California Lighthouse is one of the top attractions that you will find in Aruba. It is located in a silent sentry in the area known as "Hudishibana," near the island's northwestern tip.
Is named for the U.S ship the California which sunk about two years previous to its construction in 1910, one negative thing with the Lighthouse is close and you will not be able to reach the top.
The site offers spectacular sunsets as the final shades of sunshine give you a sense of peacefulness that only you will experience there. On the edge on a high seaside elevation, the lighthouse has become one of Aruba's scenic trademarks and offers a picture perfect view of the island's western and eastern coastline of sandy beaches, rolling sand dunes and rocky coral shorelines.Related to:
Casibari are composed of two sections, the biggest one is Casibari and the second one is Ayo. Both represent Aruba’s Stonehenge with its unique shape, created by the eternal trade of the winds, Geologist are uncertain about their origins, but they suspects that collision of tectonic plates created these formations forcing this massive slabs into the surface.
Aruba’s government in Casibari, constructed walking trails and steps that allow visitors to reach the top of the formation, getting to the top could be a challenge since there are narrow tunnels and with the combination of steep steps, only allowing the passing of one individual making access difficult for small children and elderly. If there is a big group in the formation, reaching the top could take a long time, but the steps and rails in place are a big blessing, making it much safer and easier to navigate. It is the second most popular attraction in Aruba next to the Natural Bridge.Related to:
- Mountain Climbing
- National/State Park
The Old Dutch Windmill
This authentic Dutch Windmill is located near the Palm Beach hotels. Over the years, it has changed ownership several times - sometimes a restaurant, sometimes a bar, sometimes a nightclub. In fact, when we were there it was closed again.
It's a pretty, colorful windmill that was built in 1804 in Friesland, Netherlands. Originally used to drain water from low lying land, it was later used as a grain mill. By 1929 it had been severely damaged by storms and was useless and abandoned. It was found in Groningen, Netherlands and purchased by a private merchant. It was disassembled, shipped to Aruba, and reassembled. It opened as a restaurant, De Olden Molden, in the early 1960's and became a tourist attraction.
It has been used in the island's tourism campaigns and still remains a landmark. It's worth a drive-by but not much else, especially if it's closed.Related to:
Yuana Crioyo: Aruban Iguana
Iguanas abound on Aruba! The iguanas we encountered were pretty large. A full-grown male from his nose to the tip of his tail can reach 6 feet long. Like chameleons, iguanas change color to adapt to their surroundings - from bright green to a greyish green.
They are not harmful and are likely to be more scared of you than you are of them. If an iguana does sense danger he will change his color and try to find a place where he can blend in with the natural surroundings. This is frequently a tree so if you are poolside or on the beach underneath a tree, it's a good idea to check above you every once in a while. If the iguana feels that he has been detected he will drop to the ground and run! Iguanas are very fast and look rather funny when running - lifting their bodies off the ground and running away on their tiptoes.
Iguanas were frequently killed to use for stews and soups. I came across an interesting myth about iguana meat. Apparently iguana meat gives strength and virility, which comes from the belief that males have two penises - really one split into two. So it is thought that the iguana is a fountain of strength and potency.
Since 1995 it has been illegal to kill iguanas, which likely saved the population. A restaurant that has iguana on its menu will receive a fine and may be shut down. It seems that this has helped.Related to:
The California Lighthouse sits high above the sea on the northwestern shore of Aruba very near Arashi Beach. There seems to be some confusion as to which ship the lighthouse was named. Research indicates it is named for the SS California, a wooden ship that sunk near the shore in 1908. Designed by a French architect, dates of construction vary depending on the source - from 1910 to between 1914 and 1916. The lighthouse stands almost 100 feet tall and was once open to visitors, although it no longer is.
Around the lighthouse is an area called California White Sand Dines, popular for dune surfing. The views really are very nice and even thought the lighthouse itself can probably use some restoration, the island is surely small enough that you won't be going out of your way to visit. Sunset is particularly pretty.Related to:
Aruba's Oldest Cactus?
Part of the fun of touring with a local driver, is hearing all the myths and stories of a particular place. Our wonderful driver, Bully, took us to see the oldest cactus in Aruba.
Located on private property near Frenchman's Pass (about 6-7 kms from Oranjestad), this huge cactus is estimated to be over 150 years old. Of course, Bully knew the owners of the property so we were able to get an up close and personal look. Is it really the oldest cactus on Aruba? Why not?
Baby Natural Bridge
Located on Aruba's rocky east coast, the Natural Bridge was one of Aruba's most famous attractions. It was a formation of coral limestone that was cut out by thousands of years of pounding surf. The Natural Bridge was over 100 feet long and 23 feet above sea level. I remember standing on it as a child.
On September 5, 2005, the Natural Bridge collapsed. Fortunately it was before dawn when on one was on the bridge.
Very near to the site of the original Natural Bridge - literally within feet - is the Baby Natural Bridge. It is much smaller in size and much closer to the sea.
There is no charge to visit and this still remains a popular destination on the island. You can climb up and walk across the bridge. There are also some fantastic views here - beautiful blue water and crashing waves. It's easily accessible by car.Related to:
Ayo Rock Formations
Similar to Casibari, Ayo Rock Formations are monolithic boulders. These are located near Ayo village, a few kms. from the Natural Bridge. Unlike Casibari, there are no paths or steps to climb the highest boulders. It is for this reason that significantly fewer people visit here. In fact, when we were there, we were the only ones (and this was with a couple of cruise ships in port)! It was so quiet and relaxing!
The Arawaks, who were the earliest settlers on Aruba, used to visit Ayo Rock Formations so they could hear incoming thunderstorms. It was here they also carved petroglyphs while performing religious rites, which are still visible.
Unlike Casibari, there are no steps or rails to help you climb to the top. This was fine with me since I enjoyed the petroglyphs and peace of the surrounding area. You can easily climb some of the smaller boulders on your own.
There is no admission to Ayo Rock Formations. If you're near Casibari or the Natural Bridge, stop by for a visit. Easily accessible by car.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Nobody Does It Better Than Bully!
Since we only had a day in Aruba we wanted to make the most of our time. Bully came highly recommended on the cruisecritic boards so after exchanging a couple of emails we made arrangements to tour the island with him. He met us promptly and loaded us into his comfortable van. He took us all around the island on our customized itinerary and let us spend as much time as we wanted at each place. He told us all about the island, provided bottled drinks for us, and even gave my daughter a huge stuffed iguana. He never "watched the clock" and actually charged us less than the rate for the total hours. I highly recommend doing an island tour with hiim.
$45 an hour for up to 5 people. Bully is extremely popular (especially with cruisers) and books up quickly so be sure to book in advance.
Casibari Rock Formations
Clusters of huge tonalite rocks make up Casibari. These huge wind-carved boulders weigh up to several tons and seem to rise out of the desert from nowhere. There are paths around the garden-like grounds from which you can enjoy the flowers, catci, and boulders before climbing to the top of the largest boulder.
Steps have been constructed to allow visitors to reach the top of the formation for welcome breezes and fantastic panoramic views of the island. Even still, getting to the top can be a challenge. There are narrow tunnels and steep steps that only allow the passing of one person at a time. There are rails to help you navigate the steps but there is one tight spot where you have down to go under and through the rocks. Overall, it can be difficult for elderly people or young children (especially if you are carrying a child).
There is no admission to Casibari. Located in the middle of the island, it is easily accessible by car. Allow for no more than an hour here (depending on how many people are waiting to make the climb). Wear non-slippery shoes, and if it's raining, I'd probably give it a pass since the rocks will be very slippery.
See my travelogue below for additional photos.Related to:
The Orange Capital
The capital of Aruba since 1797, Oranjestad ("Orangetown" in Dutch) was named after the Dutch royal house of Oranje. All of Aruba's government buildings are located in Oranjestad. The typcial Dutch-design buildings are painted in pastel colors and fishing boats and yachts are moored in the harbor.
When you visit Aruba, you will most definitely end up here whether it's to shop in the duty-free stores, eat, or walk along the waterfront. The local marketplace is on the waterside of the street and is an excellent place to buy local handicrafts, t-shirts, etc. If you happen to visit early in the morning you can see the merchants selling produce and fresh fish right off the boats.
There are also a few small museums in town. Wilhelmina Park is nearby as well. Oranjestad is best explored on foot. Be forewarned, this is where the cruiseships arrive so on days when multiple ships are in, Ornajestad will be very crowded!Related to:
- Spa and Resort
- Casino and Gambling
Lovely Alto Vista Chapel
The Chapel of Alto Vista is the first Catholic church established on the island and was also the first church established in the whole of the Caribbean. This tiny yellow church is also known as the pilgrim's church and is one of the most photographed buildings on Aruba.
The chapel sits high on a bluff - with spectacular views overlooking the north coast - and the narrow road leading up to it is lined with white crosses. Pilgrims from all over the island make their way to the chapel in a procession on the holiest days of the year.
The chapel was originally constructed by native Indians and Spanish settlers in the mid-1700s, and was rebuilt in 1952. The interior of the church is very simple.
Behind the church is the Peace Labyrinth - a lovely spot for "Silent and Respectful Contemplation".
Please see my travelogue below for additional photos.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Climbing the Hooiberg
The Haystack (Dutch: Hooiberg) is a conspicuous hill (165 meters) in the center of Aruba. It is a conical hill topped by several towers. The Haystack is visible from almost the whole island, and has a striking appearance as the lonely hill above the plain. Although the Haystack previously (erroneously) as the highest hill was considered. Jamanota the hill is the highest, with 188 meters.Related to:
- Mountain Climbing
- Hiking and Walking
Arikok National Park
A famous attraction was the Natural Bridge, the longest natural bridge in the Caribbean. On September 2, 2005, this collapsed, probably due to the long erosive action of sea water and wind. Smaller natural bridges are also still present on the island, which is an addition to the remains of the collapsed bridge.Related to:
- National/State Park
Dive with Clive!
We did 6 days of diving with Clive from Dive Aruba. Small dive groups (7 max) and long bottom times is what it is all about. We saw many of the larger dive operations getting to a site after us and would be gone by the time we exited.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
Been here many times. My opinion is it is the best overall resort on the island for value, luxury,...more
LG Smith Boulevard 55-B, Oranjestad, Aruba, 1347, Caribbean
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Palm Beach Road, Noord 43E, Noord, Caribbean
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