Travel, Currency and Money saving tips for Aruba
North Americans fleeing winter make Aruba the most touristed island in the southern Caribbean. The draws are obvious: miles of glorious white-sand beaches, plenty of all-inclusive resorts, and a cute, compact capital, Oranjestad, which is well suited for the two-hour strolls favored by cruise-ship passengers. It’s all about sun, fun and spending money.
What currency to use in Aruba?
The official currency in Aruba is the Florin, however, US Dollars are widely used and accepted, even when prices are specified in Florin. Bear in mind that very little is produced in Aruba and the restaurants and shopping are marketed at an upscale audience, so things aren't cheap. On top of that, Aruba has a 3% sales charge, this is sometimes charged at point of sale and sometimes incorporated into the stated price so check before buying. The upside of a ritzy location is that the standard of living is fairly high amongst Arubans so the local buses are clean and will cost a lot less than a taxi for your trip from and to the airport.
You can withdraw both florins and US dollars from several ATMs (not all) if you want to keep using US dollars. Otherwise you need to go to the bank or casino to exchange your money.
How to get around in Aruba?
It's useful to rent a vehicle if you want complete independence in your explorations of Aruba. Main roads are generally in good condition. Roads in the national park and other remote spots can be quite rough, though most destinations do not require a 4WD. Gas stations are easy to find; road signs are more difficult.
Although there are no bike lanes on Aruba, many people enjoy riding along the mostly flat roads. You can easily rent bikes at many resorts. Aruba Active Vacations rents mountain bikes. North of Palm Beach, Lloyd G Smith Blvd runs along the coast all the way up to Arashi Beach (it's about 2 miles). This is a popular route for cyclists, as traffic is light and the setting is lovely.
Arubus operates several routes running from the main bus depot in Oranjestad south to the airport and on to San Nicolas, with additional routes to the Fisherman Huts, Malmok Beach and Arashi Beach (all via the resort areas). Buses run every 10 to 15 minutes.
Taxis are safe and reliable, and easy to flag down at hotels and resorts. Fares are set for fixed distances; for example, from the airport to the high-rise resort area costs US$25.
There are no trains on Aruba, with the exception of the electric tram that circles downtown Oranjestad.
Travel tips for Aruba.
Even though the main language in Aruba is Papiamento, most people can speak and understand Dutch and English too. Many people also speak and understand Spanish.
Venture away from the resorts and you're in for a real treat. At the island’s extreme ends are rugged, windswept vistas and uncrowded beaches – perfect for hiking and horseback riding. Crystal-clear waters are bursting with sea life and shipwrecks (and an airplane wreck or two), providing incredible opportunities for snorkeling and diving. And nonstop breezes create near-perfect conditions for windsurfing and kiteboarding.
the weather in Aruba can be pretty hot, so take clothes with you that are not too warm. Keep in mind that there is always a steady breeze in Aruba, making the warm weather bearable. Of course, don’t forget your swimwear. At night, the temperature more or less stays the same.
Traveling to Aruba doesn't require a pre-arranged visa for U.S., Canadian, or EU member citizens. All you have to do is hand your passport over to the immigration officer upon arrival and you'll receive a free visa stamp that's valid for 30 days.
The place you want to see the famous flamingos is the Renaissance Island, a privately owned island by Renaissance Aruba Resort in Oranjestad. Guests of the Renaissance Aruba Resort have free access to the island, but you can buy a day pass for $125 and visit the island as a non-guest.