Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

Best Hiking Trails in Aruba

Arikok Aruba park
Aruba hiking has a lot in common with the southwest U.S. Credit: Wikimedia

Hiking in Aruba has more in common with the southwestern U.S. than anywhere else in the Caribbean because of the desert-like landscape.

This arid island, one of the driest places in the region, has an interior landscape filled with cacti, boulders, jagged terrain, Indian ruins and writings, abandoned gold mines, eerie caves and other natural attractions.

The best time for hiking in Aruba takes place in the early morning to avoid the hot sun and lack of any shade. It is especially true in the summer when average daytime highs can exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 32 Celsius.

Strong trade winds pound the coastline, but they struggle to reach the interior. So don’t count on a cooling breeze, either.

Aruba is a hiking destination that requires a good hat, sunblock and plenty of water. People who use the trails with ATVs, horses and jeeps should follow the same advice.

Arikok National Park

Visitors will find the best place for hiking in the 7,900-acre Arikok National Park. It offers 29 miles of trails, covers 20 percent of the island and provides the majority of the attractions mentioned above.

Most people who are visiting Aruba stay in resorts and hotels on the west coast of the island. They will take Route 7 southeast to the San Fuego entrance of the park. Just inside the park is the visitor center, which has maps and other information.

Hikers can park at the visitor center and reach 20 possible destinations from that point. They also can drive on a paved road along the “Northern Loop” or a gravel road on the “Southern Loop” to get closer to each point. The destinations, which are numbered on the map to the right, are:

Aruba hiking map
White lines represent Arikok hiking trails. Credit: Arikok National Park
  1. Daimari beach and bay
  2. Moro
  3. Natural Pool, 3.5 miles
  4. Dos Playa beach
  5. Rooi Tambu
  6. Boca Prins beach, 2.8 miles
  7. Dunes of Boca Prins
  8. Plantage Prins ruins
  9. Fontein Cave, 3.0 miles
  10. Sero Cabai hill
  11. Miralamar
  12. Visitor Center
  13. Hofi Shon Shoco
  14. Sero Arikok hill
  15. Cunucu Arikok rock paintings
  16. Guadirikiri Cave, 4.0 miles
  17. Vader Piet wind farm, 5.2 miles
  18. Rooi Prins dry river beds
  19. Sero Jamanota hill
  20. Masiduri

The best known attraction on the list is the Natural Pool, which is a pool of seawater fed by pounding waves that splash over the surrounding enclosure of boulders.

Several other vantage points on the island provide some opportunities for much shorter hikes.

Hooiberg Mountain is actually a hill that is the second tallest in Aruba. It is about halfway between Oranjestad and the Arikok visitor center along Route 7.

Hooiberg has a trail that starts on the northeast side and winds up to the top along some rugged, rock-strewn terrain.

Because of its location in the center of the island, it provides a good view of the surrounding area. When we went to the top on a clear day, we saw the coast of Venezuela in the distance.

The Baby Bridge and the remains of the Natural Bridge—what had been Aruba’s most famous natural attraction before it collapsed—are located near Andicuri Beach and Bay.

Although paved roads separately reach Baby Bridge and Andicuri Beach, there is no connecting paved road along the coast between the two. So visitors can take a short hike to see both. A somewhat longer walk of less than a mile connects Andicuri Beach with Daimari Beach to the south.

California Dunes

Most of the hiking in Aruba is in Arikok National Park, and so most of it is along desert landscape. But hikers also have an option to hike on dunes along the Aruba coast.

The California Dunes and Lighthouse on the northern tip of the island is another somewhat popular attraction. The dunes present some unstructured hiking—meaning there are no trails but plenty of wandering to do.

Anyone who prefers this option and is staying on Palm Beach will have a four-mile drive north to the northern tip of the island. Cruise visitors who take an island tour as a guided shore excursion will probably visit the lighthouse and may have time for a brief hike.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
November 26, 2021

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