Aruba has one of the most breathtaking parks and ecosystems in the world: Arikok National Park. In addition, Aruba is home to some of the most unique vegetation in the Caribbean. Aruba's south coast is home to the whitest of sand beaches and clearest of blue seas. On the other side of the island, the northeast coast contains desert-like conditions complete with Caribbean cacti and striking rock structures.
Aruba's scenery begs for camping opportunities, but there is a distinct lack of sites. Eco-tourism provides a great alternative.
According to the International Ecotourism Society, "ecotourism" is "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." Eco-tourism hopes to impart community participation and conservation measures through nature-related activities without becoming harmful to business. Each country has its own practices and opportunities when it comes to eco-tourism.
Arikok National Park, the main eco-tourist site Aruba, covers 18 percent of the island and has been considered an "environmental sanctuary" since the 1980s. In fact, five of the many species that live on this island are native only to Aruba. The park is home to some of the most dynamic natural rock structures in the Caribbean. Many works of Native American settlement art also appear throughout the park.
In order to allow visitors to explore the park without sustaining damage to the site, the government of Aruba hired companies like Aruba Bonita to maintain the grand beauty of Arikok. The park has been divided into four zones, with the central zone as the main destination for travelers. Visitors to the central zone can see a bevy of historical, cultural, and natural landmarks and learn more about each at education centers throughout the zone. The central zone has additional wonders such as a unique beach cove and underwater caves, along with a route for vehicle access. Both the north and south zones are highly sensitive and have been designed as research and visitor education areas. Visitors can explore Aruba's ecosystem on foot or horseback along hiking and horse trails. The Spanish Lagoon Area is also worth a look. A transition zone around the park keeps a kilometer of land between Arikok and any current or future development.
Aruba eco-tourism activities are great alternatives for those who want to go beyond sightseeing and sunbathing. Try spelunking (cave exploration) and take pictures of the "batty" inhabitants of the Guadiriki cave or see Arawak drawings on the ceiling of the nearby Fontein cave. Couples can pass through the Tunnel of Love. Remember to rent helmets and flashlights when venturing underground.
Diving allows visitors to venture underwater and explore some of the fascinating wrecks that reside off of Aruba's shores. Or, stay on dry land and take an off-road safari around the island. Renting a 4-wheel drive vehicle is the best method for sightseeing, but horseback riding is also an option. Alternately, relax on the links at Tierra del Sol, an eco-friendly golfcourse which strives to preserve the region's natural wildlife.
"Green" hotels infuse environmentally-conservative concepts with the practical side of running a business. These accommodations aim to save water and energy and reduce solid waste while simultaneously saving money. There are "green" hotels across the world, but Aruba has one of the best in Manchebo Beach Resort.
Below is the one property we know about in Aruba that can get you back to nature. Click its name to learn more about on-site details and nearby landmarks and activities. Who knows? It could be the perfect place for your vacation.
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