If you’ve been following us for a while now you know how much we LOVE going on an ATV tour whenever we go on vacation. We have ATVs at home and find that it is such a great way to explore. When we got the chance to partner with Kini Kini Tours on our trip to Aruba we were THRILLED! Not only do they offer ATV tours but they also offer UTV and luxury bus tours of the island. The ATV tour was the first excursion we went on during our trip and it was also the first time we have ever seen the north side of the island. Our guide, Alex, picked me, Ryan, my sister, Samantha, and her boyfriend, Colby, (who both live in New York) up at our hotel, Casa del Mar, and we were later joined by another couple who was also from New York! It was so nice to have an essentially private tour of the island. Since we were such a small group we got to explore some extra sites that were not normally on the tour - and I would highly recommend visiting them if you do the tour and don’t get a chance to.
We started off driving along the main road to the northernmost point of the island: The California Lighthouse. Located right off Arashi beach (which is SO GORGEOUS!), the lighthouse was originally built in 1916 and named for the steamship California, which was wrecked nearby on September 23, 1891! It was such a great starting point for our trip as we would be heading down the western side of the island. If you’ve seen some of the photos I have posted from the trip so far you would have seen super calm and bright blue water. The water on the western side is more of a dark blue and a lot more wavy so it is perfect for surfing! We actually saw a bunch of surfers out while we were cruising around!
From the lighthouse, we headed to our second stop: Alto Vista Chapel. Our guide, Alex, explained to us that they host many services at the chapel and even have all of the stations of the cross along the road leading up to the chapel to reenact Jesus’ death and resurrection. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we were unable to attend a service, but hopefully we will be able to in the future!
After saying our prayers at the chapel we hopped back on our ATVs and drove along the coastline to the Baby Natural Bridge. When I was a young girl we often visited the original Natural Bridge, which collapsed in 2005. One of my favorite memories was when I went with my grandfather who has since passed away, so it was nice to relive that memory in a sense. The natural bridges are formed by the ocean waves hitting and eroding the rocks until it eventually creates a bridge-like structure. If you are lucky you can walk on top of the rocks, but in time that will also erode and collapse.
The eroding power of the ocean is not necessarily a bad thing though, because sometimes it will create natural pools, which was our next stop on the tour - and probably my favorite! If it wasn’t for our guide, Alex, I would have never known the natural pool was there. He pointed out two pieces of wood jutting out of the shoreline and we pulled up to find that it was actually a handmade ladder leading down to one of the most beautiful crystal clear pools that had formed underneath the rocks. Again, the ocean had eroded the rocks and created something magical! We each took turns jumping into the water and swimming around before heading to the next spot. I decided to take the wheel this time and drove us - my first time ever driving the ATV and it was so much fun!
Our final stop on the tour was the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins. I never knew that there was gold on the island so it was so cool to discover that after 20+ years of visiting Aruba. Alex explained to us that unlike normal gold mines which are underground this was actually a mill where they would extract gold from the ore that was being mined in the nearby hills of Ceru Plat. The Aruba Island Gold Mining Company built the Bushiribana smelter in 1825 and it operated for ten years. We climbed to the very top of the mill and got some amazing views of the island before heading back to the Kini Kini headquarters.
We definitely had such an amazing time on our ATV adventure with Kini Kini Tours and I am so glad that we convinced my sister and her boyfriend to join us. It was definitely a memory that will stay with me forever and I highly recommend joining them if you visit Aruba. It will allow you to see a side of the island that you might not see! Don’t wait 20 plus years like I did!