Hooiberg, Aruba — 31 July 2013

Info

  • Map: no map; maps are considered gauche in Aruba, as are street signs and route numbers–in general anything that would assist people who do not know where they are going is frowned upon.
  • Trails: a big set of concrete steps going up the hill; you can’t miss it.
  • Type: Out and back
  • Distance:  2 miles, probably less
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Exertion: Moderate

Getting There

My best suggestion is to find someone who’s been there before and take him with you, but even that might not help.  The only thing you have going for you is that Aruba is pretty much flat except for 3 or 4 hills, of which Hooiberg is the second highest.  It is also smack in the middle of the island and can be seen from just about anywhere.

Hooiberg--You Can't Miss It

Hooiberg--You Can't Miss It

The Hike

There are certainly better hikes in Aruba, particularly in Arikok National Park, but here’s the deal with Aruba–it’s pretty freaking hot.  The sun shines all the time.  It’s a great place to hang out at the beach or the pool–or at the bar by the pool, but not the kind of place you want to exert yourself without carrying a lot of water and slathering on the sunscreen.  Being of Irish ancestry and living almost all my life in the Northeastern US, this is not my native climate, and I did not feel a mere 5-day stint in someplace similar to Arizona would acclimatize me sufficiently.

So I opted for the slightly sissy climb of the purported 562 concrete steps (which I did not count) up to the top of this volcanic 541′ tit that one can’t help but notice upon approach to Queen Beatrix airport in Oranjestad.

The 562 Steps

The 562 Steps

We started around 9:00am, trying to avoid the high sun and heat and, even with a few stops, made it to the top in about 30 minutes.  The views from Hooiberg can be quite impressive as long as you are prepared for two small disappointments.  First, there is a lot of microwave gear at the top of the mountain, embossed with graffiti, and second, you can’t actually get a 360-degree view of the island because of said gear, so one has to clamber over cables and concrete to get to all the vantage points.

View from Hooiberg

View from Hooiberg

As Aruba lies diagonally in the Caribbean Sea, pointing northwest to southeast, the western and southern side of the island (e.g. above) is where all the resorts are, while the northern and eastern side is much more like the northern California coast–rugged, rocky, and pounded by the surf.  From Hooiberg the windward side is harder to see, as in the picture below.

Looking Toward the North Coast

Looking Toward the North Coast

Coming down is a piece of cake, although the second section off the top is fairly steep, but it does have a railing.  Once this excursion was completed, we went to Calabashi Rock, not much of a climb, but an interesting place:

Calabashi Rock

Calabashi Rock

The bigger challenge of the rock is actually finding it, because, apropos of what I said above, it seems to be a quaint local custom to try to get tourists as lost as possible while on this little happy island.

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