Keep the following suggestions in mind when traveling in Aruba:
- Do drink the water: Aruba's tap water is completely safe to drink and tastes fine. In fact, it's among the best in the world.
- Aruba's sun can be brutal. Wear sunglasses and a hat (with a strap -- remember the wind) and use high SPF sunscreen liberally. The best sunscreens contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or avobenzone (check "active ingredients" on the label). Limit your time on the beach in the first day or two, or wear a coverup. If you get burned, stay out of the sun until you recover and get some locally made aloe gel.
- The wind is usually strong enough to blow mosquitoes away, but the pests can sometimes be a nuisance anyway. Malaria's not a concern, but bring insect repellent for your own comfort.
- Food is generally safe in Aruba. Be careful if you encounter street vendors. Make sure that what you get is hot and that it hasn't been sitting out for any length of time.
- The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; tel. 800/CDC-INFO [232-4636]; www.cdc.gov/travel) provides up-to-date information on necessary vaccines and health hazards by region or country. Unfortunately, its information on Aruba is lumped with the other Caribbean islands, most of which lack Aruba's generally modern and sanitary conditions.
- Pack prescription medications in your carry-on luggage. Carry written prescriptions with generic names, not brand names, and dispense all medications from their originally labeled vials.
What to Do If You Get Sick
Finding a good doctor in Aruba is not a problem, and all speak good English. Hotels have physicians on call, and the modern Horacio Oduber Hospital, L.G. Smith Boulevard, near Eagle Beach (tel. 297/587-4300, also the number to call in case of a medical emergency; www.arubahospital.com), has excellent medical facilities, including a new recompression chamber. If you have an emergency while you're on the eastern end of the island, San Nicolas has a medical center, the Centro Médico, Avicenastraat 16 (tel. 297/588-5548). Consulting hours are limited, but emergency assistance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Labco Medical and Homecare Service, Fergusonstraat 52, P.O. Box 1147 (tel. 297/582-6651), rents wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, bedpans, and other medical equipment. If your emergency cannot be handled locally, Air Ambulance (tel. 297/582-9197) service is available to Curaçao, Venezuela, and all U.S. cities. The island's dental facilities are good; make appointments through your hotel.
Aruba is one of the Caribbean's safest destinations. Don't leave your valuables unattended on the beach or in an unlocked car, though. All hotels have safes, most of which will fit a laptop. Place electronics as well as airline tickets, jewelry, and passports inside.
Since the drinking age is 18 in Aruba, parents with teenage children should lay down clear ground rules about drinking before the trip. Young women are at times encouraged to drink too much, particularly on booze cruises or other venues where the alcohol is included, so it's recommended that such outings be enjoyed by groups of three or more, with the understanding that no one leaves the group, even if that hunky bartender is absolutely irresistible.
Full-moon parties and other rave-like beach bashes are increasingly common, and while they are mostly harmless fun, keep in mind that a density of people plied with alcohol and subjected to deafening music is a perfect venue for pickpockets, pickup lines, and the occasional drunken hookup.
There are few scammers or petty criminals, although drinking and driving is fairly common, so take care when driving on unfamiliar roads late at night. That said, in some remote areas, you are more likely to encounter a donkey or a ditch than an oncoming vehicle, but these can be just as treacherous, so proceed with caution.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.