Update 1: Starting November 1, 2010 the only entry to Natural Pool is going through the main entrance of Arikok National Park. All other access to the Natural Pool will be shut down.
Update 2: Due to protests from tour operators, early 2011 the government reopened the the entrance from “Shete”, which is explained below. This entrance is exclusively for tour operators, however many others use it.
Post updated September 6, 2011
I’ve written several posts on Natural Pool and hopefully this way try to offer my contribution to explain how it truly is, perhaps to “un-hype” it. I hope this way to avoid hearing comments such as “I thought it was bigger” or “I hope it’s worth it after that ride”.
The best method to make your way to Natural Pool is signing up for a scheduled trip. Keep in mind that they know what they’re doing, they’ve done it before and if you happen to break the equipment you are not liable for any damages. On the flip side, if you choose to go at it on your own, your rental won’t be insured and if you wreck something, you’ll have to pay in full before leaving the island.
Despite the difficulty to reach the pool, there are still plenty of people interested in going there on their own. I’m going to be honest, driving up there is a whole lot of fun, that is, if you like the rugged off road drive.
Bear in mind that there aren’t many street names outside the capital. In fact, I’m using points of reference rather than street names. I’ll try to give some directions.
- Assuming you’re staying at the low/high rise area resorts the starting point would be the major traffic circle (roundabout) by the resorts. Points of reference: Pizza Hut, Texaco, Eagle Bowling Palace.
- On that traffic circle go east, destination St. Cruz.
- You reach another traffic circle, continue driving straight ahead. Points of reference: Hunny Punny, Dunkin’ Donuts.
- Yet again you reach another traffic circle and, yet again, continue straight. Point of reference: Stern Chevrolet dealer.
- And yet again another traffic circle, just keep driving straight ahead. Points of reference: Hong Kong Chinese grocery store, Arubabank.
- Continue driving straight ahead on the main road passing residential houses, sport fields, a bakery, bar, restaurants, grocery stores etc. Don’t pay too much attention to any of that.
- The next left turn is the most critical one, so here you’ll need to focus.
- At a certain point before you reach the main traffic lights in St. Cruz you must turn to the left. Point of reference: Mundo Nobo grocery store on the left side of the road.
- Drive straight ahead.
- At the next equal crossing continue to drive straight ahead. Point of reference: Another Chinese grocery store on the right.
- This road will turn, twist, go up and go down. Just continue driving on this paved road until you reach the end at a T-crossing.
- Turn to the right at this T-crossing. Points of reference: On the right a small white house, up front some rocks painted in white. Perhaps you might see some goats taking it easy around those rocks.
- Once you are on this road ignore the first crossing to the left. Continue driving a short piece and soon enough you’ll be at another crossing, where you turn to the left. If you DON”T turn here you’ll be on a dirt road to nowhere. Go back! Point of reference: At that crossing, there is a small tree with a sign to Natural Pool.
- Drive straight ahead on the paved and narrow road where it twists and turns. Point of reference: You’ll pass close to cacti fences.
- At certain point, where the road seems to end, turn to the left.
- When you follow this short road it will turn into dirt and rocks which means you found the point where you can start using your vehicle’s 4×4. Put it in four wheel drive high gear, this will suffice throughout the whole ride. If you don’t have such a good vehicle, put in four wheel drive low gear.
- Guiding you beyond this point is useless due to the lack of points of reference. The best I can do is to tell you to follow the tracks and head northeastward. Just make sure to reach the coast line. There will be a stiff hill to take along the way, both down and back up. If you don’t reach the pool within 30 minutes then you are lost my friend.
I never said it was easy. Hopefully my directions to the Natural Pool have been helpful. Good luck in finding it. Needless to say that you do this on your own risk.
- Natural Pool is the most popular attraction in Arikok National Park, which means it can get pretty crowded. Skip the crowds by going there at specific times. From Monday to Friday the best times to go there are before 9:15 AM, from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM, from 12:45 PM to 2:00 PM and from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM. In the weekends this might calm down a bit with tourists, however, locals visit mostly in the weekends.
- I suggest you where either tennis shoes or water shoes to walk around the Natural Pool area. Especially near the water it’s extremely slippery to walk.
- Speaking of walking, above instructions are how to reach the PARKING of the Natural Pool. You still need to walk down, and up, 80+ steps to get into the pool.
- Don’t rock climb, unless you know specifically where you can walk.
- Bring a snorkel and mask. You’ll be surprised what you see there.