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Aruba Driving Guide 2020

Driving in Aruba is not so different to driving in the USA, as long as you have an International Driving Permit and an understanding of the basic rules.

Lisa Brown

January 20, 2020

INTRODUCTION

Driving in Aruba can be as delightful as a vacation in Aruba. When the name Aruba comes up in a discussion, the nerves settle and the brain sends signals of relaxation to the body. It is not so surprising why this happens. Aruba is a southern island in the Caribbean cluster. It is a constituent country of the kingdom of Netherlands. It was discovered by the Spanish colonist, who also happened to settle in this country. They nicknamed the sister of Bonaire and Curacao “Islas Inútiles,” which meant Useless Islands in the year 1513. These islands are collectively called the ABC islands.

Aruba witnesses a high influx of visitors all year round, thanks to their reverberant weather and beautiful beaches. Happy tourists are welcomed through the cruise port of Aruba or the very glorious state of the art Queen Beatrix international airport. There are frequent one way or non-stop flights from around the world. European, American, Canadian, Caribbean and some South American citizens do not need a Visa to enter Aruba. 

Aruba is truly worth a visit! If you want to know more on how to enjoy your Caribbean trip, just browse and read everything in this article, and you’re good to go!

Getting Around Aruba

Using a commuter bus is the best way on how to get around Aruba. If you don’t want to use a bus, there are also Aruban Cabs that operate on fixed rates. This is a hassle-free way to get around the island. There are many choices of car to rent depending on where you want to go. There are even 4×4 SUVs for off-road driving in Aruba. In terms of driving or being driven around, the island is so fun to drive around because of its weather and topography. However, if you are a first time visitor to Aruba, I suggest you use rentals first so you can get yourself acquainted with the street signs signs and regulations to avoid violation and possible persecution by the law.

The Aruba street signs are not identical with the road signs in Canada or USA. It is due to the fact that they don’t experience rain most times of the year, the roads become slippery after a rain.

Renting a car will allow you to explore not just the big cities but also those all-important towns, villages and landmarks in Aruba

aruba driving rules that you should know

Driving in Aruba is pretty much like driving in any other places because the rules are universal. Just bear in mind that the speed limit in urban areas is 30 km/h, for rural areas is 60km/h, and on highways is up to 80km/h. On roads with special considerations like schools, parks, and other public places, there is a chosen speed limit to abide while driving. Thus, you must be very sensitive and careful in these areas. Unlike in the USA, the car speedometer in Aruba is written in the metric and not the imperial system of measurement.

Oranjestad’s traffic is mainly a one-way traffic system when driving on a two-lane, two-way traffic road. What side of the road do they drive in Aruba? They  drive on the right-hand side. If there is a need to overtake, you overtake from the left-hand side. If you approach an intersection with no visible road sign, it is maybe because it fell off or was never put in position. The existing rule must yield you to traffic on your right-hand side. When negotiating a turn into an intersection, the opposing or upcoming traffic has the right of way so you have to yield. If by chance there is traffic in all intersections, then all drivers must apply the courtesy rule. It is worthy of note that the sand roads and off-roads at an intersection are not removed from these rules as they are considered to be fully functional roads.

A lot of traffic lights and roundabouts can be seen in Aruba. So if you don’t know the driving rules for roundabouts in Aruba, you may have a lot of regrets when you park your car. Just like the similar roundabout rules, traffic entering or approaching the roundabout must yield to traffic inside the roundabout. This means that traffic in the roundabout has the right of way. As it concerns traffic lights, the amber light comes when changing from green to red, but does not come when changing from red to green. However, bear in mind that unlike other parts of the US and other countries with similar traffic rules, right turn on red lights are highly prohibited in Aruba.

Now if you are in Aruba and you feel like riding a bicycle around the town, you need to be very careful because the priority is given to drivers of vehicles and riders of non-motorized vehicles. There aren’t many lanes for riders in the island and naturally, motor drivers aren’t used to having riders on the road. It is also advisable to end every bicycle riding by 6 pm since there aren’t street lights to illuminate the roads at night to avoid road crashes caused by poor vision.

If you forget or make a last minute decision that you want to rent a car while you are in Aruba, it is possible to get an IDP through a premium fast track service, and it will be sent to you electronically in just a few hours.

DRIVING DIRECTION IN ARUBA

Since Aruba is a very small island, everything that can be of interest to you is  easily accessible. It also means that areas and centers of interest are very close to each other. It is not so easy to get lost while driving since you might just find yourself wherever you want to be. Another trick to watch out while driving in Aruba is the Fofoti trees. They are always bent towards the West that is the side where all the Hotels and resorts are located. So, you see it is going to be a great task to get lost even if you wanted to.

The lack of street names is another thing that tourists will find absurd about Aruba. Hence, you literally need to drive through unnamed streets taking note of the landmarks and any other thing that can help you find your way back. Downtown Oranjestad also lacks street names and that is one of the big cities in the Island. The best thing to do is to park your vehicle in the parking lot that is located across the LG Smith Boulevard and simply walk to your destination. Having a road map with a key or decode of road signs will be beneficial, because they may not be so easy to understand immediately.

While driving, there are lanes that are reserved for buses only. They are not marked but you will see large pit on those roads. Those pits won’t let a car to easily navigate its way through.

In the Filling stations in Aruba, you do not serve yourself. They usually have pump attendants whose job description includes dispensing the fuel into your vehicle. You will not get different types of petrol in Aruba, you can only have one type and that is what everybody uses to refill his fuel tank. Fuel prices are controlled by the government which means that you will get the same price of petroleum products all over the island.

The roads are fairly good and properly maintained by the authorities. There aren’t many lanes and the city planning is such that every nuke and crane is accessible with a vehicle.

 

WHERE CAN I PARK?

This is very important, if you don’t want to be fined: It actually pains visitors when they are fined without having an idea of the reason why, especially when they are on a trip or vacation. I mean the cost of being on a vacation is separate, but the cost of paying a fine was never included in your budget during the planning stage. With that, just take note that there are many areas for parking on the Island, but there are places that are highly prohibited for parking. There are also areas that require a special permit while there are some areas that parking lasts for a limited number of hours.

Parking is prohibited along the yellow stripe of the road and along the continuous line portion of the bend in a road. Recently, Aruba introduced parking meters in Oranjestad. They operate an hourly charge of 2 florins which is approximately $1.15 and they operate from 7:00 am until 7:00 pm which is 12 hours. The parking spaces are numbered and those numbers are required when paying for your parking or when retaining your parking space. A grace period of 15 minutes is awarded after your parking duration has expired. If the grace period expires and you are still not there to pick up your car or pay for another parking period, a violation ticket of 75 florins which is approximately $42.85 will be imposed on you. If you are not there after 3 hours, then the vehicle will be towed and more fines like towing charge will be added. The parking spots with yellow stripes are reserved for people with a permit.

Transportation in Aruba

Public Transportation

As earlier mentioned, this is the best means of transportation in the island. It is very reliable and affordable if you are a visitor. It makes going around easy and removes the hassle of having to find your way. The Island’s Arubus runs every at least every 15 minutes from 5:25 AM to 12:00 AM depending on the route you will pass and your place to visit. The central bus stop is located at Oranjestad just adjacent to the Cruise ship terminal. The bus route covers all the major resort areas and even downtown. The Baby beach is not left out as the buses can take you there.

The Aruba bus fare is very affordable because of Retour cards that cover two trips sells as low as 8.75 Aruban florin which is approximately about $5. Day passes which typically covers unlimited commute on all bus routes costs about 17.50 florin which is less than $10.

There is another form of public transportation which is popularly called the Hop on – Hop off the trolley. It works best for people staying downtown, and its route passes through the main streets and even the newly renovated pedestrian mall downtown from the cruise ship terminal. This is a quick form of transportation even though the route is not all-encompassing like the Arubus route, but it sure serves a lot of people well.

If you are searching for a Aruba bus rental company, you may just get the contact details of the operators of the famous bus companies, and ask if they have buses that are available for renting. If you are in a group of more than 10 people, I advice you to just rent a van.

Taxi

There is no UBER over there, so the Taxi fares are not metered or controlled by anybody. It is strictly by what you bargain and agree with the taxi driver. However, there are fixed-rate taxis that are easy to call and ride in especially if you intend to spend a lot of time around your hotel. How they operate is that from your hotel, there is already a fixed price for certain famous sites. So, just hop-in and get yourself to your destination at a fixed price.

You can also grab a taxi from the airport once you arrive Aruba, you can take the taxi driver’s phone number and then call him whenever you are about to go out. The hotel can also help you arrange for a reliable taxi whom they trusted. This kind of action can be trusted more and most times can give you a little discount on taxi fares as a way of showing appreciation to the hotel for calling and bringing him new passengers frequently. You can also flag down a taxi off the street, just watch out for cars that have “TX” in their license plate. Now when you flag down a taxi off the street, remember to tell the driver your destination and make sure that he tells you the fare before you embark on your journey. If the fare is not favorable, you can always bargain. When the both of you reach a common ground, you can enter and enjoy your ride. Another important tip to remember is when you flag down a taxi off the street, remember to ask him to return and pick you up especially if you feel that you may stay in that location until the late hours. The good thing is, many cab drivers do speak English in Aruba.

Car

Renting a car will cost between $40 to $90 per day. The advantage is that accessing of reach areas like the Arikok National Park, Baby beach or Donkey Sanctuary Aruba will be a lot easier. These cars are rented near the cruise terminal or the airport. If you want to add some sandy adventure to your To-do-list, consider renting a 4×4 SUV. The island’s rugged east coast landscape will be easier to navigate if you have a little more of torque packed in your wheels. As earlier said, speed limits and distances are all in Kilometer.

Motorcycle or Scooter

There are a couple of non-four-wheeled vehicles available like the trikes, mopeds, and motorcycles. Each of these options attract its own fare, but if you are in Aruba as a couple, then consider the trikes as it allows for more visibility of the area and avails you enough natural breeze while you are on your trip.d

Get Your International Driver's Permit in 2 hours

An IDP is a legal requirement to drive or rent a car in several foreign countries. It is also a United Nations regulated travel document for your safety and ease of travel.

ARUBA OFF-ROAD ADVENTURES

It is really worth seeing the plains in the North coast of Aruba. The access roads to these areas are jagged and sandy. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you tour this route with any 4×4 all-terrain SUV. Some notable destinations to visit in this area are the Andicuri beach and the Natural pool. They are full of awesome adventures and exciting sights to see.

The northern coast area is hilly and deserted. Thus, passing on this kind of road needs an experienced off-road driver. It is not something you will just venture into just because you know how to drive a car. We recommend a fit and experienced Aruba driver to take on that trail. Most car rentals are not covered by their insurance companies if a situation arises inside the of road zone. Meaning, car rentals are not allowed to access the dirt road. So, if you are on a car rental, you may not visit places like the California Lighthouse and the road to the Natural Pool.

While it is fun to use off-road vehicles on the sand dunes, it is actually not permitted in Aruba. However, there is no serious legal action on that. If you want to have a taste of the fun while playing with the sand dunes, consider walking if you must be in a vehicle. You will need an experienced guide to drive you around the dunes. Vehicles may get stuck in the dune depending on how powerful the SUV is.

THE ROAD CONDITIONS AND SAFETY

Is Driving in Aruba safe? Yes, it is very safe. Driving in Aruba at night as well is very safe. Without wasting much time, you must always remember that animals are also road users and as such. Keep an eye for animals that can be crossing the road at any time. And if you are a visitor, it is good that you know that the locals are convivial drivers. They can stop anytime and anywhere to greet their friends or even converse on the road, so be alert. As earlier mentioned, the roads can be extremely slippery when the rain falls due to the buildup of oil and dust on the pavement.

The highways and main roads in the town are in perfect condition. Their routine maintenance is effective, and you can hardly see a pothole or an obstacle to the flow of traffic on these roads. The smaller roads in the streets are not left out. They are also very well constructed but the highways are better. In summary, pretty much every USA traffic rule is applicable in Aruba except that in Aruba, you cannot turn right on the red light.

WHAT ARE THE SPEED LIMITS IN ARUBA

The police in Aruba will catch you and issue you a ticket if you exceed the speed limit of the area that you are currently driving on. The 3-speed limit categories in Aruba are as follows:

  • Urban areas – 30 km/h
  • Out of town – 60km/h
  • Highway – 80km/h

IF THERE IS AN EMERGENCY ON THE ROAD, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Anything can happen anytime. As a visitor, the last thing that you will want to happen to you is to be stranded in a place that you are not familiar. It is recommended that you know the hotline that you can call when such need arises so you don’t get stuck in a location or position where you can neither go forward nor backward.

If you need to call the Police, just dial 100 or 911 from any part of the island. If there’s a fire outbreak, dial 911 and you will be directed to the fire department. They will be the ones to take action with respect to your request. If happens that an ambulance is needed, dial 911 also. In Aruba, the magic number is 911.

If you are driving and you encounter any mechanical problems with your rented car, the rental company always writes their emergency number on the windscreen of the car. Call them so they can get you sorted out. However, if it is a private car, then call your local auto technician. Make sure that you have the number of at least 3 local auto mechanics whenever you want to drive out, especially when you are going to drive through one of those isolated roads that are off the city center.

In the case of a vehicle crash or accident, and there is no major damage to the car or a human casualty, you are allowed to sort out the challenge with the other driver. But if there is a major damage or injury to anybody, then do not move the car until the police arrive. Contact the emergency services according to what you need, you can call the ambulance or fire department depending on how the event turns out. However, if the vehicles are going to cause huge traffic obstruction, take pictures of the accident and the witnesses, take measurements, and finally, create a way for traffic.

IMPORTANT DRIVING RULES AND REQUIREMENTS YOU NEED TO KNOW when driving IN ARUBA

I know that I have mentioned a lot of things that you should know and observe while driving In Aruba, but rules for driving in Aruba cannot be overemphasized. The things listed below are supposed to be done each time that you are behind the steering wheels when driving in this country. In addition, driving schools in Aruba will lay emphasis on these while teaching their students, so it is very essential to be famaliarized about the following:

Use of Mobile Phones: Just like every other part of the world, the use of mobile phones are highly prohibited in Aruba. You can make use of a portable hands-free device if you must take a call. A fine will be imposed on you by the law enforcement agency depending on what they charge you with.

Eating while driving: I guess you did not know about this one, but it is also prohibited to eat anything will driving because it is a source of distraction. So when you go out for a picnic, you have two choices to make as it concerns food. First is, if you are driving, you have stop in a park or restaurant if you want to eat . If you cannot do so, then the food or snack has to wait until you get back to the hotel room.

Drinking and Driving in Aruba: Aruba drinking laws in driving are strictly adhered to. The phrase here is ZERO tolerance. The government doesn’t have any reservations for alcohol offenders. Automatically, you are going straight to jail. The maximum ratio of blood alcohol level I Aruba is 50mg per 100ml of blood. This is one of the lowest in the world and even lower than what is obtainable in the UK. This means that a glass of wine can take you straight above the limit. If being careful is unobserved, you will be calling your attorney. It is better to avoid driving if you are drunk, or avoid drinking if you must drive since driving under the influence is strictly prohibited in Aruba.

Aruba Car Seat Laws: This is also a must-do in Aruba. All occupants of a moving vehicle must put on their seat belts, whether you are in the front row or the back row of seats. Children who are below the age of 5 cannot sit in the front seat and must sit in the children’s safety seat, which is usually rented separately when you rent a car.

Documents to have while driving: The compulsory document that drivers in Aruba must have is their Driving License and Passport. For tourists, they should have their passport, International Driver’s Permit, registration document and a copy of your Insurance certificate.

Aruba Driving Age: You must be at least 18 years old before you become eligible to drive in Aruba. However, at 18, you are not eligible to rent a car. Car rental is only for people who are 21 years and above. But, if you are under 25, you will be required to pay extra to cover your supposed inexperience. If you are 70 years and above, then you won’t be eligible to be rent a car, rather you can request a driver.

Insurance: Every car on the road must have a minimum of third party insurance. While you are not expected to carry the whole insurance paperwork, you are expected to have an insurance document and your ID in the car for the police to sight.

Aruba Driver’s License Requirements: For you to be able to drive and rent a car in Aruba, you must have a valid domestic driver’s license if you have an Aruba driving license.This license must be translated in English. If not, you shall have an International Driving Permit (IDP/IDL)

Please note that an International Driving Permit/License does not replace the requirement for a regular driver’s license. If you have this, you still must carry your current domestic driver’s license. Take this IDP with you all the time when driving in Aruba for a safe and enjoyable travel.

TIPS TO REMEMBER WHEN RENTING A CAR IN ARUBA

Don’t be carried away by the ease of renting a car in Aruba. There is some consideration that you must make before leaving your hotel room to explore this beautiful island. These add to Aruba driving factors of success in this market.

Book from the house: Don’t wait until you are ready before you book a car. The city is never in a rush, so if you are time bound, consider booking earlier. It is cheaper when you book ahead of time.

Can you drive in Aruba with a US license? Driving in Aruba with US license is allowed. Moreover, you must have an international driving permit before you rent a car in Aruba, and drive with an authentic driver’s license that was issued by your home country.

Check the insurance coverage of the car: As earlier mentioned, all cars on the roads of Aruba are covered by a minimum of third party insurance. But, there is a need for you to check to see if the credit card that you are bearing gives you the benefit of having a car rental insurance, so you won’t need to pay $10-$20 over the counter for CDW/LDW per day.

It is better that you pay in Florins: In order to avoid high conversion rates and other unnecessary service charges, opt to pay in the local currency even when the car rental agent offers you a more convenient way to pay in dollars.

Learn the most common Words: Yes, the people of Aruba can speak English, but the signs on the road are mostly going to be in Spanish language. Thus, it is best to familiarize yourself with some daily used vocabularies before rolling out of your resort. The receptionist in the hotel can help you with this.

One way traffic: As earlier mentioned, driving is on the right driving side in Aruba. You have to be sensitive to all the signs and symbols on the roads, so you don’t drive against traffic on a one-way traffic roads. A couple of streets in Oranjestad are one-way and driving against the traffic is regarded as breaking the law.

Inspect the car thoroughly before driving off: The aim is to protect yourself from potential false damage claims. If you are not a keen observer, or you didn’t check the car you rented, you may be paying for the damage that someone else did to the car. It may not be intentionally done by the rental company because they may not have inspected it thoroughly after the last user dropped off the car. So, inspect it properly before driving off. Take it for a spin, more like a test drive. Use your smartphone to take detailed pictures of everything you see and notice before setting out fully with your rented car.

UNWIND YOURSELF WHEN YOU ARE BEHIND THE WHEELS

Aruba’s climate is dry when compared with its neighboring islands. With a cactus-strewn landscape, the scenery is so beautiful for quality relaxation and awesome pictures. It is not within the hurricane belt, and does not have a recorded hurricane event yet, neither it had an earthquake. The climate has been the primary reason why it is a tourist attraction. The natural beauty and the best way to have a real feel of what Aruba has is to embark on several road trips, so that you can be so close with the wonders that Aruba has to showcase.

To summarize the key points that have been mention in this beautiful article about Aruba, here are the highlights:

  • Make sure that you plan ahead of time. This is an island, so we suppose that visitor here must have come overseas. Therefore, make sure that you have your international driver’s permit as well as your Driver’s license, and discuss all the necessary things with your insurance company to see if they can give you a nice deal on insurance.
  •  The road signs are pretty much the same with America’s. However, you need to familiarize yourself with the most common ones before driving off on your own. We recommend that you allow yourself to be driven by the locals first, so you can get conversant with the roads signs and symbols before you go all out on your own.
  • Read the Car rental’s paperwork thoroughly. Please do not be in a haste, understand every part of the text, and digest the parts that concern fuel and insurance if you don’t want to pay for any extra cost that wasn’t covered by your budget.
  • Obey all the traffic rules. Do not assume that you know the rules. Remember that some actions that look normal in the USA are prohibited here. Things like turning right on the red light will simply cause you to be debited because of a charge that is imposed on you by the police.
  • If you think that you will drink alcohol, please do not touch the steering wheels. Just find yourself a taxi or cab. If you do, you will sleep in the Police cell. You may also lose your driver’s license. Moreover, you will also pay a huge sum of money. Do not take drugs that will affect your normal cognitive behavior no matter how small it is.
  • If there is a road crash, do not be bothered. I mean there is no need for that. Every car on the road has a third party insurance. Just don’t move the car away from the scene. Take pictures of the accident, and call 911, so the police, firefighters, or ambulance will be be the ones who will take care of it. Involve your insurance company and go home happily. If the effect of the accident is not so much, you can settle it on site with the other driver.
  • If you are stopped by the police, be calm and polite, do not accept being guilty in a hurry, and never resist being arrested or served a ticket if it comes to that.
  • Beware of poorly marked bumps in some streets and Iguanas crossing the road. Pay attention to the road at all times.
  • Always wear your seat belt. The law will catch and penalize you if you default. Motorcyclists and their passengers are required to wear their helmet equally.
  • Child safety is taken so seriously in Aruba. Children must sit in the back seat, while children under the age of 5 must sit in child safety seats.
  • When you hop on a Taxi, remember that there is no meter. So, while you are still standing, do yourself a favor and settle the price of the trip with the driver. Once you guys agree on a specific price, you can now enter and enjoy your ride.
  • Remember that you can also take a bus to your destination. They are affordable and comfortable as they offer convenient travel from your hotel to the shopping areas.
  • The age for driving is 18. Parents should ring this information as a bell to their children. The age for being eligible to rent a car is 21, but if you are below 25, you will also pay a little token for your inexperience. From 70 years of age, you will not be allowed to rent a car. You can use the taxi or employ a senior driver to drive you around.
  • Petty crime can be witnessed on the streets of Aruba, so do not leave your personal belongings like your jewelry, cell phones, electronics, wallets, bags and passport in the car.
  • Lock the car when you park it and put the keys in your pocket. Yes, the city is too small for car theft, but it is better to avoid what can be avoided.
  • The speed limit is strictly adhered to, even though there are no permanently mounted cameras. The police have a speed detection device that can lockdown on your vehicle and detect your speed, and what follows is paying off a fine and cutting of your fun.
  • The speed limit is Urban areas – 30 km/h, Out of town – 60km/h and Highway – 80km/h.
  • Do not hesitate to call 911. The police and ambulance are quick to respond any time you call on them on emergency situations.

Don’t believe everything you see in the movies. Aruban drivers might have a few bad habits, but aggression is definitely not one of them, so drive with a smile on your face and enjoy the open road.