Exploring Aruba’s natural beauty

In previous trips, really enjoyed going on eco-tours, where you get to see some of the natural beauty. There are a bunch of them (often called jeep tours) in Aruba, which will show you some of the undeveloped parts of Aruba. Many of these are run by the larger tourist companies, but we decided to go with a local woman who was recommended to us - Madi. She seemed to provide a much more personal, local experience than the big companies, though reviews said that her trips were occasionally unreliable. We decided to risk it. After some difficult communication, we managed to book the tour.

We almost got a private tour, but she managed to find another group (two moms and three kids) to join us. She and her husband picked all of us up in a van that we drove to the entrance to Arikok National Park. That other group did have a special request - to be dropped off at Baby Beach instead of their hotel, which Madi agreed to. She told us it would be out of the way, but she’d take us to a couple extra places after dropping them off.

At the natonal park

We then switched into her jeep to drive into the park and to the Natural Pool. Well, that was the plan at least.

Broken down jeep

Yes, the jeep was in very poor condition, and refused to work. It struggled to start, took us a few feet, then died. We waited in it as they tried to fix it. Eventually, our guide told us the Natural Pool was actually closed for swimming (she’d just found out), so she’d take us to a different, less known, natural pool. Given the non-working jeep, this seemed like a good course of action.

The van that brought us there had left, but thankfully it came back to pick us back up. Then we went back the way we had come. Much of this was on the road (we did not go off-road into the national park), but we did eventually go off-road. This van was not made for going off-road, and Jen’s back ended up sore for days.

Rescue ride

We then went to the Natural Bridge. It was a very cool place, though sadly not as cool as it used to be. It collapsed in 2005, but it’s still a lovely area. A lot of people just stand on the rocks by the parking lot, but Jen and I were more adventurous. First, we climbed down to the sand behind the bridge.

Natural Bridge


Then we climbed up the rocks on the far side of the fallen bridge.

Climbed up

Here’s the bridge from the far side. You can also see a picture of what it used to look like before falling down on the side of the building.

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge selfie

On the other side of the Natural Bridge was a place that the waves crashed to create a mist called a Blow Hole by our guide.

Blow hole

At this point, despite the vehicle difficulties, we were in a positive mood about this tour. Our guide kept telling us how great the hidden spots would be, especially including this unknown natural pool. As we drove away from the Natural Bridge, we stopped briefly at a small inlet where the waves crashed in that had a rock that looked like a fish face.

Sadly, that was basically the end of the tour. We drove and drove for about an hour, gradually starting to wonder where these great places were. Then we arrived at Baby Beach to drop off the other folks. There was a lot of arguing (mostly in Papiamento, the native language, which the other guests spoke). I never fully understood why we didn’t visit any of the other places we were supposed to. Danger was mentioned at some point, and a lot of discussion about how Baby Beach was too far away and we never should have come that far. I asked about the extra things after dropping off the others she’d told us about, but she said that it was too late and this would be the last stop of the tour.

We ended up spending a little time at Baby Beach, since we were already there. It’s a very nice beach at the end of the island that is protected by a reef. The water’s only a couple feet deep most places, and incredibly clear.

Baby Beach

Baby Beach selfie

Then, we had a 45 minute drive back to our hotel. On the drive back, Madi sat in the back facing me like a tour guide for a little while (though there was not enough room for this, which made it very awkward) trying to make us feel better about the tour. When it became evident that this wasn’t working, she moved to the back row, lay down, and went to sleep.

Sadly, I cannot recommend anyone take her tour. Perhaps you’d have better luck with her, and perhaps you’d enjoy her cooky nature more than we did, but I think there are much better options out there.

Oh, and if you’re keeping track, this is now one sailing excursion where Jen got seasick, and one completely busted jeep tour. Will our record improve? You’ll have to wait to find out.

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