Welcome to our Aruba Travel Guide. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll uncover fast facts about Aruba, the best time to visit for festivals and events, top attractions, transportation tips, money-saving strategies, mouthwatering cuisine, and perfect souvenirs to cherish your memories. Whether you seek relaxation, exploration, or both, our travel guide will equip you with essential information to make the most of your dreamy Caribbean getaway.
Fast Facts About Aruba
- Climate: Aruba boasts a warm and sunny climate year-round, making it an ideal destination for sun-seekers. The average temperature hovers around 82°F (28°C), with refreshing trade winds to keep you comfortable.
- Local Currency: The official currency of Aruba is the Aruban Florin (AWG), but the US Dollar is widely accepted across the island. ATMs are readily available in urban areas for easy currency exchange.
- Power Voltage: Aruba’s power voltage is 120V, with Type A and Type B sockets. If you’re traveling from a country with a different voltage, don’t forget to bring a suitable adapter.
- Language: While Dutch is the official language, most Arubans are multilingual and speak English and Spanish fluently. You’ll have no trouble communicating with the friendly locals.
- Religion: Aruba is a melting pot of cultures and religions. The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism, but there is also a diverse range of other faiths practiced on the island.
- Safety: Aruba is known for its safety and low crime rate. Nonetheless, exercise common sense and take standard precautions, especially with your belongings in crowded areas.
- Cultural Etiquette: Arubans are warm and welcoming people. Embrace their friendliness and show respect for their customs. When visiting churches or sacred sites, dress modestly as a sign of respect.
- Tipping: Tipping is customary in Aruba. In restaurants, a service charge may be included, but it’s common to leave an additional 10-15% tip for excellent service. Tipping for other services, like housekeeping and taxis, is also appreciated.
Best Time to Visit Aruba: Seasons and Festivals
- High Season (December to April): Aruba’s high season coincides with the dry season when the weather is most pleasant. Expect mild temperatures and less humidity, making it perfect for beach activities.
- Carnival (January to February): Join the colorful festivities of Aruba’s Carnival, a vibrant celebration with parades, music, and dancing leading up to Lent.
- Easter (March to April): Experience the unique traditions of Aruba’s Semana Santa (Holy Week) with religious processions and cultural events.
- Low Season (May to November): The low season sees occasional rainfall, but it’s a great time to find travel deals and experience a quieter side of the island.
- Soul Beach Music Festival (May): Groove to the beats of international artists at the annual Soul Beach Music Festival, an exciting event drawing music enthusiasts from around the world.
- Aruba International Film Festival (June): Film buffs can enjoy this star-studded event featuring screenings, workshops, and special presentations from renowned filmmakers.
- Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival (September): Delight in the fusion of jazz and Caribbean rhythms at the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival, a must-attend event for music lovers.
- National Day (March 18): Celebrate Aruba’s National Day with parades, traditional music, and cultural displays.
- Dera Gai (December): Experience the unique holiday tradition of Dera Gai, where locals decorate donkeys and parade them through the streets to honor their role in Aruban history.
- Independence Day (March 18): Join in the festivities during Aruba’s Independence Day, celebrating the island’s autonomy within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Top Attractions and Things to See and Do in Aruba
- Palm Beach: Relax on the pristine shores of Palm Beach, one of Aruba’s most famous beaches. Enjoy the turquoise waters and indulge in various water sports like snorkeling and jet skiing.
- Arikok National Park: Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Arikok National Park. Explore rugged landscapes, unique rock formations, and the iconic Natural Pool, a stunning hidden gem.
- California Lighthouse: Visit the picturesque California Lighthouse, offering panoramic views of the island’s coastline. Capture breathtaking sunset shots from this vantage point.
- Eagle Beach: Experience the tranquil ambiance of Eagle Beach, known for its powdery white sand and Divi Divi trees, creating a picturesque setting for a leisurely stroll.
- Oranjestad: Explore the vibrant capital city of Oranjestad, known for its colorful Dutch colonial architecture, shopping boutiques, and charming cafés.
- Baby Beach: Venture to Baby Beach, a family-friendly cove with shallow, calm waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Discover an underwater paradise teeming with marine life.
- Natural Bridge: Marvel at the captivating Natural Bridge, a majestic limestone formation created by the forces of nature. Although the original bridge collapsed, the Baby Natural Bridge is still worth a visit.
- Sunset Cruise: Embark on a romantic sunset cruise along Aruba’s coast, capturing the mesmerizing colors of the Caribbean sky as the sun dips below the horizon.
- De Palm Island: Experience a day of excitement at De Palm Island, a private island offering water park fun, snorkeling adventures, and a relaxing beach escape.
- Aruba Aloe Factory: Learn about Aruba’s aloe vera industry at the Aruba Aloe Factory. Discover the healing properties of aloe and purchase skincare products made from the island’s locally grown aloe plants.
The Best Ways To Get Around Aruba
- Rental Cars: Renting a car is an excellent way to explore the island at your own pace. Driving is on the right side of the road, and most major attractions are easily accessible.
- Public Buses: Aruba’s public bus system, Arubus, provides a convenient and cost-effective way to travel between popular destinations, including Oranjestad, Palm Beach, and Eagle Beach.
- Taxi Services: Taxis are readily available across Aruba and offer a convenient option for short trips or when you prefer not to drive.
- Bicycle Rentals: Embrace the island’s laid-back vibe by renting bicycles. Cycling is an eco-friendly and enjoyable way to explore scenic routes and beachfront areas.
- ATV Tours: For an adventurous experience, consider joining an ATV tour. Traverse rugged terrains, visit natural landmarks, and enjoy an adrenaline-filled excursion.
- Scooter Rentals: Renting a scooter provides a fun and breezy way to navigate through traffic and discover hidden gems off the beaten path.
- Walking: Many of Aruba’s attractions are within walking distance, especially in Oranjestad and popular beach areas. Stroll through charming streets and soak in the island’s ambiance.
- Water Taxis: Water taxis operate between certain resorts and popular beach locations, providing a unique and scenic mode of transport along the coastline.
- Jeep Tours: Join a guided Jeep tour to venture into the island’s rugged terrain, including Arikok National Park, for an adventurous day of exploration.
- Island Hopping: Consider taking a day trip to nearby islands like De Palm Island or Renaissance Island, where you can relax on exclusive beaches and enjoy water activities.
Accommodation Tips: Aruba
- Resort or Hotel: Opt for a beachfront resort or hotel for easy access to the turquoise waters and pristine sands. Resorts offer a wide array of amenities and activities for an enjoyable stay.
- Vacation Rentals: Consider renting a vacation home or villa if you prefer more privacy and space. Vacation rentals often come with fully equipped kitchens, allowing you to save on dining expenses.
- All-Inclusive Packages: If you’re looking for a hassle-free vacation, choose an all-inclusive package that includes meals, drinks, and activities, providing excellent value for money.
- Adult-Only Resorts: For a tranquil escape, indulge in an adults-only resort, offering a serene ambiance and exclusive amenities for couples and solo travelers.
- Aruban Eco-Lodges: If you’re an eco-conscious traveler, support sustainability by staying in eco-lodges that prioritize environmental practices and offer an immersive connection with nature.
- Booking in Advance: To secure the best deals and availability, consider booking your accommodation well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.
- Aruba’s Time-Share Resorts: Explore time-share resorts for potential discounts on accommodation, and you might even receive extra perks during your stay.
- Stay in Oranjestad: Staying in the capital city of Oranjestad offers easy access to shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions, providing a vibrant urban experience.
- Family-Friendly Resorts: If you’re traveling with kids, look for family-friendly resorts with kid’s clubs and activities to keep the little ones entertained.
- Reviews and Ratings: Before booking, read guest reviews and check ratings to ensure the accommodation meets your expectations and suits your travel style.
Aruba Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
- Happy Hour Deals: Take advantage of happy hour specials at bars and restaurants to enjoy discounted drinks and appetizers.
- Local Eateries: Explore local eateries and food trucks for authentic Aruban dishes at more affordable prices than upscale restaurants.
- Free Beaches: While many resorts charge for beach access, several public beaches like Eagle Beach and Baby Beach are free and equally stunning.
- DIY Excursions: Plan your own excursions to popular attractions and beaches, as self-guided tours can save you money compared to organized tours.
- Free Attractions: Discover Aruba’s natural wonders and landmarks that are free to visit, such as the California Lighthouse and the Natural Bridge.
- Aruba Discount Card: Consider purchasing an Aruba Discount Card, which offers discounts on dining, activities, and shopping across the island.
- Happy Wednesdays: If you’re in Aruba on a Wednesday, head to Oranjestad for the “Bon Bini Festival” showcasing local culture and entertainment, free of charge.
- Local Transportation: Utilize Aruba’s public buses for budget-friendly transportation to explore different areas of the island.
- Early Bird Specials: Look for early bird specials at restaurants and attractions, where you can often find discounted rates.
- Duty-Free Shopping: Take advantage of Aruba’s duty-free shopping, particularly on luxury items, jewelry, and electronics.
Culinary Delights and Traditional Cuisine in Aruba
- Keshi Yena: Indulge in the flavors of Keshi Yena, a savory dish featuring a hollowed-out Edam cheese filled with seasoned meat, raisins, and olives, a true Aruban delight.
- Aruban Pastechi: Taste the deliciousness of Aruban Pastechi, deep-fried pastries filled with savory meat or seafood.
- Fresh Seafood: Savor the catch of the day with Aruba’s abundance of fresh seafood, from grilled fish to shrimp delicacies.
- Poffertjes: Treat yourself to Poffertjes, Dutch mini-pancakes drizzled with powdered sugar and butter, a sweet indulgence inspired by Aruba’s Dutch heritage.
- Conch Salad: Delight in the refreshing Conch Salad, a zesty dish made from marinated conch meat, onions, and citrus flavors.
- Aruba Ariba: Sip on the famous Aruba Ariba cocktail, a delightful concoction of rum, vodka, and tropical fruit juices, embodying the spirit of the Caribbean.
- Fisherman’s Huts: Head to Fisherman’s Huts, where local food trucks offer an array of tasty snacks like Johnny Cakes and Aruban BBQ.
- Iguana Soup: For the adventurous foodie, try Iguana Soup, a traditional delicacy believed to have medicinal properties.
- Sopi Mondongo: Experience the heartiness of Sopi Mondongo, a flavorful tripe soup influenced by Aruba’s multicultural heritage.
- Dutch-Indonesian Fusion: Relish the fusion of Dutch and Indonesian flavors in dishes like Bami Goreng and Nasi Goreng, popular due to Aruba’s Indonesian community.
Souvenir Ideas: Bringing a Piece of Aruba Home
- Aruban Aloe Products: Take home aloe vera skincare products made with Aruba’s locally grown aloe, renowned for its healing properties.
- Aruba Art and Crafts: Purchase authentic Aruban art and crafts, such as paintings, ceramics, and wooden carvings, to decorate your home with island vibes.
- Aruba T-Shirts and Caps: Grab trendy Aruba-themed t-shirts and caps as souvenirs for yourself and loved ones.
- Local Rums and Spirits: Bring home a bottle of Aruba’s finest rums and spirits, perfect for enjoying a taste of the Caribbean back home.
- Aruban Handmade Jewelry: Adorn yourself with Aruban handmade jewelry, including bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, crafted with unique island flair.
- Local Hot Sauces: Spice up your meals with Aruba’s locally produced hot sauces, a fiery and flavorful addition to your pantry.
- Delftware: Purchase traditional Delftware, a blue and white pottery, to cherish a piece of Aruba’s Dutch heritage.
- Aruban Candles and Soaps: Fill your home with the scents of Aruba with candles and soaps inspired by the island’s tropical aromas.
- Aruba License Plate: Collect an Aruba license plate as a unique and authentic keepsake for your travel memorabilia.
- Souvenirs from Fisherman’s Huts: Browse the local vendors at Fisherman’s Huts for handmade souvenirs and trinkets to remind you of your Aruban adventure.