Hooiberg is a Dutch word meaning Haystack. One look at this photo tells you how it got its name. It is actually a dormant volcano located close to the center of the island. The island of Aruba was formed as a result of volcanic activity.
Climbing the Hooiberg is a nice little adventure, especially for the kids. There are 561 concrete steps, some with rails, and a few rest stops. When you reach the summit there is a log book to sign. From the peak, you can apparently see Venezuela, but I can’t verify that. Be forewarned, though. It may not look that high, but climbing Hooiberg can be tough under the hot Aruban sun, particularly for an old, sedentary grown up like myself. When my daughter and I hiked it in August 2011, I was dragging. We shared the mountain that day with a work crew installing a cell phone tower, and I suspect they were betting among themselves about whether I’d make it to the top. My advice: Drink plenty of water and take your time. At the base of the mountain there may be a man selling water, but you’re better off bringing your own just to be sure. We were warned about rattlesnakes before our climb. A Dutch child had been bitten a week or two earlier. Luckily, she received medical attention quickly and suffered no lasting injury. I was still a little nervous hearing the constant hissing during every step of the climb.
I couldn’t tell if the sound was from rattlers or insects. When you’re done, you can tell everyone that you conquered the Hooiberg. First you have to learn to pronounce it, though. I can’t help with that.
I came across this photo of Hooiberg taken by David Dillon of David Dillon Photography. It is entitled “Impending Storm.” His site has beautiful photos of Aruba and lots of other stuff.
This video gives an idea of what you’ll see from the top of Hooiberg. There are several radio and cell phone antennas on the peak which do spoil the experience a bit, but the view is still great.