When you think of Aruba, you think of honeymooners and people just living the resort life. I was one of them and honestly wasn’t super keen on visiting Aruba. It looked beautiful, but laying on beach pounding alcohol really isn’t my scene. After doing some research and speaking to a mutual connection who lived there, I was informed that Aruba has a lot to offer outside the resorts. The tiny island of Aruba has a wild side that was calling my name.
Off Road Around Aruba
A full island trip around Aruba is a must. The island is about twenty miles in length and about six across, which makes it easily a great day road trip adventure. There is a reason why many locals drive jeeps or something similar, half of Aruba is unpaved roads and desert landscape. The western side hosts resorts and cities, while the eastern side is “untouched” but has off-road paths that go from north to south sides of the island. Make sure to rent a 4×4 vehicle or something like an ATV, as it will be needed for all the fun. DON’T FORGET YOUR DUST MASK.
We started our self-guided tour at the California Lighthouse, which is located the very northern tip of Aruba. Here you can pay $5 and climb to the top of the lighthouse overlooking Aruba and the Caribbean. You will be greeted by locals with pop-up stands and a rather touristy restaurant around the corner.
From the lighthouse is an off-road path that will take you all the way down the western side of Aruba. It’s easy to miss if you’re not paying attention and a GPS will definitely not guide you down here. However, you will see on Google Maps an unmarked road that goes down to San Nicholas. This is where the real roadtrip around Aruba starts.
Alto Vista Chapel
We made our way down to Alto Vista Chapel from the lighthouse. Here we started racing around and doing doughnuts. It’s nothing but dirt paths along sandy beaches. DO NOT TAKE YOUR VEHICLE ONTO THE WHITE SANDS. Also, be careful because there is a ton of coral along the coastline that can puncture your tires. Alto Vista Chapel is the first Catholic church that was built in Aruba. The tiny, picturesque chapel is what postcards are made of.
Baby Natural Bridge
We headed back down the beach trail following the coastline south from the chapel. The beach was mostly deserted with scarce proof humans have been there. Occasionally, we would see shack structures built along the coastline. Our next stop was the Baby Natural Bridge that we could drive right up to. It’s a miniature version of the popular Natural bridge about two miles south.
Bushiribana Gold Smelter and Small Natural Pool
After taking a quick stop and exploring the Baby Natural Bridge, we went to the Bushiribana Ruins. The Bushiribana Ruins are the remains of the once gold smelter. Perfect for a quick stop to have a beer from one of the trucks. Honestly, not too much here as most have collapsed by now.
After having a beer, we made our way to take a break from the heat in the small natural pool around the corner. We walked towards the beach and found the small wooden latter that took us down into the pool. The pool itself is tiny but is not very well known to the public. If no cruise ships are in town, it will be pretty isolated. This was just what we needed to cool down.
The most accessible and largest tourist attraction on the west coast of Aruba is the Natural Bridge. We made our way here after taking a dip. We parked in the parking lot and had ice cream in the shop. You can get some pictures of the bridge but you can’t get anywhere near it. I didn’t find it very impressive.
Natural Pool and Arikok National Park
We made our way Arikok National Park from the Natural Bridge. I was very excited to trek down to the Natural Pool, which was on my must-do list. The way down to the natural bridge is pretty rough and brutal. We were nervous we were going to pop a tire or break an axle, but all was smooth sailing.
The pool is a great place to relax for a bit. There is an upper-level section that is shallow you can sit in as waves crash over the rocks on to you. We jumped off this ledge into the rock pool that is much deeper. There aren’t too many accessible sitting spots here, so just keep that in mind. All the surrounding rocks are pretty jagged so be careful not to cut yourself.
After spending some time swimming around the pool, we made our way to our final destination, Baby Beach. We drove through a huge farm on the way and Aruba’s prison. We made our way to the cove that is named Baby beach. Here you can find more locals than tourists enjoying the Caribean water. A perfect spot for snorkeling which you can rent equipment along with chairs and lockers. It was the perfect place to end the Aruba road trip.