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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
This formation is located in the center of the island. Bob saw it on his land tour on our first visit to the island and he climbed it. I have not been there myself. His pictures reminded me of the huge boulders at the Baths on Virgin Gorda (photo 5)
Casibari are composed of two sections, the biggest one is Casibari and the second one is Ayo. Ayo formation does not have any of the steps or walking trails making the less popular of the two, but there are rock drawings, dating back thousands of years at this site.
At Casibari, there are walking trails and steps to the top, but even it is definitely not handicapped accessible. There are narrow tunnels and with the combination of steep steps, only allowing the passing of one individual. If there are a lot of people there (like when cruise ships are in town), it may take a good amount of time to get up and down.
It is free.
My husband went on the tour of Aruba while I was snorkeling. We knew of course that the large natural bridge on Aruba had collapsed in the early morning hours of September 2, 2005, but there were still some smaller bridge like formations one of which is in the third picture. Aruba has seven other smaller natural bridge formations. The original BIG bridge was 100 feet long, and 25 feet above the sea. It was one of the most dramatic of the coral formations in the Caribbean. Bob said they had a road on it.
This was an awesome time in Aruba for me, sicne i was adopted when i was 12, i learned how to count at this age, now i am 14 and i am the smartest person in all my special ed classes. this was so cool. i went off the swing on the back of some really cute guy. he did a flip. my advice?... let go of the swing or else be ready to smack into the boat. haha!!
The Natural Bridge is a very popular tourist attraction in Aruba. The bridge is made of coral that was carved out by the pounding waves. It extends 100 feet acrcoss and is 25 feet high. When I went many years ago, we took a tour around the island and this was one of the stops. I remember being SO excited to visit there. (I think I had seen a picture of it in one of my parents brochures)
If you enlarge the photo I am the black and red dot :)
The Santa Ana Church was a stop on the tour we took around the island. Inside, the alter and pulpit were done with elaborate wooden carvings that were over 100 years old. Next to the church was an interesting cemetary, see below tip.
this was a blast. and when they say off-road they mean off-road. We took the 1/2day tour and we got to see most of the island and it's beauty.we had seen the natural bridge,ayo rock formation,Casibari rock formation. there are steps to get up to the top and the veiw is worth the climb. WEAR walking shoes,sandles dont cut it very well.When you park at a sight then you walk to it. not very far but over rocks and up and down hills.
YOU WILL BAKE IN THE SUN.
I Drove the Jeep it was a stick shift.
my wife was glad i did, it was hairy in some spots.we took our time and had a safe time.
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