Red Rocks, White Sands and Blue Water
Aruba is best known for its beautiful beaches, luxury resorts and nightlife. You will discover a very different side to this island when you go beyond the pavement to a landscape that resembles the American west, with desert sands, red-rock monoliths and cactus. Travel over hills that once held golden riches; examine per-Colombian cave art; and tour the island's wild northeastern corner, where surf crashes against a barren shore. Stop to scramble to the top of huge boulder fields for panoramic views of the island or to plunge into the cooling waters of a sheltered cove tucked into the surf-washed shore.
- Best for: Beach lovers, spa and watersports fans and soft adventurers
- Best season to visit: Year-round, as it's below the hurricane belt
- Weather: Steady trade winds, sunny and dry winters in the 70s, 80s in the summer, with occasional afternoon or evening showers
Offroading in Aruba Overview
More than 20 percent of the island lies within a national park and additional wild areas along the north coast provide miles of dirt roads and rock tracks passable only by four-wheel drive vehicles or ATVs. Routes lead to unique rock formations, historic points of interest and hidden coves tucked into the surf-washed shoreline. Half and all-day tours usually include swimming stops and a picnic or beach barbecue.
Aruba Offroading Tips
The steady trade winds that blow across Aruba's northern coast can keep you from feeling the full heat of the tropical sun, but you can still get burned if you don't take precautions. Bring comfortable sun protection such as a hat and sunglasses, and remember to reapply sunscreen after swimming stops. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Best Places for Offroading in Aruba
At Arikok National Park a trio of caves harbor bats and ancient Arawak artwork. The Ayo Rocks are huge boulders that rise from a sandy plane—with wind-sculpted profiles that are said to resemble the shapes of birds and dragons. The ruins of Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins stand as a reminder of the island's gold rush days. Natural Pool is a rock-lined cove that shelters swimmers from the pounding surf.
What to Pack for Offroading in Aruba
Tour operators will provide drinks and snacks, but you may also want to bring a few of your favorites. Sturdy shoes will help you scramble over the rocks at scenic stops, and you might want a towel and some dry clothing after swimming stops – though the wind and sun will dry you quickly.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
Entry Requirements: The U.S. Department of State requires that all travelers to and from the Caribbean have a passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of return from the destination. U.S. and Canadian citizens do not need a visa. For more info visit the USDoS website. EXIT REQUIREMENTS: All persons leaving Aruba must pay a Government Departure Tax of approximately USD $37.50, which may be included in your ticket.
No immunizations are required for travelers from the U.S., Canada or Great Britian. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at CDC Aruba.
Culture and Customs
For a prime example of Aruba's melting-pot society, try a local favorite: Keshi Yena. Made from a hollowed-out sphere of Edam cheese filled with local meats, vegetables and island spices, it combines Dutch, Spanish, and African influences into a soothingly savory yet slightly spicy mix. Ditto for island culture. Dutch is the official language, but school children also learn Spanish and English, and you may hear the lilting tones of Papiamento, which is a local mash-up that borrows from all three and adds a bit of Portuguese and French, finished off with Arawak Indian and African influences. There's still plenty of Dutch practicality in the Aruban character, but this is also an island that likes a party. Carnival, locally called Bacchanalia, takes over the island from January through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Aruba is also the only country to celebrates Dia Di San Juan with singing and dancing, and the New Year celebration known as Dandee has its roots in the Papiamento word for carousing. Aruban's love music, and the local beat, called socarengue, is accompanied with a sensual dance.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electricity in Aruba is 110 volts, 60 cycles (same as U.S.)
Aruba's country code is 297 and direct dial service is reliable. Check with your cell phone service provider for information on calling and data usage in Aruba. High-speed internet service is readily available.
Desalinated, filtered tap water is safe to drink. Bottled water is readily available for sale.
Language & Currency
Dutch is the official language of Aruba. English and Spanish are widely spoken.
The local currency is the Aruban Florin (AFG). Most local businesses accept U.S. Dollars and major credit cards
Aruba is in the Atlantic Time Zone (AST) and does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Aruba is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT).
Location, Size and Population
Aruba is 21 miles long and 6 miles wide, a total of about 75 square miles. Aruba is one of the Lesser Antilles located below the hurricane belt in the Southernmost end of the Caribbean roughly 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela. The population of Aruba is approximately 104,263 (2016).