New malls have sprung up in the High-Rise district, seemingly overnight. The building trend started with Paseo Herencia in 2006, next came the Village in 2008, South Beach Mall shortly thereafter, and most recently the four-story uber-complex called Palm Beach Plaza Mall. As a result of this retail baby boom, the strip in front of the High-Rise hotels has taken over as the nightlife and shopping nexus, leaving downtown Oranjestad playing second fiddle on both fronts.
All stores accept American dollars, along with debit, check, and credit cards, but few still accept traveler's checks. They do not, however, accept currency from the Netherlands Antilles. So, if you plan to go to Bonaire or Curaçao, only exchange what you think you will spend there -- better yet, stick with U.S. dollars, which are accepted on all three islands. Shopkeepers, like most Arubans, are pleasant, but haggling is considered rude, so don't push your luck.
Most stores are open daily from 10am to 6pm; a few close for an hour at noon or 1pm. Many shops and tourist kiosks also open in the evening and stay open until 10pm. Stores in the malls tend to open on holidays as well, especially if cruise ships are in port or if the hotels are booked up.
Parking can be a hassle in downtown Oranjestad, although the High-Rise malls offer plenty of street level and above ground parking. Taking a cab or the bus may be best unless you plan to purchase heavy items.
Books -- If reading on the beach is one of your favorite pastimes, bring books from home; the selection in Aruba is limited and the prices are steep.
Hello, Aloe -- So Long, Sunburn -- Aruba has cultivated aloe for more than 150 years. The plant -- pronounced "ah-loh-weh" locally -- serves as a moisturizer and sunburn healer. My brother swears by the sunburn gel. Aruba Aloe (www.arubaaloe.com), a local company, manufactures a wide assortment of shampoos, facial masks, creams, and gels that soothe after a day in the sun. The products are cheapest at a pharmacy or supermarket, but you can also get them at souvenir stands and the factory itself (where you also get a factory tour, showing the history of this industry on the island).
Perfumes & Cosmetics -- Many of the island's jewelry stores also carry fragrances and cosmetics from the United States and France.
Wine & Liquor -- The supermarkets on the road connecting Oranjestad with the Low-Rise area -- Kong Hing Supermarket and Ling & Sons IGA Super Center -- boast sizable liquor departments and the best prices.
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.