Are you about to plan an unforgettable trip to sunny Aruba? Perfect! You’re in the right place. Aruba isn’t just any island; it’s a paradise with breathtaking beaches, a vibrant cultural scene, and plenty of adventurous opportunities. Whether you want to unwind on the beach, immerse yourself in the local culture, or seek thrilling activities, here you’ll find all the Aruba travel tips you need to make your journey to this Caribbean paradise truly memorable.
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Situated in the southern Caribbean, Aruba is a little island celebrated for its azure shores, pristine white beaches, and graceful palm trees. While it’s widely recognized as the ultimate destination for an unforgettable beach vacation, Aruba has so much more in store.
In Aruba, the options for adventure are boundless. You can immerse yourself in exhilarating activities, from diving and snorkeling in the breathtaking coral reefs to embarking on expeditions to natural wonders like Arikok National Park. Don’t forget to explore the kaleidoscope of local markets and dining venues for a truly enriching experience.
Don’t be taken aback if you find yourself greeted in Dutch; up until 1986, Aruba, alongside islands like Bonaire and Curaçao, was a part of the Dutch Antilles. This rich historical backdrop has given rise to a distinctive cultural fusion that continues to manifest in the island’s architecture, languages, and local gastronomy.
As the icing on the cake, the amiable locals and the laid-back atmosphere add to the allure of this Caribbean gem.
Though Aruba may not be a vast island, it’s still essential to do some pre-planning for your trip. Below, you’ll discover my top 10 crucial Aruba travel tips to assist you in this endeavor.
10 Aruba travel tips you need to know before you go
1. How get to Aruba?
Unfortunately, direct flights from Belgium to Aruba are not an option. However, don’t be disheartened, as traveling to Aruba from the Netherlands is quite convenient. From Schiphol Airport, there are nearly daily flights to Aruba or the Caribbean with KLM.
So, when departing from Belgium, you can search for KLM flights from Brussels. For some flights, depending on your preferred departure time, you have the option to either fly from Brussels to Schiphol or opt for an AirRail ticket. This option combines your flight with a train journey, departing from Brussels on a high-speed train to Schiphol.
I chose this option, and while the journey went quite smoothly, I found the time between getting off the train and taking off by plane to be rather tight. The airport was quite busy at that moment, resulting in long waiting times at the security checkpoints. However, I managed to catch my flight with a quick dash to the gate.
Of course, you can also drive to Schiphol and make use of airport parking facilities.
To travel to Aruba, you’ll need the appropriate documents. You must possess a valid international passport. Additionally, you are required to fill out an online immigration card. Once the ED-card is successfully completed, you’ll receive a confirmation email indicating your approval to travel to Aruba (green checkmark). You must present this form, either digitally or in print, during check-in or boarding.
2. How to get around on Aruba?
In Aruba, there are several efficient and comfortable transportation options available, depending on your preferences and budget.
Aruba boasts a well-developed taxi system, with taxis readily available at the airport and in key tourist areas. They are convenient for short rides and transfers between hotels and restaurants.
Additionally, Aruba has a public bus system known as “Arubus.” These buses serve major cities and tourist areas on the island. While public transportation may be more limited compared to some other destinations, it can be a cost-effective way to travel if you prefer not to rent a car.
For adventurous travelers, bicycles and scooters are available for rent on the island. This offers an excellent way to experience Aruba’s natural beauty and explore the traffic-free roads.
One of the most popular ways to explore Aruba is by renting a car, which you can conveniently pick up at the airport upon arrival. When it comes to car rentals, I always prefer Sunny Cars. The key advantage of renting through Sunny Cars is that all insurances are already included in the price. This means no unpleasant surprises in the form of additional costs when you pick up your car. Even when the local partner may try to upsell you on extra insurance, which is almost always the case, you’ll know it’s unnecessary because when you rent through Sunny Cars, you’re fully covered. However, remember to reserve your car well in advance before your trip. Below, I’ll share some tips for driving in Aruba.
Overall, Aruba is a relatively small island, making it easy to get around. Whatever option you choose, Aruba offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the sun, the beaches, and the local culture.
3. Driving a car in Aruba
Driving on Aruba is a convenient way to explore the island at your own pace and discover the many attractions. There are a few things to keep in mind when driving on Aruba:
- Driver’s license: To drive in Aruba, you need a valid driver’s license. As a traveler, you can usually drive with a foreign driver’s license, provided it’s in English or Dutch. Otherwise, you’ll need an international driver’s license.
- Driving on the right: Aruba follows right-hand driving, so be sure to stay on the right side of the road.
- Speed limits: The speed limit on Aruba is 40 km/h in urban areas and 60 km/h on main roads. Speed limits are strictly enforced, so make sure to obey them.
- Traffic rules: Wearing a seatbelt is mandatory, and using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited unless you have a hands-free device. Violations are subject to fines.
- Gas stations: There are plenty of gas stations on the island, and most accept credit cards. Fuel is typically more expensive than in the United States, so factor this into your travel budget.
- Parking: Urban areas like Oranjestad and popular tourist attractions usually have available parking spaces. In most cases, parking is free.
- Roads: Aruba’s roads are generally well-maintained, with signs in English and Dutch. Some secondary roads may be narrow, so exercise caution.
- Driving etiquette: Driving behavior in Aruba is generally polite and courteous. Motorists are expected to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks.
- Driving under the influence: It is strictly prohibited to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05%.
With this information in mind and by following traffic rules, you’ll be good to go on the roads of Aruba.
4. When is the best time to travel to Aruba?
The ideal time to visit Aruba largely depends on your individual preferences. Overall, Aruba boasts a delightful climate characterized by mild temperatures and abundant sunshine year-round.
Aruba’s high season stretches from December to April, attracting those seeking refuge from the European or North American winter. During these months, you can expect pleasantly warm temperatures, minimal rainfall, and a refreshing trade wind. It’s the prime season for beach aficionados and water sports enthusiasts. However, it’s worth noting that accommodation and flight prices tend to be on the higher side during the high season, making early bookings a wise choice.
The low season in Aruba, spanning from May to November, is characterized by warmer temperatures and a higher chance of rain showers, often in the form of brief, refreshing downpours. Aruba’s location outside the hurricane belt ensures a minimal risk of severe tropical storms. Despite the higher temperatures, the island remains a popular destination during this period, albeit with a notably quieter atmosphere compared to the high season. Moreover, the low season offers the advantage of more budget-friendly accommodation and flight options. It’s also a prime time for surfers, as these months bring the best waves.
In essence, Aruba remains an alluring destination year-round, allowing you to align your travel period with your specific preferences and budget. Whether you crave the liveliness of the high season or the serenity of the low season, Aruba caters to all and boasts a sun-soaked climate to savor.”
5. Is Aruba a tropical island or a desert island?
Despite the common perception of Aruba as a tropical paradise, it is, in fact, a desert island. As I mentioned earlier, Aruba features a dry climate with minimal rainfall and abundant sunshine throughout the year. This results in a landscape of vast plains dotted with limestone rocks, surrounded by cacti and other drought-tolerant plants. The Divi-divi trees, with their distinctive twisted shapes caused by the constant trade winds, have become an iconic symbol of Aruba
While Aruba may not boast the lush greenery and abundant vegetation often associated with tropical islands, the desert-like character of the island provides a unique and photogenic environment. It also creates a striking contrast with the beautiful beaches and the azure sea, making Aruba a destination that appeals to both nature enthusiasts and beachgoers alike.
6. Book an accommodation in Aruba
Whether you’re in search of a luxury resort, a cozy bed and breakfast, a beachfront vacation home, or a budget-friendly hotel, Aruba offers something for everyone. It’s advisable to plan your stay well in advance, especially during the high season (December to April), as popular accommodations can fill up quickly.
Many travelers opt for the bustling Palm or Eagle Beach regions due to their beautiful beaches and a wealth of hotels, restaurants, and entertainment options.
However, the more secluded and tranquil parts of the island also offer charming options. When booking your accommodation, it’s helpful to consider which part of the island appeals to you the most and the type of stay you prefer. You can conveniently do this using the handy map widget on booking.com. It allows you to view all accommodations, locations, and prices at a glance, making it much easier to search for a stay in the right place that fits your budget
7. Paying and tipping on Aruba
The local currency in Aruba is the Aruban florin (AWG), but the American dollar (USD) is widely accepted here as well. Most hotels, restaurants, and shops accept both. You can also use credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard.
It’s important to remember that Aruba is generally an expensive destination, mainly due to the costs of imports, resulting in higher prices for goods and services.
Tipping is customary in Aruba. In restaurants, a service charge of approximately 15% to 20% is usually added to the bill. You’re not obligated to give extra tips in this case, but it’s certainly appreciated if you’re satisfied with the service. The same goes for taxis, where rounding up the fare is common practice. In hotels, you can tip the staff who clean your room and handle your luggage.
Tipping is a way to show appreciation for good service and is welcomed by the friendly and hospitable staff in Aruba. However, it’s important to know that tipping is not mandatory but rather a gesture of recognition for excellent service. Therefore, it’s a good practice to have some cash on hand at all times.
8. WiFi / 4 G in Aruba
In Aruba, you can generally easily connect to the internet through WiFi and 4G connections.
Most hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals in Aruba offer free WiFi for their guests. The quality of the WiFi connection may vary, but generally you can expect an acceptable connection. Additionally, in popular tourist areas like Oranjestad and the beaches, there are public WiFi zones where you can connect for free. This is convenient if you don’t want to invest in a SIM card.
If you’d like to have internet access everywhere, it’s best to opt for purchasing a SIM card with mobile data. You can do this at the airport or from various mobile providers in Oranjestad. Make sure to bring your identification for registration.
In general, you have access to reliable internet connections in Aruba through both WiFi and mobile networks, allowing you to stay in touch with friends and family or look up information during your stay on the island.
Keep in mind that in Aruba, Type A, Type B, and sometimes Type F plugs are used. So, if you’re bringing chargers and electronic devices, it’s a good idea to also bring one or more universal travel adapters.
9. Food you need to try in Aruba
Aruba offers a delectable mix of dishes that reflect the diversity of its population and history. Some typical Aruban dishes and specialties you absolutely shouldn’t miss during your Aruba vacation include:
- Keshi Yena: This is a delicious and hearty dish where the rind of Edam cheese is filled with a mixture of meat, raisins, olives, and spices, then baked in the oven. It’s a true Aruban classic.
- Pan Bati: A traditional Aruban cornbread that resembles a pancake. It’s often eaten for breakfast and served with cheese, jam, or syrup.
- Sopi di Aña: Literally translated as “year soup,” it’s a traditional soup prepared at the end of the year, containing a mix of meat, vegetables, and legumes.
- Funchi: Funchi is a kind of cornmeal porridge, similar to polenta, and is often served as a side dish. It’s dense and is usually sliced and grilled. It’s a typical dish for the Dutch Caribbean and is also commonly enjoyed in Curaçao and Bonaire.
- Kadushi: This dish is made from the cactus that grows in Aruba. It’s often prepared as a soup and has a refreshing flavor.
- Stoba: A delicious stew typically made with goat meat. The meat is slow-cooked with spices and vegetables, resulting in tender and flavorful stew.
- Parrilla: Aruba is known for its barbecue dishes, especially fish and meat. You can enjoy grilled fish, chicken, or ribs at many places on the island.
- Pastechi: These stuffed pastries are similar to turnovers and are often filled with cheese, meat, chicken, or fish. Pastechi are delightful as a snack or for breakfast.
- Yuana: This is a traditional Aruban dish made from iguana, often served as a stew or soup. It’s not as common as other dishes, but some restaurants offer it for those feeling adventurous and looking to try something unique.
In conclusion, immerse yourself in Aruba’s culinary world and indulge your taste buds. The island offers a delightful culinary adventure you won’t want to miss.
10. Discover traces of the past in Aruba
Despite its small size, Aruba boasts a rich history that dates back to at least the year 1000. At that time, the island was home to the Caquetio, a tribe of Arawaks who arrived in Aruba by canoe from Venezuela to escape Carib attacks.
However, the island’s first major colonizers were the Spanish, who took control of Aruba at the end of the 15th century. In 1636, Aruba came under Dutch rule, with a brief English occupation in the early 19th century.
Aruba’s history is marked by various periods of foreign domination. Nonetheless, the island made persistent efforts to gain autonomy, first as part of the Dutch Antilles and ultimately as an independent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands since 1986.
Many of these historical influences continue to shape Aruba today, evident in its architecture and local culture, creating a unique fusion of heritage. The island provides an opportunity to delve into its rich history and cultural legacy while surrounded by its captivating beaches and breathtaking landscapes.
Whether you’re seeking the perfect beach getaway, adventurous activities, delectable cuisine, or cultural exploration, Aruba has something to offer everyone. I hope these Aruba travel tips will help you make the necessary preparations for turning your trip to this stunning island into an unforgettable experience.
Which Aruba travel tips did you find the most helpful? Let me know in the comments below
Do you want to read more about Aruba or the Caribbean? Then definitely check out these blog posts.
- 13 unique things to do in Aruba
- The best things to do in Curaçao
- The best things to do on a Punta Cana holiday
Thank you for reading.