Arikok National Park

Most tourists in Aruba look outwards to the magnificent beaches, yet the true beauty of this island nation is within its heart – the majestic Arikok National Park, which is at the center of the island. This park that takes up about 20% of the land on this island encompasses the 3 main geological formations that actually shape this island:quartz diorite formation, a limestone formation, and the Aruba lava formation. Combined together, these three formations play a major role in supporting Aruba’s unique, native wildlife and plants as well as influenced human settlement on this island.

There are several tours that will take you to this amazing destination, or you can hire a jeep to drive there by yourself to explore this wonderful national park by yourself all day long as there are many hiking trails that cover all sorts of terrain for the hiking enthusiast from plantation ruins, gold mines, and hills.

Wildlife lovers are in for a treat as they will see Aruba’s true nature in stunning glory. There are also a number of animal species that can only be found in Aruba. This includes the cascabel (rattlesnake), santanero (cat-eyed snake), kododo blauw (whiptail lizard), shoco (burrowing owl), and the prikichi (parakeet). Other than these animals, you will also see migratory birds, sunbathing iguanas, as well as donkeys and goats as they graze on the hills. If you are are wildlife lover, make sure to visit the park as early as you can, as these animals are more active in the morning.

Those who love history and get a high from a sense of exploration will enjoy the many art works found in Arikok National Park. Here, you can view early Amerindian art, ruins of early farms, and abandoned gold mines. Finally, when you reach the coast, the landscape drastically changes from divi divi trees, hills, and cacti to limestone cliffs studded with sea lavender and sea grapes. If you are lucky, you will be able to see turtles hatch in the early spring.

The Aruban Government has currently marked this area to develop Arikok National Park responsibly. For now, many of the sites can only be reached by either hiking trails or dirt roads. However, don’t fret as the routes are marked clearly and there are also other informative signs dotting the way so you will not feel like you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and have to play Survivor. You can also buy a helpful guidebook at the office in the National Park at Piedra Plat 42 in Pardera, which is on the main road between Santa Cruz and the low-rise area. Just don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and a hat!