One Day in: Oranjestad, Aruba
Updated: 3 days ago
Aruba was during our Caribbean cruises always our first port of call. The island is notorious for its flat terrain, unrelenting winds and the pristine white beaches, which are amongst the most beautiful in the world. Aruba is also famed for its turquoise waters and diving spots all around the island's southern shore. But even away from the shoreline, Aruba has some highlights on offer. And during our last call to the island, I went out with two of my colleagues to see the sights.
First of all, Biking on Aruba was a super pleasant experience as we have no big climbs but mostly flat terrain, which allows riding the roads with relative ease. Also, traffic is slightly relaxed and roads in excellent conditions, especially compared to the more northern, so-called “Windward Iles”. We first started with a quick sprint through the capital city of Oranjestad. Soon we left the coloured facades behind us riding smoothly on the freshly paved surface of a cycle path toward our first goal, the Hooiberg (Translated to Hooi-Mountain), towering in the distance. Of course, towering is a somewhat harsh word to describe the second highest mountain of an island famed for its flat geography. Exactly how high this so-called mountain is you can guess from the fact that it is only about 568, completely normal-sized, steps to get to its top, where your reward for the effort is a stunning view of the island.
But even if you do not intend to conquer the climb, the whole landscape surrounding this mini-mountain might be marvellous enough to keep your interest. The narrow roads surrounded by cacti higher than houses and plenty of them all around. This species seems to grow so well on the island that on some properties they are used like us Europeans would use our local shrubs: As a hedge. Exactly this narrow road we followed towards the next point of interest: The Casibarai Rock Formation. Those giant boulders, almost in the islands' centre point, were thought to be sights of tribal cannibalism by the Spanish explorers who first conquered the island. But more realistically this location happened to be used as a burial site and worship by the Arawak who originally inhabited Aruba. We only took a short photo-break here and left as we had some further goals in mind. Until now we had followed the predetermined route our ships biking tours use regularly, but soon, we turned northwest towards the shoreline. This area is quite the opposite of the famed Aruban beaches. Cliffs tumble down into the sea and are relentlessly battered by huge waves brought upon them by the harsh winds. As those winds also affect the nature and over the last few hills, the island changes significantly. Against the gale-force wind, only small shrubbery can prevail and so between these tiny greens giant rocks emerge. It as a nature preserve, only passable on a narrow and bumpy gravel road that led us up to the most northern tip of the island. At the California Lighthouse, another famous sight, we stopped to enjoy a short break. Already with some thirty kilometres in our legs, we went on to have a pleasant and ice-cold coconut froozie directly from the coconut itself. We continued further along the beaches of the east coast up to the famed Eagle Beach but only to a picture as we did not intend to mingle with the tourist masses than continued further down the much more unknown and less frequented Divi Beach. A swim in the refreshing waters and a drink from the fresh waters (yes, I am talking about Carib waters) we went back to our ship and called it quits for the day.