About Aruba (AW)
The tiny Caribbean island of Aruba (AW) is one of four overseas territories of the Netherlands, and situated 24 km (15 miles) north of Venezuela. Roughly 184 km² (70 mi²) of flat land, Aruba is known primarily for its white beaches and dry, breezy tropical climate that rarely deviates from 27°C (81°F). Located just outside the Caribbean hurricane zone, tourism in Aruba is considered a year-round affair, with activities focused on upscale leisure and watersports activities.
As its economy is highly dependent on foreign visitors, most Aruban facilities are in top condition, having smoothed over many of the ragged edges found in other Caribbean locations. There are basically two regions of Aruba - the rugged and less developed northeast coast, and the postcard beaches of the southwest coast, where the majority of visitors will be based. Aruba’s largest city, Oranjestad, is the primary gateway to the island and the center of nightlife and shopping.
It may be diminutive in size, but visitors wishing to see more than their beach resort will want to rent a car in Aruba. Unlike most Caribbean destinations, driving in Aruba is a relatively straightforward and orderly affair. Route 1 (LG Smith Boulevard) is the foundation of its network of roads, and runs the length of the southern coast. The majority of minor routes are paved, two-lane roads that all somehow link back to Route 1.
While it may be possible to get “lost” in Aruba, the worst that could happen is losing your bearings for a while. All road signage uses familiar international pictograms and roads are marked with white lines (as opposed to yellow) to indicate lanes and direction. Aruban roundabouts are clearly marked and guided by asphalt curbs to ease navigation, though they may take some getting used to for North American drivers.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Aruba are mostly provided by Alamo, Hertz, Dollar, Sixt, Enterprise, and other big name brand vendors. Choose from minicars, economy hatchbacks, compact, standard, and fullsize luxury sedans, SUVs, estate wagons, and 7-12 seater minivans for large families and groups.
Tips and advice
Be advised that most Aruba car hires are not the newest make and model, and most, if not all will have some minor pre-existing damage. Thus, it’s important to do a thorough walk around inspection of the car before taking possession.
Traffic congestion in Oranjestad can be bumper-to-bumper during the highest peak season (June-August). Its possible to use alternative routes around the town center, but generally speaking, it’s crowded everywhere.
With the exception of the most traveled routes, street names are not marked in Aruba. Many roads don’t even have names.
Watch out for unmarked Bus Only lanes that have hidden “pits” used to discourage regular cars from using them.
The majority of Oranjestad is mapped with one-way streets, and again, the street names are generally not marked. Navigation by landmark is the best mode of reaching your destination.
Like street names, parking rules and regulations are not clearly defined or marked in Aruba. Park with caution.