Area Codes -- To call Aruba from the U.S., dial 011 (the international access code), then 297 (Aruba's country code), then 58 (the area code) and the five-digit local number. When in Aruba, dial only the five-digit local number.
Banks -- Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm. Oranjestad and Noord, the town inland from Palm Beach, have many branches. The most centrally located bank is Aruba Bank at Caya Betico Croes 41 (tel. 297/527-7777). It's not hard to find an ATM (since there are over 50 on the island and they dispense money in either florins or U.S. dollars depending on your preference). If in doubt, follow the buzzing and flashing lights to the nearest casino; the odds are in your favor there will be an ATM at the entrance.
Business Hours -- Stores open from 8am to 6pm (Mon-Sat); some close noon to 2pm. Shops in malls and shopping centers are open 9:30am to 6pm. When cruise ships are in port, some stores in Oranjestad are open on Sunday and holidays. Office hours are 9am to 5pm (Mon-Fri).
Currency -- The coin of the realm is the Aruban florin (AWG), but U.S. dollars are universally accepted.
Drinking Laws -- The legal drinking age in Aruba is 18 for beer, wine, and spirits. While drinking alcoholic beverages is allowed on the beaches, be careful to remove all empty bottles as the Aruban authorities are stringent about their littering laws.
Electricity -- Like the U.S. and Canada, Aruba uses 110-120 volts AC (60 cycles).
Embassies & Consulates -- The U.S. Consulate General in the Netherlands Antilles is in Willemsted in Curaçao, at P.O. Box 158, J.B. Gorsiraweg 1; tel. 599/9-461-3066; fax 599/9-461-6489; http://curacao.usconsulate.gov. The office is open from Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm. Consular walk-in hours are only Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 to 11am.
The Canadian Embassy is also in Willemstad at Maduro and Curiel's Bank, N.V., Plaza Jojo Correa 2-4, Willemstad (tel. 599/9466-1115; firstname.lastname@example.org; the Consulate of the United Kingdom is at Werfstraat 6, Willemstad (tel. 599/9461-3900; email@example.com).
Emergencies -- As in the United States, dial tel. 911 for police, medical, and fire emergencies.
Gasoline (Petrol) -- Despite being so close to Argentina and refining a heck of a lot of oil, Aruba doesn't have cheap gasoline, in fact it's very expensive! At press time, the price was 2.52 AWG per liter, which is about or US$5.45 per gallon.
Holidays -- Most stores and restaurants close on official holidays. If you stay near the resort areas, however, you may not be affected at all. Here's a list of Aruba's holidays: January 1 (New Year's Day); January 25 (Betico Croes Day); February 20, 2012 (Carnival Monday); February 21, 2012 (Fat Tuesday); February 22, 2012 (Ash Wednesday); March 18 (National Anthem and Flag Day); April 6, 2012 (Good Friday); April 8, 2012 (Easter Sunday); April 30 (Queen's Birthday); May 1 (Aruba's Labor Day); May 17, 2012 (Ascension Day); December 25 (Christmas Day); and December 26 (Boxing Day).
Hospitals -- Horacio Oduber Hospital, L.G. Smith Boulevard, near Eagle Beach (tel. 297/587-4300), is modern and well equipped, with 280 beds.
Insurance -- For information on traveler's insurance, trip cancellation insurance, and medical insurance while traveling, please visit www.frommers.com/planning.
Internet Access -- Many hotels have either dataports or Wi-Fi in rooms and/or the lobby. In downtown Oranjestad, Inter Transfer (tel. 297/588-6626), in the Port of Call Marketplace, offers Internet access from 7:30am to 9pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 2pm on Sunday. The rate is about $3.50 per hour.
Language -- Official languages are Dutch and Papiamento, a local tongue that combines European, African, and indigenous American languages, but practically everybody speaks English. Spanish is also widely spoken.
Mail -- Aruba created its own postage stamps in 1986. The post office (tel. 297/582-1900) is located at J.E. Irausquinplein 9 in Oranjestad. Postcard stamps to the U.S. are 1.25 AWG (71¢).
Newspapers & Magazines -- The Morning News and Aruba Today are the leading English-language newspapers in Aruba.
Passports -- All visitors from abroad must have a current passport. See www.frommers.com/planning for information on how to obtain a passport.
Police -- Police respond to emergency calls to tel. 911. The main station (tel. 297/582-4000) is at Wilhelminastraat 33, Oranjestad.
Smoking -- All restaurants, casinos, and bars allow smoking. Many have nonsmoking sections. Generally, in hotel lobbies, smoking is restricted to inside the casino or in bar areas. Hotels have smoking and nonsmoking rooms.
Taxes & Service Charges -- The government of Aruba charges an 11% room tax as well as 5% to 7% for service. Restaurants often add service charges of 10% to 12%. A 1.5% sales tax may be added to purchases, or it may be absorbed into the ticket price of merchandise. Store owners have the option to decide whether the tax is added to the price or if it is built into the original price, so be sure to ask before you make any big purchases.
Telephones -- To make a local call from a pay phone, you must purchase a phone card in $5, $9, or $18 denominations from the airport, a hotel desk, gas station, or convenience store. You can also dial tel. 121 to place a collect call. Most cellphones will work in Aruba, but you may need to call your carrier first to be sure you have an international plan. Rates are usually on the order of $2 per minute and 50¢ per text. Be sure to turn off the data plan while on island, otherwise your phone will rack up charges trying to log on to the network searching for system updates. AT&T customers can dial tel. 916/843-4685 to reach an operator from a cellphone, or call tel. 800-8000 from phones at the cruise docks and airport. Verizon's global customer service number is tel. 908/559-4899. Sprint customer service in Aruba is tel. 888/211-4727. T-Mobile can be reached at tel. 888/866-2453. Local cellphones can be rented at the airport by the day or week. The two main carriers are Digicel (tel. 297/522-2222; www.digicelaruba.com) and SETAR (tel. 297/583-4000; www.setar.aw). Rates are $50 per week for a set number of minutes, with per-minute charges for overages. Additional charges for outgoing and incoming calls apply and a deposit is usually required. For frequent calls, Skype allows you to use your laptop to make calls to landlines and cellphones for pennies. If your hotel has free Wi-Fi, you're bound to save a bundle assuming you're willing to lug the laptop along.
Time -- Aruba is on Atlantic Standard Time year-round. For most of the year, the island is 1 hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time. When the United States is on daylight saving time, the time in New York and Aruba is the same.
Visas -- Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and E.U. nationals can stay in Aruba for up to 1 month without a visa. Timeshare and home owners are allowed to stay on the island up to 180 days without one. If you plan to stay longer, get a visa application from DIMAS (the Department of Immigration tel. 297/522-1500; www.dimasaruba.com) or at a Dutch embassy or consulate. In the U.S., the embassy of the Netherlands is located at 4200 Linnean Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 877/388-2443; www.netherlands-embassy.org).
Water -- The water comes from the world's second-largest desalination plant, which is considered one of the best water supplies in the world. Bottled water is widely available but highly discouraged due to the environmental cost of importing it, as well as the island's mounting garbage disposal problem.
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.