Aruba is an enticing destination that has drawn thousands of eager travelers for decades. There are reasons to love the island: Alabaster white beaches, fantastic weather, and crystal clear waters.
But venture off its beaches, and you’ll soon discover that the landscape of this little island holds endless surprises. Outside its towns, brimming with eye-catching architecture and vibrant culture, lies quite the spectacle.
It’s a desert-like oasis and a paradise playground fit for any outdoor enthusiast. Only when you go hiking in Aruba will you genuinely experience why it’s called One Happy Island.
The easy part is figuring out how to travel safely during your Aruba adventure. On the other hand, choosing your favorite hiking trail on the island might not be as easy.
So get packing. Aruba awaits.
Yes, stunning landscapes and scenery abound in Aruba, but for the most part, you won’t have to scale mountainous peaks. Many of the beloved trails on Aruba can be mastered with little to no effort.
Dominating the island’s landscape, you’ll find cactus-laden desert plains, striking natural swimming holes, and rocky peaks. While other trails follow the out-of-this-world coastline, some delve into the island’s rich past.
Now, let’s get out there.
The most famous mountain or peak in Aruba is Mount Hooiberg. Its cone shape makes it easy to spot from nearby Santa Cruz or Oranjestad.
It’s one of the most accessible hiking trails, with roughly 300 feet of painted stairs that lead to the viewpoint atop this mountain. At only 0.6 miles for the entire round trip, this trail takes about 30 minutes to complete.
Once at the top, you’re in for a treat. Panoramic views from its summit are incredible. The best bit? On clear days you can see as far as Venezuela.
For those wanting to experience Aruba off the beaten path (pun intended), a small red arrow points away into the distance once you reach the green-shaded stairs. This is where you can head off to reach the summit via a rocky trek up the mountain.
Expect to see a lot of natural flora, including numerous cacti and wildflowers. You might also run into wandering goats and some lizard species.
An alluring aspect of hiking in Aruba is that many of its best hikes are in Arikok National Park. Aruba’s National Park is famous amongst locals and visitors, and the Conchi natural pool is equally renowned.
If you’re looking for a gentle hike, tackling this seaside trek from Daimari to the Conchi Natural Pool is a standout. Yes, there are other ways to reach Conchi in Aruba, but this trail leads you through a peaceful excursion.
Dashes of wildflower patches, neverending views of the splendid coastline, and the dunes of Daimari beach in Aruba as a backdrop. What more could you want?
Of course, there’s the prospect of dipping your toes into the majestic swimming hole. This 2.6-mile roundtrip is roughly an hour-and-a-half journey.
It’s also not a trail that sees many other hikers, making birdwatching and a slow-paced walk suitable for the whole family.
A stone’s throw from Noord/Tanki Leendert in Aruba lies the peaceful loop trail from Alto Vista. This is the perfect spot if you’re looking to experience a blissful sunrise over the island.
This trail is very short, at just under 0.5-miles, and it’ll take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. The length, which some might find underwhelming, is far outweighed by the spectacular sights you’ll find here.
Along the route, you’ll take in some of the most diverse cacti forests in the world, ‘mondi’ as the local Papiamento people call it. Add to the mix the historical sites you’ll come across, and it’s a no-brainer why this trail is so popular.
The Alto Vista Chapel is one, and then there’s the aptly named Peace Labyrinth. It’s not an actual maze but a reflection area where you can find some idyllic tranquility.
Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins Walk
For a family-friendly trail that seems more challenging than it is, the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins walk is perfect. Aruba and volcanoes go hand-in-hand, but so do Aruba and gold. In 1824 a young boy found a gold nugget in the Rooi Fluit riverbed.
This triggered a gold rush culminating in establishing three fully functioning mines in Aruba. What remains now are only remnants of the past, and trekking this loop trail brings you close to the golden history of Aruba.
This 0.9-mile trail is best when paired with the 4.5-mile Calbas trail via Wariruri Beach. This is a popular offshoot trek with a simple stone-baked cove loved by surfers and wildlife photographers.
A stunning path to take leads across a river of cacti and volcanic rock formations, which rounds back to the trailhead at Bushiribana. It’s definitely a must if you love history and hiking.
There’s no better hike in the Caribbean than the Northern Tip trail along Aruba’s northernmost point. It’s the home of the iconic California Lighthouse, taking you through dirt roads, rocky shorelines, and stunning dunes.
A 2.6-mile loop trail delivers unparalleled views of the north of Aruba, where very few adventurers tend to explore. This makes the roughly 50 minutes to one-hour trek a quiet respite from other, more popular trails on the island.
The crown jewel of this trail is its intertwining paths with the northern shoreline of Malmok. Most visitors stick to Arikok or Santa Cruz beaches. Malmok is very often overlooked and unvisited.
Avid photographers should take note, as this trail is pure eye candy. Before dawn, it is the perfect backdrop for magical sunrise snapshots. While the rocky shores of Westpunt, the Arashi dunes, and the California Lighthouse add to the trail’s euphoric scenery.
Although most trails in Aruba are pretty easy to tackle, some are a bit more tricky. However, the payoff remains the same: exceptional scenery, seamless landscapes, and fauna and flora around every bend.
Rest assured, these trails will get your heart pumping, your pulse rising, and most of all, your craving for a good hike fixed.
Starting with a bang, the Conchi Natural Pool trail. Not to be confused with the easier and shorter hike from Daimari, this trek begins at the Arikok National Park visitor center.
The route snakes through the park’s dry, almost arid interior to the pool on Aruba’s eastern coast. A 4.8-mile out and back trail winds through stretches of prickly pear cacti patches. You’ll also be sharing the path with various lizard species.
This moderately challenging hike will take about 2 to 3 hours to complete with an elevation gain of 1240 feet. Remember sunscreen and hats, as there is little to no shade along the route. Oh, and water, quite a lot of water.
The final part of the trail intersects with the gravel road used by 4WD or 4×4 vehicles, so expect it to be busier. To make the most of the Conchi Aruba trail, opt for starting early in the morning or mid-afternoon.
Mount Jamanota is many things. The two most important being that it’s the highest point on the island, and second are the 360° views of Aruba. Open year-round, Jamanota is the scene of hiking, mountain biking, and birdwatching.
At 617 feet, it is a relatively challenging loop trail that takes about an hour to complete. This trail is second to none for those looking to immerse themselves in Aruba’s rich wildlife and natural beauty.
It’s home to a range of unique bird species and lizards (some of which are curious and will approach you). While they pose no threat, it’s best to keep your distance.
Another distinct feature of this trail is Masiduri, a eucalyptus conservation management area.
A 4+ hour hike that combines the epic climb to Aruba’s highest point with an artistic cave and a pristine beach, this one is beyond perfect. From the peak of Jamanota, you’ll descend a cacti-lined path into Fontein Cave.
After a landscape cut from an American Southwest scene (donkeys, rattlesnakes, and lizards included), the cave is quite contrasting. Depictions left on its walls by the native Arawak people make this a standout experience.
These artworks depict insects, plants, and landmarks from roughly 500 years before the arrival of Europeans. Surprisingly many are still in excellent condition.
From here, a 1.5-mile excursion takes you to Dos Playa. Easily considered the most picturesque beach in Aruba, it’s also the island’s largest sea turtle nesting site. Taking the entire trek into account, it’s an 8.5-mile moderately challenging trail.
Let’s be honest, when you’re in a place like Aruba, you must explore as much as possible. So strap on those hiking shoes and get going.
Most eager visitors flock to Arikok National Park for the many trails and beaches the island is best known for, including some of the ones mentioned above. But beyond those, Aruba has plenty more trail options you can check out here.
On the topic of beaches, be sure to also check out my five favorite beaches in the Caribbean.
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