Driving in the Caribbean can vary from island to island in terms of safety and ease, and—though it can be more challenging in other island nations—we recommend renting a car in Aruba. Though buses and taxis are inexpensive and prevalent for tourists to use in Aruba, driving is also relatively easy and recommended for visitors looking to explore the island—particularly the more remote areas. From navigating country roads to national driving requirements, we've compiled the top rules of the road and other things you need to know about driving in Aruba. Read on for your guide to driving in Aruba, and use this as a resource for your next trip.
Driving in Aruba is relatively easy for U.S. travelers, as the primary paperwork required is an up-to-date U.S. driver's license (international driver's licenses are also valid). The minimum age to drive in Aruba is 18 years old, while the minimum age to rent a car on the island is 21 years old, but this greatly depends, as some suppliers will only rent a car to those over the age of 25. Drivers renting a car under the age of 25 should expect an additional fee for renting as a younger driver. This fee varies by supplier. You'
|Checklist for Driving in Aruba|
|Proof of Auto Insurance||Required (Basic Third Party Liability Insurance included with rentals)|
Rules of the Road
Drivers drive on the right side of the road (like in the U.S.) and parking in Aruba is reasonably easy to find. However, it can be difficult in some areas (and usually, at hotels, parking is free—though you should verify with your resort in advance.) Additionally, there is a predominance of roundabouts instead of traffic lights at major intersections, which is a change that has been implemented in Aruba in recent years. To note: Right-hand turns on red lights are always illegal, so be sure to adjust your behavior accordingly. More pertinent rules of the road below:
- Right-hand turns: Right-hand turns are always forbidden on red lights (unlike in the U.S.).
- Speed Limits: Note that speed limits in Aruba are posted at kilometers per hour. The speed limit in more developed areas is always going to be 30 kilometers per hour (19 mph) unless it is posted otherwise. Alternately, the speed limit in rural areas is 60 kph (37 mph) unless otherwise stated. Sasaki Highway and L.G. Smith Boulevard are the most popular roads on the island, and the speed limit for both of these is usually 80 kph (50 mph) though it does vary in different places on the island.
- Overtaking: Many streets in Aruba are one-way streets, so overtaking should be done with extreme caution.
- Intersection: In the busier intersections, traffic lights have been replaced by roundabouts in recent years. Entering vehicles must yield to vehicles that are already in the roundabout. Also, at all intersections, traffic coming from the right has the right of way. The amber light used at traffic lights is to signal caution, as the traffic light is to turn from green to red.
- Seat Belts: Seatbelts must be worn at all times in Aruba.
- Cell Phones: Talking on the phone is illegal while driving in Aruba, and can lead to hefty fines and court action, and even imprisonment. If you want to talk on the phone, you must set your device to hands-free mode.
- Alcohol Use: The maximum permitted blood alcohol level is 50 mg per 100 ml of blood, which means that one drink will take you over the legal limit. This is lower than it is in the U.K., for example, so visitors should call a taxi if they've been drinking. Taxis are inexpensive and plentiful on the Caribbean island, except for on the more remote northern coast of Aruba.
- Car Seats: Children under the age of 5 are required to be in car seats. If children are older than 5, even though they do not need to be in car seats, they are required to be sitting in the back of the vehicle.
- Gas/fuel stations: In Aruba, it is not the custom for drivers to pump gas for themselves. Attendants are available at most stations to pump gas for you, though there are occasionally lanes that offer self-service. If you're in a self-service lane, you will want to go inside the station to pay at the counter before using the pump. The price of gas is regulated by the government in Aruba and is the same everywhere on the island. You will also be pumping gas in liters, and 1 gallon equals 3.78 liters.
- On the Spot Fines: If the police stop you for a driving offense, you will be issued with a penalty notice and then have 21 days to pay the fee for the motoring offense at the local police station.
- Emergency Number: 911 (Emergency, Ambulance & Fire Department)
Should You Rent a Car in Aruba?
Yes, you should consider renting a car in Aruba, as it is a safe and easy island to explore. To rent a car in Aruba, you have to be at least 21 years old, though the restrictions can vary depending on the car rental agency that is supplying the vehicle. Most suppliers will charge an additional fee for renters younger than 25. Parking is also plentiful throughout Aruba. For travelers looking to explore more remote parts of the island, they should prepare to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle, as this will ensure you can navigate rockier terrain and potholes.
Navigation in Aruba
Most locations in Aruba can be identified and navigated towards using Google Maps. Travelers who are worried about losing service should download their routes beforehand, however, in case of that circumstance before departing on a road trip. Because the island is small, it is difficult to get lost. If you do though, look for the way the Divi trees are bent, as they always lean to the west toward the popular resort area. Think of the trees as your compass if lost, though it's not likely that you will stay lost for long.
Road and Travel Safety
Traveling around Aruba is always safe by car, but roads become more challenging to traverse via vehicles in more remote parts of the island. For this reason, travelers looking to go off-the-beaten-path should consider renting four-wheel-drive vehicles. Another thing to look out for is animals crossing the road, as dogs, donkeys, and goats are known to wander along the streets, particularly in more rural areas.
Parking in Aruba
Parking is usually for free at resorts, but travelers should look into this in advance with their hotels. Parking spots on the island are also generally fairly easy to come across, though it can be challenging to find in the busy parts of Oranjestad. As a result, parking meters have been incorporated. You can buy a "SmartCard" and learn more about rates at Aruparking.com.