Aruba’s iconic landmark that's been alerting ships for over a century about reef dangers on the northeast coast has been entirely restored, and is now open to the public.
Restoration was a lengthy process; it took a year to patch the crumbling walls plagued with wall cancer due to the salty sea air and to repair the 123 steps of the spiral staircase leading up to the summit. But now that it’s done, the California Lighthouse shines brighter than ever as a landmark beacon of Aruban history. And now you can climb to the top!
One hundred-year anniversary
The lighthouse was designed by a French architect in 1910 and then constructed between the years 1914–1916. It was named the California Lighthouse after a ship that had wrecked off the coast many years before. The craft was a wooden merchant ship traveling from Liverpool to Central America that got too close to the rocks (since there was no lighthouse to warn it). It sank at midnight on September 23, 1891. Experienced divers can still explore some of its wreck there today.
It’s interesting to note that for many years, due to the similarity in name, legend had it that the ship that sunk was the same one that ignored the Titanic’s distress calls. It was not. That ship was called the SS Californian. The ship that sunk off Aruba was called the SS California, which the lighthouse was named after. So it’s easy to see how that rumor might have started. But the Californian met its fate in the Mediterranean when it was torpedoed by a German sub in World War I – half a world away!
Work began in 2015 to restore the lighthouse and open it to visitors in time to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2016. The Monumentenbureau, National Restauratiefonds Netherlands and the Aruba Bank funded the renovations, and by August 2016 it was reopened and christened an officially preserved national monument.
Take a tour – get free dessert!
Today, the lighthouse offers guided tours where you can learn about its history and take in surreal panoramic views from the top. Your admission is also good for a free dessert at Faro Blanco Restaurant right next door! The restaurant building was once the original home of the lighthouse keeper. Simply show your admission ticket when you order a main course and dessert will be on the house.
You can also book a private VIP tour (max. eight people) where you will have the lighthouse all to yourself, and there are private sunset and moonlight tours available as well. These private tours have become very popular for staging surprise proposals and the lighthouse is an ideal location to take exceptional wedding photographs! However you plan to visit, you will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views found nowhere else on the island. Your photos and videos will make perfect souvenirs that are uniquely Aruban as well.
The California Lighthouse sometimes dons different colors at night to reflect special occasions such as it did on World Autism Awareness Day when it lit up all in blue as a tribute. Local companies are finding it a wonderful place to hold promotional events like the creative launch of Balashi’s HopiBon beer! See video here: https://www.facebook.com/hopibonbeer/.
To find out when there might be room at the top for you, visit the California Lighthouse website for all the information on tour times, costs, and bookings: arubalighthouse.com