Sometimes, even on a beach vacation, you can learn something very cool. I knew my love for history would pay off at some point…as well as my obsession with the Titanic disaster. Here’s what happened:
My husband and I I wanted to visit the California Lighthouse next to Arashi Beach when we were in Aruba last week. I had heard that Aruba’s California Lighthouse was an interesting landmark to visit and that it afforded gorgeous views of the island. What I ended up discovering is that the lighthouse is interesting for different reasons than many tour guides and/or tour books might tell you about.
It appears that there’s a big misconception that the lighthouse was named after the Californian, a passenger liner that was in the vicinity of the Titanic when she went down. It’s a spooky, almost romantic notion, but as it turns out, this idea is way off. How was I tipped off to this misinformation? Believe it or not, the name of the lighthouse! Some people obsess about clothes, or stamps, or sports — me, I’m a bit obsessive about learning everything there is to know about the Titanic disaster. I knew the name of the ship that was in the same general vicinity of the Titanic the night she sunk was called the Californian, not the California, and that the Californian was sunk by a German torpedo in 1915. I didn’t know anything about a ship called the California though, so I had to research it quite a bit. Turns out the SS California was a much smaller, wooded ship that sunk either in 1891 or in 1908, depending on which source you consult, and the lighthouse wasn’t even completed until 1910.
So there you have it!
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering why you should bother to visit the California Lighthouse since it has absolutely nothing to do with Titanic (after all, I admit I felt this way after I realized the mistake). Well, after visiting it, I can tell you that it is indeed worth a visit! You can’t go up to the top anymore, unfortunately, because some poor soul decided to commit suicide from the top some years ago, but the view of northern Aruba is really gorgeous from the base of the lighthouse. And, gorgeous Arashi Beach is only steps away, and that’s Aruba’s most beautiful beach in my opinion. And if you’re lucky, you might even see some wild donkeys or goats grazing in the area.
Go — take in some sun, history and fun. And if you are so inclined, the SS California wreck awaits you just offshore…
Photo: Erik Cleves Kristensen