My Wheelchair Accessible Aruba Tour: How I Fell in Love with One Happy Island

Relaxing in Aruba
Relaxing in Aruba
The last port of call on my recent cruise through the southern Caribbean with Carnival Cruise Lines was a destination that I have wanted to visit for years. I am a complete sucker for anywhere with a beach, so naturally Aruba has been on my mind for quite a while. It was the last port of call for my cruise and the one that I was most looking forward to. I’m happy to say that it surpassed my high expectations.
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Even though I was only in Aruba for about eight hours, it was plenty of time for me to get a feel for the island and discover why Aruba’s slogan is “one happy island.” From drinking fresh coconut water out of an actual coconut to getting in the Caribbean Sea with an awesome beach wheelchair, my six hour shore excursion in Aruba with Accessible Caribbean Vacations was an absolute dream. Here’s how my phenomenal day in Aruba went and why I fell in love with one happy island –
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After getting off the Carnival Horizon ship, my mom and I quickly met up with our driver and guide for the day, Carlos. I booked our excursion a couple months before the cruise through Accessible Caribbean Vacations (ACV). ACV offers several different accessible tour options at a variety of price points in Aruba, but we chose the “Deluxe Accessible Aruba Shore Excursion”. It’s a six hour tour that combines the best sights of the island on a four hour driving tour with a couple hours at a wheelchair accessible beach afterwards. You can opt for just the driving tour or just the beach, but I wanted the full experience, as this was my first time in Aruba. After meeting Carlos, I rolled into the adapted minivan, Carlos secured my wheelchair with tie-downs (safety first!), and we then began our excursion.
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 wheelchair accessible Aruba
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The first stop on our tour was one of Aruba’s most popular landmarks, the California Lighthouse, which was built back in 1910 to warn ships of Aruba’s coastline. While the lighthouse wasn’t accessible to go inside and to the top, the area surrounding the lighthouse was enough of a reason to visit. We saw 360 degree views of the island and it was stunningly beautiful.
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For the ultimate dining experience, you could have dinner and watch the sunset at Faro Blanco Restaurant. The Italian restaurant is right beside the lighthouse, and next time I’m in Aruba, I’m making this a must-do. While I didn’t eat at Faro Blanco during my visit to California Lighthouse, I did enjoy some fresh coconut water. On the grounds of the lighthouse, there were people selling souvenirs and one guy was chopping and selling coconuts. It was quite delicious and drinking it by the lighthouse, while gazing at the sea, was the perfect start to my day in Aruba.
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Next, we had a pretty short drive to the Alto Vista Chapel. On the way to the chapel, we passed white crosses on the side of the road, which marked the stations of the cross. We didn’t get out of the van at the chapel, but Carlos did a great job of explaining the history of it and letting us get some photos from the van.
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Alto Vista Chapel was constructed in 1952 on the site of Aruba’s first Catholic church, which was built in 1750. In the 1700s, Spanish missionaries supposedly converted the islands Indians into Catholics at the chapel. While it isn’t the original chapel from the 1700s now, it was really fascinating to learn about the history of the site and see the small, yellow chapel.
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After a few minutes at the chapel, we headed to the final stop of our driving portion of the excursion – the Natural Bridge! To get to the Natural Bridge, we drove on a fairly bumpy road for about 10-15 minutes, but the views along the way were incredible. There was cactus in every direction that I looked. Before visiting Aruba, I only envisioned beaches and palm trees. I certainly never expected to see a desert area full of cacti, but it was awesome to see and made me like Aruba even more. The island has a lot more to it than just pretty beaches, although those are nice as well.
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Once we were at the Natural Bridge, I got out of the van and quickly saw the impressive landmark. The larger Natural Bridge actually collapsed in 2005, but there is still a smaller one, known as “Baby Natural Bridge.” Over the years, big waves and strong winds have crashed against the limestone rocks on the cliffs, forming the Natural Bridge. To be known as the small one, I thought it was still large. It was truly a sight to behold and we even saw an iguana at one point. He was perfectly posed in front of the Natural Bridge, making for a pretty epic photo in my opinion.
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The Natural Bridge also had a really nice souvenir shop and eatery that was wheelchair friendly. I bought a t-shirt and some magnets, but they had everything that you could imagine. After shopping for a bit, we decided to get a quick bite of lunch at the on-site cafe as well. In Aruba, a pastechi is a popular snack or breakfast item, but it also made for a yummy lunch. A pastechi is a deep fried pastry that’s stuffed with meat or cheese. I had a cheese pastechi and it was delicious! Definitely be sure to try one while you’re in Aruba.
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Pastechis

Pastechis

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Now that we had toured some of Aruba’s best and most wheelchair accessible attractions, we were ready for some beach time. On the “Deluxe Accessible Aruba Shore Excursion” with Accessible Caribbean Vacations, we were given two hours of beach time and they provided a beach wheelchair to use. Carlos drove us to the Holiday Inn Resort and we used their beach. The resort was super nice and I hope to actually stay there one day, but my two hours on the resort’s beach were legit some of the best hours I’ve ever had in the Caribbean.
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I’ve been to a plethora of beaches over the past few years, but I’ve never been able to get in the Caribbean Sea. I honestly didn’t expect to be able to in Aruba either, but when Carlos showed us the beach wheelchair, I was all in. The chair was amphibious, so it could roll in the sand and then float in the water. For the first time ever, I was able to get in the Caribbean Sea!!
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wheelchair accessible Aruba
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wheelchair accessible Aruba
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I floated in the crystal clear water for about an hour until my face was sunburnt (Tip: the Aruban sun does not play!! It will burn you in record time!). The warm water felt so nice and this experience made Aruba my new favorite island in the Caribbean. I already can’t wait to return to Aruba!
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 wheelchair accessible Aruba
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I was only on the island for a short time, but Aruba totally won me over. I was able to experience things that I never have before, try new foods, and see remarkable sights. Whether you want to relax on the beach or have a more adventurous excursion, you’re sure to have a fun time with Accessible Caribbean Vacations, no matter what your abilities are.
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In Aruba, “Biba dushi” is a popular saying. It means “Living the good life” and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing on the island. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your own wheelchair accessible Aruba trip!
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*Thank you to Carnival Cruise Lines for working with me on this trip and Accessible Caribbean Vacations for the great wheelchair accessible Aruba tour! While my experiences were discounted, all opinions are authentic and my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through on a link, you won’t pay a penny more, but we’ll receive a slight commission which helps us keep this information available to you. Thanks!   
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1 Comment

  • Janice Hartman says:

    Thanks for a great update about an island I visited several times while I was still ambulatory with crutches. Would love to return now in my powerchair. I did see the Natural Bridge, but the smaller one looks similar to me. We stayed at a lovely resort after our cruise which was a treat, but no accessible w/c then, but the pool was great. The rooms were huge with huge beds, esp. after being in a closet sizes interior cabin on an old cruise ship! I love lighthouses, but can’t climb them, so I depend on the pictures from others. There is one in Florida advertised as accessible (but it is only 2 stories and they have a little elevator). Glad you had a good time. Thanks once again for the report!

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