While making local calls from your hotel can be outrageously expensive, and even receiving incoming calls is costly to you, long-distance calls are flat-out ridiculous. If you have to make a call, purchase a phone card from a convenience store and use a pay phone. If you need to stay in touch, you can rent a cellphone for a week at the airport. Better yet, send an e-mail from your hotel lobby or a cybercafe. If you brought your own phone, be sure to turn off the data plan, since the phone will try to log on to the network while searching for routine software updates. If you bring your laptop, you can stay in touch with loved ones via Skype.
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.
Cellphone coverage and reception in Aruba is pretty good if a tad pricey. Because Aruba is a small and relatively manageable island, I recommend foregoing the cellphone altogether unless you are part of a scattered group that requires ongoing logistic coordination. Communications with home are cheaper via e-mail, and many hotel lobbies have Wi-Fi and small Internet cafes.
The three letters that define much of the world's wireless capabilities are GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), a big, seamless network that makes for easy cross-border cellphone use throughout dozens of countries worldwide. If your cellphone is on a GSM system and you have a world-capable multiband phone, such as many Sony Ericsson, Motorola, or Samsung models, you can make and receive calls in Aruba. Just call your wireless operator and ask for "international roaming" to be activated on your account.
Most cellphones will work in Aruba, but call your carrier first to be sure. Rates are usually on the order of $4 per minute, even if you're dialing an 800 number.
For many, renting a phone is a good idea. At the airport, there is a booth just before you exit the terminal where you can rent a phone for a fair price, depending on how many calls you make. The rental agencies seem to be a bit of a moving target since they are still figuring out how to prevent forgetful tourists from accidentally taking the phones home with them! One company that seems solvent is Fast Phone (www.arubafastphones.com), with a booth at the airport and another at Paseo Herencia Mall. For $50 you can rent a phone for a week with 84 minutes included. The two main carriers are Digicel (tel. 297/522-2222; www.digicelaruba.com) and SETAR (tel. 297/583-4000; www.setar.aw). Rates with these carriers are $8 per day for the first 5 days and $5 for each subsequent day. Additional charges for outgoing and incoming calls apply, and a deposit is usually required.
Buying a phone on the island can also be economically attractive, as many nations have cheap prepaid phone systems. Once you arrive at your destination, stop by a local cellphone shop or booth at the airport and get the cheapest package; you'll probably pay less than $100 for a phone and a starter calling card. Local calls may be as low as 10¢ per minute, and in many countries incoming calls are free.
Internet & E-Mail
Most hotels and resorts in Aruba have Internet access, and many places are becoming wireless "hot spots" that offer Wi-Fi access either for free or for a small charge. Some hotels, such as the Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino, and Spa, offer free Wi-Fi for guests, while other hotels may charge a daily fee for Internet access. Some resorts may also offer free Wi-Fi access only in the lobby or public spaces. Daily rates can be $10 to $15 per day, so be sure to ask before you start using minutes. There are a number of Internet cafes on the island with rates that are fairly reasonable, with fees averaging about $3 for every 15 minutes.
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.