Last updated on July 13th, 2022
On the beautiful island of Aruba, you can find Arikok National Park, a large protected area that covers almost 20% of the entire island. Arikok National Park, which can be found on the northeastern side of Aruba, consists of everything from rugged coastline to rolling desert hills. Visiting Arikok National Park in Aruba is an excellent way to experience some of the most naturally beautiful and striking areas on the entire island. This Ultimate Guide to Arikok National Park, Aruba highlights the top activities and sights that the national park has to offer.
About Arikok National Park
The idea for a national park in Aruba first came to fruition in the 1960s. It wasn’t until the 1990s that actual plans were created, and the park was officially established in 2000, making it a fairly new national park. The purpose of the park was to protect certain natural areas of Aruba and educate visitors on their historical and cultural significance.
Throughout Arikok National Park you’ll find native plants, such as various species of cacti and flowers, and animals, like the Aruban parakeet and Aruban rattlesnake. The national park is also home to amazing sights like lava beds, caves, and rock paintings from the native Caquetio people.
What is Arikok National Park Known for and is it Worth Visiting?
Arikok National Park is known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and being home to a wide variety of protected flora and fauna. Arikok National Park in Aruba is definitely worth visiting if you love exploring the outdoors, learning about history, or capturing some amazing photos.
Located just about a 30-minute drive from the capital city of Oranjestad, Arikok National Park is a very easy destination to visit for a few hours or a full day.
What to Do in Arikok National Park, Aruba
Despite its relatively small size of just over 34 square kilometres (or 7907 acres), there is a lot to see and do at Arikok National Park. When deciding what to do in Arikok National Park, consider your personal interests. Do you want to explore some caves, or do you prefer to stay above ground? Do you love the water and coastline, or want to venture into the desert for a change of scenery? Whatever your preferences, Arikok National Park truly has something for everyone to enjoy.
Here are some ideas of what to do in Arikok National Park:
Conchi Natural Pool
One of the top attractions in Arikok National Park, and the entire island of Aruba, is Conchi Natural Pool. Conchi Natural Pool is a naturally-formed pool of water that is enclosed by jagged rocks. A 4×4 is required to reach this amazing spot, but once there, you’ll be amazed by how picturesque the pool is. You can even swim in Conchi Natural Pool when the water is calm!
Another amazing spot in Arikok National Park is the Natural Bridge. Natural Bridge is an amazing geological site where a 30-meter, or 100-foot, the arch was gradually eroded in the rocks over time as the result of rough ocean waters. Sadly, the original bridge collapsed in 2005, but there is a Natural Baby Bridge nearby that is equally impressive and well worth a visit.
Boca Prins is a beautiful, secluded beach that you can find on the northeast coast of Arikok National Park. White sand dunes contrast beautifully with jagged rocks and the deep blue ocean beyond. Due to rough waters, swimming is not encouraged at Boca Prins. However, it’s still a gorgeous spot to watch the water and take some photos. Boca Prins is also less popular than other beaches on Aruba, giving you a greater sense of privacy.
For those wanting to explore the subterranean side of Arikok National Park, consider visiting Fontein Cave. While there are several caves that can be found throughout Aruba, Fontein Cave is one of the most popular on the entire island because it features rock drawings from the Caquetios. The Caquetio people are indigenous to the Caribbean, and seeing their drawings in person really brings the rich history of Aruba to life before your very eyes.
Another amazing cave that can be found in Arikok National Park is Quadirikiri Cave. Quadirikiri Cave is known for consisting of two distinct chambers with holes in the ceiling that allow sunlight to pass through. Darker areas of the cave are inhabited by large communities of bats, which are completely harmless to human visitors.
Miralamar Gold Mine Complex
Lovers of history should also be sure to visit Miralamar Gold Mine Complex. This particular destination features an abandoned gold mine that can be reached by a relatively short hike. The trailhead to Miralamar Gold Mine Complex is located near the Arikok National Park Visitor’s Center and leads you through lush vegetation as you head up to a hilltop. Once at the summit, you’ll find ruins of the gold mine which was once the largest on the entire island of Aruba.
Visiting Arikok National Park was one of the best parts of my Aruba trip. I couldn’t believe how many cacti there were and how tall they could grow, it was incredible! During my visit, I saw Natural Bridge, Boca Prins, and Fontein cave. I highly recommend a visit to Arikok National Park when you are in Aruba.
How to Visit Arikok National Park
When you’re planning how to visit Arikok National Park, you can opt for either a self-guided or guided tour. Self-guided tours are a great option if you want a lot of flexibility during your visit, and prefer to adventure independently or without being constrained by a tour group. Embarking on a self-guided tour of Arikok National Park is also a good option for those who have the time and resources to do appropriate research on the logistics of getting to and enjoying the park.
If you’d prefer some guidance when exploring Arikok National Park, a great way to experience the area is on a Jeep tour. There are several Jeep tours available to choose from depending on what specific sights you’d like to see in Arikok National Park. Some Jeep tours focus on Conchi Natural Pool and other areas of the park where you can swim and snorkel. Other tours will focus more on the desert side of the park and its famous caves. There are many Jeep tours available that can accommodate a variety of budgets and range from just a few hours to a full day of exploring.
How Do I Get to Arikok National Park?
While having a car is the most convenient way to get to and explore Arikok National Park, there are also multiple hiking trails that allow visitors to experience the park on foot, or even on horseback.
A 4×4 vehicle is highly recommended for certain roads in the park that are very rough. If you do not plan on visiting Natural Pool, you can visit the park with a regular rental car. During my visit, I took the bus to the park, hiked within the park, and caught rides with other travellers and locals.
The park is open every day of the week, with the San Fuego Entrance open from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and the Vader Piet Entrance open from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM. There is also a small entrance fee that goes toward further preservation of the park and the various education programs it offers. Adults 18+ are $11USD, and visitors 17 or younger are free to visit.
Helpful Tips for Visiting Arikok National Park
When visiting Arikok National Park in Aruba, take care to remember this is a protected natural area. Practice Leave No Trace principles and don’t interact with or attempt to remove native wildlife or plants.
Throughout the park you may notice signs with guidelines on how to exercise caution, so make sure to heed these warnings for the safety of yourself and others. Finally, make sure you come prepared with plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen. Arikok National Park may be beautiful, but it’s also very rugged.
If you find yourself in Aruba, Arikok National Park is well worth a visit. The park features a wide variety of landscapes and ecosystems that are one-of-a-kind to the island. Whether you prefer to explore the beach, desert, caves, or geological and historic sites, Arikok National Park has it all. There are also many options for what to do in Arikok National Park, ranging from hiking and swimming to embarking on a Jeep tour. Arikok National Park offers an amazing perspective on the history of Aruba and its natural beauty, and you won’t regret taking the time to visit.
To learn more about Aruba’s beautiful Arikok National Park, check out their website.
Hope this information helped you plan your visit to Arikok National Park in Aruba.