Located on the northeast coast of Aruba, the amazing Arikok National Park takes up nearly 20 percent of the island. Founded in 2003, this pristine 8,000-acre natural setting is home to all kinds of diverse flora and fauna living amidst gorgeous landscapes, from mountains to sand dunes, from hidden coves to subterranean caves. Here are just a few of the outdoor adventures and historic experiences you can enjoy at Arikok National Park during your all-inclusive getaway to Barceló Aruba.
Arikok National Park fast facts
Opening hours: Arikok National Park is open seven days a week from 8am to 4pm.
Admission fees: $11 per person (children under 17 years old are free)
Rules & tips: Do not touch plants or animals in the park. Remember to bring plenty of drinking water and sunscreen during your visit. No pets allowed. Wear hiking shoes and a hat. Take nothing but photos. Leave nothing but footprints.
More information: www.arubanationalpark.org, (+297) 585-1234
The Natural Pool
Bring along your swimsuit! A visit to Arikok National Park isn’t complete without discovering Aruba’s most amazing natural attraction. Arikok is home to Conchi — also known as The Natural Pool. A one-of-a-kind spot, Conchi is located along the park’s windswept volcanic coastline. When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a well-maintained staircase that will take you to the pool. The oval-shaped Conchi is about 20 feet long and 25 feet wide, and its calm waters are protected from the surf by a series of rock formations. The water is deep enough for cliff diving, and if you’ve brought the right equipment, it’s great for snorkeling as well.
- Good to know: The journey to the Natural Pool is an adventure all by itself and only possible by foot, horse, ATV or 4×4 vehicle. The hike is about 3.5 miles and it takes about 45 minutes to drive to the Natural Pool from the park entrance. The rangers at the Arikok Visitors Center can advise you on the what the best method is for you — but do not attempt to drive there in any other vehicle than a 4×4. Check out a Viator 4X4 Natural Pool tour.
Climb to the top of Aruba! Jamanota Hilltop in Arikok National Park is the highest point on the entire island. It’s no Mount Everest, rising just 600 feet above sea level. But the views are amazing. You’ll get a privileged glimpse of virtually every part of Aruba from top to bottom. If you bring your binoculars, you might even be able to spot your Barceló Aruba suite. Jamanota Hilltop is accessible by a moderately challenging trail or a drivable dirt road. However you make it to the summit, you’re going to love what you see.
Go underground! The mysterious Fontein Cave in Arikok National Park is a place that offers a glimpse into Aruba’s past. Thirteen feet high and 160 feet deep, Fontein Cave’s walls boasts ancient limestone rock formations and stalactites and stalagmites. There are also many impressive pictographs, etched on the walls by the Arawak people centuries ago. Scholars believe that Fontein Cave was a sacred space for the Arawak and that religious ceremonies took place here amidst flickering light and hushed ambiance. With that in mind, remember to treat the cave with the utmost respect. Keep an eye out for bats, too!
A bit off the beaten path, Boca Prins boasts dramatic cliffs, windswept waves and rolling sand dunes. Located on Aruba’s northeast coast, it’s an ideal spot to get away from the crowds – and to get some of the best photos in all of Aruba. Good to know: the waters at Boca Prins may be beautiful, but because of the rough surf and riptides, you shouldn’t go swimming here. Don’t worry, there are other beaches to swim (and much more) in Arikok. For instance, don’t miss …
Love to surf? Then you’ll want to pay a visit to Arikok National Park’s Dos Playa, located on Arikok National Park’s northeast coast. The waves at this beautiful beach are unbelievable – great for surfing or bodyboarding. Named for a pair of secluded side-by-side coves, Dos Playa is also great for sunbathing and exploring the cliffs that form the bay. Be forewarned: this is one of Arikok’s most secluded spots. Bring what you need – sunscreen, water, snacks, etc. Looking to get a crash course in Aruba surfing? The Aruba Surf and Paddle School is your best bet.
Arikok National Park wildlife
During your time at Arikok National Park, you may encounter an array of amazing animals. The park is home to wild donkeys and goats, several dozen species of birds and lightning fast Aruban whiptail lizards. Blink and you’ll miss them. The Arikok National Park visitors center is a great place to learn more about (and where to see) the wildlife of this Aruba adventure.