25 Things You Need To Know To Experience Aruba As A Local

How to travel Aruba?

A lot of time and energy can go into planning a trip, only for the itinerary to fall apart once you get to your destination. Here are some things you must know to get the most out of your expedition, to experience the culture of Aruba in a way that the locals would approve of, and how to travel Aruba in the best way possible. 

1.)Renting a car is a must

At first, I thought about staying in a hostel and walking everywhere. In my head, I was thinking like a European, with public transportation in mind. In Aruba however, a car is needed to get around the island. I rented one for $30 a day, and it is the best decision I could have made. I saw every inch of the island. Most everything is close, so you won’t feel like you are driving all day.

2.) Local Airbnb’s are the way to stay 

I ventured over to the well populated area a couple of times during my stay. These areas are good for shopping and dining, but they aren’t the heart of Aruba. It suggests staying in Santa Cruz, as it is the most beautiful and local part of the island. I stayed in an Airbnb in Santa Cruz just a minute away from the donkey sanctuary and a few minutes away from Aritok National Park.

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how to travel Aruba

3.) The terrain is hot and dry as the desert

When I first heard about Aruba I envisioned a tropical jungle. After doing some reaserach about Aruba I saw the famous beach pictures, but I had no idea that Aruba is a desert island. Needless to say, I was surprised by the dry desert-like terrain. Just imagine that Arizona and Florida had a baby, that is Aruba.

how to travel Aruba

4.) Aruba is an affordable tourist destination

Thankfully, the currency in Aruba is 1.75 to every US dollar. Meaning that you will pay almost half of what is listed as AFL price. It will be listed what currency the price is marked in. Since the US dollar is worth more you will end up getting more bang for your buck on this vacation.

5.) The island is small only about 9 miles wide

If you look on a map Aruba looks tiny, but I didn’t understand how small it is until I arrived. Aruba is about 5 miles at its widest point and 19 miles long. It will only take you about 20 minutes of driving to get from one side of the country to the other.

6.)Avoid driving a car in Aritok National Park unless it’s a Jeep

Driving through the national park, past the visitor’s center, the road has huge dips in it. These dips are not meant for a regular car to take, the underbelly of the car is likely to get scratched up. Since this road is a one-way street, I didn’t know that the road is not meant for regular vehicles until it was too late. Holding my breath at each dip, I managed to drive out of the park, but I would not recommend driving through any part of the park without a vehicle that can manage it.

how to travel Aruba

7.)Shopping centers are closed on Sundays & aren’t worth a visit

Oranjestad is known for its shopping and dining. A little afternoon shopping sounded like the perfect way to spend a Sunday. I pulled into a parallel parking spot and got out. Imminently, I realized it is quieter than it should have been. All the stores around are locked down for the day. To be honest, once I saw what the stores are I didn’t mind that they were closed. The shopping center included American stores like Adidas and Victoria’s Secret. All the things I could get back home. Not worth visiting.

8.)The Spanish Lagoon is a trap

Most of my plans were made by researching on the internet. When I looked up pictures of the Spanish Lagoon it looks beautiful. However, upon arrival at the entrance, I was confused. The entrance lead to what looked like a construction site. It is not worth a visit.

9.) Beaches are much more crowded on the weekends

The best beaches are frequented by locals. If the beach is attached to a hotel you can bet it’s not a beach a local will visit often. Those beaches are always crowded. However, if you are looking for a little more solitude just be mindful that Saturdays and Sundays are usually when people aren’t working so they venture to the beaches instead.

10.) The speed limit number doesn’t mean what it does in America

After a couple days I got used to driving the slow pace of the Caribbean.

11.) It’s one of the safest islands in the Caribbean

As a female traveler, I am always extra careful about safety when visiting foreign countries. However, everyone I met in Aruba was extremely kind and honest. I didn’t stay in the touristy area, so the locals I met around Santa Cruz were helpful and nice.

12.)There is a Starbucks

This is for all my SB addicts. If you are craving a soy vanilla latte you don’t have to fly off the island to get it. Located near Eagle Beach there is a Starbucks.

13.)Yes, the waters are THAT CLEAR

All the pictures might seem unreal, but I promise the beaches are just as beautiful in person.

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14.) Traffic patterns are unlike how it is in the US

There are very few stop-lights or stop signs but located at nearly every intersection is a round-about. Aruban drivers aren’t bad, but if you hesitate for a second, they will honk.

15.) You will spend most of your trip in your bathing suit

This is a key component in how to travel Aruba. Spending everyday in my bathing suit is the only way to do it. The beaches are the best part of the island lifestyle. Almost every day was spent wearing nothing but my swimwear.

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16.)People will pump your gas for you

You will need to be careful pumping gas. Since workers pump gas for you, they might be unfair with the prices. Both times I got gas I double checked the numbers and the workers were honest with me, but sometimes they are not. Be sure to know the conversion rates for AFL (Aruban currency) to USD and so you can know how much you should be paying. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you being a visitor.

17.) The local cuisine is fish

As a vegetarian, I missed this boat, but if you are on not please try the local catches on the island. SeaRobbers is a great restaurant to get the full fish experience.

18.)There aren’t a lot of laws (especially drinking wise)

The nickname for Aruba is “One happy island”, and they like to keep it that way. If no one is hurting someone else they probably do not have a law for it. When I asked what the drinking age was to a local she giggled and explained there aren’t a lot of rules on the island.

19.) You can swim in the hotel’s pool… if you are sneaky

I enjoyed sitting poolside at the luxury resorts Aruba has to offer. The beaches are all owned by the government so every part of the beach you will have public access to. This also means that no one is going to say anything if you relax in a lounge chair belonging to the hotel.

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20.)The main vegetation on the island is cactus’s

Aruba is as if Florida and Arizona had a baby. Beautiful waters, but dry land. All over the island, there are cactus’s that stand taller than me, but other than that there are not a lot of plants.

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21.) Going to two different beaches in one day is possible

Aruba is as if Florida and Arizona had a baby. Beautiful waters, but dry land. All over the island, there are cactus’s that stand taller than me, but other than that there are not a lot of plants. 

22.) Don’t plan on hiking the national park

There are little to no trees all over the national park, meaning not a lot of shade. With temperatures rising in the high 80’s hiking can be dangerous. Not to mention the hiking trails on the map on poorly marked and most people use ATVs, UTVs, or Jeeps to get up to the natural pools.

23.) The empty beaches might be empty for a reason

Don’t be immediately turned away if the beach is crowded. Boca Grandi is one of my favorite beaches I visited. I had the beach completely to myself, but once I got closer to shore I realized why. The wind is intense on that part of the island, making the waves crash with such force that is would be dangerous to swim. Even though the beach is beautiful I wasn’t able to get in the water.

24.) You won’t need a jacket

Usually, I do pretty good at packing. I wore every item of clothing that I brought, except for the two jackets. As someone who wears long sleeves in 70-degree weather I assumed at some point I would need a jacket. Even at night, the air is thick. I asked one of our tour guides, an Aruban native if he owned a jacket. He laughed and said no.

25.) You can snorkel, but there aren’t a lot of fish

Going snorkeling is fun, but I saw a total of two fish in the most popular beach for snorkeling. If I were you forget the snorkel gear and just enjoy the cool blue waters.

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Aruba is an incredible country to visit. I hope you make the most of all this happy island has to offer.

Check out other interesting articles about Aruba and for more information about how to travel Aruba.

8 Beaches Gorgeous Beaches To Visit In Aruba

Everything You Need to Know About Rock Climbing In Aruba

 

 

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