Making a wish in Aruba

There is a tradition along the rocky northern shores of Aruba, but it was not inspired by a local custom. This tradition was created and is maintained by the island’s mostly American tourists: wishing on stacks of rocks.

At first, when driving south down the eastern coast from the California Lighthouse at Aruba’s northern tip (right), you’ll see a stack of rocks here and a stack of rocks there — though they don’t look natural, they certainly don’t look like anything special. Drive a little further, as we did in our fabulous off-roading De Palm Tours Land Rover (which they foolishly let me drive), and you’ll find yourself surrounded by stacks upon stacks of wishing rocks. It’s like being a giant in a world of tiny castles.

It works like this: You collect a few rocks you think you might be able to stack. It’s not as easy as it sounds, because the rocks are funny-shaped and it’s windy. Then, one by one, you stack them and make a wish on each one. We saw a few stacks from people who were rather greedy with their wishes. Good luck with that. My stack is the haphazard tricolor masterpiece above. I tried not to go overboard with wishing.

Some people go a bit further with their stack, decorating it with pieces of tire, empty bottles and other found objects. Does this make your wish more likely to come true? No. Is this tradition based in any kind of reality? No. But it’s fun, and there are many philosophies which point to us all being able to make our own magic. Perhaps if we believe that stacking rocks will bring us the things we desire, it will.

If rock stacking doesn’t move you spiritually, keep heading down south until you reach the sign for the Natural Pool. Head down the craggy staircase (below) to the glassy, fish-filled, saltwater pool created by the topography (see it), strap on a snorkel, and if you wished for bliss or peace, you may find it there, floating among the brave parrot fish and shy black crabs.

Either way, it makes a fun day-trip just minutes away from the sprawl of hotels in Aruba — once you get there, you’ll find it’s much harder to think of things to wish for.

My trip to Aruba was hosted by the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, but the opinions and ideas expressed in this article are 100 percent my own.

[Photo credit: Annie Scott]