A donkey sanctuary has been set up on the island and is run on a voluntary basis. There were lots of ill treated and hungry donkeys wandering the island and most of these have now been rescued. I did see one fine healthy specimen still wandering wild, but it turned out that was in the National Park and this is one place where the donkeys are still safe and well fed.
I visited the sanctuary and although it's a little small it's a place where the animals and obviously well taken care of. You can feed them, but be careful what you give them.
There's no charge to enter but contributions are gratefully accepted.
The donkey sanctuary is situated very close to the Turtle Rock.
Not nearly as easy to get to as the Natural Bridge. Sheltered from the fierce north shore (and its reported sharks!) the Pool is located east of the Bridge. We reached it by horseback. Be sure to carry all your snorkeling gear down the many steps to the pool - you won't want to make the hike back right away!
I'm putting this tip under "Off the Beaten Track" because I hope that when you're on holiday you don't have to come here.
I ended up at Accident & Emergency with my Mum as she had an accident and broke a couple of bones.
The hospital looks shabby from the outside and A&E does nothing to inspire confidence as it's painfully (pardon the pun) slow, like most A&E's and equally shabby. However there's a nice enough waiting room with a TV and outside there's a soda machine. Bring plenty of coins with you as you're going to be thirsty waiting in that heat.
Before anyone saw Mum she had to register with the hospital and pay a cash deposit of just under $90. This was set against her eventual bill.
Once we got beyond the waiting area the hospital inside is modern and cool, well equipped, and with helpful and knowledgeable staff. They all seem to speak English and several other languages, too. We left after four hours feeling well looked after. The total bill for examination, X rays and consultant's opinion was about $400 which you must pay on the spot.
The hospital is the only one on the island and is situated in the low rise hotel area. Within a stone's throw of this there's a whole road of private clinics, all recently built and very swish looking.
Everywhere you go in Aruba you will find amazingly coloured buildings. The locals love to paint their houses in the most amazing shades, and on one occasion our taxi driver entertained us with a tale of how he painted a house for two English men but hated the colour.
The colour of the moment in Aruba appears to be a sort of lime green.
If you drive around the island you will see some greatly colourful buildings, but for now I'll leave you with some pics of those I spotted, starting with that lime green.....
The drive (by rented 4x4 jeep that we picked up from Hertz at our hotel) from the California Lighthouse along the north shore (Atlantic side) of the island is well worth the effort. Lots of beautiful vistas of crushing waves and a craggy coast. The natural bridge is a great photo op, and a nice place for meditatively watching the surf.
We walked over to Fort Zoutman, Willem III Tower, and Museo Arubano. The Museo Arubano is supposed to be a museum with information on Aruba’s history. It was established by the CCA - Cultureel Centrum van Aruba - (Cultural Center Aruba Foundation) in 1983 and I thought it might be interesting. But it was not open, even though it was within the hours that were listed for it to be open (Mon-Fri 8:30am-4:15pm). There were no signs to indicated that it was a museum or to show why it was not open. I am guessing that it was closed because of Christmas week. The second time we visited it was not open either. Admission is $6 if you find it open.
So we walked around the fort. This is the oldest bit of Dutch architecture on the island and dates from 1796. It was named after Dutch Rear Admiral Zoutman who outwitted a British convoy on the North Sea during the 4th British War. It is situated on what was then the shoreline and is armed with four cannons. For almost a century, government offices were housed in Fort Zoutman, with a police department and a prison making use of the building at other times.
Although I would have been interested in the museums, my primary interest was the Willem III Tower because that originally served as a lighthouse when it was added to the fort in 1868. It had Aruba's first public clock and was also used to sight pirates.
near the california lighthouse, there is a path barely visible which takes you up the north side of Aruba. the ocean is rampant and rocky.. I believe you can hire a Jeep tour -but we rented our own.
it is desolate and windy.
There is no where to stop off until you get to the natural bridge -so pack some beers or something to drink.
It takes about an hour or so depending how often you stop. there are clever rock piles and ocean rock about.
we used it as a nice refresher -a day trip after a long day in the sun.
Named for the California, a ship which wrecked off the north shore.
The lighthouse is located at the far western tip of the north shore, accessible by car from the resorts, or by ATV/horseback if you're so inclined. It is not open to the public, so you can't go inside, but it makes for a nice photo op.
The dividivi (Caesalpinia coriaria) from the Fabaceae family (Leguminosae) is a tree that is common in the Caribbean.
The copies are known by the trade winds are formed. A tree that grows as in one direction is sometimes called fan beam.
In Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, this tree often.
Head towards the lighthouse on the western tip of the island. The last beach on the south before the lighthouse on the western tip is much more quiet then anything you'll find in the over populated hotel row.
The much heard question "Is there anywhere worth visiting" and the answer "In a word, NO!" is a bit out of proportion. You're on an island, so ... ... ...
Yep, you can get some excellent marine equipment and instruction for a sea-dive, water-skiing, parasailing, go for a windsurf, jet-ski or charter a boat for a great fish (tuna, marlin). Watch the dolphins off the coast of Savaneta ... we could see the boats leaving the mainland every morning ... when we had to work hard for our money !!!
I don't know if this is a well known beach in Aruba, but we've never knew it until we drove upon it. BocaCatalina is a beautiful beach along the west coast of Aruba, on your way to the California Light House.
The water there is just so clear, and the beach is all white sand. We put on our swimming goggles and did a little snorkeling right off the beach. For your convenience and for exotic measures, big straw huts along the beachs are availble to store your belongings or just hide out from the sun. Across the street while driving along to the california light houses you see some big mansions with palm trees in the court yard. Beautiful mexican style, south american style houses.
This beach, along a large shallow lagoon in San Nicholas, is a popular destination for locals and since it is at the opposite end of the island from the resorts, it's often not very crowded and great place to interact with locals. The only downside to the beach is it's location. San Nicholas is not a bad town itself, but it is dominated by one of the largest oil refineries in the world, as seen in the background of this picture from Baby Beach. If you drive northward from this area, you'll discover what seems to be a modern ghost town. A decent looking suburban development where everything has been abandoned. Apparently, hundreds of people flocked and where shipped into San Nicholas to work at the oil refinery which was eventually shut down. All those people left, leaving behind these now abandoned homes, parks, and playgrounds, a rather eerie area to drive through.
The lagoon itself at Baby Beach is never more than 5 feet deep with a soft sandy bottom. A rocky waterbreak keeps the water in the lagoon calm enough for even the most inexperienced of swimmers. There aren't much in the way of amenities here so plan to bring your own picnic, towels, and snorkel gear. And don't worry about the oil refinery. The constant trade winds blow all the smoke away from the beach and out to sea.
Why spend lots of money on guided tours when you can rent your own jeep for the day...
Local car rental companies have great prices on jeep rentals. A jeep for the day runs about $75.00. Return the jeep with the same amount of gas. We asked the gas station attendant to fill the tank and we almost fainted when he asked for $50.00. It took a minute to remember that we weren't paying in US dollars.
Hit the highway and enjoy! Take along sunscreen if you plan to put the top down.
I would recommend a trip to Baby Beach - calm inlet waters with access to snorkel gear and great relaxing time. Also, must visit the tunnel of love. Probably have to ask a local for directions, it is off the VERY beaten path, but is worth it. It is a cave tour, guided with flash lights - very interesting
LG Smith Boulevard 55-B, Oranjestad, Aruba, 1347, Caribbean
Good for: Business
My husband and I enjoyed our honeymoon here. There is a great restaurant on site and the staff are...more
Palm Beach Road, Noord 43E, Noord, Caribbean
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Couples