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Posted On 04/17/2019 16:57:59
Trip Date 02/24/2019
Destinations | Cruises | Aruba | Oranjestad | Arikok National Park | How to Spend One Day in Aruba | What to Do in Aruba | Aruba Shore Excursions | DIY Touring in Aruba
Before leaving home for our cruise, we did some research to try to decide how to spend one day in Aruba. I came across
information about Arikok National Park and we agreed to rent a car so we could drive and explore. Spending a day
hiking and enjoying the natural scenery would give us an opportunity to do something a little different than in most other
Caribbean ports. Although we altered our plan to work in some additional sites that we learned about, we had a great day
of DIY touring in Aruba.
If you are planning a cruise which spends a port day in Oranjestad and are wondering how to spend one day in
Aruba, check out this post for an idea. While not your typical shore excursion, the park has viewpoints as well as historical
and geological sites. As you can easily spend a full day hiking, exploring and even relaxing at a beach, the park is a great
answer to the "what to do in Aruba" question!
Car Rental in Oranjestad, Aruba
With our original intent to spend the day in Aruba's national park in mind, we contacted several rental car companies.
Responses varied from already being fully booked to not having locations near the port (and of course, some never
responded at all). We pre-arranged a one-day rental car with Amigo Rent-A-Car and were happy with both the price and service.
Just as promised, an Amigo representative met us at 8:15 AM right across the street from the port near the I Love
Aruba store and sign. He drove us a short distance to the rental car agency where we completed the necessary
paperwork (including a credit card hold for vehicle damage) and inspected the car. With maps in hand, we were ready to
go before 9:00 AM.
Meeting Point for Amigo Rent-A-Car
Returning the car was even easier. Upon arriving at the Amigo offices, our car was inspected and the credit card
authorization amount was adjusted to reflect no damage to the car. As return transportation was also included, we rode
back to the port and had plenty of time to spare before our all aboard time.
Amigo Rental Car on Aruba
Renting the car for a full day came at a price tag of $54.06 (including insurance) plus the $13.26 that we spent at a nearby
gas station for fuel. We rented a compact car, which suited us fine for the day. Should we return to the island with the
intent of spending more time exploring the national park, we would strongly consider renting a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Introduction to Arikok National Park
With nearly 8,000 total acres, Arikok National Park is
located in northeastern Aruba. Of the island's total land mass, 18% falls within the boundaries of the national
park. Time spent exploring the park gives visitors a glimpse into Caribbean culture, history and geology while being
surrounded by a backdrop of awe-inspiring scenery.
Entering Arikok National Park
From the island's two tallest hills, Sero Jamanota and Sero Arikok, towering within the park to the coastal
bays in the Northern Conservation Zone, Aruba's extreme elevations can be found at Arikok National Park.
Whether you decide to hike, swim, climb, drive or ride a horse, you can find views of desert-like landscapes, beautiful white
sands, blue waves crashing into the shoreline and even rock paintings left by Indians a thousand years ago. In addition to
the tremendous variety of natural vegetation in the park, you're likely to encounter some animal species as well!
After paying the $11.00 USD entrance fee for the park, each visitor is issued a wristband which must be worn throughout
their visit. The main roads within the park are nicely paved, but drive slowly and keep your eyes open for the frequent
rocky dips. Along with giving drivers of low clearance cars some concern about bottoming out, these dips definitely
work to slow down traffic!
Drive slowly in Arikok National Park!
7 Sites to See at Arikok National Park WITHOUT a 4 WD Vehicle
Without a four-wheel drive vehicle, we were able to get a taste of the more easily accessible areas within Arikok National
Park in about 2 1/2 hours. While we did a limited amount of hiking, since we spent almost four hours finding some of
Aruba's other treasures, we didn't have time for any of the longer hikes within the park.
1. Visitor Center
In addition to being the main entrance to the park where visitors can exchange their entrance fee for a wrist band, the
Visitor Center is full of exhibits where you can learn more about the park. You'll also find a coffee shop offering
refreshments to make your visit even more enjoyable!
2. Geological Wall
Located near the Visitor Center you'll see a Geological Wall along with signage describing the wall. It is estimated
that the island of Aruba was formed following volcanic activity which occurred between 90 and 95 million years ago. To
those with a trained eye, the Geological Wall displays some of the deformation process (changes to the surface of a
volcanic landscape) forming today's Aruba.
Geological Wall at Arikok National Park
3. Boca Prins
The only paved road within Arikok National Park goes the distance from the Welcome Center to the Dunes of Boca
Prins and Boca Prins. It's not a long distance, but you must take it slowly as you cross over the numerous
speed dips. As you walk toward the narrow bay, you'll see the white sandy beach leading to the beautiful blue water.
Boca Prins at Arikok National Park
A wooden staircase will take you from the rocky cliff down to the shoreline for a closer look at the water as well as a view
of the cliffs from below.
Although there are locations in the park for swimming, Boca Prins is not one of them. Due to the strong current, swimming
is prohibited in this area.
Currents at Boca Prins
Scott at the Cliffs of Boca Prins
4. Fontein Cave
While the paved road ends, it is possible to reach Fontein Cave via car by driving on a gravel road. If you only
want to visit one cave, this was our favorite! During our visit, Park Ranger Danny was stationed at the cave
entrance. Danny led us on a small group tour inside during which he shared some interesting facts about the limestone
Fontein Cave at Arikok National Park
We were surprised to learn that the Indian Pictographs that we saw inside are between 800 and 1100 years old.
Indian Pictographs inside Fontein Cave
Since the cave closes at 3:30 PM (earlier than the park), if you want a chance to see this ancient artwork, be sure to plan
Located a short walk beyond the parking area for the cave is a spring fed pond home to hundreds of little fish. You'll be
able to confirm that you are nearing the pond when you begin to hear lots of giggling, "eeking" and laughing. Included in
the park entrance fee is a fish pedicure, so don't miss out.
Lots of Folks enjoying a Fish Pedicure
I enjoyed a similar experience in Singapore nearly 8 years ago and have talked about it every since. This time I was even
able to talk Scott into joining in on the fun.
Scott enjoying a Fish Pedicure
It's definitely an interesting sensation as the fish exfoliate your feet by nibbling away at all of the dry, flaky skin that they
Fish Pedicure at Arikok National Park
5. Quadirikiri Cave
Further down the gravel road in the direction of the park exit leading to San Nicolas, you'll find a parking area for
another cave. Also a limestone cave, you'll need to climb a series of uneven stone steps to enter Quadirikiri Cave.
You are sure to see at least a few bats during your time inside this cave, however if you don't disturb them, they'll leave
you alone as well.
Quadirikiri Cave at Arikok National Park
In addition to being a larger cave, the holes in the ceiling give Quadirikiri Cave a totally different atmosphere.
There's Daylight inside Quadirikiri Cave
A Ray of Sun Shines in Quadirikiri Cave
Walking further inside, you can experience the differences between the inside chambers.
Chambers of Quadirikiri Cave
It's Like Walking into a Whale's Throat!
Quadirikiri Cave also closes at 3:30 PM, so make sure you arrive at the cave no later than 3:15 PM so you have some time
Just to the left of the cave, there is a small lookout which also requires some stair climbing to reach the viewpoint. Make
sure to be on the lookout for animals moving about in the distance. We saw a decent sized tribe of goats wandering about
in the area.
Watch for Goats at Arikok National Park
6. Vader Piet
Although technically not inside the park, the wind-farm is easily spotted. The wind turbines stand just outside of the park
along the road to the San Nicolas exit.
Wind Turbine near Arikok National Park
7. Tunnel of Love Cave
If you are at all like me and are curious about off the beaten path locations, you may be interested in trying your luck at
finding the entrance to the Tunnel of Love Cave. While exploring the park in the maps.me app, we spotted
a short gravel road leading toward the cave just before the exit to the park. Since the cave was not listed in any printed
information about the park, I talked Scott into exploring the area. Unfortunately the gate at cave's entrance was locked
upon our arrival, but we could see a little way inside!
Tunnel of Love Cave at Arikok National Park
3 Sites I Want to See at Arikok National Park WITH a 4 WD Vehicle
Known locally by the name Turtle Pond, park visitors can swim in this natural pool protected from the rough seas
by the surrounding lava stone.
2. Dos Playa
If we happen to return during nesting season, I'd welcome the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the turtles that nest at the
pair of beaches called Dos Playa.
3. Sero Arikok or Sero Jamanota
Although it is possible to reach the base of Arikok Hill or Jamanota Hill without a 4 WD vehicle, we didn't
want to chance either with our rental car. A climb to the top of these hills reportedly provides hikers with awesome
Tips for Visiting Arikok National Park
Based on our experience, here's a few tips to help with planning a visit to Aruba's national park:
Although not required, it is highly recommended that you reserve a four-wheel drive vehicle for your visit to the park.
Traversing across the gravel roads (and even the "speed dips") will be easier. Plus, you'll certainly be happy that you won't
have to worry about accessing the places most appealing to you.
Make sure to request a map of the park when you pay your entrance fee. (Installing the free maps.me app to
your smartphone will also be helpful for getting to and driving within the park. Once you download the map of Aruba in the
app, no data service is required to use the navigation feature within the app.)
Make sure to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat and sunscreen.
Stay hydrated! Bring plenty of drinking water along. If you do decide to hike, make sure to carry your water along
with you as the island is arid.
Even if you don't plan on hiking, wear comfortable shoes as some walking is required to see most of the sites within
Make sure to allow plenty of time for your return trip back to the port area. In addition to returning your car, you'll
need to replenish the fuel that you used and you may have to wait for transportation from the rental car agency to the
Free Attractions in Aruba
There's so much more to see and do in Aruba, and much of it can be done with no cost - all you need is access to a car
with a partial tank of fuel. Check back in the coming days for our post, 13 Free Attractions in Aruba - All You Need is a
Rental Car!. Although we intended on spending a full day at the park, we learned about these other "must see's" on
the island, so we made multiple stops before even making it to Arikok National Park.
If you've already had the opportunity to visit Aruba by cruise ship, what has been your favorite experience on the island?
In order to help others plan a similar port day, please share any hints (or links to a blog post) in the comments section
below so that someone else can have a head start planning.
Created On 04/17/2019 00:48:23
Updated On 04/17/2019 11:58:00
Scheduled On 04/17/2019 11:57:59
Posted On 04/17/2019 16:57:59
Last Editor Stacy
Location Arikok National Park, Aruba, Aruba