The California Lighthouse is situated at the North of the island and is said to be called after a ship that went down! What an unusual way to name a lighthouse.
I visited it twice - once from the road and the second time from the sea when I saw it from a different perspective. The second visit answered my question as to whether or not it still functions. It doesn't - or at least, if it does, it's not gainfully employed as a lighthouse:-)
The view from the lighthouse grounds is incredible, taking in much of the island.
There's a restaurant beside it where it's magical to watch the sunset. I didn't eat there, but apparently it's a pretty good Italian eatery.Related to:
- Historical Travel
The ship is cool, crew was great - very friendly. Unbelievable snorkeling at the Antilla wreck. Also, you can swing out over the water from a rope swing (the crew do great acrobatics). The rest of the day is fuzzy from the drinks..."Pirate's Poison".... mmmm! Look for the $8 off per couple coupon in the Aruba Nights guidebook.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
- Diving and Snorkeling
The California Lighthouse, located at the northern tip of Aruba, is a stop on many tours. It's named after a US ship named California that wrecked off the coast here in 1891, before the lighthouse was completed in 1916. You can't go up to the top of it anymore, not since someone committed suicide from jumping from it but there is a nice view from where it stands.Add to your Trip Planner
I don't have any in depth knowledge of birds, but I was bewitched by those I spotted on Aruba and I have learned that it is a vurtual paradise for bird watchers.
While driving through the National Park we spotted a falcon!
There are brown penguins diving for fish off the beach ever day and they are addictive to watch.
My favourite was the Scott's Oriole which I spotted twice. One day I was treated to the sight of a pair of them pecking at sugar packets on the deck of the hotel restaurant. I attach a picture to share with you. These migratory birds are said to be great singers - I loved them for their bright orange coloured breast.Related to:
On your narrated tour of Aruba's undersea world aboard the SEAWORLD EXPLORER, you will enjoy a spectacular view of the Arashi Reef and the largest wreck in the Caribbean, the Antilla, a 400 foot German freighter destroyed in World WarII. This semi-submarine is an underwater observatory, which was originally used for research on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The vessel remains above sea level at all times, while its hull, five feet below the surface, provides spectacular viewing.
Departs from Holiday Inn Pier.Related to:
- Family Travel
Sail, Snorkel, Swim & Swing:
Offered daily 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. $50.00 per person.
The 85-foot teak schoonerJOLLY PIRATES will sail you to three great sites to swim or snorkel - Malmok Reefs and Boca Catalina offer waist-high snorkeling. At the wreck of the WWII Antilla the crew will take you on a magnificent tour of this sunken treasure.
BBQ Lunch, Open Bar, Gear and Rope Swing are all included.
Offered Sun, Tues. Wed. Thurs. and Sat. 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. $30.00 per person.
Shorter version of morning cruise with open bar, gear and rope swing.
Offered on Mondays and Fridays 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. $26.00 per person.
Open bar included.
Jolly Pirates depart from the MooMba Beach between the Holiday Inn and the Marriott Resort.
Hans and I watched as the Jolly Pirates set out and everyone looked to be having a wonderful time. We saw it at the Malmok Reefs, a beautiful spot to snorkel.Related to:
- Family Travel
Because Aruba is a windy island it is perfect for sports such as bodyboarding or surfing.
The currents to the North of the island are very strong and it is not advisable to partake of watersports there, but you will be sure to get great surf on Eagle Beach, which is consistently voted as one of the top beaches in the Caribbean.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
ALTO VISTA CHAPEL
This picturesque little chapel ALTO VISTA CHAPELsits high on a hill overlooking the sea. The winding road leading to it is lined with white crosses, used for the stations of the cross.
Built in 1852, this chapel sits on the site of Aruba's first Catholic Church, which was erected in 1750 by Spanish missionarey Domingo Antonio Silvestre.
It is small, yet beautiful and peaceful, and I was touched by its simplicity. Inside is a little altar with the Virgin and Child. A few folks had come in to light a candle. There isn't a lot of seating inside but there is also extra seating outside for when they perform a mass.Related to:
- Family Travel
Take The Island Safari Tour
We had actually booked a rental car to see the island, but after seeing how crazy the drivers here are, and how many tourists have gotten lost, we decided to cancel it, and take a tour instead. I called, and booked the "Island Safari" with ABC Islands tours, for the next day.
They have 4 different tours to choose from, a half day tour, a full day tour, a Baby Beach tour, and a private tour. My preferred tour, would've been the private tour, but it was too expensive, and we didn't have a large enough group, so we just took the full day "Island Safari" tour.
It cost over $100 per person, but it’s worth it, as it visits more, than other island tours. The price includes, transportation, lunch, refreshments, and snorkel gear.
They picked us up at our hotel at 7:45, and took us to their office, where they put everyone in jeeps. You can either have a guide drive the jeep, drive it yourself, or have another tourist drive. We went with the guide, but the other two groups had tourists driving. This can be requested through the phone, or upon arrival.
The tour is supposed to last from 8:30-5:00, but we got back a little later.
The first half of our tour stopped at California Lighthouse, Alto Vista Chapel, Wariruri Arch, Bushiribana Gold Smelter Ruins, Wishing Rocks, and Baby Bridge. As well as some scenic overlooks. We than went back to Noord for lunch.
On the second half of our tour, we stopped at Baby Beach for some snorkeling. Our guide than took us to see some wild goats and donkeys, before continuing on to Quadirikiri Cave. The final stop on our tour, was the Natural Pool. He again made a few extra stops at overlooks, and a car jumping track.
On the way back, our guide put us in a bus, and dropped everyone off at their hotel.
I have been on tours in other countries, and have been very disappointed. I expected this to be another lame tour, but it was anything but. Our guide Joal was amazing! He was friendly, funny, and very knowledgeable. He was crazy, but in a good way. He did a lot of off roading, crazy stunts, and took us to extra places that weren't even on the itinerary. He made the whole tour fun. I am the sort of person who researches everything before he goes, and I always find these "off the beaten path" places, where no other tourists go, and he took us to places, even I didn't know about, so we got to see the “real“ Aruba. It was better than I expected, and we had a great time! We got more than our $100 worth. I would book Joal for a private tour if possible. Best guide on the island.
The only thing I would complain about, is our guide didn't take us to Cunucu Arikok, and Balashi Ruins, two places I REALLY wanted to see. We were right next to Cununcu Arikok, so he could've at least squeezed that in. The tour was also a bit rushed, but I don't blame him. That was a lot to see in one day. There were some places though, where he could've given us less time, so we would have more time in other places, or see more stuff.
The racing track, was a waste of time. Our guide just wanted to show off. I would much rather have visited Cunucu Arikok.
Other than that, I cannot complain about this tour. It wasn't even a tour, it was an adventure!
Quadirikiri Cave, Bushiribana, and Natural Pool were my favorite.
Forget about renting a car! Take this tour instead. Trust me, you will see a lot more on this tour, than you will on your own. Plus there are some places you cannot take a rental car. It will not survive the journey.
A lot of people in our group, had rented cars, but returned them, and took this tour instead.
This is the best way to see the island. You will get to see the "real" Aruba. Not just the beaches, casinos, and hotels for which the island is known. This tour is a must! Even if you were planning to spend your entire holiday on the beach, take this tour. You will NOT be disappointed.
BEST TOUR EVER!!!!
If you are visiting the island on a cruise stop, you can take the half day tour.Related to:
"Dive" With the Seaworld Exploer
First you take an open boat ride, not too far out, into the sea. Another "special" boat meets you and puts out a walk between the two boats. Walk across and onto the Seaworld Explorer. Descend down ten steep steps into the hull of the Explorer, and have a (tiny) seat with 19 other passengers. You are now 5 feet below the surface of the sea.
A German freighter, the Antilla, sunk here in the 1940's. In the photo you can see what remains above the surface...and has made the perfect landing zone for Pelicans.
As time has gone by, beautiful coral heads have grown on the vessel, and thousands of tropical fish have made it their home. The Seaworld Explorer makes several trips around the wreck, giving you many opportunities to see.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
By the end of the tour, you've got sand in your hair and in your teeth, and it's totally worth it. Ride doubly or singly on these fun ATVs up and down the rugged terrain of this desert island. We made a number of stops at the "must sees" around the island. Highly recommended.Add to your Trip Planner
One of Nature's Works of Art
This is one of Aruba's most popular attractions, and the area is likely to be filled with tour buses any given time of day. Yyou can see why. The bridge is a formation of coral limestone cut out by years of pounding surf, and is one of the largest of these types of spans in the world. It stands some 23 feet above sea level and spans more than 100 feet. There are all kinds of photo ops from many angles, if you take the time to walk up and down, and around. There is no admission fee or set hours for visiting, and you'll find a few refreshment stands nearby open daily.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Probably Aruba's most well-known Must-See. After ATVing out to the bridge, we were surprised to see tour buses and loads of tourists. So it's not hard to get to - located on the north shore. The bridge itself is made out of solid coral and rises 25 feet above the sea, and you can walk across it.
There is a gift shop and small restaurant on-site (although if you're ATVing, I don't recommend buying any breakable gifts). Restroom facilities are also available (have change ready).
UPDATE: Aruba's Natural Bridge collapsed on Sept. 2, 2005! I'm not sure if there's going to be any "attraction" there anymore - other than the gift shop/snack shop, there wasn't much else to do or see, and that side of the island isn't suitable for swimming or water sports. :(Add to your Trip Planner
Lovely Desert Scenery: Arikok National Park
Aruba's National Park is Arikok, on the eastern part of the windward side of the island. Beautiful desert landscapes, rugged coastline, cactus, colorful birds, caves, turquoise lizards, wild goats and donkeys. My kind of place! Bring a jeep, a horse or an ATV and bring your hiking shoes too! We spent a lot of time looking for the Natural Pool, which is in the Park. Maps are not that detailed and we found a lot more roads than there were on any map we had! A lot of steep and bumpy dirt roads! But we had a lot of fun finding it and it was worth the effort! Hint: The Natural Pool is "Conchi" on the maps. Conchi is one of the only places you can swim on the windward side so bring your bathing suit. Other highlights are Quadirikiri cave, lit by natural skylights in two huge chambers (watch out for the bats!). A larger cave, known as The Tunnel of Love, is completely dark and also hot and stuffy. But I have to say the gentleman handing out flashlights at the gate is a fun guy. Spend a few minutes chatting - he's very funny!Related to:
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
The Peace Labyrinth sits on a bluff overlooking the beautiful blue water of the Caribbean Sea. It is designated as a place for "Silent and Respectful Contemplation". A marker has the message "May Peace Prevail On Earth" (see photo 2) in a different language on each of its sides.
Created stone by stone, "the Aruba labyrinth is built based on the Chartres Labyrinth. Its distinguishing features are; 11 circuits, the turns arranged in four quadrants, 85 lunation’s around the perimeter, and a 6-petal rosette in the center."
There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth. You just enter and follow the path. Walking the path is said to be one of the tools to enhance prayer, contemplation, meditation, and/or personal growth. It is a beautiful and peaceful walk.
For more information about the Aruba Peace Labyrinth, you can contact Grace Maduro at email@example.com.Add to your Trip Planner
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