Expanding over 18% of the island of Aruba, Arikok National Park is an unusual site to see on a tropical island. Located on the east side of the island, it is a far cry from Aruba’s beachy west: here there are rocky cliffs, spectacular caves, and desert cacti.
It’s a wonderful place to hike, explore, or embark on an ATV adventure. You can get access to the 7907 acres of pure, unspoiled nature with just a small entrance fee, which goes toward the park’s conservation.
What to do in Arikok National Park
You could spend the entire day at Arikok National Park hiking, picniking, and even swimming. Some take a guided walking tour or drive an ATV through the rough terrain, passing unusual lava and limestone formations. Others head to the secret bays to swim. Many come to Arikok to take a dip in the famous Conchi Natural Pool.
Once a month, visitors are invited to stay in the park after closing hours to watch a movie under the stars. This event, called “Movie in the Park”, is free to attend.
Arikok National Park is also a cultural heritage site. The Quadirikiri (also spelled Guadiriki) Caves are dark, mysterious, stalactite-filled tunnels that are known to be home to bats and other nocturnal creatures. Deep within the caves are indigenous carvings and drawings. Openings in the ceilings shed natural light on the mysterious petroglyphs and limestone walls. The petroglyphs are thought to have been carved in prehistoric times.
How to get to Arikok National Park
First, you’ll need to visit the lovely island of Aruba. Book your flight during the low season (June 1st to November 30th) to get the best deals. Although the low season coincides with hurricane season in the Caribbean, Aruba is (thankfully!) outside the Hurricane belt. So, no worries about getting caught in a storm, or dealing with canceled flights.
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Next, you’ll need to head to the western side of Aruba. Some of the roads in Aruba are reportedly unmarked, but there are signs as you get closer to direct you to the park. There’s a lovely visitor’s center at the entrance, where you’ll pay the entrance fee and get a map of the park.
What to know about the park
There are a few things to keep in mind before you visit Arikok National Park. First of all, there are a lot of cool things to do, so it’s helpful to pick up a map at the visitor’s center. In addition, you’ll need a tour guide for some of the hikes and excursions. Some activities, like ATV tours, can be booked in combination with other attractions in Aruba.
Although there is plenty of easy walks, the park includes rough terrain and more difficult hikes as well. You’ll need to bring long pants and hiking boots or shoes. Also, keep in mind that the park is similar to a desert– and it’s hot! Bring your sunscreen, a hat, and water.
The park closes at 4 pm, so the last tickets are sold at 3:30. The only exception is when there’s a “Movie in the Park” event.
For more information, visit Arikok National Park’s official website.
Main image source: abc-aruba.com