Things to Consider When Planning a Vacation to Aruba

Aruba is popular the world over for its beaches and high-end resorts; however, what makes it stand apart is the island's ever-hospitable nature. Take a look at this Buzzle article to learn about some important things while planning an Aruban getaway.
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Planning a vacation to Aruba - visit any time
Aruba is easily accessible!
Aruba is well-connected through direct flights from most North American cities. Moreover, cruises with southern Caribbean itineraries also include Aruba.
One of the hottest Caribbean destinations and also one of the most-visited, Aruba is a tropical paradise in its own right. Lined with a ribbon of absolutely stunning beaches with world-class luxury resorts, it is unarguably a favorite vacation spot for Americans hailing from the East Coast wishing to flee the American winter. The island is a similar, albeit warmer and milder version of New York, with its expensive shopping plazas, high-end restaurants, and of course, beaches. Therefore, the fact that more and more Americans travel to this tropical destination each year does not come as a surprise.

But, these are not the only things that Aruba has to offer to its visitors. Whenever a curious visitor ventures farther from the beaches and the resorts, he/she is left absolutely spellbound. The island's main town and capital city, Oranjestad, is kind of cute, with its famous open-air mall and a lot of other money-spending options. More suitable for day-trips, the city is also popular among cruise vacationers. Plus, the island's extreme ends are also interesting, in that, they feature quiet, less-trodden landscapes of cacti and the famous divi-divi trees, alongside several abandoned gold mines. However, the highlight of Aruba is its coziness and its hospitable attitude. It is an ideal vacation destination for people who do not wish to do anything else, but relax.

Planning a Trip to Aruba

Glimpses of Aruba

If Aruba is on your travel wish list and you plan to visit the island in the near future, be rest assured that it will never disappoint you. All you need to do before embarking on your journey is to consider a few vital points, mentioned in this Buzzle article.

Best Time to Visit

Aruba's weather is consistently pleasant all through the year. Moreover, the island neither has a monsoon season, nor a threat of tropical storms, due to the fact that it lies outside the hurricane belt. So, technically, Aruba can be visited all year round.

Owing to the consistency of Aruba's weather, the peak and off seasons to visit the island are determined largely by the climate patterns in the United States and North America. People, generally, travel to Aruba to escape the harsh North American winters.

In general, the peak time to visit this tropical island ranges between mid-December and mid-April, and Aruba is indeed very crowded during this time.

It needs to be noted that during peak season, hotels and resorts charge their highest prices, and discounts on accommodation deals are rarely available.

Moreover, if you are looking for a last-minute hotel deal, you might have to shell out quite a few extra bucks to crack it. So, if you are planning to visit during the peak season, make sure that you book well in advance so that you get your desired accommodation within your budget.

On the other hand, the off-season to visit Aruba is from mid-April to mid-December, when the climate is much warmer in North America.

But, if you think you can escape crowds in Aruba during this time, you are highly mistaken. Aruba's off season clashes with the European vacation season and the winter of South America. So, Aruba is fairly crowded even during this time; however, visitors during off-season are more budget conscious.

Aruba in the off-season is like one huge summertime sale―hotels and resorts lower their prices (by 20% to 50%), high-end restaurants offer a number of discounts and offers, and so on.

So, if you are traveling on a budget and wish to make the most of Aruba, travel during the off-season. Some attractions and activities may take a backseat―some hotels may close down for renovation, tour operators may offer less number of excursions in a day, etc.; however, you might be able to avail significant bargains and enjoy lavish facilities at a far lesser price.

Tip: On Aruba's official holidays―March 18 (National Anthem and Flag Day), April 30 (Queen's Birthday), May 1 (Aruba's Labor Day), December 25 (Christmas), etc., most restaurants and stores are closed. So, ensure that your travel dates do not coincide with one or more of these days.

Entry Requirements

As one of the four constituent countries forming the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba, by default, is the member of the European Union. Owing to this, citizens of the member states of the EU do not require a visa to travel to Aruba. All they need, on the contrary, is a valid passport.

Similarly, citizens of the United States, Canada, and the citizens of most South American countries do not require a visa for entering Aruba.

Other international visitors require a valid visa to enter the island, which they can obtain from the embassy of Aruba in their respective home country.

Note: For further details, please visit Aruba.com, the official website of Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA).

Money Matters

Aruba is expensive. Even if you visit during the off-season, the island is not all that cheap, and offers only a few bargains, if at all.

Most of Aruba's high-end restaurants, exclusive boutique resorts, and glamorous hotels are targeted towards an upscale audience, and so, the rates are found to be at par with similar facilities in big cities like London and New York.

It is needless to say that transport on the island also tilts towards the expensive side; however, public transport is still a better option than private taxis/cars.

Note: A major drawback of public transport, especially the buses, is that they do not take you to the remote parts of the island or into the Arikok National Wildlife Park. So, private car rental is often the only option for foreign tourists; however, motorcycles can also be rented out.

If you are in Oranjestad, the best way to explore the city is by foot. The city is a day-tripper's paradise, and a walking excursion through it is free-of-cost.

In Aruba, you are expected to pay a 3% sales tax on anything that you buy. Generally, this is included in the total price that you pay, but some merchants prefer to charge it separately. So, it is advisable to inquire about this before paying your shopping bill.

Moreover, hotels and resorts also charge an 11% government tax on rooms, apart from a service charge that may range from 5% to 7% of your total bill amount.

Tips are generally expected by taxi drivers, porters, bellboys, and waiters. So, remember to carry some smaller denomination bills with you all the time.

Note: Aruban florin is Aruba's currency; however, the US and Canadian dollars are widely accepted throughout the island.

Health Tips

Aruba boasts of being one of those places which has the cleanest water in the world. So, there is absolutely no need to buy bottled water (which is rather expensive), as tap water is completely hygienic to drink.

Mosquitoes are not much of a menace in Aruba as the island's strong winds blow them away. However, pests may often cause a nuisance, so carry an insect repellent with you.

Food is safe in Aruba; however, if you are eating at a street-side joint, make sure that it is hot and fresh.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all American tourists traveling to Aruba take certain vaccinations before commencing their journey. Make sure that you have taken all these shots, and also carry documented proofs of the same. For information about vaccinations needed before visiting Aruba, visit CDC's official website.

Furthermore, if you are on any kind of special medication(s), do not forget to carry your medicines along. Get written prescriptions from your doctor, with generic names of your medicines so that you can get them from pharmacy stores in Aruba, in case of an emergency.

Purchase an appropriate health insurance before going to Aruba. Consider the worst possible scenario and ensure that it covers for all the health contingencies that you might face during your stay on the island.

Lastly, if you are traveling during summer, note that the Aruban sun can be ruthless. Carry appropriate protection, like a pair of sunglasses, a sunscreen lotion, etc.

Safety Tips

Safety-wise, Aruba is one of the safer destinations in the Caribbean; however, petty crimes have recently been on a rise. Do not leave your luggage/valuables unattended, and always carry your passport and other important documents with you.

The legal drinking age in Aruba is 18; however, with an increase in the trend of full-moon parties and beach bashes, there have been instances of teenagers consuming heavy loads of alcohol.

For underage people and lay travelers, these parties can prove to be little more than mere tourist traps, and a haven for pickpockets and occasional drunken hookups. Be careful and stay away from such parties, if you are not absolutely confident about yourself.

Apart from being a safe escape from the North American winters, Aruba is also being promoted as a family vacation destination. Most hotels and resorts, these days, run child-friendly programs and activities, and several spots have also been developed keeping young visitors in mind. So, be it a romantic getaway, family vacation, or whether you are seeking solitude, Aruba can prove to be a perfect destination. So, pack up and head to one of the cleanest islands in the Caribbean!
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Published: January 16, 2014
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Informative. I have to this place and its overwhelming. - Jason [January 16, 2014]