Off-roading Adventure at Arikok National Park- Santa Cruz, Aruba

Picture it- You, a jeep wrangler, top down in 80 degree weather and nothing but open road ahead of you. This wasn't just any road trip. Off-roading through Arikok Park is an exhilarating, awe-inspiring journey of a lifetime.  Not to mention 100’s of Instagram-worthy photo opts through a vast array of landscapes.  Mountainous terrain, crashing waves, rolling hills of desert and cactus- Aruba's landscape is even more beautiful in-person than the photos you’ll find in a travel magazine. 

If you are the adventurous type, you’ll want to book a jeep for this excursion a few weeks in advance of your trip.  There are a ton of other thrill-seekers like you, so the jeep rentals book quickly.  There are also quite a few tour bus options if you prefer to just sit back and enjoy ride.  A portion of the terrain is only a 4x4 zone, so if you go with choice A and rent the jeep, make sure you pull the top down,  buckle up and get ready for one hell of a ride!

We started our off-roading adventure early taking the route past the California Lighthouse along Aruba’s east coast.  The rugged coastline promises such remote, beautiful scenery you’ll find yourself overwhelmed by all the photographs you’ll want to stop and take along the way.  Aside from random pit spots to soak in the views, our first main landmark prior to reaching Arikok National Park was the Natural Bridge.  Although the bridge itself no longer exists,it is still a site you want check out during your expedition.

As we proceeded on toward the park we chose the Baby Bridge off-roading experience which is not a route for the faint-hearted.  If you’re ready to channel your more daring alter-ego and truly embrace a real adrenaline rush from off-roading then definitely take this route.  But as with anything always remember safety first and don’t ride alone!  Even on this more remote route, you will still see dirt tracks for the paths you should take.  But having a map handy is definitely important as there are not many signs to point you in the right direction.

We took Baby Bridge to the main road where we passed through Donkey Sanctuary.  And yes, you will see a ton of donkeys everywhere.  There will be signs pointing toward the Shete Entrance of Arikok National Park taking you to Conchi  (The Natural Pool).  There is an $11 per person fee to enter the park.  The drive to Conchi only allows 4x4 vehicles. You can hike there but it may be a bit challenging in 80 degree weather. 

Conchi is breath-taking and looks like paradise.  The pool is enclosed by massive rocks with both shallow and deep sections.  Bring your snorkel gear; there will be tons of harmless, exotic fish swimming around you.  We stayed there for about an hour swimming in the pool, but easily could have stayed longer if there weren't more to explore on our road-trip.

Our next stop was spelunking the coastline caves.  Fontein Cave closes after 3:30 pm which is important to note early on which we made the mistake of not doing.  Time only permitted for us to check out the Quadirikiri Cave a little after 3:30 pm which didn't close at a certain time.  The cave itself is not too large with a number of roof-holes, allowing light to pour in.  This ends up being very ideal, since you are not allowed to use a flashlight in the cave which will disturb the bats.

This was our last excursion of the day.  Arikok National Park is a road-warrior’s dream.  The off-roading experience is nothing like we've ever experienced back home in the Northeast U.S.  This was easily the number one highlight of our trip to Aruba.  Depending on the adventure you take, be it tour bus or jeep, this is one expedition we highly recommend you take during you Aruba vacation.

Travel the East ©
Kristy Albano & Matt Pickering                                                      
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