Santa Cruz (12,000 inhabitants) is a large village in the middle of Aruba, and was the oldest Spanish settlement on the island. Santa Cruz itself is not touristy, there is only one big holiday park. But in Santa Cruz are some of the main attractions of the island such as the Arikok National Park. This national park has several caves, beaches, hills and a natural pool which you all can visit on foot, on horseback or with a 4x4. In addition, Santa Cruz has many attractions for children. There is a water park, donkey shelter and an ostrich farm. Although Santa Cruz is not touristy, it's an ideal departure point for the many sights and attractions that Aruba has to offer.
Location: 1.2mi from Santa Cruz | Category: Nature
The Hooiberg is a 541ft hill near Santa Cruz that you're able to see from all over Aruba. The Hooiberg consists mainly of a black granite-like rock with limestone veins, called haystack cast. In addition to Aruba you can only find these stones on Iceland. You can climb the 592 steep steps to the top of the Hooiberg. At the top you have a view over whole Aruba, on a clear day you can even see Venezuela. On the way to the top are no facilities, so take plenty of water with you.
Arikok National Park
Location: 2.5mi from Santa Cruz | Price: $10 | Category: Nature
Arikok National Park has a size of 8400 acres and covers 18% of Aruba. In the national park you can enjoy the beautiful landscapes of Aruba with rugged hills of volcanic lava, quartz and limestone cliffs. The two biggest hills of Aruba are located in the Arikok National Park. The park has a lot of reptiles and bird species, including the unique Aruban rattlesnake, the Aruban whiptail lizard, the burrowing owl and the Aruban parakeet. In the Arikok National Park are many other attractions such as a natural pool, caves with drawings of the Arawak Indians and beaches. The national park is open daily from 8am to 5pm, the entrance fee is $10 per person, children are admitted free.
Location: Arikok National Park, 2.5mi from park center | Category: Nature
The Natural Pool is a natural lake on the wild northeast coast of Aruba. The natural lake is naturally formed in the course of time and is still being fed by fresh sea water. From the rocks you can jump into the pool, but you can also use a natural staircase. From the Natural Pool you have a beautiful view of the wild sea, it's also possible to snorkel in the natural pool. The road to the Natural Pool is difficult to access; only by foot, horseback or with a 4x4.
Location: Arikok National Park, 1.8mi from park center | Category: Culture
The Fontein Cave is the most popular cave of Aruba. The walls and ceiling of the cave are decorated by the Arawak Indians. The Fontein Cave is 13 feet high and 165 feet deep and is filled with stalagmites and stalactites. In the nearby plantation Fontein there is a freshwater source and you can get a feet treatment by small fish (Garra Rufa).
Location: Arikok National Park, 2.5mi from park center | Category: Culture
The Guadirikiri Cave is the most famous cave of Aruba because of the sunlight that shines from the ceiling on the walls. This light gives special effects in the cave and on photographs. The Guardiriki Cave is around 330 feet long, in the dark part of the cave nest hundreds of harmless bats.
Location: Arikok National Park, 3.5mi from park center | Price $ 65 | Category: Horse Riding
On Daimari Beach, at the northern tip of the Arikok National Park, lies Rancho Daimari. At Rancho Daimari you can explore the Arikok National Park and the Natural Pool on horseback or make a trip along the coast to Andicuri Beach and the Natural Bridge. Prices start at $65 per person, depending on the tour.
Boca Prins Beach
Location: Arikok National Park, 2mi from park center | Category: Beach
Boca Prins Beach is located on the wild northeast coast of Aruba and is known for its white sand dunes. The beach lies between the hills, which gives it a nice view. The sea of Boca Prins Beach is, because of strong currents and quicksands, not suitable for swimming or surfing. Because of the strong winds, the beach is free of mosquito. Because of the good shelter, Boca Prins Beach is a good place for a picnic.
Dos Playa Beach
Location: Arikok National Park, 2.5mi from park center | Category: Beach
Northwest of Boca Prins Beach lies Dos Playa Beach. This beach is also an ideal picnic spot and you have a beautiful view here too. The sea of Dos Playa Beach is because of the strong currents not suitable for swimming, but it is suitable for kite, wind or wave surfers.
Aquaventure Water park
Location: Aruba Vacation Park, 1mi from Santa Cruz | Price: $ 25 | Category: Water park
In the Aruba Vacation Park lies the Aquaventure Water Park. This water park has 5 water slides, wild water river, a children's pool of 16,000 sq. ft. and a great lagoon of 10,700 sq. ft. The Aquaventure Waterpark is located at the foot of the Hooiberg near Santa Cruz. The entrance is at the staircase of the Hooiberg. The entrance fee to the Aquaventure Waterpark is $25 for one adult and one child.
Aruban Donkey Sanctuary
Location: 2.5mi from Santa Cruz (route 6) | Category: Animal Shelter
Donkeys were 500 years the most important form of transportation in Aruba. With the arrival of the automobile, the donkeys were released into the wild. The Aruban Donkey Sanctuary is a shelter for these wild donkeys. At present there are 90 donkeys in the Aruban Donkey Sanctuary. If you come by in the morning, you can help feed and care of the donkeys. Admission is free.
Aruba Ostrich Farm
Location: 2.8mi from Santa Cruz | Price: $12 | Category: Children
On the road from Santa Cruz to the Natural Bridge and Andicuri Beach lies the Ostrich Farm Aruba Ostrich Farm. Here are about 80 ostriches and emus held. Every half hour a tour of the Aruba Ostrich Farm is given. You walk among the ostriches and you can also feed them yourself. This tour is both informative and interactive, and will cost $12 for adults and $6 for children. The Aruba Ostrich Farm also has a bar/restaurant, children's playground and a boutique.
Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins
Location: 3.5mi from Santa Cruz | Category: History
On the spot that the Arawak Indians considered sacred, are the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins. The ruins are the remains of a gold smelter built in 1825. In 1824, gold was discovered in the neighborhood of Santa Cruz and the Burshiribana gold mine was built. Until well into the 19th century the gold mine and gold smelter were active. You can find the Bishiribana Gold Mill Ruins on the way to the Natural Bridge, past the Aruba Ostrich Farm.
Location: 3.7mi from Santa Cruz | Category: Nature
Until September 2, 2005 Aruba had the largest natural bridge of the Caribbean, the Natural Bridge. The limestone shaped bridge at height of 23 feet, was 100 feet long. On the night of September 2, 2005 the Natural Bridge collapsed. Yet it's still worthwhile to visit the remains of the Natural Bridge. Nearby is the surviving smaller Baby Natural Bridge, which is one of the eight remaining natural bridges of Aruba.
Location:4mi from Santa Cruz | Category: Beach
Near the Natural Bridge is Andicuri Beach. This beach with white powder sand is an ideal place to breath of fresh air or a take picnic. Due to strong currents, the sea of Andicuri Beach is not suitable for swimming. It is suited for wind, kite and wave surfing.
Ayo Rock Formations
Location: 1.8mi from Santa Cruz | Category: Nature
The Ayo Rock Formations are the largest rock formations of Aruba. Giant boulders are stacked on top of each other in a special way by nature. At the bottom of the boulders petroglyphs are carved into the rocks by the Arawak Indian. For them the Ayo Rock Formations were holy ground. Walkways have been constructed around and over the rock formations.
Casibari Rock Formations
Location: 2.2mi from Santa Cruz | Category: Nature
The Casibari Rock Formations are the most popular rock formations of Aruba. The rock formations are easy to climb by the constructed paths and stairs. Around the Casibari Rock Formations a park planted. The Casibari Rock Formations can be reached via Route 4 towards Paradera.
Location: 3.7mi from Santa Cruz | Category: Beach
In the village of Pos Chikitu, south of Santa Cruz just between Oranjestad and San Nicolas, lies the Mangel Halto beach. This beach is ideal for swimming, snorkeling or sunbathing. The beach is famous its the mangrove trees (Mango Halto means high mangroves). The sea is protected by a natural reef. Outside the reef the sea goes to a depth of 360ft. which makes it a good dive site.
In Santa Cruz, at route 4, lies the Centro San Martin. Several latin american dance lessons, such as Salsa, Merengue and Bachata are provided by ArubaSalsa.
From Santa Cruz, you can take a tour at Rancho Daimari on the north side of Aruba. You can horseback ride along the north coast or explore the Arikok National Park.
From Santa Cruz you can go to the Arikok National Park. In this park you can hike to attractions such as the caves or the natural pool. You can also climb the two highest hills of Aruba, Sero Jamanota (617ft.) and Sero Arikok (185m.). From these places you have a beautiful view over the Arikok National Park and Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz hasn't got large shopping centers, but on route 4 and 7 are shops present focused on the locals.
Santa Cruz has limited nightlife locations. There are a number of restaurants and bars and ArubaSalsa regularly organizes free dance evenings.
Because Santa Cruz is not a tourist place, there aren't many places to stay. At the foot of the Hooiberg lies the Aruba Vacation Park, this isthe only more luxurious resort of Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz is accessible by two main roads. From Oranjestad Route 7 goes directly to Santa Cruz and continues to the Arikok National Park. Route 4 runs from Santa Cruz, through Paradera to Eagle Beach.
There are three bus lines, Lines 3 and 3A and line 2A, that connect Santa Cruz with Oranjestad and San Nicolas. Line 5 and Line 6 are two bus lines that have stops in villages around Santa Cruz and Oranjestad. A bus ticket costs 4 florin or $ 2.30.