Hiking probably isn't the first thing you would think about if someone mentions Aruba, but hiking in Aruba is certainly one of the best ways to discover more of the hidden secrets of this beautiful island in the Carribean.
One of the best options to explore the beautiful island of Aruba is going for a hike or a jog along the rugged coastline or by visiting the Arikok National park. So let me take you along some of the hikes I did when I visited Aruba last October.
Hiking in Arikok National Park
The best and most beautiful area to go hiking in Aruba is inside the National Park Arikok. At Arikok National Park, a natural preserve that covers one-fifth of the island, there are 29 rugged miles of rocky trails for hiking in Aruba with three different hiking levels.
Maps with clearly marked hiking trails inside the park are available at the Visitor Center at the main entrance of the Arikok National Park in San Fuego (St Cruz).
Hiking tours under guidance of a park ranger are highly recommended. You can go for a five-hour hike through jagged, rocky terrain, passing through desert brush and cacti, and unique and fascinating wildlife or opt for a one-hour educational loop.
For a unique island experience, a full moon hike with a naturalist can be arranged.
If you want to know more about the local flora and fauna you can check this fact sheet of Aruba, or do like I did and ask Stan, a local ranger, to take you on a tour around the park. This guy is a walking encyclopedia! You can see him at work in the video below:
One of the trails in Arikok National park ends in Dos Playa.
One of the highlights during my stay in Aruba was definitely the moment when I arrived at Dos Playa and I was the only one there. While most tourist probably gathered near the natural pool (see later), Dos playa was totally deserted and well worth the visit!
Dos Playa is the most important sea turtle nesting site on the island, but I guess nobody visits it when it's not the nesting season? Besides a nesting ground, it's also a beautiful cove where you can relax on the white-sandy beach and enjoy the natural beauty of the sea pounding against the rocks.
Hike to Conchi (The Natural Pool)
One of the more popular spots within the Arikok National park is the Natural Pool. Comprised of ancient lava stone, it's a natural swimming pool amidst rough seas.
Most people will probably visit the natural pool via an organized Aruba natural pool tour or ATV tour, but it's also possible to hike there.
For most parts of the national park you really need a 4x4 vehicle, but if you only want to hike to the natural pool you should be fine with a non-4x4 rental if you drive to the Shete entrance, a short drive north from the main Arikik National park visitor center on Route 7 (San Fuego entrance), where you need to buy your entrance passes (US$11,- per person.)
You can park your car at the Shete entrance and start the 30-40 minute hike to the pool from there.
Mount Jamanota hike
With 188 meters (617 Ft.), Jamanota hill is the highest point of the island of Aruba. It offers spectacular views of Aruba, and there is a drivable road to the sub-top The top is only accessible by foot and gives a panoramic view over the southern part of Aruba.
Depending on the adventure you prefer, be it a visit on a tour bus or via a jeep tour, a visit to the Arikok National park during your Aruba vacation is highly recommended!
Hiking up Hooiberg Mountain
The best know "hike" in Aruba is probably the walk up the iconic Hooiberg Mountain, located near the center of Aruba. The Hooiberg - which translates to Haystack - is the 3rd highest peak on the island at 168m and from the parking lot, it's 562 steps up a concrete staircase to the top of the mountain.
While it's certainly not the most scenic hike ever (some might actually call it ugly with a bunch of cell towers at the top) but you do get to see the entire island from north to south, including the Caribbean and Atlantic coasts at the same time.
Sunrise hike along the North Coast of Aruba
The best time of day for hiking in Aruba is early morning, at sunrise!
On the North side of Aruba, it's possible to walk for hours along the rugged coastline. It's the perfect location for a morning stroll and one of my favorite hiking locations besides Arikok National Park.
The easiest way to start your hike is to park your car at the Arashi parking at Arashi beach (or take a bus there).
If you follow the beach up North, you'll eventually end up on the trail that runs all the way to the most Northern point of Aruba between the rugged sea and the white California Sand Dunes just to the north of the well known California Lighthouse.
One last thing: Be Prepared!
Before you head off to go hiking in Aruba, make sure you get there, well prepared!
In Aruba, the climate is tropical, hot all year round and you can compare it with a savanna climate: daytime temperatures hover around 29/31 degrees Celsius (84/88 °F) throughout the year, the air is muggy, but the wind tempers the heat.
Given the sun and heat on the island, make sure to protect yourself during your hike. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses and bring plenty of water with you.
The best time of day for hiking in Aruba is early morning, at sunrise. Especially beach walks or hikes alongside the North Coast are also spectacular during sunset.
Hiking is an excellent way to explore Aruba's wonderful nature and rugged landscape and hopefully, these hikes have inspired you to discover more of the hidden gems of Aruba, and look beyond its beautiful beaches.