Our view when we awoke Wednesday morning -

Not too bad! Aruba is gorgeous, despite being mostly desert (only 2-3” of rain annually, similar to Arizona’s climate)

and very windy every day. Good news though is it’s outside the Caribbean hurricane belt so it’s a great place to visit year round.

Giant cacti abound 

and the few trees that grow here are stunted and twisted.

First stop on our tour was the Rock Stack. 

We climbed the rock stairs on the left, 

ducking very low to get under that center rock, to reach the viewing platform with its 360  views of the island (including Queen Elizabeth on the horizon). 

Next stop - Natural Bridge Park on Aruba’s rocky east coast.

The beach side of the roadway into the park is made of coral and the other side is volcanic rock. It makes for a very dramatic landscape.

The largest of the natural arches fell several years ago 

but there are a couple of smaller ones still standing.

A short drive to Aruba’s west coast - the island is only 19 miles long and 6 miles across - and we were at the California Lighthouse.

I was bummed it was closed to visitors except for one early morning tour, which we had missed.

Meeting this guy almost made up for it though. We were warned he likes (and is very good at) stealing hats and glasses from unsuspecting visitors. 

The highlight of our tour was advertised as a semi-sub trip over a freighter that was scuttled in 1939.

We’ve done semi-subs before - and the Caribbean is famed for its usually crystal clear waters - so I was expecting more than we got.

The boat ride out to the viewing “sub” was fun, 

with great views of the hotel district and 

the lighthouse we’d just visited,

but the water was too cloudy to see much

and there were only a few varieties of fish in the area. 

Oh well. It was interesting to see the wreck and hear her story. (She was sunk by her German captain at the start of WW2; he and his crew didn’t want to return to Germany and join the fighting.)

Thursday we are at sea and Friday we transit the Panama Canal. So excited!