Malmok, Boca Catalina, Salt & Pepper
Too many to list!!
Private ATV tour... Who to use?
Hello all, I am returning to my favorite home away from in two weeks! (YAY!) I am interested in booking a private all day ATV tour for my wife and I. (we have done a few short 2hr tours in the past, they are over too quickly). Are there any companys that are better than rest? ( or, any we should definitely avoid?)
Also, should we just wait till we arrive to book this? Looking forward to hearing from all you helpful regulars on this board! Thanx in advance! Big Dave
At the advice of Graham Flanagan here on the forum, we took a private ATV tour with Kini Kini last year. By far, one of the best island excursions we have done. We knew specific sights we wanted to visit and Kini Kini gladly obliged. They are a small Mom and Pop operation- an Aruban and his American wife.
"So dd and I sit down to await our pick up from Kini Kini Tours and lo and behold there is their driver recognizable by his "Kini Kini Tours" t-shirt sitting on the bench across from us. We went over and introduced ourselves and he helped us into the van and we were off. A short ride down to the high rise hotels we picked up a couple who were taking a jeep tour.
Our driver Ray took us to Kini Kini's office. It was a house and we were instructed to walk through the house to the back and there was the office! This office is actually in the home of the owners Eloy and his wife Christine. We indeed felt as if we were being welcomed into their home.
Our credit card information was processed and we were then taken to the ATV's for orientation and safety as well as fitting for our helmets. Eloy and Ray made us feel very comfortable and gave us a good run through before our butts even hit the seats. If the ATV's were not new, they were "like" new. During our stop at the Natural Bridge, a rider on a rented ATV from another company admired our ATV's saying, "We got the good ones."
I rode single and our 12 yo dd rode on the back of the ATV with dh. Following our guide Ray, we were off to visit the sites. I have to say dh and I had never rode ATV's previously and were slightly nervous given the prospect of riding some local roads prior to heading "off road" once past the tip of the island and the California Lighthouse. Our worries were for nothing. By the time we left the lighthouse we were of course off road and I know I personally was feeling very comfortable driving. Ray allowed us to drive at a speed comfortable to us, leading accordingly and offering up insight and history at each stop.
Our sites visited included: California Lighthouse, Wish Garden, Alto Vista Chapel, "Baby" Natural Bridge, Bushiribana Ruins, the Natural Bridge and Natural Pool. We have been to all the above sites previously and again, took the tour for access to the Natural Pool. We did give up the stop at the Ayo Rock Formations in order to be able to spend additional time at the Natural Pool. Our guide Ray was very happy to oblige. Dd was happy to be able to take a swim, cool off and rinse off some of the dirt.
On the back of his ATV, Ray carried a cooler with water as well as strapped our backpack carrying digital camera, video camera and towel and was happy to allow us as much time as necessary at each stop for photos and video.
I do have to say after visiting the Natural Pool twice previously by 4 x 4, getting there by ATV, was by far the easiest and quickest way in which to get there once we were "off road". It was still a little "hairy", as it was in a 4 x 4, but by following our guide Ray, we knew exactly where on the path to follow. I might add I was grateful the brakes worked! Never once did I fear for my life though. Imo it is more dangerous swimming in the Natural Pool than getting there via ATV. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough, especially as a way to see the Natural Pool. This was one of the best excursions we have ever taken on the island in the 13 years that we have been visiting.
Was there a downside? Dirty as anything. Riding behind our guide Ray, and then my dh, I literally know now where the expression, "eat my dust" comes from. Remembering how green the island was at Christmas, it was immediately noticeable that it was now so totally opposite. Brown as brown as can be. No significant rain since February, by June the island had become very very dry and DUSTY. As a side note, as I will mention later, the island did see significant rain June 24 and 25. In 17 visits I have never seen the island as dry as it was. If you prepare beforehand and wear junky clothes (think throw away) and shoes as we did, this will not be an issue. My t-shirt from that day just went into the trash; no amount of bleach was ever going to get out all of that dust.
Dd complained about everything under the sun during the ride, but this was her chance to see and swim in the Natural Pool. If you asked her now I think she would say she liked it but will tell you that she did not like the dirt and the dust. For dh and myself it was a unique experience and an opportunity to see Aruba from a different perspective."
Advice- wear "disposable" clothes & shoes. Ours looked similar to Andrea's after horseback riding (same principle )
Another option is renting ATVs and cruising the island solol. I try to do that everytime I am in Aruba. Grab a map and go, the island is small enough, so getting lost isn't that bad. Personally as an somewhat of an experienced rider, this is probably the best this to check the island out and have some fun.
Hope that helps.
Malmok, Boca Catalina, Salt & Pepper
Too many to list!!
Thanks Jersey Pete, for that suggestion. I did actually try that on my last visit and while it was fun, I did get turned around a lot on the "back side" of the island. I would follow a trail for quite a while only to find it dead ends. What I am hoping to do is get a good guide with GOOD machines who can show us the things that maybe only the locals know about.
Also thanks to Arubalisa for suggesting Kini Kini. I have been reading online reviews of there service, (and others, such as Rancho Notorius, Demari, etc...) and have heard good and bad about all of them. I guess we may defer to our friends on the staff at the Divi/Tam and see who they might suggest...
Thanks again to all for your input... (3 more days! I can't stand it!!!!)