Sightseeing in Aruba

Aruba is one of those vacation islands that is a wonderful treat if you’re just going to lie on the beach all day and enjoy the sun, sand and water. But beyond that there is so much to do in Aruba that you might be so busy you never get time to relax in the sand.

Arikok National Park

Near the center of Aruba is Arikok National Park which, together with the Coastal Protection Zone, takes up a fourth of the island. This protected area wasn’t established until 1997 and is designed to protect the flora, fauna and geology of this region. This beautiful park features hills created by volcanic lava, beautiful batholithic quartz diorite/tonalite, limestone rocks created by fossilized coral. In addition to the high hills there are grottos and caves to explore along with bays lined with sandy beaches and dunes. Aruba is not a tropical location, it’s actually quite arid with lots of cactus and birds and animals that have adapted to the unique weather conditions. One of the highlights of the Arikok National Park are the rock paintings by the Caqueito Indians. But you’ll also want to check out the more modern structures, the adobe homes or cunucus that have been restored for guests to tour. In addition there are a number of activities that are allowed in Arikok National Park such as mountain biking or traveling along the hiking trails.

Alto Vista Chapel The Alto Vista Chapel was built in 1952 on the exact site of the first catholic church of Aruba, which was built in 1750 by Domingo Antonio Silvestre. The little yellow chapel has its pews and Stations of the Cross outside the structure rather than inside and the chapel itself is a simple graceful structure. The original structure was abandoned in 1816 and it wasn’t until an attack on Aruba in 1816 that the citizens decided to build another church in this location.

Bushiribana Ruins

The Bushiribana Ruins look like a poorly constructed stone fence that is covered with graffiti but they have quite an unusual history. Originally Spanish explorers discovered the region and believed it contained gold, although that wasn’t really proved at the time. After a while pirates took over the area and built a pirate castle which is barely standing today. It wasn’t until 1824 that gold was finally discovered and in 1872 the Aruba Island Gold Mining Company build a smelting works at the ruins. The location is open to everyone at all times without any tour guides so if you want to get the full effect you’ll have to read up on the Bushiribana Ruins on your own.

California Lighthouse

The California Lighthouse in Aruba was named for the U.S. ship the California which sunk. The lighthouse itself isn’t particularly intriguing but the views offered by the light house and its perch are some of the best on the entire island and are a photo opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

De Oude Molen

De Oude Molen pays homage to the Dutch heritage of Aruba (Dutch is still the official language). This windmill was built in 1804 and brought to the island piece by piece in 1960. The windmill is an interesting attraction but the charming restaurant that shares the platform with the windmill is just as popular with tourists.

Fort Zoutman

The Oranjestad harbor on Aruba was often disturbed by pirates back in the 18th century so the Dutch built Fort Zoutman in 1796 to protect their shores. This is the island’s oldest example of Dutch architecture and gives visitors a good look at structures of the era. In addition to Fort Zoutman the area built Willem III Tower in 1867 which is still available for tourists to view today. The site has served many functions throughout the years with a broad range of purposes from aloe garden to jail. Since then both structures have been restored and today a few prehistoric artifacts and exhibits from the Dutch colonial period are on display.

Natural Pool

Natural Pool-joyosity451Creative Commons License Photo credit: joyosity

Natural Pool

Natural Pool in Aruba is also called conchi and Cura di Tortuga. Some people think of it as a secret or hidden but that’s hardly the case when tours regularly make a daily stop at the pool. But if you happen to be at the pool when no one is around it can definitely feel like a hidden paradise. The pool has been carved out over years by the surf and now it’s perfectly carved so visitors can jump off the rocks high above into the saltwater pool below.

Natural Bridge

Not quite the wonder it once was, Aruba’s Natural Bridge collapsed in 2005 but still draws visitors every day. Made of coral limestone, the bridge was created by years of pounding surf beating at the structure beneath. It once stood about 23 feet above sea level and spanned more than 100 feet. Back before the collapse the bridge was the largest of seven natural bridges on the island.


Oranjestad is the capital of Aruba but it’s sometimes referred to as Playa, which can be a bit confusing. The town was built around Fort Zoutman in 1796 and grew as the region became more popular. The city is an exciting place to visit for its shopping centers, incredible restaurants and the ever popular nightlight that Aruba is known for.

Quadiriki Caves

The Quadirki Caves feature Arawak petroglyphs, these cave drawings are featured elsewhere on the island but there are two chambers in these particular caves that allow filtered light in so you can take some photographs. If you’re not squeamish then travel along the 100 foot tunnel, which is filled with bats. In addition to Quadiriki Caves there is also the Fontein Cave which is the only one with drawings on the ceilings as well as the walls and gives visitors a greater look at the history of the island. But while you’re busy sightseeing in Aruba, make sure you take time to visit the beaches, they are well known for their stretches of powder smooth white sand kissed by the sea. The island is divided into East and West sides, the west side has more beaches and is your best bet for a relaxing day on the sun with the sand and the surf of Aruba.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Serge Melki