With the blue Caribbean sky and calm sea as its backdrop, the Alto Vista Chapel, or “Pilgrims Church,” is one of the most photographed attractions on the island of Aruba. This bright yellow chapel, which also hosts weekly religious services, is visited by Christians and non-Christians alike and is a popular stop for small-group tours.
Built by Spanish missionaries in 1750, the Alto Vista Chapel is said to be the oldest continuously operating church in the Caribbean. After falling into disrepair after a plague hit the island, it was rebuilt in 1952. A winding path lined with white crosses leads through the desert landscape to the small, unassuming church. The chapel is included in most small-group tours of Aruba and is considered a must-see attraction.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Services are held Tuesday evenings at 5:30pm.
- Outside the chapel lies the “peace labyrinth,” which is used by pilgrims for prayer and meditation; there is no right or wrong way to walk through the maze.
- Because the chapel is quite small, you may need to wait to enter if there are crowds.
How to Get There
The Alto Vista Chapel is located in Boca Noord, Aruba, on the eastern side of the northwestern tip of the island, off Alto Vista Road. It is accessible via taxi or car. From the Aruba Cruise Terminal, it’s about a 20-minute drive to the chapel; follow Route 2 to Alto Vista in Noord.
When to Get There
To avoid the crush of crowds, visit the chapel early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Mass is held on Tuesdays at 5:30pm, and is conducted in the local language of Papiamento. Also, every year on Good Friday, local Catholics make a pilgrimage on foot from Oranjestad to Alto Vista Chapel.
Nearby California Lighthouse
Another striking landmark in Aruba is this stone lighthouse, which was built between 1914 and 1916 and is located at Hudishibana near Arashi Beach. Named after the S.S. California, the lighthouse measures 100 feet tall (35 meters), so it offers expansive views of the coastline and is arguably the best place to catch the sunset on Aruba.