Aruba Inside Out

Alto Vista Chapel
Alto Vista Chapel

Take the road less traveled, or go off-road entirely to discover Aruba’s unique interior, offbeat activities, soul-soothing secret spots, phenomenal natural wonders, and topsy-turvy topography.

Discover the "outback"
Though the beaches are world-­renowned, you might be surprised to find Aruba's interior is nothing like your typical tropical island. The desert-like cunucu (countryside) holds a stark, wild, and haunting beauty buoyed by an underlying current of hidden life that defies des­cription. A good way to begin is to take a thrilling helicopter tour to get your bearings and afford you a whole new perspective of the island.

Before heading out onto the land, there’s an important pit stop you should make. Opened in 2010, Arikok Park Visitor Center provides a glimpse of what’s to come and helps you decide where and how you want to explore the massive protected national park that covers over one-fifth of the island. Here you can find out all about the local flora and fauna, meet some of the indigenous animals you might encounter, and view entertaining movies about the park’s outstanding natural attractions. Everything about this center was designed with eco-preservation in mind – from the natural wind and water cooling system – to souvenirs made from recycled and biodegradable materials. There’s also a snack shop and free maps of the trails on-site. Arikok’s expert rangers can provide guided hiking adventures, or if you’d prefer to explore the park after dark, moonlight tours are also available.

Go subterranean spelunking
Secreted along the windward coast are some cool caves beckoning explorers to experience the marvels of glistening stalagmites and stalactites. The Guadirikiri Caves are famous for their two sky-lit cham­bers imbued with legends of enduring love, and the Fontein Cave sparks the imagination to ponder what the island’s first inhabitants were trying to convey through their ancient hieroglyphics. Due to its heart shaped entrance, the Huliba Cave is known as the Tunnel of Love, and all three subterranean attractions are home to nests of harmless, friendly bats.

Mount HooibergBecome a rock star
The Flintstones would be right at home at the Bedrock-like boulder communities of Casibari and Ayo that seem to appear out of nowhere. Steps and walkways have been cut into and through the massive diorite rock formations for fun exploration. Or if you’re really in a climbing mode, try your legs on the 500-plus steps up to the top of Mount Hooiberg that locals call the haystack. More rocky wonders abound on the wild north coast where restless seas crash against craggy contours.

Go for the gold!
Remnants of Aruba’s ancient gold mines still stand in the areas of Bushiribana and Balashi, and if you visit, keep your eyes peeled for things that glitter, you just never know! For a different kind of gold, seek out the cold golden amber of Aruba’s own Balashi beer with a tour of their factory and hoist a few at their lovely beer garden terrace. Balashi is the only beer in the world made from desalinized salt water and was named after its golden color reminiscent of the treasure found in the mines of the same name.

Secret soul-soothing spots
Discover the churning hot-tub-like sea cauldron locals call conchi. This gorgeous natural pool is accessible only by jeep or horseback with superb snorkeling and unique swimming. If you’re looking for laid-back local spots, take a trip to the sleepy town of Savaneta for an old pirate haunt called Zeerovers where the island’s best fishermen hang out, or stop by San Nicolas for Baby Beach’s unparalleled calming effect. Serene kayaking tours of the mangroves in this area are possible. Speaking of beaches, the out of the way swaths of sand along the north coast are often deliciously deserted. Refresh your spirit at Aruba’s own version of Lourdes Grotto, or visit Alto Vista’s lovely chapel for a beautiful view. These are all places where you can truly re-learn to relax.

Exploration options
There are many tour operators that can provide you with everything from air-conditioned bus tours to jeeps safaris, quad racers, ATVs, and even monster-truck outings! There are also many hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding outfits to help you explore. Please refer to our activities listing on pages 96 and 98 or ask your hotel information desk for all the exciting options to discover Aruba from the inside... out!