Approximately 18% of the total land area of Aruba is assigned as Arikok National Park in order to protect and preserve the flora, fauna, geology and historical remains present. The park hosts three primary geological formations and a variety of habitats.
Arikok National Park
Arikok National Park is 34 sq km (13 sq mi) of natural area, located in northeastern Aruba, which contains examples of most of the island’s flora and fauna against a backdrop of great geological complexity.
Approximately 18% of the total land area of Aruba is assigned as a park, to protect and preserve the flora, fauna, geology and historical remains present within the Arikok National Park.
The park includes three primary geological formations: the Aruba lava formation, a quartz diorite formation, and a limestone formation that extends inward from the coast.
Arikok National Park hosts a variety of habitats. The main ecotype is the xeric scrubland. Candelabra cactus are scattered across the landscape, along with thorny bushes.
During the dry season many of the plants lose a portion and sometimes all of their foliage. Plants that keep foliage usually have other adaptations to maintain moisture and limit evaporation, for example thick leathery leaves.
There is great geological variety within the park. The main aspects are the rough hills of the volcanic Aruba lava formation, the mysterious rocks of the batholithic quartz-diorite/tonalite and the limestone rocks from fossilized coral.
The two tallest hills on the island are situated within the park: Jamanota hill 188 m (617 ft) and Arikok hill 176 m (577 ft), from which the name of the park is derived.
The line of the permanently wind-and-wave beaten North Coast is broken by several bays (boca's). Most of them are small, yet impressive, inlets at the mouth of dry riverbeds. Some of these bays are spectacular sights, adorned with white, sandy beaches and sand dunes, as is the case at Boca Prins and Dos Playa.
Arikok is also home to Conchi, Aruba's most important natural attraction, also know as The Natural Pool. The journey to the Pool is and adventure by itself and only possible by foot, horse, ATV or 4x4 vehicle.
There are a number of sites within the park that attest to the history of Aruba. The Caquetío Indians left rock paintings in Cunucu Arikok and Fontein Cave. The bird drawing in the park logo is a copy of one of these historical artistic expressions.
Old plantation (Cunucus) sites tell the story of an active yet challenging agricultural past. These Cunucus were also residential areas for the few families that worked the land. These families found ways to survive in the difficult conditions, and were able to erect their homes with materials found in the area.
Two of these adobe houses have been restored. Park rangers are learning many of the old building techniques in order to preserve these unique Aruban mud houses which can be found at Cunucu Arikok and near Plantation Prins.