We recently returned from a family vacation to Aruba during the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel is very different these days! If you’re interested in what it’s like to travel during COVID-19, check out – International Travel during COVID-19. Once we arrived in country, we took advantage of all the kid friendly fun that Aruba has to offer.
Check out the video for everything we did in Aruba during COVID. Below are just a few of the highlights.
The Donkey Sanctuary
Donkeys are not native to Aruba. They were originally introduced when Spain settled the island, over 500 years ago. Donkeys were relied upon for transportation and work equipment. At one time there were over 1,200 donkeys on this small island. As cars began to be introduced to the island, donkeys were no longer needed and began to roam free. They became a nuisance on the island, getting into trash cans and causing car accidents. In 1997, Donkey Sanctuary Aruba was founded to rescue these animals.
Today the sanctuary is home to 121 donkeys. Visitors are welcome to feed the donkeys. Grain can be purchased on-site, but if you’re near a market, pick up apples and carrots as a special treat. Each donkey has their own distinct personality. Some donkeys are very assertive and will try to eat all the food. Others are more shy and stand back. And many of them love attention and pets. While feeding the donkeys, you’ll stand at a protected ledge. Otherwise, the donkeys would ambush and knock you over for food. When not feeding them, you’re free to walk the grounds and meet them up close. If you arrive as soon as they open at 9am, you & your children can even help with the morning chores.
Bushiribana Gold Smelter Ruins
Located north of Arikok National Park sits the Bushiribana Gold Smelter Ruins. First discovered in 1824, gold was once a huge industry in Aruba. Raw ore was mined at nearby Ceru Plat Hill, and primitive methods were used to extract the gold. Wooden cranes lifted the ore and large grain mills pulverized the ore. This created dust and left behind clumps containing the gold. In order to extract the gold, the Bushiribana Gold Smelter was built in 1874 to melt the clumps and extract the gold. The methods were so primitive that it’s believed up to 50% of the gold was lost. With WWI looming and ore materials running low, mining was stopped in 1916 and never resumed. In total, Aruba produced over 3 million pounds of gold.
Today, visitors can explore the ruins at their own risk. Be very careful, as loose rock and boulder are abundant. A climb to the top is rewarded with breathtaking views of Aruba’s western rugged coast line.
If you’re staying in one of the high rise hotels, you’re only steps away from Palm Beach. This beach is known for its calm waters making it an ideal spot for children. Shops and restaurants line this two mile stretch of beach. There’s also many places to rent water sports equipment. Build sand castles, snorkel, and float in the gentle waves.
Aruba Aloe Company
Founded in 1890, the Aruba Aloe Company is the oldest aloe company still in operation. Aloe is very significant to Aruba. The country’s coat of arms even includes an aloe plant. At one time, Aloe fields made up two thirds of the island. Today, the aloe is still cut by hand using the same methods for the past 100 years. The company produces aloe-based Skin, Hair & Sun Care products, as well as medicinal products. You can stop by the facility for a free tour and aloe harvesting demonstration.
We hope you enjoyed learning about our free kid-friendly things to do with kids in Aruba during COVID. You may also like our International Travel during COVID-19 and make sure you follow us on Facebook!
Love the videos and the travel tips.