No more: The natural bridge of Aruba

Natural bridge, Aruba

Island-hopping in the Caribbean in the early 90s, Aruba wasn’t my favourite. Could have been timing. It was December and what I remember most from Oranjestad were fake Christmas trees, gaudy decorations and muzak everywhere. A plastic kind of place. Nothing Dutch about it – as opposed to neighbouring Curacao.

Of course, Aruba was – and is – more than Oranjestad. Outside the capital, Aruba offered tall palm trees, friendly people, beautiful beaches, excellent snorkelling and diving. Like most everywhere else in the Caribbean.

The natural bridge was my favourite place on the island. Thousands of years of winds and waves created this coral limestone structure, quite an impressive feat of nature. It was a 100-metre crossing, seven metres up.

So what else was special about Aruba? A unique feature is how the island’s windblown Divi Divi trees always point to the southwest, due to the trade winds from the north-east. In Aruba, you always know directions.

At the time, the island had recently split from the Netherlands Antilles and wanted to stand out from the rest. More than the ubiquitous tree compass was needed, so the local authorities decided to mint square, rather than round, 50 cent coins.

Divi divi tree, Aruba

Aruba, 50 cent coin

A little politics
Aruba left the autonomous country Netherlands Antilles in 1986, set to become a fully independent country ten years later. Come 1996, however, Aruba’s then prime minister requested a postponement of independence.

In 2010, the entire Netherlands Antilles was dissolved. Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten are now constituent countries within the Netherlands (essentially a country within a country), while the three other islands that once formed the Dutch Antilles – Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius (also known as Statia) – are now ‘special municipalities’ of the Netherlands proper.

And the natural bridge? Sadly, it collapsed in 2005. I’m glad I saw it.

Natural bridge, Aruba

Center map

Have a look at more fun Friday photos at DeliciousBaby.



34 Responses to “No more: The natural bridge of Aruba”

  1. Lisa 5 February 2012 2017 #

    My husband and I visited Aruba in 1993 (the first trip we ever took together) and again in 1995. We loved the island and the natural bridge was one of my favourite parts as well. I was very sad when I first learned that the bridge had collapsed – we have long planned to take our kids to Aruba and show them everything we loved about the island but waited too long for them to see the bridge.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 February 2012 1218 #

      What a nice story, Lisa. The kids will have heaps of fun on the beach, I’m sure.

      There’s a smaller bridge nearby – a baby natural bridge. Not the same, but still, it’s something.

  2. ItalianNotes 6 February 2012 0927 #

    What a pity about the collapse of the natural bridge. I suppose they still have the square coins as an attraction?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 February 2012 1221 #

      It’s been a while since I was there, but as far as I know, the 50 cent coins are still square 🙂

      Aruba is becoming quite a popular destination for sun-worshippers from up north here, btw. Direct flights from Oslo, even. Same with Denmark?

  3. Angela 6 February 2012 1203 #

    Beautiful bridge, what a pity it collapsed! Near my house there is one too, but different stone, very beautiful, it’s my favorite place to swim.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 6 February 2012 1222 #

      It really is a pity. I think it was very popular among visitors. Still, I think you can still go out there and see the collapsed bridge. And there’s always swimming …

  4. JoAnna 6 February 2012 1546 #

    I’ve never been to Aruba, but I have been to Curacao and I wasn’t a fan. I wonder if the islands are all similar since they have the same past?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 February 2012 2237 #

      I thought Curacao and Aruba were similar in many ways, but must admit I preferred Curacao. Maybe because Willemstaad was so much prettier. I’m more of a city girl than a beach girl.

  5. Cathy Sweeney 6 February 2012 1649 #

    I seem to remember hearing about the bridge collapse. Such a shame. Enjoyed learning a few new things about Aruba. Would love to see those Divi Divi trees.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 February 2012 2235 #

      I did like the Divi Divi trees. Only wish I had better photos of them…

  6. Abby 7 February 2012 0204 #

    Awww sad about that bridge. It looks almost magical, so still above that rushing water!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 February 2012 2238 #

      It really was the most interesting place on the island.

  7. Catwoman 7 February 2012 1613 #

    Such an amazing place! I wish I ever had the chance to get there…although I couldn’t see the natural bridge anymore, I really would like to get there…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 February 2012 2239 #

      Hope you will someday 🙂

  8. Turtle 7 February 2012 1954 #

    That’s great you got to see the bridge before it collapsed. I like to think that a lot of travel is like that… the earlier you do it the more you’ll see before the world changes. Maybe not always collapsing bridges, but perhaps collapsing regimes?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 February 2012 2233 #

      Yeah, I like that, too. I’m old enough to have visited Czechoslovakia. And Yugoslavia. And East Germany. And even the Soviet Union. And I’m glad I did.

  9. Ryan 8 February 2012 1510 #

    Just be thankful you weren’t crossing it at the time!!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 February 2012 2231 #

      Haha, true. Have to be thankful for small favours.

  10. Maegan87 9 February 2012 0748 #

    Oh, it is such a big lose!Natural Bridge has been one of Aruba’s most famous attractions. That bridge was a coral limestone formation cut out by the years of surf pounding. The bridge was also the largest in the whole world compared to other of these types. The magnificent look of that bridge is really amazing, sad it collapsed.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 February 2012 1637 #

      Thanks for that info, Meagan.

  11. Turkey's For Life 9 February 2012 0957 #

    Aww, I was wondering if the bridge would ever collapse and then you answered my question right at the end. I love those trees though. We have some similar to that on a particularly exposed road in Fethiye. As for the politics – it all sounds very complicated!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 February 2012 1639 #

      It does rather. All these colonies and former colonies…

  12. Laurel 10 February 2012 0926 #

    What a unique bridge, sad that it collapsed.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 February 2012 1640 #

      Really sad.

  13. InsideJourneys 10 February 2012 1322 #

    Too bad about the bridge, Sophie, but I’m glad the Divi Divi trees are still there. They look like they have a big bird’s nest on top that could blow off in the next breeze.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 10 February 2012 1641 #

      I wouldn’t want to be a bird perched in a nest up there, no 🙂

  14. Jessica 10 February 2012 2219 #

    It always make me sad when you can no longer visit any site. It’s just another reason to travel right now, there is not always a someday.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 February 2012 1941 #

      I agree completely!

  15. Andrew Graeme Gould 11 February 2012 2024 #

    Very interesting background to these islands, Sophie. Great to see your photo, which is now of historic value. The top of South America and the Caribbean sounds exotic to me from my perspective here much further south.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 February 2012 1942 #

      Yes, a bit odd that, the Caribbean being north to you.

  16. Sonja 12 February 2012 0346 #

    Gosh, I was really quite struck when you said it collapsed! Natural monuments like that have always been around for eons, so it’s so startling when their time has come.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 February 2012 1943 #

      Inevitable perhaps, but sad all the same.

  17. Turism Virtual 14 February 2012 1300 #

    Nice article Anne! I had no idea the coins are square!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 February 2012 1944 #

      They seem to like doing things their own way in Aruba 🙂

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