Aruba's rolling landscapes are robust with cactus plants, aloe and distinctively-shaped divi divi trees, around which exists a thriving community of small wildlife. Aruba's semi-arid climate supports unique flora typically classified as desert, with cactus and brush plants standing in sharp contrast to the shimmering turquoise seas.
The greatest diversity of Aruba’s wildlife can be found at Arikok National Park, the island’s protected wilderness sprawling across 18 percent of Aruba’s land area. You may encounter rare birds here like the Aruban burrowing owl (shoco) or the local birds of pray, warawara and kinikini. Arikok National Park is also home to the cascabel, considered one of the rarest rattlesnake species. Hiking tours with a knowledgeable park ranger are available and can be booked at the park’s Visitors Center.
Aruba's dry, desert-like rocky terrain is an ideal home for many four-legged animals, including wild donkeys and goats. They are usually found near the rock formation of Ayo. Other intriguing creatures, such as iguanas and a variety of lizards also call the island home.
For birdlovers, the four San Nicolas Bay Keys located at the southeastern part of Aruba are major nesting sites for different tern species: sooty terns, black noddies, and brown noddies nest in or under buttonwood trees.
At the Bubali ponds - a former saltpan now an artificial freshwater wetland fed by the effluent of a wastewater treatment plant - buttonwood and white mangroves thrive. Buttonwood trees, growing along the eastern shoreline of the larger pond, attract brown pelicans and cormorants diving for food in the deep waters of this lake.