It is now over a month since Aruba fell in the grip of the complete shutdown caused by novel worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Governments are struggling to find answers to this unprecedented situation.
To make matters worse the situation is fluid and officials seem to make it up as they go or copy best practices from other countries. COVID-19 doesn’t come with a manual, laments Aruba Prime Minister recently.
For scientific information, Aruba relies on data provided by the WHO, PAHO, and RIVM in the Netherlands. The local health department and a special Prime Minister’s team is in charge of the local response.
I’m sure the title grabbed your attention, especially if you are a frequent visitor to the island of Aruba. If you are not familiar with the story, here’s a quick recap.
Aruba’s number one tourist attraction, by far, was the world famous Natural Bridge, also known locally as Cura di Turtuga (freely translated to Turtles Cove). This bridge was made of limestone and was the largest of its kind in the Caribbean.
Recent image of Natural Bridge
Throughout the years it attracted millions of people who fell in love with this massive natural structure, including the relentless punishing it received from the waves. Usually people walked across and the more adventurous ones swam underneath, fighting the waves.
Unfortunately the Natural Bridge succumbed under its massive weight and collapsed on September 2, 2005. The same natural elements that created this bridge, proved to be equally lethal. The bridge didn’t stand a chance. Above image depicts how the situation is currently. Thousands of people still visit the bridge on a yearly basis. Despite the presence of another, smaller bridge, the magic is gone and will never be the same again.
Numerous people have asked me if I thought it was going to rebuild and fixed in its original form, which I answered with a resounding no. However earlier this week I read an article in a local paper which suggested that there are plans in the works to revive the area. More specifically they want to create a natural pool-like structure.
To make this a reality is not that hard, I reckon. Just remove some rocks in the middle to let some water pass through and voilà. The question is, do we need and want a Natural Pool there? It still attracts a lot of people as is and if you build something where people will stay longer, perhaps it’ll change the whole scene there. I’m not sold on the whole idea, but I don’t hate it either.
I’m sure everyone has an opinion about this but take this into consideration: when Baby Beach was created and rocks were piled there to shut of the water I don’t remember reading about people complaining back then. Now, decades later, Baby Beach is one the most popular beaches in Aruba.
Some service providers started to work within the rules and offer removable umbrellas to customers. In below pictures you’ll see some of the ideas that are out there with some being nicer than others.
One thing I like about this effort is that they didn’t overdo it. There are just a few out at that specific spot at Eagle Beach. They rent them out for $25 a day, unlimited use which includes two beach chairs. They accept credit card, FYI.
New umbrellas side by side with palapas, with cords to prevent the wind blowing them away
The one thing I don’t like about this is, I could see it become a bit stale, perhaps they blend too much with the white surroundings (although colorful umbrellas might be an eye soar). Someone commented in the past that these things could become a chaos when there are too many. A wind gust could also be tricky. I hope they figure things out.
It has a cord to prevent the wind from blowing it off
Don’t plant it just put it; not the best looking palapa
On October 4th I wrote a piece about the renovation and expansion of defunct Havana Beach Club into Nikky Beach Restaurant. Nikky Beach Restaurant is a full service beach restaurant with beach chairs and showers as additional service.
In the ensuing weeks after the soft opening I read a report in the media that the Department of Public Works removed all structures on the beach put there by Nikki Beach Restaurant. I guess officials started to apply the rule there.
“Permanent” assets removed by Department of Public Works
Not all is lost. Nikky Beach Remains open and continues to offer service to its customers. Not only that, I’ve been told they are going to host a massive party on Christmas. One thing’s for sure, officials have set the tone. Do not build (or annex) illegally in the public space.
After being hit hard by late October and early November storms, popular beaches frequented by mostly tourists were quickly cleaned up by local officials, hotel staff and even some tourists.
The viciousness of this storm was not even the amount of rainfall – which was abnormally high – but was more the currents that changed direction completely, causing the beaches to be hit hard from the west. This resulted in beaches severely hit for hours on end, especially near Casa del Mar and Tamarijn.
We are not in the clear yet as the rain seems to continue on the island. What appears to happen this time is that the rainfall does not come accompanied by a change in currents, sparing the beaches for now.
Last week’s storm and ensuing change in climate were devastating for our beaches. Unlike popular believe it wasn’t the storms themselves that caused the this but rather the change in wind and currents. Add to the equation the rise in water level and the perfect situation was created for this hit.
Affected beaches in Aruba are Baby Beach, Druif Beach and some of Palm Beach. The entrance towards Baby Beach went completely under water. The beach itself suffered from higher water levels leaving puddles of water on the beaches. Palm Beach also has water puddles on the sand making it muddy. Furthermore there are a lot of washed up seaweed.
Palm Beach hit hard during storm
I think the hardest hit was Druif Beach. This beach is where Tamarijn, Divi All Inclusive, Casa del Mar and Aruba Beach Club are located. Near these hotels big parts of the beaches were washed away. Thanks to coral and other rocks underneath the sand there is still some beach left. It’s going to take nature way too long to fix this up so I’m guessing people will need to step up and offer nature a hand and on these beaches.
Water and mud at Palm Beach
Bad weather on its way
Piers closed until further notice
Water damage at some De Palm Pier
No swimmers at Palm Beach
A lot of water on Palm Beach, near Occidental
Boats were taken out of the water as precaution
People still tried to enjoy the sun at Palm Beach
Update: New pictures added from VisitAruba.com.
Druif Beach near Aruba Beach Club [image by VisitAruba]
Druif Beach hit near Aruba Beach [image by VisitAruba]
The area around Surfside beach (located on the outskirts of Oranjestad, near the airport and Talk of the Town) has been through several owners in the last decade. I remember the time it was Havana Beach Club which was a night club.
The latest project to appear here is Nikky Beach Restaurant. They are in the process of renovating the area and it should become a full service restaurant. Currently they are already offering beach chairs, umbrellas, towels and drinks.
Nicky Beach Restaurant
What grabbed my attention, however, was the name. A quick search online reveals that there a similar project called Nikki Beach [spelled by a “i”] based in Miami, Florida with several locations around the world.