Since it is quite a distance from Cartagena to the island of Aruba, we didn’t arrive at the island until 1:00 PM. Unfortunately, it was Sunday so most of the non-tourist shops in Oranjestad were closed.
Aruba is a small Caribbean island (54 sq mi/140 km2) located 25 km north of the coast of Venezuela. Until 2010 it was part of the Dutch Antilles, an autonomous country within the Kingdon of the Netherlands. The Dutch Antilles included Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao in the western Caribbean and Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius in the eastern Caribbean. The islands are now independent but remain a part of the kingdom of the Netherlands. The terrain is mostly flat with a few hills. There is little in the way of vegetation or outstanding physical features and no inland water. Aruba's best-known geographical feature is its white-sand beaches. The cruise ship port is in Oranjestad, the capital city. We disembarked and headed for the taxi area and downtown Oranjestad. We hired a taxi to take the four of us on a tour of the island.
Our taxi took us away from the port area. Our first sightseeing stop was at Mount Hooiberg. This is one of the highest spots on the island with an elevation of 188 meters. There is a set of stairs leading to the top. Since it was very hot and sunny only Mary Ann climbed very far up the hill.
This is the van that took us on our tour of Aruba. Our next stop was at the Casibari Boulders just north of Hooiberg. These are reddish brown tonalite rocks. Many of them are wind carved. There is no plausible explanation yet for the presence of these unusual wind-carved boulder formations on a flat sandy island.
Nancy and Melissa examine a plant at the base of the boulders. The leaf structure indicated that it is a relative of a caragana. On the path up the boulders several of the rocks contained interesting fossils. Up near the top of the boulders there was an iguana sunning himself on the rocks.
You can see all across the island including Mount Hooiberg from the top of the Casibari Boulders. Mary Ann seemed to enjoy the view. As we headed toward our next stop we passed a subdivision with neat, brightly colored houses.
The first photo shows one of the old-style houses on Aruba. It was built around 1915. The windows have no glass and there is a large wood-burning stove and oven. Near the north side of the island is the chapel of Our Lady of Alto Vista. The present chapel at Alto Vista was completed in 1952 and stands in the same location as the original chapel, built by Domingo Silvestre, an Indian from Santa Ana de Coro, Venezuela, in 1750. The Chapel is at the end of a winding road dotted with crosses to mark the stations of the cross.
The interior of the Chapel is well kept. There is a plaque near the altar describing the history of the Chapel. There is a labyrinth behind the Chapel that Nancy remembered from a previous visit in 2007. At that time it was neat and tidy. Unfortunately, at present the labyrinth seems to be unused and has become overgrown and unkempt.
We stopped briefly to take a photo of a property that had a very elaborate Christmas display that included several nativity scenes as well as wreaths and Santa Clauses. We drove past several resorts and timeshare developments. Several were still under construction.
We visited the California lighthouse on the northwest tip of the island. As we drove back along the shore we passed a sailing ship used for tours of the coast as well as several of the island’s many fine white-sand beaches.
The above map of Aruba shows our tour route of the north western part of Aruba. Very few tour operators offer tours of the eastern part of the island.