When someone says “Aruba”, typically, the first image in your mind is white sandy shorelines met by crystal clear azure waters. But this beautiful island has so much more to offer than just surreal, tranquil beaches. In this three part series of articles, we will travel and explore different places in Aruba to bring about a new light of adventure. Let’s explore.
This tranquil village is located between Oranjestad and San Nicolas, on the south shore and known to be the site of early Spanish settlement since its bay was easily accessible to sailing ships. When the Dutch took control, they named the village Commandeursbaai (Commanders Bay) and set up military headquarters there. By the end of the 18th century, the capital was moved to Paardenbaai (Horses Bay Harbor) in downtown Oranjestad. The merchants preferred this location because they received shipments of horses here. Commandeursbaai was later renamed Savaneta (Papiamento: small meadow). Savaneta today, remains an idyllic town framed by views of distant hills and glittering seascapes. It’s perfect for those who want a taste of the simple life. You can find the freshest catch of the day and a good time with the locals at Zeerovers (Dutch: pirates), a local landmark and weigh station. It is a meeting place, pub, game room and fish pit all rolled into one.
Many Arawak Indian rock paintings are still found in and around Aruba’s caves and boulders in numbers far greater than those found on any of the other Dutch Caribbean islands. These petrographs are multi-colored and painted instead of etched, which is a major contrast of those found on the Venezuelan mainland. Exploring caves in Arikok, Fontein and Ayo will increase your chances of seeing these petrographs since most are located there.
Adventure seekers will enjoy exploring the caves along the northeast coast. Of the caves there, the largest and most accessible is Fontein. It is Located just south of Boca Prins. Its shape was formed by the constant pounding of surf, but is now dry and dusty. Ancient Indians were attracted to it because of its proximity to a flowing stream. The main section, about ten feet high, is a large hall with several smaller chambers linked by crawl passages. Most of the rock drawings are found on the roof and include imprints of hands and figurines.
Quadirikiri is another cave that’s a short distance away. Though no drawings are found here, it is very likely that Indians inhabited it as well. The concrete steps that lead up to the main entrance is strong evidence. A single passage links three chambers of irregular shape. Early inhabitants had the perfect skylight. The openings in the ceiling provide a wealth of natural light for the five hundred foot-long cave, making it a perfect spot for picture-taking. Although the bats residing here may startle you, they are rather harmless.
The Huliba Cave and Tunnel of Love (Sabana Sulu) are part of the same cave system. With depths of 100 feet below the surface of the limestone terrace, it is extremely unlikely that the Indians ever visited these caves. A stone staircase leads to the 300-foot-long Huliba cave. The Tunnel of Love, named for its heart-shaped entrance, is only a few yards from Huliba. If you decide to explore this cave, be prepared to navigate a dark underground maze and do some climbing to get out.
If you are enjoying this exploration, check back for more travel adventure ideas to think about when in Aruba.