Hidden among Aruba’s white sand beaches and tropical waters lies the Guadirikiri Cave network of underground tunnels, filled with centuries-old rock formations. Stalagmites and stalactites (along with plenty of fruit bats) sit quietly in two dark, damp, dome-shaped chambers. Light passes into the cave only through holes in the ceiling.
Local legend says the caves once held a pair of lovers condemned by the girl’s father. The lovers died in their separate chambers and their souls rose to the heavens through holes in the cave ceiling. The main cave chamber is nearly 100 feet (30.5 meters) long, and Arawak Indian drawings on the cave walls provide insight into the Aruba’s cultural history. Some island tours include a short guided visit to the caves.
Things to Know Before You Go
- One of the caves is barred from visitors in order to allow the bats to breed.
- Wear sturdy footwear to explore the caves.
- A park ranger is sometimes on-site and will recount the tale of the two lovers.
How to Get There
The cave is located within Arikok National Park, and the entrance is at the base of a cliff on the outer edge of the park, accessible via a staircase. Most of the roads within the park are accessible by regular cars. The visitor’s center is a 15-minute drive along Route 7 from Oranjestad. Tours typically include round-trip transportation to the park.
When to Get There
Arikok National Park closes at 4pm, but if you are already in the park at that time you are allowed to stay until about 6pm or later (up until 30 minutes before sunset). High season in Aruba is from mid-December to mid-April, so expect to encounter the biggest crowds then.
Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins
A 20-minute drive north of the park, the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins are the remains of a gold smelter that was established by prospectors in the 19th century. Once considered sacred by the indigenous Arawak people, the site is free to visit and is included as a stop on most tours of Aruba.