed bread that looks like a pancake that is common here. 

img_3470

img_3473
We finished our 2nd Jeep day at Baby Beach on the southern tip of Aruba. We snorkeled and relaxed at this tranquil beach where a lot of locals come to hang out.

1 thought on “OFF-ROAD TRIP THROUGH ARIKOK NATIONAL PARK AND OTHER ARUBA HIGHLIGHTS”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s