Aruba may be a small island, only 20 miles
long by 6 miles wide, but it has a wealth of places of interest enhanced by a topography
and vegetation that are unusual for a Caribbean island.
Arubas unique geology has provided it with several caves that are fantastic
places to visit. The most popular cave is known as the Fontein Cave on the
northeastern coast and its popularity arises in part because on the ceilings are ancient
drawings done by the early Arawak Indian settlers of the island. Another of the caves is
the Guadirikiri Cave, which is slightly to the east of Fontein Cave and is famous
for its two chambers that are illuminated by the sunlight streaming through holes in the
roof. As you delve deeper into this 100 foot cave you encounter hundreds of harmless bats.
The Huliba Cave, which is east of the Guadirikiri Cave, extends for 300 feet and
lovers enjoy visiting this cave because of the heart shaped entrance that has given this
cave the nickname "Tunnel of Love".
Among the historic places of interest in Aruba are the remnants of gold mines. In fact
it was legends of gold that gave Aruba its name. During the 15th and 16th
centuries there were rumors of treasure islands and in one of these legends there was a
treasure island named "Oro Ruba" which translated means red gold and gave rise
to the name Aruba. Although the legends of gold existed from the 15th century
it was no until the 19th century that gold was discovered in Aruba. At the
midpoint of the island on the northern coast, not far from the Natural Bridge, lies the Bushiribana
Gold Mill Ruins. This mill was used to process the ore that was brought from mines in
the nearby hills. Near to the mill is also the remnants of an old pirate castle from the
15th century. Another Gold Mill that you can visit in Aruba is the Balashi
Gold Mill which is at the tip of the Spanish Lagoon on the southern coast.
The Caribbean is known for beaches but not known for sand dunes, however Aruba is the
exception, making the Dunes at Hudishibana one of the places of interest on Aruba.
On the northwestern tip of the island are rolling white sand dunes colored with patches of
green and brown that present a spectacular vista. Even more spectacular are the sunsets in
this area. Popularly called the California Dunes after the ship wreck of the California,
the area also has an old stone lighthouse.
Museums are always among a visitors list of places of interest and Aruba has
several museums that are interesting places to visit. The Aruba Historical Museum
is located at Fort Zoutman and Willem III Tower. This former Dutch fortress is the oldest
building on the island. The museum contains artifacts from the Spanish and Dutch colonial
periods. The Aruba Archaeological Museum is found on Zoutmanstraat in Oranjestad.
Here pottery remnants and other artifacts from the original Amerindian inhabitants can be
viewed. Coin collectors will enjoy the Aruba Numismatic Museum at Zuidstraat in
Oranjestad which feature 30,000 coins from around the world.
There are several nature sanctuaries on Aruba. In the 16th century the
Spaniards introduced donkeys to Aruba as a means of transport. With the advent of motor
vehicles the donkeys were turned loose to roam wild and they have survived in bands across
the island. The Donkey Sanctuary was established to care for some of the remaining
free range donkeys. The Donkey
Sanctuary is located along the road to the Natural Bridge
near the Ayo Rock formations. Over 80 species of migratory birds visit Aruba, including
herons, egrets, gulls, skimmers, coots, cormorants and ducks. The Bubali Bird Sanctuary
is a great location for seeing these migratory birds as here amid the lush vegetation
surrounding two ponds, these birds rest and breed. There is an observation tower to allow
you to get a good view of the birds. Located along the road leading to the Natural Bridge
is the Aruba Ostrich Farm. Here amid Arubas rugged landscape African
ostriches and Australian emus find the perfect home. You can take the guided tour and
learn about these wonderful birds. Located at Palm Beach is a place that gives you the
opportunity to walk among beautiful tropical landscaped gardens with exotic
flowers and pools of Japanese fish in a tranquil atmosphere while hundreds of
breathtaking butterflies from all over the world fly freely around. Known as the Butterfly
Farm, you get to learn the life cycle of these fascinating creatures from egg to
caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly while having some rare photo opportunities.
The best location to see the real natural beauty of Aruba is in Arikok National Park,
which lies in the hilly northeast section of the island. The park consists of rolling
hills covered with thorn-scrub vegetation. The hill country of Arikok offers breathtaking
views of the island, from the urban areas and resorts to the luscious green Caribbean. The
park surrounds Mount Arikok and features some of the oldest Arawak drawings as well as
trails that showcase the variety of plants and birds.
One of the most visited churches in Aruba is the historic and picturesque Chapel of
Alto Vista. Sitting on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean Sea this chapel which was
built in colonial times by the Indians and the Spanish simply creates tranquility around
it. The Santa Ana Catholic Church which is located just outside Oranjestad was
first built in 1776 and has a fantastic handcrafted altarpiece. The Protestant Church
is an elegant building with a large tower and wooden shutters.
Arubas topography has created several places of interest because of the natural
formations that have emerged. The largest and most well known of these, on the east coast
of the island, was called the Natural Bridge and was created by the pounding of the
surf against the coral to create a bridge across the sea. In 2005, this bridge collapsed
but there is still another natural bridge to the side of the original Natural Bridge.
These natural archways also exist in other parts of the island and can be seen at
Warriruri and at Black Stone Beach. Just north of Hooiberg, there is a strange geological
formation of large boulders that sometimes looks as if a giant hand had simply dumped them
on the spot. This collection of diorite boulders is called Casibari. There is a
similar collection of boulders known as the Ayo Rock Formations not far away.
To learn more about Aruba, visit our other Aruba Pages.