If you read our one-week guide to Aruba, you know that day two is your action-packed ATV tour of the Island! We would recommend taking an off-road adventure to anyone visiting, whether you do it with a tour or self-guided. If you’re looking to do self-guided ATV excursions in Aruba – we highly recommend you follow our guide. Take your time where you want to, skip the parts that really aren’t as impressive, and maybe avoid the tidal waves of mud we ran into…?
The perks of doing it yourself are especially beneficial for photographers. First things first – doing self-paced excursions in Aruba allows for a non-strenuous day. You don’t have to worry about your equipment while on your tour. The second thing we loved about doing our own tour was having plenty of time to see the whole island. During our 7-hour rental period, we got in some great shots!
**Remember that Aruba is a tiny island. Only 70 square miles, you won’t even have to fill up on gas to see all the sights on our list!!
Know Before You Get to Aruba:
Language: Aruba and its neighboring island Curacao are actually owned by the Netherlands, (a tiny country in Europe). Dutch and the native Papiamento are the official languages but English is widely spoken.
Currency: Aruban Florin: but as we were told ‘Cash is king’ and most places wanted and accepted $$ US Dollars.
Best Time To Visit Aruba: The weather is pleasant year-round and the water stays around 78 degrees Farenheight, perfect for swimming!
Closest Airport: Beatrix International
Best Hotels: Hotel Riu, Divi Golf & Beach Resort Aruba
Drinking-Water: Aruba’s tap water is drinkable!!
How To Rent An ATV/UTV in Aruba
First things first: If you don’t live in the Southern USA – you might not have grown up driving one of these bad boys and we respect that. (We, of the South, call them four-wheelers or buggies.. and we’ve been driving them from birth!!) Driving an ATV or UTV is really easy so no need to worry. You’ll get a little tutorial when you rent the vehicle, and figure it out as you go.
You might see that some countries require an international driver’s license like we thought before heading to Italy. When we got to Italy we were only required to have a valid driver’s license, and a credit card for the rental company to put a damage deposit hold on. Whether it’s Vespas in Italy or ATV excursions in Aruba, the rules are all pretty much the same.
To rent an ATV without a tour guide in Aruba, you need a valid driver’s license and a credit card for a damage deposit.
If you Google “ATV rentals in Aruba…” – you’ll find plenty of options. We recommend calling ahead to make sure they have availability for the day you want to go and watch the weather. Driving an ATV is incredibly fun, but after getting stuck in a crazy rainstorm, we know how important it is to check the weather!
We look back and laugh now – but it was terrible at the time. Cold wet rain from a near-tropical Caribbean storm pelted our legs, faces, and bodies!!
Your ATV Island Tour Itinerary
If you’re trying to determine how long you should plan to be gone for the day – make sure your rental covers full 6-8 hours. Regardless of whether you’re a photographer or an avid explorer – you’re going to want to take your time!! We started at around 9 in the morning and came back at around 4 (so we were gone around 7 hours.)
Most rental companies will want you to be back by around 5 so make sure to give yourself some cushion!! Are you ready to see private beaches, ruins, hidden coves, and centuries-old cave drawings?!
1st Stop on Your Itinerary: Tres Trapi
Once you’ve grabbed breakfast from your resort and picked up you ATV – head to your first stop!! No ATV tour of Aruba would be complete without making a stop at one of our favorite hidden beaches on the island – Tres Trapi Beach.
Meaning ‘Three Steps’ – you’ll climb down three rocky steps into one of the most serene and private coves on the island. Spend a few minutes getting in a refreshing morning dip before heading on to your next destination!
**Many times when you book ATV excursions in Aruba they don’t take you here so that you don’t disturb the neighborhood with many ATVs zipping through a neighborhood. Doing it yourself gives you the opportunity to see little gems like this!!
No.2 Boca (Westpunt)
This rocky northern tip of the island is a great place to take in a sea spray rainbow. Not a swimming destination – this quiet corner of the island is accessible by a dirt road leading away from the California Lighthouse.
We loved the views of the waves crashing against the volcanic rock cliffs. We recommend going during the day. That early morning sun will allow you to see the rainbow that you won’t see during sunset!!
- How To Get To Westpunt/Boca: from Tres Trapi, drive your four-wheeler North on L.G. Smith Boulevard past the California Lighthouse. From this point, you’ll be offroad driving until you reach the sea!
You won’t spend a ton of time here – but it’s a great photography destination that no one else will be around. You’ll also get great views of the Arashi Dunes! Located on the same northern tip of the island in Arasji – you only need a short 10 minute ATV ride to reach the dunes from the beach. With mounds covered in tiny cactus-like plants, you can’t ride the ATV through the dunes but they’re fun to walk around!!
TIP: You’ll definitely need to wear your sturdier shoes for this excursion. The rocks are sharp and there isn’t any sand.
No.3 The California Lighthouse
When you’re on your ATV excursion in Aruba, no trip will be complete without exploring Aruba’s famous California lighthouse! With 360-degree views from the top of this white-washed, green-domed lighthouse – it’s a can’t miss experience.
- How To Find the California Lighthouse: Located in ‘Hudishibana’ on Aruba’s most northwestern cape, after visiting Westpunt Beach and the Arashi Dunes, head back towards L.G. Smith Boulevard. Before continuing towards the Eastern shore of the island, you’ll take the boulevard towards the California lighthouse. You can’t get lost! There is literally nothing else near this spot on the island.
Cost: Visiting the lighthouse is free – but climbing to the top is $5. (Visiting the lighthouse is one of our favorite budget-friendly excursions in Aruba!!)
At eight stories high, visitors can see all the way from Malmok Beach to Eagle Beach on the Western side of the island. When looking East, try to spot the Tierra Del Sol Golf Course or the Alta Vista Chapel. If you’re on a romantic trip – we highly recommend climbing to the top!!
Take A Coconut Water Snack Break!
Before heading to your next destination – grab a coconut! Located around the lighthouse – you’ll see vendors selling street food and coconut water.
We chose to stop here and watch as a vendor expertly hacked off the top of a coconut and inserted a dainty straw for us to sip on. Enjoy one of the island’s easiest snacks!
Aruba’s Flora and Fauna
On your stop – take a moment to notice the Mondis. (Large forests of cacti!) Amongst the cacti, you’ll see large yellow blooms protruding from their thorny buds throughout the year. Other flowers you’ll see are the large purple and white blooms of Magdalena flowers, hibiscus, and wild orchids!
No.4 The Alto Vista Chapel
Built-in 1953, visiting the Alto Vista Chapel is widely regarded as one of the best things to do in Aruba.
- How To Get To Alto Vista Chapel: If you’re riding an ATV, taking the scenic route along the Eastern Aruban coast is the best way to get to Alto Vista Chapel. When you leave the lighthouse, take a right (away from the resort side of the island) and head towards the coast. Drive your ATV past the Tierra del Sol Golf Course, and continue along the costal road past the colorful beach house at Ranchero Curason. After another few minutes along dusty Alto Vista road – you’ll reach the chapel!
This tiny sunbleached yellow chapel stands at the site of the original chapel built in 1750. Venezuelan missionary, Domingo Silvestre was the first to convert the indigenous people to Christianity, after choosing this legendary spot with sweeping views of the sea.
**If you’re Catholic and would like to attend Mass- there are still weekly services held at the Alto Vista Chapel.
No.5 Lunch at Tierra Del Sol Golf Course
Getting lunch at the golf course might sound silly – but we promise it’s worth the little 7-minute backtrack! We didn’t recommend heading here until after you’ve visited the Alto Vista Chapel because you may not have been hungry yet. Trust us when we say – you want to have an appetite for lunch at Tierra del Sol.
- How To Get To Tierra del Sol Golf Course: From Alto Vista Chapel, head west away from the coast on Alto Vista road. You’ll come to a neighborhood, but if you stay on the main road you’ll run into Rte 2/Caya Frans Figaroa. Take a right and head north. Only a 5-6 minute drive, you’ll stay on Rte 2 until you see signs for the Tierra del Sol Golf Course. Take a right on Caya di Solo and you’re there!
We mentioned in our Aruban 7-Day Itinerary that Aruba is where Shelb’s love for beef carpaccio was born – and the golf course has an excellent take on this dish!
***When you get to our packing list for the day – stopping here is why we included a nicer coverup for your ATV excursions in Aruba. You’ll want to put on something a little nicer!
No.6 Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins in Noord, Aruba
The next stop on your list is another one of the best things to do in Aruba. You can climb all over the Bushiribana ruins with views of the Eastern coast of Aruba for miles.
Designated as a National Historical Cultural Site for the Aruban people – it’s one of the few ruins we’ve been to around the world you can touch! Just remember to please be respectful.
Explorers looking for gold starting searching Aruba for this famed yellow treasure as early as the 15th and 16th centuries. After the first gold was discovered in 1892, the island produced 3 million pounds of gold. Operations soon ceased when the gold was depleted, but there are still two mills and one mining site left on the island.
- How To Find the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins: From the Tierra del Sol Golf Course it’s a 24 minute drive. Take Rte 2 south towards Oranjestad for about 5 km, then take a left of Rte 3. Rt3 will eventually turn into Rte 6, and you’ll be on this road for 8.7 km (13 minutes.) You’ll be heading towards Matividiri and there will be signs for this little hamlet. From Rte 6, take the road called Matividiri to the Bushiribana Ruin. (There will be signs!)
If you have time – visit the Aruba Ostrich Farm only 2 minutes from the ruins!! Great for kids and families, stretch your legs on a guided tour while you feed ostrich!!
$14 Adults | $7 Children
Bonus Destination: New Natural Pool
Only steps away from the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins lays a secret cove that most people miss!
Climb down a wooden ladder into this stunning lagoon carved out of limestone along the shore. This is part of your day’s adventures we highly recommend having water shoes in your backpack!! Jump from the rocky cliffs along the edge of the pool and enjoy a refreshing break!
Psttttt.. Not Up For A Do-It-Yourself Tour!?
Here are a few great tours we recommend to hit many of these sites. You may not have this full experience but you’ll still get a great feel of the island!
If you’re taking a guided tour of the island – your tours often take you to the Bushiribana Ruins, the New Natural Pool, and Arikok National Park.
No.7 Natural Bridge
You may have seen photos of Natural Bridge in Aruba, and it’s stunning right? Unfortunately, it collapsed in 2004 but remains one of the most photographed parts of the island. Like our home state of Kentucky – thousands of years of water and erosion on beds of limestone hollow out the rocks leaving behind these gorgeous limestone arches.
- How To Find Natural Bridge: On Aruba’s Eastern coast, about 7 minutes south of the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins is where you’ll find these arches. Head South from the ruins until you hit Matividiri Road. Take a left and drive for about 2.2 km. The arches will be on your left along the coast.
While Natural Bridge fell in 2004, Baby Bridge nearby remains standing and you can walk across the top – or explore the bottom when the tide is low.
P.S. If you’re starting to feel a bit snacky – grab a snack at the cunucu house nearby!!
No.8 Conchi (Natural Pool)
Undoubtedly one of the most famous and well-traveled spots in Aruba is Conchi – Natural Pool.
Encircled by black volcanic rock, this dramatic pool on the coast is one of our favorite photography destinations in Aruba. Located inside Arikok National Park, visitors can only access the pool by ATV, horseback tours, or hiking.
When you get to the Natural Pool, you can expect it to be very slick getting in and out of the water. Again we remind you to bring your water shoes! As for what to expect in the pool, there are fish circling through the sparkly emerald waters and the ocean sprays you as it crashes on the large rock formation around the pool. You can’t miss it on your trip!!
How To Get To Conchi Natural Pool in Aruba
Drive time from the entrance of Arikok National Park is about 45 minutes to Conchi Natural Pool and back. Keep that in mind when you’re planning out how long you’ll spend at each destination! This stop will take you around 2 hours.
How To Get To Conchi Natural Pool by Driving:
- The first thing you need to do is head to the park’s San Fuego Entrance and pay the $11 entrance fee. You’ll be given a map and wristbands, at which point you can start heading towards Conchi Natural Pool.
- Head north on the gravel road leading away from the park’s entrance and look for signs for the Sero Arikok Volcano (#14 on the map).
- Continue on the gravel road past the volcano until you see a dirt path with a ‘4×4’s Vehicles Only’ sign.
This is where your journey will become more difficult – but doable.
The gravel road will end, and a dirt path will take you on the rest of your journey. Continue slowly on this rocky unstable road until you reach Conchi Natural Pool (#3 on the map). Go as slow as your need to!!
- How To Get To Conchi Natural Pool by Hiking: If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of driving all the way to Conchi Natural Pool, you can also get there by hiking. At the same trailhead Sero Arikok Volcano where you would start the 4×4 only dirt path, start your hike at a trial to the right. (This will save you time from having to hike from the visitors center!!) The hike to Conchi Natural Pool from this trailhead is 2.5 miles/4 kms. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and pack water!
Regardless of whether you hike or drive all the way to the pool – you’ll need to walk down 3 flights of stairs to get to the pool. (If you drove the ATV – make sure you throw your ATV keys in a dry bag and take it down to the pool with you!)
No.9 Fontein Cave & Guadirikiri Cave
On a hot day – this last stop of your Aruba ATV excursion will be a cool reprieve from the island heat. Located close together in Arikok National Park are two of Aruba’s most unexplored treasures: the Fontein Cave and Guadirikiri Caves.
- Guadirikiri Cave is the most well-known cave for its illuminated photos from the hole in the ceiling inside the 100-foot chamber. Definitely a photographer’s dream destination!! This two part chamber can be explored in about 10 minutes.
- Fontein Cave is for history lovers! When you get here – park rangers will give you guided explanations of the cave drawing by the Arawak Indians. They were originally Venezuelan indigenous peoples and became the first explorers of the island. Settling in 2500-1000 BC, they lived on this island until it was discovered by Spanish settlers in 1499!
P.S. If you’re looking for more inspiration to explore ancient native ruins and drawings, check out our guide to Arizona’s Native American Ruins!!
After you’ve explored the caves – it’s time to head back!! We hope you got to see everything on this bucket list and had an amazing day!
Need A Dinner Recommendation?
After exploring all day on your Aruba ATV tour – you’ll probably want something more low-key. We recommend grabbing fruity cocktails and tacos at Lola Taqueria!
Voted as one of the best restaurants in Aruba and winning a 2021 Traveler’s Choice Award from TripAdvisor – this trendy little restaurant is a must-try!
P.S. – If you’re not ready for the night to be over – try their sister bar ‘Craft’ for handcrafted cocktails!
How To Map Out Your ATV Excursion in ARuba
You can do a couple of things to map out your excursion and make the most of your ATV rental in Aruba.
- #1 – Download the maps.Me app and add all of these locations to your offline maps.
P.S. If you want to come back to the lighthouse near sunset – you might even see the elusive green flash! Right before the sun sets below the blue of the Caribbean, for a second or two the upper edge of the sun will appear as a green mirage.
- #2 – Save this post for extra guidance! Maps and directions are great – but sometimes you just need that extra hint to keep you going in the right direction.
What To Bring While You Explore Aruba
Considering that Aruba is incredibly rocky, sandy and a beach environment, pack what you need to be comfortable for the day. As with any excursions while on a beach trip, excursions in Aruba include hot tropical weather. Make sure you stay well hydrated and bring a reusable water bottle!! Other than staying hydrated – here is a list of our must-haves for the day:
- Water Shoes
- A Nicer Coverup – For lunch at the golf course.
- Phones & Extra Chargers
- Tech – Cameras, Lenses
- Dry Bag – Especially around Conchi Natural Pool where the ocean spray goes pretty far up the beach!
- Dry Clothes – You’ll proboably want something a little warmer as the sun goes down on this desert island!
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Until next time friends,