A lot of this are things that you would normally do if you did an ATV tour. Parts of this are “possible” in a car – but if you rent a jeep, you could do it yourself, on your own timeline, and save the cost of a ATV tour.
Lighthouse to the Alto Vista Chapel
Starting from the lighthouse, as if you were leaving, turn to the right down the dirt / sand hill. With the ocean on your left, this is an exciting drive that you can take all the way to the Alto Vista Chapel. You can go slow and enjoy the sights – or let it rip and have some fun. You’ll be sure to get yourselves, the jeep and everything in it very dusty! Generally there’s not too much you can do wrong following this “trail” – in a few spots you may realize you went down a short dead-end, but the paths are pretty clear.Be sure to stop and make an Inukshuk along the way – you’ll see lots of them!
This drive is about an hour – depending on how fast you go and how many stops you make.
From the Chapel, you can either follow the roads out, or you can continue to take the sand-dune roads to the Gold Mine (see below)
Lighthouse Sand Dunes
When you are at the lighthouse you can go to the right (above route) or you can go to the left. This part can be tricky as they seem to be closing off more and more so as to protect the dune. Last time I was there it was possible (with several false starts) to drive along the dunes from the lighthouse to Arashi Beach. This is a short drive.
Alto Vista Chapel to the Gold Mine
(or you can go the reverse)
It is a little less clear to find the entrance, but as you are leaving the chapel on the road, very quickly you’ll see a trail that heads back along the ocean. This will take you to the Gold Mine.
In reverse, it’s a little easier to find, just pass the Gold Mine with the ocean on your right and keep going.This trail does have sections that have more “deep” sand – be sure to hit those with a bit of momentum and don’t slow down, and don’t forget you can put the jeep into 4 wheel drive.Total drive maybe about 1/2 hour – depending on your stops and speed.There are lots of nice stops along the way on this drive – and if you have your water shoes you can wade in.
At the Gold Mine
You can get to the Gold Mine in a normal car.
Be sure to look for 2 small ladder tips coming up from the edge of the cliff to the water. Bring your water shoes (or at least socks, as the lava rock is sharp), climb down this ladder and enjoy the lagoon! (Maybe even do a small cliff jump if you are inclined!)
Arikok National Park
This is an easy drive to find – type the entrance into Google Maps and then go from there. Be sure to stop at the entrance and buy your park tickets (approx. $10 per person I think.) The road itself is “easy” in that it is paved for most of it. The challenge is that there are lots of drainage ruts along the way – that are very deep. These are not a problem going slow in a jeep. Sometimes people try this in a car – and that is tough. (It is also tough if you get behind a car that has to go crawling over the ruts!) In the park, be sure to check out the caves. Our favourite is Fontein.
There is a small bar you can get a drink at right before you head to that cave (around the “heart” on the map below.)
When you are at the Fontein cave, be sure to wander down into the bush to the left (if you are facing towards the cave). You’ll see a small trail. About 1 minute in, you’ll see a small foot bridge and a little pond – take your shoes off and slowly put your feet in the small pond by the bridge – people pay a lot of money for this spa treatment, and here it’s natural!
You can either exit the park early, or my preference is to keep going along the ocean and drive under the wind turbines. You can’t miss them. You can let it rip driving around that area.You can take this all of the way to Baby Beach. Total time is about 2 hours with some stops.
The one part of Arikok park that I don’t recommend that people try to get to on their own is the Natural Pool. (Different than the Natural Bridge – that is near the Gold Mine.) It is possible to get to the Natural Pool driving your own jeep – but it is very difficult. It is difficult even with an ATV and a guide! If you are feeling very adventurous, go for it! (One thing with the Natural Pool is that the ability to snorkel there is dependent on the water conditions – quite often it isn’t safe.)
Make sure you have lots of gas for all these drives! (A half tank is good) For much of these there is no cell phone coverage and there are no gas stations nearbye even if you were to leave the area and head onto the main roads.