Aruba is the Caribbean’s westernmost, located 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela and 42 miles west of Curacao. The island is a mere 75 square miles, ranging 20 miles at its widest point, and 6 miles at its longest. We pulled into Aruba’s southern coast, where Oranjestad is the historic Dutch capital city of Aruba. It is home to all of Aruba’s government buildings, main offices, and shopping districts. The official language here is Dutch, but everyone speaks excellent English. We found the Arubans to be welcoming, friendly and carefree.
View of Oranjestad from the cruise ship pier
Our jovial guide, Michael, of Kini Kini Tours for our all day ATV excursion
The "Alto Vista Chapel" deserves a quick visit
Giant cacti abound all over Aruba!
Close up of a license plate...Aruba is "One Happy Island"
Becky helps a proud Aruban hold up the national flag
Beautiful vistas like this abound along Aruba's jagged coastline
Wear your grungiest attire while ATVing in Aruba...you are bound to get DIRTY
ATV is the only way to go while exploring Aruba's rugged interior
One of Aruba's natural arches
Michael and Robby get ready to rumble
The swells crashing along the coastline are mesmerizing...only the foolhardy would attempt to swim here
Becky at the Bushiribana Ruins
Another view of the Bushiribana Ruins
Robby poses at the Bushiribana Ruins
Looks like this couch has seen a fair amount of action in its heyday
An effective cacti fence...the goats will still attempt to eat it despite its numerous thorns!
A divi tree provides some shade at the end of the cactus fence
Arawak Indian drawings at Ayo Rock Formation. We were told the Indians would gather at Ayo Rock to forecast when thunderstorms would hit Aruba
Ayo Rock Formation. Notice the gaping mouth of the "gorilla" rock?
Goats on the side of the road are a common sight in Aruba
Follow the signs to the natural pool for a refreshing dip
The road leading up to the Natural Pool is a bit treacherous...drive carefully!
Having a blast on our ATV ride
Tumultuous waves crashing against the rugged coastline near the Natural Pool
A sense of accomplishment...reaching the natural pool unscathed
For obvious reasons, no drinking around the natural pool
Staircase leading down to the natural pool
Robby strikes a pose, Natural Pool
Water conditions have to be perfect to swim at the natural pool...we were glad to have a chance to cool off all by ourselves
Thumbs up...the natural pool rocks
Laughing as the waves come crashing into us at the Natural Pool; Aruba
Becky has a moment of pure bliss before the waves come crashing down; natural pool
Becky striking a pose near the natural pool
Changing at the hut near the natural pool...don't bring anything except what you don't mind getting soaked!
We stopped to help this NYC based couple change their tire...the roads to the Natural Pool are no joke so drive carefully
We felt bad for the passengers in the jeeps as they were tossed around like rag dolls (road leading away from Natural Pool)
Aruban flags are proudly displayed all over the island
The welcome sign to Arikok National Park is a bit ominous...."enter at your own risk"
Divi trees grow hardily on this semi arid isle
Yet another divi tree...they grow in such a unique manner!
Goats resting under a shady tree to escape the mid day sun
Wild landscape of Arikok National Park
Robby following closely behind Michael on the surprisingly good roads of Arikok National Park
Gorgeous scenery around every corner
Steps leading down to an inviting beach
Robby strikes a silly pose next to this pristine Aruban beach
Aaah...the Caribbean blue of our dreams; Boca Prins
Be careful on the jagged coastline...flip flops not recommended!
Signpost for the various caves of Arikok National Park
A natural seat awaits visitors at the entrance to Fontein Cave
Arawak Indian drawings; Fontein Cave
Interior view of Fontein Cave
Graffiti from 1909 (Henrique went in 520 meters)
Sitting outside Fontein Cave
Robby at the entrance of Quadirikiri Cave; Arikok National Park
Locked up in a cave jail; Quadirikiri Cave
Michael and Robby posing outside Quadirikiri Cave
Michael driving past Aruba's wind turbine project
Beach huts appear abandoned along Aruba's coast but Michael told us that families will visit during the weekend and this isolated spot will become the next party spot
Prison doesn't look too inviting in Aruba, does it?
ATVs are a great way to explore Aruba's curvy and unpredictable roads
Baby Beach is one of Aruba's most popular...a shallow relaxing place to catch some rays
Lounge chairs beckon; Baby Beach
Beach shack eatery; Baby Beach
Robby & Michael hanging outside Big Mama's Grill
Big Moma's inviting kitchen; Baby Beach
Massive anchor monument; near Baby Beach
Wild donkeys are actually quite tame as they are used to food handouts
Horseback riding is a popular tourist attraction on Aruba...here is a sign for one of the ranches we passed by
Back in Oranjestad, we got our fill of touristy kitsch
More knickknacks for sale; Oranjestad has got something for everybody
Oranjestad is a shopper's paradise...this pink monstrosity sure does catch one's attention
Cheap prices and a vast selection of souvenirs make Aruba an ideal Caribbean island to stock up on yet more stuff
Fancy an Aruba mini-guitar? Take your pick
Oooh, a $15 flip flop of Aruba..gotta have it
Colorful geckos line the streets in Oranjestad
Looks like a successful fishing day (barracuda and mahi-mahi); Oranjestad
Aruba's Parliament; Oranjestad
Oranjestad has numerous shopping opportunities
Oranjestad looks very European in some sections of town
An inviting watering hole; Oranjestad
2-for-1 drink specials are hard to resist; Oranjestad
Becky slurps down her colada in a rush to make the all aboard departure time
24 Mar: Oranjestad, Aruba
Woke up for an early morning workout at the gym, before grabbing a big breakfast. Since we had booked an all day tour today, we were unsure if lunch was included and wanted to ensure that we wouldn’t be starving at midday. Becky had researched the island before our arrival and decided that an all day ATV tour would be the best option to keep us entertained. Our 0830-1600 tour with Kini-Kini (www.kinikinitours.com), a family run business, was quite the bargain in comparison to its competitors. The positive reviews on trip advisor and cruise critic had us sold, and we were glad to see that a Kini Kini representative was waiting for us just as had been promised. We were taken directly to Kini Kini’s office, which actually is the owner’s house, where we paid for the tour and met our guide for the day.
Our tour guide, Michael, was a young and personable guy who smiled as he informed us that our excursion would consist of the three of us. Awesome! Once we were outfitted with helmets and given a quick ATV orientation and briefing on the road rules, off we went on our very own private island tour. Aruba is a dry and dusty island (think semi-arid), so we were glad that we brought along our sunglasses to keep the dirt away from our eyes. Our point and shoot didn’t fare as well, with the dust soon enveloping it and preventing the shutter from closing all the way. Regardless, we had a blast zooming around the island and checking out the sights, which included the Alto Vista Chapel, Bushiribana Ruins, Ayo Rock Formation (ancient cave paintings), natural pool, Fontein Cave, Boca Prins, Quadiriki Cave, and Baby Beach. To our pleasant surprise, lunch was included and consisted of BBQ ribs & chicken…yum. We thoroughly enjoyed our full day excursion with Kini Kini but be forewarned…wear your grungiest clothes as they will get filthy after a day’s riding on an ATV! Loads of fun though, and we would absolutely do it again. After filling up our ATV with gas, we headed back to Oranjestad where Michael dropped us off near the port. We headed down town to wander Oranjestad’s streets to grab some shopping bargains. Happily, we ran into a 2-for-1 happy hour deal at one of the friendly bars, where we ordered margaritas & pina coladas. Great way to end the day even though we did have to rush back to the Celebrity in order to make our boarding time. Tonight was formal night so we didn’t have much time to spare before our lobster dinner and baked alaska desert. Great day…love Aruba.