By Rental Car
It's easy to rent a car in Aruba. Decent roads connect major tourist attractions, and all the major rental companies honor valid U.S., British, Australian, and Canadian driver's licenses, provided you are at least 23 and have had a valid license for at least 3 years. Most major U.S. car-rental companies and a variety of reputable local operators maintain offices at the airport and at major hotels; others have free delivery and pickup service. There's no tax on car rentals, but even if you purchase a collision-damage waiver, you're responsible for the first $300 to $500 worth of damage. Rental rates for cars, usually Suzukis, Toyotas, Kias, Hyundais, or Jeeps, vary from season to season and from dealer to dealer. Gas is expensive compared to North America. All service stations charge the same price, and there's no discount for self-service.
Is it necessary to rent a car? It depends. If you want to explore the island, go ahead and get one for a day or two or three; many of the local agencies have 3-day specials. If you don't plan to leave your resort except to dine, gamble, and shop, it's cheaper to take cabs or the reliable buses. Or you can book a half-day Jeep, ATV, or dune buggy excursion that will allow you to explore the island as part of an off-road caravan, where you get to see the wild side of Aruba but not worry about getting lost.
Rules of the Road -- As in the U.S. and Canada, driving is on the right side of the road. Traffic signs use international symbols; most are self-explanatory, but some aren't. Ask your car-rental agency for a sheet of the symbols, and take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with them. There are no right turns on red. Car speedometers are in kilometers and mph. The speed limit in urban areas is 40kmph (25 mph) and out of town it's 80kmph (50 mph), unless otherwise posted. Much of Oranjestad's traffic is one-way; at intersections where there are no road signs, traffic from your right has the right of way. An increase in the number of cars on the islands means traffic can become congested just before 9am and just after 5pm on weekdays. Saturday night in Oranjestad can rival traffic in Times Square.
To rent a car, try Avis at the cruise terminal, Simeon Antonio (tel. 800/331-1212 in the U.S., or 297/582-5496 in Aruba; www.avis.com); Budget at the airport (tel. 800/472-3325 in the U.S., or 297/582-8600 in Aruba; www.budget.com); Dollar at the airport (tel. 800/800-3665 in the U.S. or 297/583-0101 in Aruba; www.dollar.com); Hertz has multiple locations, including the airport and Oranjestad (tel. 800/654-3001 in the U.S., or 297/588-7570 in Aruba; www.hertz.com); National at the airport (tel. 800/227-3876 in the U.S., or 297/582-5451 in Aruba; www.nationalcar.com); or Thrifty Car Rental at the airport (tel. 800/THRIFTY [847-4389], or 297/583-5335 in Aruba; www.thrifty.com). During the high season, expect to pay $60 to $65 per day for a compact car, $90 per day for a four-wheel-drive vehicle. During the low season, rates drop to $40 to $45 for a compact, $60 to $85 for a Jeep.
For a better deal, try one of the reputable local agencies, such as Economy Car Rental, Bushiri 27 (tel. 866/978-5780 or 297/583-0200; www.economyaruba.com); or Amigo Rent-a-Car, Schotlandstraat 56 (tel. 297/583-8833; www.amigocar.com). You can make reservations online; look for online specials.
Driving Hazards -- Most of Aruba's roads are pretty good, but the traffic signs leave much to be desired. Few streets outside of Oranjestad are marked, and signs to major tourist attractions look as if they were made by neighborhood kids decades ago. Try to keep your eye on the road, though, because iguanas and goats pose unusual traffic hazards. Arubans are considerate, cautious drivers for the most part, although they seem to drive either too fast or too slow. For a small town, Oranjestad has big-city traffic much of the day. Seat-belt laws exist but are often ignored, as are drunk-driving laws. Headgear is required by law for all two-wheel vehicles, but be warned; some rental helmets bear the following caveat: THIS HELMET IS A NOVELTY ITEM; AND IS NOT INTENDED FOR USE AS PROTECTIVE HEADGEAR.
Aruba has an excellent public bus system, with regular, reliable service. Buses run roughly every 20 minutes from 8am to 6pm and every hour from 6pm to midnight, Monday through Saturday. On Sunday and holidays, service is less frequent: every half-hour between 6am and 6pm and every 2 hours between 8pm and midnight. A same-day one-way ride is about AWG 2.25, or AWG 4 round-trip. It's best to have exact change. Schedules are available at the Arubus office (tel. 297/588-2300 or 588-0617 after 4pm; www.arubus.com) at the central terminal on Zoutmanstraat in Oranjestad, but your hotel's reception desk will know when buses pass by. You'll seldom wait more than 20 minutes for the next coach but while you are waiting for the regular bus, you may be able to hop onto a cramped minibus favored by the locals. The trip into town takes 10 to 20 minutes. There's a stop in front of most hotels.
Taxis are nonmetered but rates are fixed, and every cab has a copy of the official rate schedule. Tell the driver where you're going and ask the fare before you get in. Hailing a taxi on the street is difficult, but you'll find plenty of cabs at hotels. To return to your resort from dinner, have the restaurant call for a car. The dispatch office is inland from the Low Rises on Pos Abou, behind the Eagle Bowling Palace on the Sasaki Highway (tel. 297/582-2116). Tip 10% to 15%. Because it's next to impossible to find a taxi in remoter parts of the island, ask the driver who dropped you off to return for you at a certain time. Most drivers speak good English and are willing, even eager, to give you a tour of the island. Expect to pay $45 per hour for a maximum of five passengers. Following are rates for the most common routes:
- From High-Rise hotels: $11 to Low-Rise hotels; $13 to Noord restaurants and Oranjestad; $23 to the airport
- From Low-Rise hotels: $11 to High-Rise hotels; $13 to Noord restaurants and Oranjestad; $20 to the airport
- From Oranjestad hotels: $11 to Low-Rise hotels; $13 to Noord restaurants and High-Rise hotels; $16 to the airport
A surcharge of $3 is added on Sunday, holidays, and after midnight. The minimum fare is $5. Waiting time is $3 per 5 minutes. A surcharge of $2 is also levied for additional pieces of luggage over one per person. Shirtless, wet, or damp passengers are not allowed, and you're charged $50 for seat damage from wet clothing or sharp objects.
By Motorcycle & Scooter
Because Aruba's roads are good and the terrain is flat, mopeds and motorcycles are another transit option. They're available at George's Cycle Center, L.G. Smith Blvd. 124 (tel. 297/993-2202). Scooters rent for $40 per day, motorcycles for $70 to $120. For $150 a day or $95 for 4 hours during the high season ($100 or $85 in the off season), you can go hog-wild and rent a Harley (HOG members get a $10 discount during the high season). Big Twin Aruba, L.G. Smith Blvd. 124A (tel. 297/582-8660; www.harleydavidson-aruba.com) offers half-day tours for $130 and full-day tours for $163. If you long for the open road but lack the license or the gumption, you can opt for Trikes Plan B (tel. 297/738-7453; www.trikes-aruba.com). These three-wheeled motorcycles seat three passengers and can be piloted by a hired guide while you and your companion sit comfortably side by side with the wind in your hair[EH1].
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.