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Aruba Travel Guide

In Travel by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

Can’t decide between a relaxing resort getaway and exploring a pristine landscape? Aruba is the best of both worlds…luxury resorts a mere stones throw from rugged desert and rocky coasts. Together, we have one of the Caribbean’s most unique destinations.

Want to learn more about Aruba?

History and Culture | Currency

Where is Aruba?

Aruba is located in the very southern part of the Caribbean, only 29 kilometres north of Venezuela. Bonaire and Curaçao (other Dutch islands) are located to the east.

When is the best time to visit Aruba?

Whenever you want. Aruba thankfully avoids the hurricane season that hits other destinations in the region (there is an increase in rain from Sep-Dec, though it’s not a deal breaker). Although prices may be higher at resorts from December to April.

aruba map chalkboard black island caribbean

Flights to Aruba

Flights between Toronto and Aruba aren’t too expensive, generally starting around the $550 Canadian mark. You can likely find cheaper flights if you book tourist packages so keep an eye out!

Getting around Aruba

If you’re just here to relax on the beach, getting around won’t be a major concern. If you want to explore the more rugged and unique parts of Aruba, renting a car or bike is a great way to do so. Bus service on the island is decent out of Oranjestad.

Where to go in Aruba

Arikok National Park | East Coat | Oranjestad | Resorts | More

Oranjestad

oranjestad aruba city port harbor water

The logical place to start your Aruban getaway is Oranjestad, the capital and largest population centre on the island. You’ll find many shops, restaurants, bars, and beaches within the city limits, ensuring both first time and veteran visitors won’t get bored. Oranjestad does serve as the cruise ship port for Aruba…and this does come with its own set of drawbacks (namely packed streets and an overabundance of holidaymakers when one is docked). Even with these minor drawbacks it’s still a city worth exploring, with the Dutch architecture one of the highlights.

Resorts

aruba resorts beach white sand building

Arguably the reason Aruba is the most visited island in the entire southern Caribbean is the all-inclusive resorts. Located close to Oranjestad are kilometres of white sand beaches, seaside lodgings, exemplary service, tour packages (including snorkeling and diving), and more. You can’t really go wrong with any of the major resorts if that’s why you’re here. While you might not get a feel for what makes Aruba unique, there’s no denying that the allure of sun, sand, and warm water is hard to resist.

Arikok National Park

arikok national park Aruba desert cactus landscape nature

Arikok National Park is where Aruba starts to separate itself from the other islands that dot the Caribbean. First and foremost, much of the land is desert – a far cry from the lush, mountainous interiors of Jamaica for example. While this might not sound as interesting on the surface, there’s quite a lot to take in. You’ll encounter diverse wildlife, cacti, caves (and ancient cave drawings), rocky coasts, and special views. It’s only when you get off the beaten path and out of the resorts that you start to understand why Aruba is so special.

East Coast

east coast aruba rocky barren landscape desert water

Continuing this theme, if the crowded beaches near Oranjestad are a bit too popular for your liking – the rugged east coast is an entirely different experience. There are still great beaches, but this time you’ll encounter cliffs, natural seaside pools, winds, waves, and more. You’re much more likely to find solitude here, but even if more people visited we’d recommend the east wholeheartedly.

More

shipwreck diving aruba underwater explore

There’s a lot more to see and do in Aruba. We’ve touched on it briefly, but the diving here is second to none – with shipwrecks aplenty in the waters off the coast. The northwest coast is home to some great beaches, and smaller towns offer windows into authentic Aruban culture in a way Oranjestad can’t. It’s not a large island, but you’ll likely find it’s easy to get swept up in its magic.

Language in Aruba

The main language spoken on Aruba is Papiamento, a creole language that comes from a variety of different backgrounds. A few phrases might help you get by in some out of the way regions. Dutch is also an official language. English is becoming more widespread, especially in the capital and on resorts – so you should be okay in many areas.

Prices in Aruba ($$$$)*

Prices in Aruba can be expensive, but like anywhere else you can keep prices down if you’re frugal. Expenses will also vary considerably whether you plan on shelling out for a resort or roughing it in the east. Overall though, an average day could work out to as much as $330 Canadian, though thriftier travellers can look to keep it down towards around $141. In the end, you’ll spend as much money as you’re comfortable with – so don’t feel like you’re priced out before you even set foot in Aruba.

*Cost rating on a scale of ‘$ to $$$$’, or ‘cheapest to most expensive’

aruba sunset beach sand palm trees sand flamingo

Is Aruba safe?

Before we get into safety, we have to touch on the current health issue with regards to the Zika virus. Spread by mosquitos, the sickness is usually mild and short term, resulting in fever, headaches, rashes, muscle pain, and other flu-like symptoms. That being said, pregnant women (and women considering becoming pregnant) should avoid the country for the time being. Be sure to talk to a healthcare professional before deciding to travel to Aruba.

Beyond this, Aruba is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean with normal security precautions recommended throughout by the Canadian government. There is petty crime in some areas (namely heavily touristed areas), so use caution. Roads are good though signage isn’t very common.

For more on travel safety, check out the Canadian Travel Advisory for Aruba.

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You can learn more about Aruban history and culture in the Country Profile as well as the Aruban florin with our Currency Spotlight.

For more information, check out the official Aruba tourism site.

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