For the first time in our 7 years traveling to Aruba, we had friends who were also staying on the island for part of our trip. They had never been to our little desert paradise, so w spent a day showing them the sites. We started by driving north from their hotel along the coast, through the Malmok and Arashi neighborhoods until we arrived at the California Lighthouse. They enjoyed seeing the view of both the high rise and low rise hotel areas, and it was their first taste of the Aruban "outback." They were definitely surprised at the dry, desert landscape!
We left the lighthouse and headed slightly south to the Alto Vista Chapel. The chapel is the oldest in the Caribbean that still operates for worship. Some said prayers and we took a few photos and then hopped back in the car. We drove a short way on a few dirt roads heading toward the coast to give them their first taste of the windward side of the island. The ocean is rough here and crashes against the limestone cliffs - it's breathtaking, always.
We then head south through the interior of the island. We saw a sign for the Casibiri Rock formation, which in 7 years somehow my husband and I have never stopped at! It was much more than I expected - there are rock formations on both sides of the road - the one on the side that also houses a small restaurant was smaller, but they had built a nice set of decks and stairs, and though we were there during the day you could see they light it up at night. On the other side of the road there was a nice park with landscaping and bathrooms. The rock formations here were much larger – the largest you can climb to the top and enjoy a great view of the interior of the island, and a spectacular view of Mt. Hooiberg.
We left Casibiri and continued our drive south, all the way down to Baby Beach. We got out and looked around for a bathroom, but there were no public restrooms. A little disappointing, since the island seems to have spent a great deal returning this beach to its former glory. There were beach tents for rent, a restaurant right on the beach (Big Mama’s Grill) and many more people than I remember seeing in the past.
From Baby Beach it was north along the windward coast. We passed the biggest herd of wild goats I had ever seen on the island; their population seems to have almost quadrupled in only a year. We saw the windmills, then entered the National Park (the fee has increased to $8.00 US per person) and stopped at two of the three main caves. At the Fontein Cave there were tour guides who gave a nice tour of the cave and a little Arawak Indian history as well. The drive from the caves out of the National Park was picturesque, and as we left we headed east towards Oranjestaad. We stopped for lunch at Iguana Joe’s for some good, cheap food and sat on the balcony watching the cars, boats and people down below. It was a great day!